The first Epistle to the Corinthians is a practical letter. It was written to correct the errors brought about by the carnality of the believers in the church. That does not suggest that Paul did not give attention to doctrine in this epistle. Throughout the letter we see Paul's pastoral concern for a church that struggles spiritually in a pagan society. Corinth was a wealthy commercial city and a crossroads for travel. It had two harbors. The old city was destroyed by Romans in 146 B.C. The new city was built by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. When Paul came to Corinth in A.D. 51, it was a growing commercial center. Corinthians took pride in their Greek culture, entertainments, wealth and in their idolatrous religious practices. Corinth was known for the Isthmian games. The shining temple to Aphrodite was located on a rocky hill, visible for all. Corinth was a moral cesspool. Divorce was rampant. The temple served a thousand temple prostitutes as night entertainers. Its population was pluralistic in nature with a sizable group of Jews and synagogue. Nearly half of the population was slaves. It was known for idol worship and gross immorality. The name “Corinth” was a byword for all impure and sensual sins. From such a place, many people were saved through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
The founding of the church:
Paul visited Corinth on his second Missionary journey. His ministry at Athens was not fruitful (Acts 17:16-34). So, Paul was determined to preach nothing but “Jesus Christ and him crucified in Corinth (1 Corinthians 2:2). In Corinth he accepted the hospitality of Aquila and his wife Priscilla. They worked together making tents. On Sabbath, Paul reasoned with Jews concerning Christ in the Synagogue (Acts 18:1-4). One of the earliest converts was Crispus, the leader of the synagogue. He and his household believed along with many Corinthians (Acts 18:8).Facing opposition from Jews, Paul was led to the home of Gaius (1 Corinthians 1:14). Paul ministered in Corinth for eighteen months and a church was formed. During this time Paul went through discouragement but God’s faithful providence and promises strengthened him to continue the ministry (Acts 18:9-11). Paul wrote the first Corinthians from Ephesus towards the end of his three year ministry there in A.D 55 (16:8-9). This church was facing many difficulties and sought Paul's advice. First Corinthians is the answer to these questions raised by the church. Paul reminds this church that God's people possess all the resources needed for spiritual growth.