Corinth, situated forty miles west of Athens and one and a half miles from the isthmus between the Ionian and Aegean Seas, was the capital of the southern province of Achaia, Greece. Although the Romans destroyed the city in 146 B.C., it was rebuilt under Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. By A.D. 50 this cosmopolitan city had a population of c. 550,000 consisting of Greeks, Romans, and Jews with a synagogue. By A.D. 56 the Jewish population had recently increased by an influx of immigrants banished from Rome by Claudius Caesar. It was not only a political center, but also a commercial, religious, and sports center known for wealth, luxury, learning, Isthmian games, and vice with over a thousand temple prostitutes.
The writer of First Corinthians was also the Apostle Paul (1:1,13,14; 16:21), whom God used to write fourteen New Testament Books (see Introductory Notes on First Thessalonians on page 538). He included Sosthenes as the accompanying writer (1:1).
Internal evidence to Paul's authorship is clear by the frequent references to his ministry in Corinth (1:1,13-16; 2:1-4; 3:5-10; 4:9,15; 9:1-16; 6:21).
External evidence comes from the writings of the ‘‘church fathers'' (patristic tradition of the early church); Clement of Rome (A.D. 96-98); the Muratorian Canon (A.D. 160-200). There is no contradictory evidence found in the early church.
Dating of Paul's year-and-a-half ministry at Corinth is determined by a Gallio inscription (see Introductory Notes on First Thessalonians on page 538) discovered at Delphi, Greece at the turn of 20th Century. Paul was brought before Gallio in July-August A.D. 52. So Paul came to Corinth in early 51, 18 mos. before being judged by Gallio (Acts 18:11,12). He left Corinth and went to Ephesus for a short visit, then eventually to Antioch. He began his third missionary journey in Autumn 53. He came to Ephesus in Spring 54 for 27mos. (Acts 19:1,8-10). There he wrote this Epistle (16:8,19) in June-Nov. A.D. 56.
Exchange of correspondence presents a problem. Paul indicated writing a previous letter which has not been preserved nor included in the Canon of Scripture (5:9). This indicates that 1 Cor. is at least the second epistle to the Corinthian church. He also had received a letter from the saints (7:1) perhaps delivered by Stehfahnáhs, Fourtounáhtohs, and Ahkhahëekóhs (16:17).
The purpose of Paul in this Epistle is to solve problems, to correct reported contentions and prevailing disorders in the church, and to answer inquiries. An underlying purpose is to raise the views of Christian life and ministry.
Characteristics include: Christian ethics concerning marital, moral, legal, social, and church relationships, and diet; corrective dealing with contentions, disorders, misconceptions, and perplexities; simplicity of speech and terminology; and dealing with heathen customs.
The Book may be outlined as follows: