The Corinthian letters are some of the most helpful documents to assist churches living in a pagan culture. The culture of immorality, the cult of personality, the atmosphere of litigation, and the culture of Christianity lite were rampant then and still are today. Our culture is very much like ancient Corinth - churches today lack discipline and are dominated by feminism, pagan philosophy, and idolatry. In both books, Paul answers various questions to help the church make its way through various issues that believers struggle with after salvation and through the process of sanctification.
In 2 Corinthians, after Paul’s first 18-month visit to Corinth, the church fell into disarray and was subjected to false teachers who slandered Paul. Paul sent Titus to survey the situation and found that while the majority had repented, there were still some in opposition. Paul writes a very personal letter defending his apostleship and his message. Paul has many detractors in Corinth, and he goes to great length to answer the accusations of these detractors.
In 1 & 2 Corinthians, God is glorifying Himself by calling the Corinthians to Christian conduct, so that He might demonstrate His superior goodness in the salvation sinners, the damnation of the wicked, and for the preservation of His people, for His eternal glory, and their eternal joy.
“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God…” (1 Cor. 1:1).
“Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you…” (2 Cor. 10:1).
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Cor. 1:2).
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia” (2 Cor. 1:1).
“Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth” (2 Cor. 1:23).
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’
“Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
1 Corinthians 1:18–25
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6:9–11
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.”
2 Corinthians 6:14–16
1 Corinthians 1–8
What were some characteristics of the church in Corinth?
They possessed much knowledge and many spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 1:5–6).
How is God’s wisdom different from human wisdom?
God’s wisdom enables a person to understand spiritual things, while human wisdom does not (1 Cor. 2:13–14).
How will God test the works of Christians on the day of judgement?
In the fire of His presence (1 Cor. 3:13).
Why did Paul send Timothy to the church in Corinth?
To remind them of Paul’s way of life so that they could imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Cor. 4:17).
How did Paul instruct the church to deal with the sinful man?
To give him over to Satan (1 Cor. 5:5).
What kinds of people will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Fornicators, adulterers, idolaters, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners (1 Cor. 6:9–10).
What is one benefit of remaining unmarried?
The single person can devote himself to the things of God (1 Cor. 7:32).
Which is more important in the sight of God: love or knowledge? How do you know?
Love. Paul says that knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. (1 Cor. 8:1).
1 Corinthians 9–16
How is the Christian life like an athletic competition? How is it different?
The Christian and the athlete are both striving for a prize. The Christian’s prize is eternal, while the athlete’s prize is temporary (1 Cor. 9:24–27).
What lessons do we learn from the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness?
We learn how not to be idolaters (1 Cor. 10:6–8).
What does it mean to eat and drink of the Lord’s Supper in an “unworthy manner” (1 Cor. 11:29)?
He eats and drinks judgement to himself (1 Cor. 11:29)
How is the church like a body?
It has different parts but each are part of one body (1 Cor. 12:12).
What is the greatest work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s heart?
Love (1 Cor. 13:1–3).
Which gift did Paul encourage Christians to seek more than all others? Why do you think he valued it so much?
Prophecy. Because the gift of prophecy builds up the church (1 Cor. 14:3).
Why is Christ called the “firstfruits” of those who have died?
He was the first to be resurrected in His glorified body (1 Cor. 15:21).
What did Paul instruct the church to do when they gathered together on the first day of the week?
Take up a collection for Christians in need (1 Cor. 16:3).
2 Corinthians 1–7
What was one way that God taught Paul not to trust in himself, but in God?
Persecution and suffering (2 Cor. 1:8).
How did Paul instruct the church to treat the one who had repented of his sin?
Forgive him and receive him back into the church (2 Cor. 2:7).
How does the New Covenant compare to the old?
The New Covenant is much more glorious than the old (2 Cor. 3:7–8).
What treasure is contained in “earthen vessels”?
The gospel (2 Cor. 4:6–7).
What does it mean to be reconciled to God?
To have peace with God through Christ’s righteousness imputed to us (2 Cor. 5:19).
In what ways did Paul show himself to be a true apostle?
By preaching the true gospel, displaying divine power, and suffering for the name of Christ (2 Cor. 5:7–8).
How is godly sorrow different from worldly sorrow?
Godly sorrow “produces repentance” but worldly sorrow “produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10).
2 Corinthians 8–13
Whose example did Paul want the Corinthians to follow in their giving?
The church in Macedonia (2 Cor. 8:1–2).
What is the right attitude to have when giving?
Cheerfulness (2 Cor. 9:7).
Where did Paul’s authority over the Corinthian believers come from?
God (2 Cor. 10:13).
Why was Paul concerned for the Corinthian church?
He worried that they had been deceived and led away from Christ (2 Cor. 11:3–4).
Why didn’t Jesus remove Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”?
Christ’s strength was being displayed in Paul’s weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
Why did Paul tell the Corinthian believers to “test” and “examine” themselves?
To make sure that they were true Christians (2 Cor. 13:5).