Lectionary Year A
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 20, 2002
1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Step III: Composition

A. Immediate Context

(JFC) Post - Through the rest of I Corinthians' first chapter, we get encouragement to get (re-)united and to agree more than disagree, as reportedly the norm in Corinth at the time. Then, he digresses, surprise of surprises, after all, we are dealing with Paul, here. His digressions mention baptism, the message of cross/crucifixion, wisdom, especially God's wisdom, believers' being saved, God's foolishness' and weakness' being wiser and stronger than human wisdom and/or strength, the Corinthians' calling and such other doctrines as righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

B. Organization of the Compositional Whole

(JFC) I Corinthians addresses a Christian community in need of some advice and guidance. After the initial epistolary greeting and the "message of the cross", 1:10-6:20 recognizes and seeks to solve "divisions and disorders," as the NRSV Introduction to this Epistle calls them. Some scholars (e.g., Kenneth J. Foreman, LBC, as well as The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible) subdivide these chapters into 1:10-4:21 termed attempts to (re)unify the church in Corinth and 5:1-6:20 describing members' iniquity, legal actions and discipline needed there then. Chapter 7 answers questions the recipients have asked (7:1) about social issues such as marriage. Then, chapters 8-10 point out proper practices in a hostile/pagan environment. 11 through the 14th chapter depict women's place in the orders of the church, comments on the Lord's Supper, acknowledges a variety of spiritual gifts in Corinth and discusses proper behavioral practices there, especially in worship, and outside thereof, how "love is a more excellent way" and the uses of "the gift of 'tongues'." Chapter 15 emphasizes Christ's resurrection and the hope of it for believers as well as discusses death and baptism. The final chapter projects Paul's future itineraries, more admonitions and plans for the Church there.

C. Issues of Authorship

(JFC) "Acts 18:1-18 provides a brief narrative of the founding of the church in Corinth. So far as we know, Paul was the first Christian missionary to Corinth." So states James L. Price in the Interpreter's One Volume Commentary on the Bible. Commentaries agree that the Apostle Paul wrote the Corinthian correspondences. It was apparently written from Ephesus (I Cor. 16:8, Acts 19:1-40) and right before Romans, as 16:1 & II Cor. 9:1f allude to. Scholars think 55 CE is most likely the compositional date.

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