1 Corinthians 1:1-17

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These small group studies of 1 Corinthians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

1 Corinthians 1:1-17 Inductive Bible Study and Discussion Questions

History

  1. A major city at that time on the isthmus connecting the two parts of Greece.

  2. Major in trade as land and sea travel passed through.

  3. Entertainment center and host of the Isthmus games.

  4. Capital of a Roman province.

  5. A center of pagan worship and the temple to Aphrodite, 1000 or more temple prostitutes.

  6. A city with gross immorality such that behaving like a Corinthian became an idiom for gross immorality.

Founding of the church

  1. First leader of the Corinthian church, Paul.

  2. Traveled there on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:11)

  3. Met Aquila and Priscilla.

  4. Worked in Corinth preaching and tent-making one and a half years.

  5. Was joined by Timothy and Silas.

  6. Met much resistance and was charged by the Jews before the court. Case thrown out.

  7. After Paul left Apollos became the next pastor (Acts 18:24-19:1)

  8. Paul wrote another letter before 1st Corinthians to correct them in some areas (1 Corinthians 5:9, but it was lost).

Outline of 1:1-17

  1. Greetings

    1. The senders (1)

      1. Paul

      2. Sosthenes

    2. The recipients – church at Corinth (2)

    3. The supervisor – God (3)

  2. Thanksgiving for God’s work in their lives (4-9)

    1. God’s grace in their lives (4)

    2. God’s enrichment in their lives (5)

    3. God’s salvation in their lives (6)

    4. God’s gifts in their lives (7)

    5. God’s future work in their lives (8)

    6. God’s faithfulness in their lives (9)

  3. The call for unity (10-17)

    1. The call (10)

    2. The conflict (11-12)

    3. The center (13)

    4. The conclusion (14-17)

Discussion Questions:

What can you tell me about Corinth?

Is it important to know something about the background of the city and church of Corinth? Why or why not?

What do you know about the background of the city of Corinth?

How about the background of the church at Corinth?

Knowing this, what kind of struggles might the people of Corinth had?

Who are the three groups mentioned in the greetings?

Why would Paul say so many positive things in verses 4-9 when the Corinthian church was actually all messed up?

Who was Paul saying the positive things about? Who is getting the credit?

What does verse 6 mean?

If the Corinthian church was not lacking any gift, how about other churches or believers today?

What is the first problem identified in the Corinthian church?

What was causing the divisions?

Why were people divided by these kinds of things?

What was God’s will for them?

Why are there so many divisions in the church these days?

What should we do to limit divisions and reach for unity?

What do you notice about Paul’s attitude in it as one of their leaders?

What can we learn from this?

Why is Paul glad he didn’t baptize many of the people?

Cross-references

Acts 18:17 – Sosthenes was a ruler of a Synagogue beaten for not succeeding in his case against Paul at that time.

Acts 18:24-28 – Apollos.

Acts 18:11 – Paul had traveled there on his second missionary journey.

Confirm you to the end (8)

Ephesians 1:12 – Similar idea of giving the glory and praising God for His work in the Ephesians even to the end.

Urge (10)

1 Cor 4:16, 2 Cor 5:20, 2 Cor 6:1, 2 Cor 10:1 – Other times in the books Paul urged or pleaded with them.

Divisions and unity (10-14)

1 Corinthians 11:18 – He heard there were divisions among them.

1 Corinthians 12, esp 12:25, 12:12-13 – The chapter is on being unified and working together.

Philippians 2:2 – Make my joy complete by being of one mind and spirit and love.

Ephesians 4:13 – There is a connection between maturity and unity.

Ephesians 4:2-5 – Make every effort to be unified. One Lord and one baptism. Humility, patience, and tolerance are required.

Colossians 3:12-14 – Be patient and gentle and especially be loving and this will bring unity.

Romans 15:5-6 – Unity is so that we can glorify God with one mind and with one spirit.

Psalms 133:1 – How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.

Teaching Points –

I.

Paul starts off praising God for His work in the Corinthians. They were still far from perfect, as we will see later, but there were many true believers who came to Christ out of a completely pagan and evil environment. Notice Paul is not building up the Corinthians for what they have done or accomplished, rather He is calling attention to God’s work in their lives. It is all God’s work and not their own. Paul didn’t want them getting conceited or prideful with the progress they had made.

II.

A call for unity in the church.

III.

Paul’s humility as a leader. Many leaders would feel very good that “their” group was so loyal to them. They would welcome this loyalty and respect. In fact, many would feel that they deserve it and get upset if this loyalty or respect was not showed to them. This happens often even in Christian ministry. Leaders feel the need to be stroked and thanked. Why? They feel this when they have the wrong motivations. Maybe they want to feel successful or be able to show others the great work that they have done. It’s like a successful businessman who enjoys reporting about his company’s success and growth. A missionary or pastor or teacher can point to “his” group of 20 or 100 or 500 people and feel that they have done a great job. It’s the result of Christians building their own little kingdom to rule over as opposed to building God’s kingdom. It’s the result of pride and wrong motivations.

But Paul and I’m sure Apollos hated this attitude among the Corinthians. They didn’t want the loyalty. They didn’t want a bunch of separate groups. They realized that they were not the masters. They were not the kings. They were shepherds taking care of the sheep. But the sheep didn’t belong to them. The sheep belonged to Christ. Paul knows there is only one head of the church and that is not him.

Study 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

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