1 Corinthians


1. Introduction, 1:1-9

i] Greeting - Grace and peace from God


Paul's letter to the church at Corinth begins with a conventional address: the sender, the recipients, and a greeting. It is in the greeting to the church where we find some theological meat.


i] Context: This first letter from Paul to the Corinthians presents as a conventional letter with the usual opening - a to whom, from whom and greeting - ending with a conclusio, conclusion; epistolary greetings and remarks, 16:19-24. The body of the letter presents as a rhetorical speech.

Exordium. The opening element of a speech which serves as an affirmation of the audience, seeking to elicit a positive response. This element is evident in 1:1-9.

Propositio. The proposition or thesis, usually found early in the speech. This is often expanded into a summary of proofs, the Partitio, although usually after a narrative element that provides background information. Paul seems to present his proposition / thesis in 1:10:

You must get along with each other.

Narratio. The provision of background information. Paul provides background information of the troubles facing the Corinthians in 1:11-17, namely divided loyalties. He backs this up with a personal defense / justification (Paul, "is a preacher of the gospel, not a baptizer", Garland. Note the strong apologetic evident in 3:10-4:21).

Digressio. The part of a speech which expands on particular elements of the thesis / proposition, or proofs. Paul deals with two such issues: "human wisdom and the wisdom of the cross are irreconcilable", Garland, 1:18-2:16; and the unifying affect of a genuine Christian ministry, 3:5-4:5.

Probatio. The body of the speech; this entails the rehetorical proofs and arguments in favor of the proposition, 5:1-15:58. The topics covered include:

• Moral issues affecting unity in the Christian fellowship, 5:1-6:20;

• Celibacy, divorce and marriage, 7:1-40;

• Eating food offered to idols, 8:1-11:1;

• Proper dress at worship, 11:2-16;

• Divisions in the Lord's supper, 11:17-34;

• Speaking in tongues, 12:1-14:40;

• The resurrection, 15:1-58.

Peroratio / Exhortatio. The peroratio usually involves a recapitulation of the main theme, but here more in the form of an exhortation, 16:1-18.


ii] Background: The church has sent a letter asking Paul to give his opinion on certain matters of theology. This letter was carried by Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus. The depth of division in the church is most likely not revealed in the letter. Paul tells us that his information regarding the troubles in the church came from members of Chloe's household. Obviously they have close ties with the Corinthian believers. Some commentators suggest that Chloe may have run a trading house between Corinth and Ephesus. At the time of writing, Ephesus was Paul's base. So, Paul sets out to answer the questions raised in the letter from the Corinthian congregation, while at the same time addressing the disunity now present in the church.


iii] Structure: Greeting:

ascription, v1-2;

salutation, v3.


iv] Interpretation:

Both the importance of Paul's words (he is God's representative - called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God) and of the Corinthian congregation (a people set apart for God, a holy people) is revealed in these opening verses. Against those who are troubling the church, Paul reminds the Corinthian believers of his authority under God and of their special status as the new Israel, the congregation of the Lord, God's special community, set-apart for service.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 1:1

Paul greets his correspondents, v1-3. Paul sees his apostolic ministry as a calling, an act of the divine will. God's will in the matter covers the initial calling, but more particularly, his apostolic ministry. This then is his authority, something the trouble-makers in the church at Corinth do not possess.

klhtoV adj. "called" - [paul] a called. Nominative absolute in apposition to "Paul", "a called person", Moule, but possible as an attributive adjective. This word is not found in some texts. The sense can run from "invited" to "summoned / commissioned / appointed..", "was" or "has been" is a matter of taste as it is necessary to add the verb "to be." Most commentators see the word as an allusion to Paul's Damascus road experience and therefore carries the notion of compulsion, his being set apart for a divine task in the same way as the prophets were set apart for their task.

apostoloV (oV) "to be an apostle" - apostle, a commissioned and sent-one. Initially one of the twelve, but widened to include any who had been with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry. Paul's claim is of a direct appointment by the risen Christ.

Cristou Ihsou (oV) gen. "of Christ Jesus" - The genitive may be taken as adjectival, possessive, or of subordination, "under the authority of", or ablative, source / origin, "sent from".

dia + gen. "by" - through, by means of [will]. Instrumental, expressing efficient cause, means, rather than just agency; "through". The application of God's sovereign intention brings about Paul's invitation / appointment as an apostle (or possibly his apostleship, rather than his invitation / appointment, so Bruce).

qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - The genitive is usually classified as verbal, subjective.

oJ adelfoV (oV) "our brother" - [and sosthenes] the brother. "Our Christian brother Sosthenes." We don't know much about him. He is probably not an apostle, but could be the Sosthenes of Acts 18:17. Obviously, he is assisting Paul and so is accorded the title "brother".


Paul addresses his letter to the "church of God in Corinth". The word ekklhsia, "church", simply means assembly, and can refer to the local congregation, or to the universal heavenly assembly of all believers. Here it is used of the local assembly. Paul describes this group as "sanctified in Christ Jesus". Through a personal association with Christ we actually become God's holy, set apart, children; in the Son of God we become as sons of God. Not only are we justified in Christ, we are also sanctified in him. This idea is reinforced in the phrase "called to be holy", or literally "called holy". When we put our trust in Jesus we became one of God's called out holy people, his chosen people, the people he has separated from the world to himself, the "holy" ones of God. Of course, this does not deny our present corruption. Paul's blessing is not just for the Corinthian believers, but for all believers everywhere (literally - in every meeting-place) who meet in the name of the Lord Jesus. Paul here reminds us how we become one of God's called out, holy, people, namely, by calling on / trusting Jesus.

th/ ekklhsia/ (a) dat. "to the church" - to the assembly. Dative of recipient / addressee, "to the gathered believers", although technically it is a dative of indirect object of an assumed verb; "Paul .... and Sosthenes ask of God grace and peace to / for the church gathered at Corinth."

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - The genitive is best viewed as adjectival, possessive, or idiomatic / recipient, or ablative, source / origin. If possessive, a reminder that the church does not belong to the minister etc.; "To God's church in Corinth", CEV.

th/ oush/ (eimi) dat. pres. part. "-" - being. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "church of God"; "that is in Corinth", ESV.

en + dat. "in" - in [corinth]. Local, expressing space.

hJgiasmenoiV (aJgiazw) perf. pas. part. dat. "to those sanctified" - to the ones having been sanctified. The participle is best classified as a substantive, dative of recipient / addressee, as NIV, "to those sanctified by virtue of their union with Christ Jesus", Cassirer, but adjectival, attributive, limiting "church of God" is possible. The word carries the Old Testament sacrificial sense of that which is set apart to God for a special use. The use of the perfect underlines a past act with present ramifications. As an epexegetical phrase, it further explains the sense of "church". "To those Christ has made holy", Phillips.

en "in " - in [christ jesus]. Possibly "by", ie., instrumental rather than a locative sense, although "in", as in "union with", is more Paul's style.

klhtoiV aJgioiV dat. "called to be holy" - to the ones called saints / holy. Dative in apposition to "the church / those sanctified"; "to the ones called saints." It seems likely that we have an example of short-talk here, so its called and holy = "to the ones who are called, and to the ones who are holy." Like Israel of old, believers are God's chosen people, a holy nation, ie., separated from the world and now at God's disposal.

sun + dat. "together with ...." - with. Expressing association.

toiV epikaloumenoiV (epikalew)dat. pres. part. "those [everywhere] who call on" - the ones calling upon, invoking. The participle serves as a substantive; "along with all those who call on the name of our Lord Jesus." The present tense indicates a durative (repeated, ongoing) approach to the divine. An allusion to Joel 3:5. The sense is of worship; "invoke the name of the Lord", Moffatt.

en panti topw/ "everywhere" - in every place. The phrase is used in extant literature of a synagogue and therefore Paul is probably specifically referring to the places where believers meet.

Ihsou Cristou gen. "Jesus Christ" - [the name of the lord of us] jesus christ. Genitive in apposition to "Lord" (possessive genitive), the Lord "of us" ("over us" - genitive of subordination).

autwn kai hJmwn "their Lord and ours" - theirs and ours. Grammatically, "their place and ours", as in "meeting place", follows the order of the Greek sentence, but the antecedent "Lord Jesus Christ" makes more sense, so NIV.


Paul concludes the address with a blessing of "grace and peace". A Gentile would say "grace" ("greeting to you") and a Jew would say "peace", but Paul says both. "Grace" is the free and unmerited offer of God's favor to believers in Christ. "Peace" is the outcome of God's favor - well-being in the circle of God's friendship. So, when we offer "grace and peace" to a brother, we are praying that they may know the full extent of God's favor and experience it more day-by-day.

cariV (iV itoV) "grace" - grace. A nominative absolute. As a greeting it serves to express a wish for good times, but in Christian circles it takes on a more particular sense, namely of the bestowal of God's kindly favor.

eirhnh (h) "peace" - [and] peace. In Jewish circles this greeting, (shalom), expresses a wish for well-being in life under God.

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - Dative of interest, advantage.

apo + gen. "from" - Expressing source / origin. This preposition serves to introduce two equally weighted appositional constructions in the genitive case, linked by kai, "and". "God our Father" = God, who is our Father, and our "Lord Jesus Christ" (not the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ). Both the Father and Jesus are coequal suppliers of grace and peace, "may God, both Father and Son, give you grace and peace."

hJmwn gen. pro. "our [Father]" - [father] of us [and lord jesus christ]. The genitive is adjectival, relational.


1 Corinthians Introduction


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