In this class we will introduce and discuss the background to Paul's letters to the Corinthians and what topics those letters addressed.
[Steve Myers] Good morning, everyone. This is Epistles of Paul. We start a new letter today. Today we're starting Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. And it is a very interesting letter that is probably considered to be the most corrective letter in all the whole Bible. And so Paul is going to get very specific about issues and problems that the church in Corinth had. He was very familiar with the people there. Paul lived in Corinth for quite a while, and we'll talk about some of his experiences there. As you go through the Book of Acts, you'll get into some very specific things regarding Paul and his experiences there. We'll highlight a few of those things as we talk about an introduction to the letter. We're pretty certain Paul wrote the letter. There's not a lot of scholarship that contradicts that. If you look at the very beginning of 1 Corinthians, he even tells us himself it's from the Apostle Paul right off the bat. Now, as he writes this letter, he even tells us where he's writing from. If you take a look at 1 Corinthians 16, Paul tells us where he's at as he writes this letter.
1 Corinthians 16:8 He says, "I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost."
So, Paul tells us he's writing this letter from the city of Ephesus. And as we look at that, we can begin to see that he wrote this while he was on his third journey. I know you've got maps in the back of your Bible. We've got a map up here that illustrates the various journeys that the Apostle Paul took. Well, on his third journey is when he actually writes this letter. And by the context...and a couple of things that really frame the issue, we can begin to see that he was actually writing this in the first half of 55 AD. 55 AD, we can tell that he's writing it in the springtime because he makes references to the Passover. He'll make references to the days of unleavened bread, and he tells us he's going to stay here in Ephesus until he completes a three-year stay there. And so you can read that a little bit farther here in Acts 16.
And so as you begin to look at that, there are a number of indications that help us to identify when Paul wrote this letter. Now, as we begin, can you imagine what this letter would have looked like as the Apostle Paul wrote it? You know, we imagine letters that are written today and what they appear as. Well, the Apostle Paul's letter would have looked something like this. This is a famous papyrus, they call it P46. And it recounts Paul's letters. It has Romans, it has Hebrews, also has 1 and 2 Corinthians, many parts of those letters. This particular letter is probably one of the oldest preserved copies of Paul's letter to the Corinthians. Kind of late second century is when this particular copy was written. So, we're looking at around 200 AD or so. And this particular copy of this letter is in the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland. But this gives you an idea of what that letter would have looked like. In fact, this particular part of the letter is from 2 Corinthians 11, and details some of those sections of Paul's writings.
So, pretty amazing to think that we've got copies that go all the way back to about the year 200 that verify Paul's writings. And so this is one of the papyrus that indicate that very thing. There's also a couple of other indications here that really give us some ideas of when Paul wrote this and the fact that he wrote it from Ephesus. Now, if you're familiar with the landscape of where Corinth is, it is on a peninsula. In fact, if you take a look at this map that I'm putting up on the screen as well, it's showing us where Corinth is located. Now, if you imagine, we've got the Mediterranean Sea down here. And of course, this is where modern Greece is. Modern Greece is in this particular area, and Corinth is right on the isthmus of Greece. And of course, the isthmus means it's surrounded by water on three sides. This lower section is often called the Peloponnesian Peninsula. And so that's kind of a little bit of a tongue twister to say that. In the Peloponnesian Peninsula, Corinth is right at this isthmus that joined this Peloponnese to the mainland, to Macedonia. And so it becomes a very important city because of its harbors. Because of the harbors, Corinth is very important.
And as a harbor city right between the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea, of course, that all connects there to the Mediterranean as well, it becomes an important seaport. Now, we know from some of our discussions about Thessalonica that as a port city, it took on some interesting characteristics. Corinth, not very far from Athens. You can see where Athens is on the map. We're looking at only about 40 to 50 miles, somewhere in there. So, it's very close to Athens, and it is a city that ultimately became very critical in the trades because of spices that would come from India, silk that would come from China, linens that would come from Tarsus. All of these items made it an important city in the trades. In fact, Corinth itself was known for marble. And even today, you can buy Corinthian marble, and it is something that is often sought after. Now, that didn't discount the fact that oftentimes not only spices, but fruits and vegetables would also be shipped out from Corinth to various parts of the Roman Empire. So, it was a very important harbor town. And as you think about the impact that Corinth had... During the time of Paul, do you know that the city of Corinth was a relatively new city?
Back in 146 BC, the Romans came to power and wiped out Corinth. They decimated Corinth, and for about 100 years, Corinth was pretty much a wasteland, wasn't much going on. The Romans had this tradition that they would let a city lie in ruins for 100 years before they would rebuild it. So it wasn't until Julius Caesar came along, almost 100 years later after Corinth had been wiped out, that the city began to be rebuilt. So, we're really only looking at, you know, 10 years or so before the Apostle Paul comes and visits Corinth. And the city then is rebuilt, and it then becomes this important trading center, this important harbor town. Of course, it is kind of interesting because it's situated right between these two bodies of water. You can't help but wonder, "Well, how did that work? How did it work for ships to bring goods into this area of the world and then have them distributed throughout the Roman Empire?" Well, here's a picture of what it looks like from Corinth today. As you look over the Gulf of Corinth, sometimes it's called, this is what it looks like from the high point of Corinth. They call it the Acrocorinth, the high point of Corinth, where ultimately it was a bastion, you might say, of a fortress there at one time that guarded the city.
And so as Julius Caesar re-founds this Roman colony in Corinth, most of the people there had been former slaves of Rome. But then as the city gets going, guess who comes? Businessmen, the sailors, those who then ultimately bring prosperity to Corinth. And so by the time we get to the Apostle Paul, Corinth is actually a prosperous town and becomes the capital city of this province of Rome, Achaia. So it becomes the capital city, and it has a strategic location. Here's a photo from NASA today that looks down at that area of the world. And you can see Corinth is right at that isthmus, right there between these two bodies of water. And so you can begin to get an idea of why it would become an important city, especially as it becomes the capital of the province of Achaia.
Now, thinking about that, you can also think about the impact of where Corinth is. It was a part of ancient Greece, and so Greek was the common language that was used even during the Roman Empire. Even though Latin was the official language, Greek was the common language. And so Paul writes to the Corinthians in Greek, in Greek. And so imagine if a town was just getting started, you might not think it would take off as quick as Corinth did, as Caesar rebuilt it.
You know, by the time the Apostle Paul comes around, we're looking at 10 years or so after the city is being rebuilt. The population has already grown to somewhere around 700,000 people. So it's pretty big city, pretty big city by this time. And it was serving all of those various peoples that would come to trade. And, of course, with the trade also came the cultural aspects of things as well. So Corinth becomes a city that was filled with shrines, filled with temples. In fact, one of the most important temples of ancient Greece was right here in Corinth, the temple to Aphrodite. Anyone know who the goddess Aphrodite was? Aphrodite was the goddess of fertility, a goddess of love. In fact, if you compare those to the Greek gods, the Greek goddess of love that could be compared to Aphrodite is the goddess Venus. So the Romans called her Venus, the Greeks called her Aphrodite. And so there was a monstrous temple at the very top of this Acrocorinth, at the Acropolis, the high point where this fortress was. There was this temple to Aphrodite.
Aphrodite was kind of the patron saint, you might say, the patron goddess of ancient Corinth. And so they revered Aphrodite. Now, Aphrodite wasn't the only one. There were also temples to Zeus, to the Roman god, Jupiter. Zeus is the Roman god. Jupiter, the king of the gods, was what Zeus was. There was also an amazing tower, a lighthouse that was on the waters to help guide ships to Corinth. And guess what that tower, that lighthouse, guess what god that was dedicated to? Well, the god of the sea. The god of the sea, which was Poseidon. Poseidon was the god of the sea. Or the Romans would call that god Neptune. Neptune. Poseidon was the Greek version, Neptune. So, this lighthouse dedicated to Poseidon would help guide ships into the harbor safely. And so then they could begin their trades in that way. Now, as you look at this particular picture, it is interesting to consider. All right, they bring in goods to trade, but there was land that would not permit the ships to cross over into the other water. So how did that happen? How could you get those goods from one body of water to the other? I think it's a pretty good question. One of the ways they did it was by what they called the Diolkos. Let me bring up a slide of the Diolkos.
This was actually a road of sorts that connected the two bodies of water. And you know what they would do? They would cross this Corinthian isthmus from one gulf to the other by dragging a ship across the land. So imagine...and parts of this road are still there today. They've uncovered this over the last few decades, more and more of it. It shows what they actually did. Part of this road was actually built in 600 BC so that goods could be transported from one body of water to the other. And what they would do as the ship would pull into one of the harbors, you know, on either side, they would have workers unload the ships, carry the goods to the other side of the gulf where they wanted to go, and then they would drag the boat across the Diolkos. And you wonder, well, what would that have looked like? Probably looked something like this, where they would have slaves actually get that ship up on the Diolkos, up on this road, and then pull it across the land to the other side. And so this Diolkos was the way that they were actually able to do that. Here's another photograph of what still remains of the Diolkos. In fact, certain parts of that road, I guess you could call it a road, are visible with the indentations of where the wheels would have been as they got this ship up on a cart of sorts in order to pull it across the land, in order to get it to the other side.
So pretty ingenious when you think about it. And that helped to transport the goods where they needed to go. And so, pretty amazing technology for the time. In fact, when you think about getting those goods, obviously, this isn't ideal. What would be ideal in order to get goods from the one body of water to the other? Yeah, some canal of sorts. And so there were a number of attempts at building canals across that same area. And in fact, today, there is a canal between the two sides almost on top of where this Diolkos runs today, almost in the same exact place. And in fact, it looks like this today so that ships can cross one to another. In fact, it was interesting, Nero, Emperor Nero, tried to construct a canal going all the way back to the time of the Apostle Paul, going all the way back to that time. But it was a harder task than initially considered, and they abandoned it all the way back then. You know, when the canal was finally finished, wasn't until 1893, 1893, it took the country of Greece 11 years to finally build this canal to connect the two bodies of water. And so today, you don't have to go around the Peloponnesian Peninsula, because that was always the problem. It was much faster to drag a ship across the Diolkos, unload it and reload it, than it was to travel around the rest of the peninsula. And so that's why Corinth then became such an important city of merchandise and trade because of that, and then because of the Roman road system, to be able to distribute those goods then throughout the empire.
Now, of course, with the trade also became the influence of the culture. We had mentioned this temple to Aphrodite. It's been said that this was such a powerful influence in Corinth that it affected culture, it affected their way of life. They worshiped Aphrodite, among the other Greek gods as well. In fact, it was said that it was such an important part of the culture of Corinth that it influenced every part of their life. There was supposedly as many as 1,000 courtesans that served Aphrodite in and around her temple. Now, courtesan is a nice way of saying temple prostitutes. Temple prostitutes that served Aphrodite, and then of course, also served the people that would come to honor Aphrodite. So, this 1,000 courtesans were not all there because they wanted to serve Aphrodite, some of them were slaves. Probably most of them were slaves, so that wealthy traders, wealthy sailors, wealthy merchants oftentimes would donate a slave to gain favor with the gods. And so people would be enslaved as prostitutes to serve Aphrodite. And people would come... And we've talked about some of the ancient sex worship, the Cabeiri in Thessalonica, those types of things. Well, some of those same ideas were throughout the Greek Empire, throughout the Roman Empire, then later that somehow people could connect with the god or the goddess through sex.
And so that certainly happened at Corinth. And so these slaves had been dedicated, their lives dedicated to them, and they served the people so that they could make connections with the gods. You think, "Ooh, how weird is that?" But that's the way they saw things. And this was not something that was taken lightly by the Greeks, and then later by the Romans. They became famous for their debauchery. And in fact, the idea of Corinth or to Corinthianize came to carry that meaning of debauchery, of absolute evil in that way, prostitution, all of those types of things became associated with that. In fact, if you read in some of the historical writings, there was a man named Strabo that wrote about Corinth. And you know what he said about Corinth? He said Corinth and the voyage to Corinth is not for every man because it was such an interesting kind of crazy world. And so as you read stories about captains that would come to Corinth, some accounts are written where they would actually lose their ships with gambling and the prostitutes, and all of those types of things. And those stories were known throughout the Greek and Roman world. And so you can just kind of imagine what it must have been like in its corruption and the way that the moral depravity was so prevalent throughout all of this.
So the idea of just gross immorality, drunkenness was part of it. There was also another sect that worshiped Dionysus. Dionysus was another one of the Greek gods. He was the god of wine and revelry. And we're going to talk about the influence of that worship in Corinth as well, because it wasn't just Aphrodite that affected the morality of the church at Corinth, So did this worship of Dionysus. And that became an important influence that the apostle Paul is going to write about. Now, maybe not in specific terms where he mentions the god Dionysus or Bacchus is also the name of the Roman god, Bacchus, Dionysus, same god like Aphrodite and Venus. But we're going to see the influence that that worship and that pagan influence had on the church. And so if you can imagine 1,000 temple prostitutes in a way priestesses for Aphrodite lived here, worked here, you know, sold their trades, all of those types of things. Plus then the revelry that came with coming to Corinth and all the trade that was going on. You had people from all areas of the world that would come together. You can imagine the influence that would have had. And that influence was also affecting the church. It affected the church as well. And so if you can begin to imagine what Corinth must have been like, it makes this remarkable comeback after being wiped out by the Romans and then becomes this city of trade, becomes this amazing place of cultures coming together and the pagan influences that undoubtedly then affected the church.
So those are just a couple of the influence. Now, of course, being a part of where ancient Greece had its influences, there was something else with Athens just 45 miles away or so. One of the other things that Corinth became important for was the Panhellenic Games. That's like the Olympics. Of course, that's where the Olympics started. It was one of the Panhellenic Games. Another one of the games was the Isthmian Games. And of course, we're at Corinth on this isthmus, the Isthmian Games were games similar to the Olympics that took place every two years. So they were big festivals that took place not too far from Corinth. And so there would be chariot races and there would be foot races, there would be wrestling, there would even be literary contests that happened at these particular games that were all in honor of the Greek gods, and of course, in honor of Caesar as well. And so we'll look at a number of those aspects in Paul's writings because he's going to refer to them. Paul loves to write and make interesting comparisons and use metaphors that have a lot to do with athletics. And so we'll see how that connects with this influence of the Isthmian Games that took place not too far from Corinth as well.
And so interesting influences as we consider this city of Corinth. Just taking a look at the city itself, this is another view of Corinth looking from the Acrocorinth. These columns that you see laying down here are columns from the ancient temple to Aphrodite. And so this Greek goddess of love and beauty had this sanctuary there that the Romans destroyed back in 146 BC. But if you can imagine this dedication to the Greek gods that came right back after the Romans rebuilt the city, continued to have that impact on the people and on the culture, and on the church itself as well. There's much that's written in Greek literature about these vices that Corinth became known for. And so, we'll refer to some of those. Paul himself will refer to some of those things, and the corruption that was so notable in Corinth. And so, thinking about that influence, thinking about those effects, and Paul writing to God's people there doesn't take too much of a stretch to recognize why Paul would write to them. Why would Paul write to those in Corinth? Well, it was mainly to correct some of the sinful things that were going on in the church. A lot of it was because of the influence and the sinful practices that just became a part of the church. And it certainly even is a lesson for today. You know, if there's difficulties out there in the world, all too often, they have impact in the church as well. And so the congregation in Corinth, certainly no exception.
And so Paul is going to outline many different issues that the Corinthians had been dealing with, the church needed to correct. And so, he's going to outline those. He's going to basically go right down the list. And so we'll see that as we actually get into the letter itself, how Paul will delineate these various aspects of items and issues and problems that God's people were dealing with. And so he's going to correct these sinful practices as he writes this first letter to the Corinthians. Now, there's also some doctrinal issues that are going to come up as well. So, those are probably the two main things, sinful practices and doctrinal issues, some of the wrong ideas that the Corinthians had to deal with. And so Paul is going to address those things as he writes to God's church in Corinth. Now, you might say, "Well, what kind of relationship did Paul have with the people there?" Quite different than those in Thessalonica. If you remember how long we said Paul stayed in Thessalonica, it's a pretty short time. It's a pretty short time. It wasn't like that in Corinth. Paul stayed for a year and a half in Corinth. So for a year and a half, he lived there, he worked there, he taught there. The church began on that time that he comes to visit.
He actually founded the church in Corinth on his second journey. Now, here he's writing from his third journey years later, but he founded that church in Corinth on his second journey. And we can read about that. If you want to go to the Book of Acts, go to Acts 18, and we can read a little bit about the founding of the church in Corinth. And so this is on his second journey. Acts 18 records part of that journey for us. And so if you take a look at Acts 18 right at the very beginning, here it tells us Paul departs from Athens. And where does he go? He goes to Corinth. He goes to Corinth. He follows his normal practice. Where would he normally go to begin to preach and teach? At the synagogue. He would go to the synagogue. And so that's where he goes first. And it's also where he meets a couple of individuals we'll hear a bit about as those who worked with Paul. He meets Priscilla and Aquila here in Corinth. And so he meets them.
Acts 18:3 Says, “He was of the same trade. He stayed with them and worked for by occupation they were tent makers, they were leather workers.”
What a beautiful place to be. Do you think sails needed to be repaired? Absolutely. Do you think trade need... Yeah, that all had to happen, and so Paul meets them and they are of a common occupation. Paul was living there, he was working there, he met them there. He preached to the Jews and the proselytes there at the synagogue.
Acts 18:4 It says, "He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded both Jews and Greeks."
And so here we begin to see Paul's initial visits to Corinth and how then he begins to make contacts. God begins to call people from his preaching, and a congregation begins. A congregation begins. And so, as happened in many places with the Apostle Paul, there were those that weren't too happy about his preaching. You know, some of the Jews were not convinced by the Apostle Paul. And so we see that happened on his second journey.
Acts 18:6 It says, "They opposed him and blasphemed." He shook his garments and said, "Your blood be upon your own heads. I'm clean. From now on, I'll go to the Gentiles."
So some of the Jews didn't want anything to do with the Apostle Paul, but he goes to the Gentiles. And so here we have the account of what actually happened. And in fact, a situation occurs during this second journey that does help us to identify the timing of the letter to 1 Corinthians. In fact, the timing of when these events actually took place. Let's notice that and we can just kind of draw some attention to it.
Acts 18:8 "Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord." So here this very important Jewish leader believes the Gospel, becomes converted. It says, "All his household, many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized."
So we have a church beginning in Corinth. God calls people even from the Jews. An important Jewish leader of the synagogue is converted. And here we have God speaking to Paul, telling him not to be afraid. And then we see the indication of how long was Paul there?
Acts 18:11 "He continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them."
So Paul was there for a year and a half. A year and a half. When was this? Well, notice here's a reference when this actually happened.
Acts 18:12 It says, "When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat."
Yeah, that's kind of an interesting reference here. Many of the Jews didn't want anything to do with them. They weren't like Crispus. They didn't want anything to do with the Apostle Paul. So they were out to get him. And so it tells us here that they brought him to the judgment seat. In fact, if you go to Corinth today, you can see that judgment seat that they brought him to. In Greek, it's the Bema. The Bema, and this is actually the Bema, which would have been where they held court cases. It's actually there today. And so they brought him there basically to put him on trial. They were putting the Apostle Paul on trial before Gallio, who is the proconsul. What's a proconsul? Kind of like a governor, the governor of this region, of the region of Achaia. He's the governor. So they bring him, basically put him on trial. And so what did they say?
Acts 18:13-15 "This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law." Of course, who's saying this? The Jews are saying this. The Jews are saying this. And it says, verse 14, Paul was about to open his mouth, he's going to give a defense. It says, "Gallio said to the Jews, 'If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there'd be reason why I should bear with you. But if it's a question of words and names and your own law, if it's something to do with you, Jews, look to it yourselves,'" he says, "For I don't want to be a judge of such matters."
So the governor basically says, "Listen, this is a Jewish thing. I don't want anything to do with this. You guys take care of your own business and I'm not going to worry about this."
Acts 18:16 And so ultimately, it says, "He drove them from the judgment seat."
He said, "Get out of here, I don't want to hear any of this." And so it's kind of interesting, this Gallio hearing the beginning of this court case is a marker for us. It's a marker of the timing for us. This is an interesting slide that I've got, that they call the Gallio Inscription, and it refers to this governor of Achaia. And so it helps us to identify the timing. This particular inscription refers to Gallio's governorship, his rulership over that area. And it zeros us in on AD 52 when Gallio was the governor. And so what it helps us to do is it correlates what we read in the Bible with extra biblical events, extra biblical history. And that's a pretty cool thing when you really begin to think about it, that you can identify event that the Bible talks about and you can verify it by things outside of the Bible. And so this Gallio inscription does just that. Verifies, hey, this account is actually true. There actually was a governor named Gallio and he actually was there at this time. And so it helps us to verify that very thing. Also, something else kind of cool here in this situation as Paul... Remember, here, he's on his second journey in Acts18, the church at Corinth begins, this ruler of the synagogue becomes one of the converted, a leading member of the church in Corinth. Then look at verse 17, Acts 18.
Acts 18:17 It says, "All the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things."
So here we have another ruler, another leading man of the synagogue, Sosthenes. The Jews are so upset Paul got off that they beat him up. Now, why would that be important? Well, it's interesting if you flip with me back to 1 Corinthians for a moment. 1 Corinthians right at the very beginning of the letter.
1 Corinthians 1:1. As Paul begins his letter, he says, "Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes, our brother."
Is that possibly the same Sosthenes that got beat up when Paul was on his second journey? I don't know. We can't prove it, but it seems like it could be likely. That like Crispus, possibly, Sosthenes, the one that got beat up right after that could be the same individual. Now, might be somebody different, but certainly Paul would not write to the Corinthians and mention some guy that they wouldn't have a clue who he was. Would that make sense? Seems like if you want to reach somebody, you'd say, "Hey, you know this individual, you're familiar with them. You used to be good friends." Yeah, that would kind of give you credibility. And so, it seems like it's probably not unlikely that it's possible that this was the same individual. Could be. Could be. Do we know that for a fact? No, but possible, very possible.
And so as Paul preaches the gospel, people become converted. He continues on that second journey, finishes it, starts a third journey. That's where he ends up in Ephesus eventually. And that's where he hears about the issues in Corinth and then writes to them, putting us at about the springtime of 55 AD. And that's why we can kind of identify that's the timing of this particular letter. And so founding the church and then spending a year and a half there, how well would he know the people? You know them really well. He was there for a long time. And so he helped in that process that God called people and they became a part of the church. And so I think as we consider that, it helps us to recognize somewhat the fact that Paul writes in very specific terms, very personal terms, to the people here in Corinth because he knew them, he knew them. He lived with them, he worked with them, he knew the culture. He wasn't just somebody who'd just kind of passed through. And so because of that, I think that helps Paul to be very specific and very direct. 1 Corinthians is probably the most corrective direct letter in all of the New Testament, maybe in all of the Bible, because Paul is going to direct and address the church's problems. They were not following Christ, and Paul has to address that.
The church had become divided. Paul is going to address that issue. Yeah, you're talking generalities about sinful practices. Division was one of the major issues. Division over all kinds of different things. But division in general, people just couldn't agree. They'd kind of divide it up into groups and ideas, and who they wanted to follow, and some of their specific beliefs as well. Yeah, that was a big issue. And of course, the impact of the culture, the sexual immorality became an issue. How God used people became issues as well. And so there was a whole array of problems that, yeah, somewhat connected to sexual immorality and division that Paul has to address. And he's going to go through these one by one by one as he deals with these things. In fact, how did he hear about them? Well, the letter actually even tells us how Paul heard about these problems. If you're still there in 1 Corinthians, if you look at 1:11, this tells us how he heard about the problems.
1 Corinthians 1:11 He says, "It's been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you."
So Chloe and her household, well, maybe they ratted on everybody. Is that what happened? Well, we'll think about that. Why would Chloe give up the problems of the church? Why would her household have a part in that? Well, that's an interesting question. No doubt they were the ones that at least initially gave Paul a heads up about the problems. But it wasn't the only way he heard about this. If we look a little bit further, if you look over to chapter 7 for a moment, chapter 7 also details another way that Paul became aware of what was going on there. 7:1.
1 Corinthians 7:1 It says, "Concerning the things of which you wrote to me, it's good for a man not to touch a woman."
He goes into another topic there. So, not only had he heard from Chloe and her household, but there were letters that were written. There were letters that were written as well that possibly had to do with some of these other individuals: Stephanas, or Fortunatus, or Achaicus, different individuals that he mentions later in the letter may have been writing him as well.
And so we begin to see that Paul wasn't about to turn, you know, the other way and not address these issues. He sees the seriousness of the impact of false teaching and immorality, and the division that it brought the Church. And Paul is going to address those things, which you could probably add, being so close to Athens, you know, there were problems just with the Greek influence overall. The Greeks prided themselves on intellectualism, and that probably had an impact as well. And in some ways, you look at all of the issues in Corinth and how they had to deal with all of these different problems, you might say, "Wow, it's amazing that God could call people out of that kind of a mess and actually even have a church, a congregation in that kind of a city." But I think at the same time, it shows, you know, the power of God and the power of His Word, the power of the Gospel. The power of the Gospel leads to not only changed lives, transformed lives. Lives are transformed by the truth. And we're going to see that evident here in Corinth as well.
So, that gives us a little bit of the background to these letters of 1 and 2 Corinthians that Paul is going to be addressing these issues. I suppose in one way, if we tried to maybe sum it up by identifying a key passage in this first letter, he kind of hits it right off the bat. If you look back to 1 Corinthians 1:10, I think this is a key passage that really zeros in on Paul's dealing with these issues. And really is, I suppose you could say, a sort of a summary of what Paul has to address with the Corinthians. He says this, 1 Corinthians 1:10,"Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there'd be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
And so that kicks off that first letter as kind of a specific purpose statement, and Paul is going to deal with, how do we become one, how do we get rid of division? What are the problems and what do we do about them? Paul is going to begin to address those things as he writes this letter to God's Church in Corinth.