The Epistles Outlined (4): 1 Corinthians

We continue to present an outline of the books of the New Testament.

1 Corinthians

The Author of the Epistle. It is clear from the epistle that this is the apostle Paul (1.1-2, 13-16; 16.21).

The Place where it was Written. It was written in Ephesus (16:18).

The Date of the Epistle. The mention of remaining in Ephesus until Pentecost (16.8) indicates that Paul was writing during the third year of his time at Ephesus (Acts 20.31) which is considered to be AD 55.

The Background. See Acts 18.

The Reason and Purposes of the Epistle. The apostle had received a report from those of the house of Chloe (1.11) and a letter from the assembly raising certain questions (7.1). Paul deals with the matters in the report in chapters 1-6 and with the questions in chapter 7-16 (cf. 7.1; 8.1; 12.1; 16.1). In this epistle, the Spirit of God, through the apostle, takes advantage of the grave disorders in assembly life at Corinth to set before us divine order intended to regulate all the churches of God.

Key Expression – “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (14.40).

Key Chapter – 13

Key Words wise and wisdom; judge and judgment; know and knowledge; called and power.

Key Thoughts – “Let all your things be done with charity” (16.14).

Suggestions – Consider the expression “Know ye not” (3.16; 5.6; 6.2; 3, 9, 15, 16, 19; 9.13, 24). Note the occurrence of “puffed up” indicating pride. Trace “idols, idolatry” and related words.

The Division of the Epistle

I. Chapters 1-10 The Full Provision in Christ for the Assembly in every Sphere.

II. Chapter 11-14 The Fellowship of the Assembly in every Aspect.

III. Chapter 15 The Foundation Truth of Resurrection Essential to the Present Life and Future Hope of all in the Assembly.

IV. Chapter 16 The Final Instructions and Salutations to the Assembly.

The first main section is divided into three parts, each part warning against powers that are hostile to the testimony of the Lord entrusted to the assembly. With each warning the apostle emphasizes different aspects of the death of Christ as the way of victory. In chapters 1-4 the apostle warns against the infiltration of the world with special emphasis on the wisdom of the world, which will spell its ruin. In these chapters the cross of Christ is emphasized. In chapter 5-7 Paul warns against the indulgence of the flesh and emphasizes the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread. The practical enjoyment of this will give victory over every working of the flesh. In chapter 8-10 he warns against the insidious attacks of the devil and thus mentions the peace offering aspect of the death of Christ. The enjoyment of the peace offering in fellowship with God is the answer to the enemys attacks.

The Outline of the Epistle

The epistle begins with the crucifixion of Christ and ends with the risen Christ.

Chapter 1-4 Christian Unity not a competitive spirit

Chapter 5-7 Christian Purity not corrupting morals

Chapter 8-10 Christian Liberty not careless indifference

Chapter 11-14 Christian Ministry not carnal promotion of self

Chapter 15 Christian Destiny not calculated scepticism

Chapter 16 Christian Affinity not isolationism

Chapter 1-4 Division in the assembly

Chapter 5-6 Defilement in the assembly

Chapter 7-14 Difficulties in the assembly

Chapter 15-16 Disputations in the assembly

Four things operated in the assembly which disrupted and marred the practical expression of the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1.9):-

1) The evils of human philosophies

2) The evils of antinomianism that robbed the saints of pure morals.

3) The evils of the pride of social status that robbed the assembly of brotherly love.

4) The corruption of rational scepticism that robbed the saints of their hope.

Chapter 1

1.v1 The Apostleship of Paul

2.vv2-9 The Assembly of God

3.vv10-16 The Appeal for Unity

4.vv17-31 The Preaching of the Cross – Power (17-21), Offence (22-25), Fulness (26-31).

Chapter 2

1.vv1-5 The Demonstration of the Spirit – results in Salvation

2.vv6-8 The Witness of the Spirit – results in Expectation

3.vv9-13 The Revelation of the Spirit – results in Presentation

4.vv14-16 The Illumination of the Spirit – results in Appropriation

Chapter 3

1.vv1-5 The Household and its Food

2.vv6-9 The Husbandry and its Fruit

3.vv10-15 The Habitation and its Furniture

4.vv16-17 The Holiest and its Fulness

5.vv18-23 Human Wisdom and its Foolishness

Chapter 4

1.vv1-7 Responsibility and Judgment

2.vv8-16 Reigning prematurely

3.vv 17-21 Reminder of Pauls ways in Christ

Chapter 5

1.vv1-5 The Discipline in the Assembly

2.vv 6-8 The Demands of the Feast

3.vv9-13 Detachment from Certain Believers

Chapter 6

1.vv1-11 The Public Exposure of Believers Disputes or The Rule of God to be Maintained

2.vv12-20 The Purity of the Body to be Maintained or The Redemptive Rights of the Lord to the Body

Chapter 7

1.vv1-9 Instructions as to the Single and Married Life

2.vv10-16 Instructions as to Separation

3.vv17-24 Instructions as to Specific Callings

4.vv25-40 Instructions as to Specific Circumstances

Chapter 8

1.vv1-3 Knowledge and Love

2.vv4-6 Knowledge and God

3.vv7-13 Knowledge and the Weak Believer

Chapter 9

1.vv1-7 The Claim of the Apostle

2.vv8-14 The Scriptural Proof of his Claim

3.vv15-23 The Surrender of his Claim

4.vv24-27 The Discipline Necessary in Service

Chapter 10

1.vv1-13 The Testimony of the Wilderness

a)vv1-5 Privilege and Failure

b)vv6-10 Patterns for Warning

c)vv11-13 Powerful Admonition

2.vv14-33 The Table of the Lord

a)vv14-22 The Contrast between Two Tables

b)vv23-33 The Conscience and Consideration for Others

Chapter 11

1.vv1-16 Headship Displayed in the Assembly

a)vv3-6 Spiritual Reasons

b)vv7-12 Creatorial Reasons

c)vv13-16 Natural or Physical Reasons

2.vv17-34 The Lords Supper

Chapter 12

1.vv1-11 The Variety of the Gifts

2.vv12-27 Variety in Diversity

Chapter 13

1.vv1-3 The Necessity of Love – The Importance of Love

2.vv4-7 The Qualities of Love – The Indications of Love

3.vv8-13 The Permanence of Love – The Infinitude of Love

Chapter 14

1.vv1-25 The Preeminence of Prophecy

a)vv1-5 The Importance of Edification

b)vv6-12 The Importance of Understanding

c)vv13-25 The Importance of Profitability

2.vv26-40 The Practical Regulation Of Gift

a)vv26-33 The Spirit of Love to be Exercised

b)vv34-35 The Silence of Women

c)vv36-40 Submission to Apostolic Teaching

Chapter 15

1.vv1-34 The Fact of the Resurrection – The Truth of Resurrection Established

a)vv1-11 Resurrection Evident in the Apostolic Preaching

b)vv13-19 Resurrection Established in Christs Resurrection

c)vv20-28 Resurrection Essential to the Program of God

d)vv29-34 Resurrection – an Encouragement to Christian Living

2.vv35-58 The Manner of the Resurrection – The Truth of Resurrection Explained

a)v35 Objection

b)vv36-41 Illustration from Nature

c)vv42-49 Application of the Illustration

d)vv50-57 Explanation – The Mystery

e)v58 Exhortation

Chapter 16

1.vv1-4 Particulars Regarding the Collection

2.vv5-9 Pauls Proposed Visit and Present Work

3.vv10-12 Details Concerning Timothy and Appolus

4.vv13-18 Practical Exhortations

5.vv19-24 Various Greetings