The church in Corinth was founded by Paul on his second missionary journey, and it was at this time that Paul met a Jewish couple who would become close friends as well as become involved in the helping of spreading the Gospel and building up the church. They were Priscilla and Aquila, with whom Paul lived for a while. Aquila the husband, was a fellow tradesmen with Paul in tent making. It's interesting to note that Priscilla the wife, throughout the Bible, appears more prominent that her husband. Paul wrote the letters we know as First and Second Corinthians, during the time of his third missionary journey. There was an earlier letter written by Paul, which was lost to history. The city of Corinth was a major trade city located in southern Greece. It was a Roman province in the region of Achaia, and located approximately forty-five miles west of the Greek city of Athens. The city of Corinth was located on a section of land known as the Peloponnesus, which is a peninsula in southern Greece. The city was separated from the central part of the country by the Gulf of Corinth. The city of Corinth itself was located near the middle of the isthmus, and prominently situated on a high plateau, which was a common location of ancient cities.
During Paul's time, the city of Corinth was part of one of the major north and south trade routes that went through that region. As a result the city of Corinth prospered as a major city for trade for most of Greece, the Mediterranean, North Africa, Italy, and Asia Minor. Because of its importance and prominence the emperor Nero, during the first-century AD, began construction of a canal across the isthmus, which wasn't completed until the ninth century. Corinth was also famous for the Isthmian games, which was hosted by the city of Corinth. The Isthmian games were second in popularity only to the Olympian games. In addition, because of its location on a major trade route, because of its political power and significance, and because of the amount of people that traveled through the city, the city became a location for pagan occult practices. Moreover, the city of Corinth became known for its debauchery and moral depravity, even by the pagan standards of its own day. The city of Corinth became infamous for its immoral behavior. So much so that the people of the time coined the phrase "to Corinthianize," as a way to describe some of the worst immoral behavior possible.
Like most ancient Greek cities, the city of Corinth had an acropolis, or "high place of worship." The acropolis at Corinth rose to a height of approximately two-thousand feet, situated high on a plateau. It was used for both defense and for pagan worship. It was on this acropolis, that stood the temple to Aphrodite. Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and the temple of Aphrodite employed close to a thousand female priestesses. These priestess functioned as "religious" prostitutes to draw people into the temple to worship the pagan gods, and they lived and worked in the temple of Aphrodite. In the evening they would come down from the temple and go into the city to offer their "worship services" to male citizens and foreign visitors, in order to better commune with the pagan gods and bring people into the temple.
Paul carried on his ministry in and around Corinth for over a year and a half. During that time Paul was brought before a Roman tribunal because of accusations of Jewish leaders. They had become envious over Paul's ministry. However, the charges they brought were in regards to Jewish religious matters of the Mosaic law and not legal matters of concern to the Roman Empire. As a result the proconsul Gallio, dismissed the case. Shortly after this event Paul traveled back to Ephesus and took Priscilla and Aquila to help in the ministry, and from there he returned to Israel. Paul had written several letters to the Christians living in Corinth, and the epistle we call First Corinthians is actually the second letter written by Paul. The first letter was lost to history.
Paul's letters to the Corinthians deal primarily with proper behavior, more so than church doctrine. Because of the debased moral attitudes of the culture in and around Corinth, there were major issues involving the behavior of Christians within the church. However, like a loving father, Paul deals patiently with the young Christian church. Some of the problems included boasting, grandstanding, a lack of love and compassion among the congregation, lack of charity, a proper view of idols as well as eating food offered to idols, and the putting of others ahead of one's self. In addition, Paul teaches on spiritual matters such as the Cross of Christ, divine wisdom verses human wisdom, the work of the Holy Spirit in illumination, carnality, eternal rewards, the transformation of salvation, the process of sanctification, the nature of Christ and union with Him, the divine role for women, marriage and divorce, baptism, the use of spiritual gifting, the unity of the church as one body, the theology of love, and the doctrine of resurrection. Paul helps them to understand that all of these things are foundational truths which build Christian character and thereby bring about godly behavior.
Paul instructs the church that only those who have a special calling can be celibate. Husband and wife are not to deny each other. Let every man content with his own lot in life in a godly manner. It is not a sin to marry or not to marry, a person is not more religious by not marrying or by marrying. Christians are not to partake in profane banquets of pagan idols. Christians are not to use their liberty in Christ to cause a weaker or younger brother or sister in the faith to stumble. Though Paul had liberty in many things he still chose to abstain. Paul did so as to not offend others, profane the name of Christ or be a stumbling block to others. Paul shows that our Christian life is like a race.
7:1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 7:2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 7:3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 7:4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 7:5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 7:6 But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. 7:7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. 7:8 But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; 7:9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 7:10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 7:11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. 7:12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 7:13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 7:15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 7:16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? 7:17 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches. 7:18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. 7:20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 7:21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. 7:22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave. 7:23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 7:24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called. 7:25 Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. 7:26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress-that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 7:27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 7:28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you. 7:29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 7:30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 7:31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. 7:32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord-how he may please the Lord. 7:33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world-how he may please his wife. 7:34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world-how she may please her husband. 7:35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction. 7:36 But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. 7:37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. 7:38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better. 7:39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 7:40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment-and I think I also have the Spirit of God.
8:1 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. 8:2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. 8:3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him. 8:4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 8:5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. 8:7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8:8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. 8:9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 8:10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 8:11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 8:12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 8:13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
9:1 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 9:2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. 9:3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 9:4 Do we have no right to eat and drink? 9:5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 9:6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? 9:7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? 9:8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen God is concerned about?