1 corinthians catholic bible

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Year of the Bible

1 Corintios 1

1 1 Pablo, llamado a ser apóstol de Cristo

Jesús por voluntad de Dios, y Sóstenes,

nuestro hermano, 2 a la Iglesia de Dios que

está en Corinto, a los santificados en Cristo

Jesús, llamados a ser santos, y a todos

los que invocan en todo lugar el nombre

de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, Señor suyo y

nuestro: 3 gracia y paz a vosotros de parte de

Dios, nuestro Padre, y del Señor Jesucristo.

4 Doy continuamente gracias a mi

Dios por vosotros, a causa de la gracia

de Dios que os ha sido concedida en

Cristo Jesús, 5 porque en él fuisteis enriquecidos

en todo: en toda palabra y en

toda ciencia, 6 de modo que el testimonio

de Cristo se ha confirmado en vosotros,

7 y así no os falta ningún don,

mientras esperáis la manifestación de

nuestro Señor Jesucristo. 8 Él os confirmará

hasta el final, para que seáis hallados

irreprochables el día de nuestro Señor

Jesucristo. 9 Fiel es Dios, por quien

fuisteis llamados a la unión con su Hijo

Jesucristo, Señor nuestro.

10 Os exhorto, hermanos, por el

nombre de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, a

que todos tengáis un mismo lenguaje y

a que no haya divisiones entre vosotros,

a que viváis unidos en un mismo pensar

y en un mismo sentir. 11 Porque, por los

de Cloe, me han llegado noticias sobre

vosotros, hermanos míos, de que hay

discordias entre vosotros. 12 Me refiero a

que cada uno de vosotros va diciendo:

«Yo soy de Pablo», «Yo, de Apolo», «Yo,

de Cefas», «Yo, de Cristo».

13 ¿Está dividido Cristo? ¿Es que Pablo

fue crucificado por vosotros o fuisteis

bautizados en el nombre de Pablo?

14 Doy gracias a Dios porque no bauticé a

ninguno de vosotros, excepto a Crispo y

a Gayo, 15 para que ninguno pueda decir

que fuisteis bautizados en mi nombre.

16 Bauticé también a la familia de Estéfanas.

Fuera de éstos no recuerdo haber

bautizado a ningún otro. 17 Porque Cristo

no me envió a bautizar sino a evangelizar,

y no con sabiduría de palabras, para

no desvirtuar la cruz de Cristo.

18 Porque el mensaje de la cruz es necedad

para los que se pierden, pero para

los que se salvan, para nosotros, es fuerza

de Dios. 19 Pues está escrito:

Destruiré la sabiduría de los sabios,

y desecharé la prudencia de los prudentes.

20 ¿Dónde está el sabio? ¿Dónde el

docto? ¿Dónde el investigador de este

mundo? ¿No hizo Dios necia la sabiduría

de este mundo? 21 Porque, como en la

sabiduría de Dios el mundo no conoció

a Dios por medio de la sabiduría, quiso

Dios salvar a los creyentes, por medio

de la necedad de la predicación. 22 Porque

los judíos piden signos, los griegos

buscan sabiduría; 23 nosotros en cambio

predicamos a Cristo crucificado, escándalo

para los judíos, necedad para los

gentiles; 24 pero para los llamados, judíos

y griegos, predicamos a Cristo, fuerza

de Dios y sabiduría de Dios. 25 Porque lo

necio de Dios es más sabio que los hombres,

y lo débil de Dios es más fuerte que

los hombres.

26 Considerad, si no, hermanos, vuestra

vocación; porque no hay entre vosotros

muchos sabios según la carne, ni muchos

poderosos, ni muchos nobles; 27 sino

que Dios escogió la necedad del mundo

para confundir a los sabios, y Dios eligió

la flaqueza del mundo para confundir

a los fuertes; 28 escogió Dios a lo vil, a

lo despreciable del mundo, a lo que no es

nada, para destruir lo que es, 29 de manera

que ningún mortal pueda gloriarse ante

Dios. 30 De Él os viene que estéis en Cristo

Jesús, a quien Dios lo hizo para nosotros

sabiduría, justicia, santificación y redención,

31 para que, como está escrito:

El que se gloría, que se gloríe en el Señor.

Pregunta de Lectio Divina del día de hoy

Tras escuchar la exhortación de Pablo de que habrá unidad entre noostros "una mente y propósito", cuál es la primera persona o situación que iene a mi mente con relación a esta palabra de aliento? ¿Y cómo descansa con mi alma?

La Biblia de Navarra

Permiso para usar esta versión de la primera edición de la Biblia de Navarra

para el Año de la Biblia del Obispo 

dado por Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, S.A. (EUNSA).

Sours: https://www.dioceseoflansing.org/1-corinthians-1

I Corinthians

Author: Paul of

Date Written: 55 or 56 AD

Paul wrote this letter in response to problems at the church in while he was staying in .  He had originally evangelized people in in 51 and 52 while staying with Priscilla and (see Acts 18).  A few years later, a contingent from the Corinthian church brought him news of divisions and difficulties so Paul speaks to his own spiritual children in I Corinthians (4:14).  This is the second of four letters that Paul wrote to the .  Unfortunately, only two have been preserved.


Knowing a little about 's history is key for understanding the letter.  had been a major Greek city until the Romans destroyed it in 146 BC.  They rebuilt it in 44 BC as a Roman colony for freed slaves and military veterans.  It became the capitol of the of (modern-day ) and a major trade city because of its control of two ports on opposite sides of the Greek peninsula.  It was famous for its licentiousness and social ladder-climbing.  Many pagan temples filled the city, being dedicated to gods and goddesses such as Aphrodite, Asclepius, Poseidon and even the Roman Emperor.  Every two years, hosted a mini-olympics called the Isthmian Games.  At the time that Paul wrote I Corinthians, was a booming metropolis, filled with mariners, merchants, tradesmen and tourists.

Paul makes four main points in the letter.  He rebukes the Corinthians for their divisiveness and sin (1-6).  Next he addresses specific questions they had about marriage and food offered to idols (7-10).  Then Paul takes up issues regarding the Mass, charismatic gifts, the centrality of love and the importance of prophecy (11-14).  Lastly, he focuses on the victory of the resurrection of the dead and gives his final greetings (15-16).

I Corinthians contains some core Christian teachings.  God has revealed his secrets to us (2:9-10) but he will test our works by fire in Purgatory (3:13-15).  We are obliged to avoid all sexual immorality and some of us are called to take vows of celibacy to serve the Church (5-7, 10).  Paul tells us not to cause our brother or sister to "stumble" through careless actions offensive to his or her conscience (8:13).  The words of institution for the Eucharist appear in 11:24-25 and we learn not to receive the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin because by so doing we bring judgment upon ourselves (11:29, CCC 1415).  Each Christian has special giftings which must be put to use for the upbuilding of the whole Church.  Our gifts are unique, but must work together for the good (12).  Love is the center of the Christian life.  Everything we do as Christians flows from God's love and leads back to his love (13).  Also, Paul teaches us that just as Jesus was raised on Easter Sunday, we will be raised from the dead at the end of time (15).  Ultimately, we are recipients of the greatest gift because God "gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (15:56).

Sours: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resource/56197/i-corinthians
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1 Corinthians


Greeting.1Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,* and Sosthenes our brother,a2to the church of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.b3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving.4I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, 5that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, 6as the testimony* to Christ was confirmed among you, 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.c8He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus [Christ].d9God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.e

II. Disorders in the Corinthian Community

A. Divisions in the Church*

Groups and Slogans.10I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.f11For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. 12I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to* Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”g13* Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14I give thanks [to God] that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,h15so that no one can say you were baptized in my name. 16(I baptized the household of Stephanas also; beyond that I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)i17* For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence,* so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.j

Paradox of the Cross.18The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.k19For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the learning of the learned I will set aside.”l

20Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?m21* For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,n23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,o24but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

The Corinthians and Paul.*26Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,p28and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, 29so that no human being might boast* before God.q30It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,r31so that, as it is written, “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.”s

* [1:1–9] Paul follows the conventional form for the opening of a Hellenistic letter (cf. Rom 1:1–7), but expands the opening with details carefully chosen to remind the readers of their situation and to suggest some of the issues the letter will discuss.

* [1:1] Called…by the will of God: Paul’s mission and the church’s existence are grounded in God’s initiative. God’s call, grace, and fidelity are central ideas in this introduction, emphasized by repetition and wordplays in the Greek.

* [1:6] The testimony: this defines the purpose of Paul’s mission (see also 1 Cor 15:15 and the note on 1 Cor 2:1). The forms of his testimony include oral preaching and instruction, his letters, and the life he leads as an apostle.

* [1:10–4:21] The first problem Paul addresses is that of divisions within the community. Although we are unable to reconstruct the situation in Corinth completely, Paul clearly traces the divisions back to a false self-image on the part of the Corinthians, coupled with a false understanding of the apostles who preached to them (cf. 1 Cor 4:6, 9; 9:1–5) and of the Christian message itself. In these chapters he attempts to deal with those underlying factors and to bring the Corinthians back to a more correct perspective.

* [1:12] I belong to: the activities of Paul and Apollos in Corinth are described in Acts 18. Cephas (i.e., “the Rock,” a name by which Paul designates Peter also in 1 Cor 3:22; 9:5; 15:5 and in Gal 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14) may well have passed through Corinth; he could have baptized some members of the community either there or elsewhere. The reference to Christ may be intended ironically here.

* [1:13–17] The reference to baptism and the contrast with preaching the gospel in v. 17a suggest that some Corinthians were paying special allegiance to the individuals who initiated them into the community.

* [1:17b–18] The basic theme of 1 Cor 1–4 is announced. Adherence to individual leaders has something to do with differences in rhetorical ability and also with certain presuppositions regarding wisdom, eloquence, and effectiveness (power), which Paul judges to be in conflict with the gospel and the cross.

* [1:17b] Not with the wisdom of human eloquence: both of the nouns employed here involve several levels of meaning, on which Paul deliberately plays as his thought unfolds. Wisdom (sophia) may be philosophical and speculative, but in biblical usage the term primarily denotes practical knowledge such as is demonstrated in the choice and effective application of means to achieve an end. The same term can designate the arts of building (cf. 1 Cor 3:10) or of persuasive speaking (cf. 1 Cor 2:4) or effectiveness in achieving salvation. Eloquence (logos): this translation emphasizes one possible meaning of the term logos (cf. the references to rhetorical style and persuasiveness in 1 Cor 2:1, 4). But the term itself may denote an internal reasoning process, plan, or intention, as well as an external word, speech, or message. So by his expression ouk en sophia logou in the context of gospel preaching, Paul may intend to exclude both human ways of reasoning or thinking about things and human rhetorical technique. Human: this adjective does not stand in the Greek text but is supplied from the context. Paul will begin immediately to distinguish between sophia and logos from their divine counterparts and play them off against each other.

* [1:21–25] True wisdom and power are to be found paradoxically where one would least expect them, in the place of their apparent negation. To human eyes the crucified Christ symbolizes impotence and absurdity.

* [1:26–2:5] The pattern of God’s wisdom and power is exemplified in their own experience, if they interpret it rightly (1 Cor 1:26–31), and can also be read in their experience of Paul as he first appeared among them preaching the gospel (1 Cor 2:1–5).

* [1:29–31] “Boasting (about oneself)” is a Pauline expression for the radical sin, the claim to autonomy on the part of a creature, the illusion that we live and are saved by our own resources. “Boasting in the Lord” (1 Cor 1:31), on the other hand, is the acknowledgment that we live only from God and for God.

a. [1:1] Rom 1:1.

b. [1:2] Acts 18:1–11.

c. [1:7] Ti 2:13.

d. [1:8] Phil 1:6.

e. [1:9] 1 Jn 1:3.

f. [1:10] Phil 2:2.

g. [1:12] 3:4, 22; 16:12; Acts 18:24–28.

h. [1:14] Acts 18:8 / Rom 16:23.

i. [1:16] 16:15–17.

j. [1:17] 2:1, 4.

k. [1:18] 2:14 / Rom 1:16.

l. [1:19] Is 29:14.

m. [1:20] Is 19:12.

n. [1:22] Mt 12:38; 16:1 / Acts 17:18–21.

o. [1:23] 2:2; Gal 3:1 / Gal 5:11.

p. [1:27] Jas 2:5.

q. [1:29] Eph 2:9.

r. [1:30] Rom 4:17 / 6:11; Rom 3:24–26; 2 Cor 5:21 / Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; 1 Thes 5:23.

s. [1:31] Jer 9:23; 2 Cor 10:17.

Sours: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/1corinthians/1

First Corinthians

by George T. Montague
Publication Date: 11/01/2011
ISBN: 9780801036323

Where to Purchase

Professors: Request Exam Copy




“George Montague’s First Corinthians is a great addition to the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. Of all Paul’s letters, First Corinthians is the one that enables us to see the reality of a first-century Christian community and read Paul’s reflections thereon. Drawing from what Paul wrote, Montague shows the continuity between the Church of God at Corinth and the Catholic Church of the twenty-first century. It is as insightful about the one as it is the other.”
– Raymond F. Collins, visiting scholar, Brown University

“Esteemed Catholic biblical scholar George Montague . . . adds this fine commentary to the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. . . . Montague offers a wonderful, constructive, and pastorally sensitive exposition of Paul’s most turbulent letter. . . . Montague draws out the connection between Paul’s dealings with various problems in the Corinthian community and analogous issues today in Catholic life. His commentary on Paul’s letter is clear and informed. In the style of the series, there are helpful sidebars explaining the background of key concepts, along with photos and maps.”
Donald Senior, CPThe Bible Today

“The special focus of these commentaries on ‘the meaning of the text for faith and life’ includes the following helpful features: brief and clear introductions to each textual unit and where it fits into the overall letter and Paul’s theology, then, after the NAB text, a list of scriptural parallels (OT and NT) followed by references to the Catechism and the Lectionary–very useful for liturgical or study group. . . . Montague’s commentary strikes a good balance between clarifying the main issues treated by Paul in the letter–for nonspecialists–and, for those who have studied the Bible in more depth, not neglecting difficult texts or controversial issues. . . . Montague’s ‘Reflection and Application’ include many concrete examples from his personal experience as priest, celibate religious, and college teacher. This makes the commentary interesting to read . . . and helps clarify the topics for discussions today.”
– James ZeitzCatholic Books Review

“[Montague] stresses the orality of Paul’s letters, noting that Paul dictated them orally and meant them to be read aloud to the church. This is an oft-neglected aspect of Pauline interpretation, and Montague does well to situate the letter in the pastoral context of Paul’s relationship to the Corinthian assembly. . . . [This volume is] highly readable as [the author] mix[es] reliable interpretation, clear prose, and keen pastoral insight. [It] will be of great benefit to pastors and teachers across Christian traditions.”
– Timothy GombisInterpretation

“This commentary is written from the perspective of the Catholic faith, particularly for whose who are interested in studying Scripture to understand their faith and tradition, and to nourish their spiritual life. It is deeply embedded in church tradition and stimulates the reader to learn from the past. The commentary is strong at providing a historical background and a bridge between the text and the contemporary situation. It serves its purpose of enhancing Catholic Christians in their understanding of the Word of God for their life and ministry.”
– Svetlana KhobnyaJournal for the Study of the New Testament

Sours: https://www.catholiccommentaryonsacredscripture.com/volumes/first-corinthians/

Corinthians catholic bible 1

1 Corinthians - Chapter 1

1 Corinthians Chapters

1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and Sosthenes, our brother,

2 to the church of God in Corinth, to those who have been consecrated in ChristJesus and called to be God's holy people, with all those everywhere who call on the name of our LordJesus Christ, their Lord as well as ours.

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the LordJesus Christ.

4 I am continually thanking God about you, for the grace of God which you have been given in Christ Jesus;

5 in him you have been richly endowed in every kind of utterance and knowledge;

6 so firmly has witness to Christ taken root in you.

7 And so you are not lacking in any gift as you wait for our LordJesusChrist to be revealed;

8 he will continue to give you strength till the very end, so that you will be irreproachable on the Day of our LordJesus Christ.

9 You can rely on God, who has called you to be partners with his Son JesusChrist our Lord.

10 Brothers, I urge you, in the name of our LordJesus Christ, not to have factions among yourselves but all to be in agreement in what you profess; so that you are perfectly united in your beliefs and judgements.

11 From what Chloe's people have been telling me about you, brothers, it is clear that there are serious differences among you.

12 What I mean is this: every one of you is declaring, 'I belong to Paul,' or 'I belong to Apollos,' or 'I belong to Cephas,' or 'I belong to Christ.'

13 Has Christ been split up? Was it Paul that was crucified for you, or was it in Paul's name that you were baptised?

14 I am thankful I did not baptise any of you, except Crispus and Gaius,

15 so that no one can say that you were baptised in my name.

16 Yes, I did baptise the family of Stephanas, too; but besides these I do not think I baptised anyone.

17 After all, Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach the gospel; and not by means of wisdom of language, wise words which would make the cross of Christ pointless.

18 The message of the cross is folly for those who are on the way to ruin, but for those of us who are on the road to salvation it is the power of God.

19 As scripture says: I am going to destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of any who understand.

20 Where are the philosophers? Where are the experts? And where are the debaters of this age? Do you not see how God has shown up human wisdom as folly?

21 Since in the wisdom of God the world was unable to recognise God through wisdom, it was God's own pleasure to save believers through the folly of the gospel.

22 While the Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom,

23 we are preaching a crucified Christ: to the Jews an obstacle they cannot get over, to the gentiles foolishness,

24 but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is both the power of God and the wisdom of God.

25 God's folly is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.

26 Consider, brothers, how you were called; not many of you are wise by human standards, not many influential, not many from noble families.

27 No, God chose those who by human standards are fools to shame the wise; he chose those who by human standards are weak to shame the strong,

28 those who by human standards are common and contemptible -- indeed those who count for nothing -- to reduce to nothing all those that do count for something,

29 so that no human being might feel boastful before God.

30 It is by him that you exist in Christ Jesus, who for us was made wisdom from God, and saving justice and holiness and redemption.

31 As scripture says: If anyone wants to boast, let him boast of the Lord.

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1 Corinthians Chapters

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Sours: https://www.catholic.org/bible/book.php?id=53
Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 1

1 Corinthians 1

Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition


1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sos′thenes,

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Divisions in the Church

10 I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chlo′e’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apol′los,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Ga′ius; 15 lest any one should say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Steph′anas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any one else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Christ the Power and Wisdom of God

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.”

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; 27 but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; 31 therefore, as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord.”

Sours: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%201&version=RSVCE

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Epistles to the Corinthians

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St. Paul founds the Church at Corinth

St. Paul's first visit to Europe is graphically described by St. Luke (Acts 16-18). When he reached Troas, at the northwest corner of Asia Minor, on his second great missionary journey in company with Timothy and Silvanus, or Silas (who was a "prophet" and had the confidence of The Twelve), he met St. Luke, probably for the first time. At Troas he had a vision of "a man of Macedonia standing and beseeching him, and saying: Pass over in to Macedonia and help us." In response to this appeal he proceeded to Philippi in Macedonia, where he made many converts, but was cruelly beaten with rods according to the Roman custom. After comforting the brethren he travelled southward to Thessalonica, where some of the Jews "believed, and of those that served God, and of the Gentiles a great multitude, and of noble women not a few. But the Jews, moved with envy, and taking unto them some wicked men of the vulgar sort set the city in an uproar. . . And they stirred up the people and the rulers of the city hearing these things. But the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night to Ber£a. Who, when they were come thither, went into the synagogue of the Jews, and many of them believed, and of honourable women that were Gentiles and of men not a few." But unbelieving Jews from Thessalonica came to Ber£a "stirring up and troubling the multitude". "And immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go to the sea; but Silas and Timothy remained there. And they that conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens" — then reduced to the position of an old university town. At Athens he preached his famous philosophical discourse in the Areopagus. Only a few were converted, amongst these being St. Dionysius the Areopagite. Some of his frivolous hearers mocked him. Others said that that was enough for the present; they would listen to more another time.

He appears to have been very disappointed with Athens He did not visit it again, and it is never mentioned in his letters. The disappointed and solitary Apostle left Athens and travelled westwards, a distance of forty-five miles, to Corinth, then the capital of Greece. The fearful scourging at Philippi coming not very long after he had been stoned and left for dead at Lystra, together with his ill-treatment by the Jews, as described in 2 Corinthians, must have greatly weakened him. As we are not to suppose that he, any more than his Master, was miraculously saved from pain and its effects, it was with physical pain, nervousness, and misgiving that the lonely Apostle entered this great pagan city, that had a bad name for profligacy throughout the Roman world. To act the Corinthian was synonymous with leading a loose life. Corinth, which had been destroyed by the Romans, was re-established as a colony by Julius Cesar 46 B.C., and made the capital of the Roman Province of Achaia by Augustus. It was built on the southern extremity of the isthmus connecting the mainland with the Morea, and was on the great line of traffic between East and West. Its two magnificent harbours, one at each side of the isthmus, were crowded with shipping and were the scenes of constant bustle and activity. Corinth was filled with Greeks, Romans, Syrians, Egyptians, and Jews, many of the last having lately come from Rome on account of their expulsion by Claudius; and its streets were thronged by tens of thousands of slaves. Crowds, too, came from all parts every four years to be present at the Isthmian games. On the summit of the hill to the south of the city was the infamous temple of Venus, with its thousand female devotees dedicated to a life of shame.

It was to this centre of traffic, excitement, wealth, and vice that St. Paul came, probably about the end of A.D. 51; and here he spent upwards of eighteen months of his Apostolic career. He took up his residence with two ChristianJews, Aquila and his wife Priscilla (refugees from Rome), because they were of the same trade as himself. Like all Jews he had learnt a trade in his youth, and in their house he supported himself by working at this trade, viz., that of tentmaker, as he had determined not to receive any support from the money-loving Corinthians. He began by preaching in the synagogue every Sabbath; "and he persuaded the Jews and the Greeks". Of this period he says that he was with them "in weakness, and fear, and much trembling". The ill-usage he had received was still fresh in his memory, as, writing a month or two later to the Thessalonians, he recalls how he had been "shamefully treated at Philippi". But when he was joined by Silas and Timothy, who brought him pecuniary aid from Macedonia, he became more bold and confident, and "was earnest in testifying to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But they gainsaying and blaspheming, he shook his garments and said to them: "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles." He then began to preach in the house of Titus Justus, adjoining the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, and his family, and several of the Corinthians were converted and baptized. Amongst these were Caius, Stephanas, and his household, and the house of Fortunatus and Achaicus, "the firstfruits of Achaia" (1 Corinthians 1:14, 1:16, 16:15). The growing opposition of the Jews, however, and the wicked state of the city had a depressing influence upon him; but "the Lord said to Paul in the night, by a vision: Do not fear, but speak; and hold not thy peace, because I am with thee; and no man shall set upon thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in this city. And he stayed there a year and six months, teaching among them the word of God" (Acts 18:9-11). Many were converted; some of them noble, wealthy, and learned, but the great majority neither learned, nor powerful, nor noble (1 Corinthians 1:26). During this long period the Faith was planted not only in Corinth but in other portions of Achaia, especially in Cenchreæ, the eastern port. At length the unbelieving Jews, seeing the ever-increasing crowd of Christians frequenting the house of Titus Justus, next door to their synagogue, became furious, and rose up with one accord and dragged St. Paul before the newly-appointed Proconsul of Achaia, Gallio, the brother of Seneca (A.D. 54). Gallio, perceiving that it was a question of religion, refused to listen to them. The crowd, seeing this and supposing that it was a dispute between Greeks and Jews, fell upon the ring-leader of the latter (Sosthenes, who succeeded Crispus as ruler of the synagogue) and gave him a sound beating in the very sight of the judgment seat; but Gallio pretended not to notice. His treatment must have cowed the Jews, and St. Paul "stayed yet many days". Cornely is of opinion that at this time he made his journey as far as Illyricum, and that his first visit to them "in sorrow" was when he returned. Others with greater probability place it later. St Paul, at last taking leave of the brethren, travelled as far as Ephesus with Priscilla and Aquila. Leaving them there he went on to Jerusalem and came back by Antioch, Galatia, and Phrygia, where he confirmed all the disciples. After having thus traversed the "upper coasts" he returned to Ephesus, which he made his head-quarters for nearly three years. It was towards the end of that period that the First Epistle was written.

Authenticity of the epistles

Little need be said on this point. The historical and internal evidence that they were written by St. Paul is so overwhelmingly strong that their authenticity has been frankly admitted by every distinguished writer of the most advanced critical schools. They were contained in the first collections of St. Paul'sEpistles, and were quoted as Scripture by early Christian writers. They were referred to as authorities by the early heretics and translated into many languages in the middle of the second century. The unique personality of St. Paul is impressed upon their every page. Baur, the rationalistic founder of the Tübingen School, and his followers, held the two to the Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans to be unassailable. One or two hypercritical writers, of little weight, brought some futile objections against them; but these were scarcely meant to be taken seriously; they were refuted and brushed aside by such an ultra writer as Kuenen. Schmiedel, one of the most advanced modern critics, says (Hand-Kommentar, Leipzig, 1893, p. 51) that unless better arguments can be adduced against them the two Epistles must be acknowledged to be genuine writings of St. Paul. The Second Epistle was known from the very earliest times. There is a trace of it in that portion of "The Ascension of Isaiah" which dates back to the first century (Knowling, "The Testimony of St. Paul to Christ", p. 58; Charles, "The Ascension of Isaiah", pp. 34, 150). It was known to St. Polycarp, to the writer of the Epistle to Diognetus, to Athenagoras, Theophilus, the hereticsBasilides and Marcion. In the second half of the second century it was so widely used that it is unnecessary to give quotations.

The first epistle

Why written

During the years that St. Paul was at Ephesus he must have frequently heard from Corinth, as it was distant only 250 miles, and people were constantly passing to and fro. A ship sailing at the rate of four miles an hour would cover the distance in three days, though on one unpropitious occasion it took Cicero over a fortnight (Ep. vi, 8, 9). By degrees the news reached Ephesus that some of the Corinthians were drifting back into their former vices. Alford and others infer from the words of 2 Corinthians 12:20-21 and 13:1, "Behold this is the third time that I come to you", that he made a flying visit to check these abuses. Others suppose that this coming meant by letter. Be this as it may, it is generally held that he wrote them a brief note (now lost) telling them "not to associate with fornicators", asking them to make collection for the poor brethren at Jerusalem, and giving them an account of his intention of visiting them before going on to Macedonia, and of returning to them again from that place. News which he heard later from the household of Chloe and others made him change his plan, and for this he was accused by his enemies of want of steadiness of purpose (2 Corinthians 1:17). The accounts which he received caused him great anxiety. Abuses, bickerings, and party strife had grown up amongst them. The party cries were: "I am of Paul; I am of Apollo [Apollos]; I am of Cephas; I am of Christ." These parties, in all likelihood, originated as follows: During St. Paul's circular tour from Ephesus to Jerusalem, Antioch, Galatia, Phrygia, and back to Ephesus, "a certain Jew, named Apollo, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus, one mighty in the scriptures, and being fervent in spirit, spoke, and taught diligently the things that are of Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John." Priscilla and Aquila fully instructed him in the Christian Faith. In accordance with his desire he received letters of recommendation to the disciples at Corinth. "Who, when he was come, helped them very much who had believed. For with much vigor he convinced the Jews openly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 18:27-28). He remained at Corinth about two years, but, being unwilling to be made the centre of strife, he joined St. Paul at Ephesus. From the inspired words of St. Luke, no mean judge, we may take it that in learning and eloquence Apollo was on a par with the greatest of his contemporaries, and that in intellectual powers he was not inferior to Jews like Josephus and Philo. He is likely to have known the latter, who was a prominent member of the Jewish community in his native city of Alexandria, and had died only fourteen years before; and his deep interest in Holy Scripture would certainly have led him to study the works of Philo. The eloquence of Apollo, and his powerful applications of the Old Testament to the Messias, captivated the intellectual Greeks, especially the more educated. That, they thought, was true wisdom. They began to make invidious comparisons between him and St. Paul who on account of his experience at Athens, had purposely confined himself to what we should call solid catechetical instruction. The Greeks dearly loved to belong to some particular school of philosophy; so the admirers of Apollo laid claim to a deeper perception of wisdom and boasted that they belonged to the Christianschool of the great Alexandrian preacher. The majority, on the other hand, prided themselves on their intimate connection with their Apostle. It was not zeal for the honour of their teachers that really prompted either of these parties, but a spirit of pride which made them seek to put themselves above their fellows, and prevented them from humbly thanking God for the grace of being Christians. About this time there came from the East some who had possibly heard St. Peter preach. These regarded the others as their spiritual inferiors; they themselves belonged to Cephas, the Prince of the Apostles. Commentators are of opinion that this party spirit did not go so deep as to constitute formal schism or heresy. They all met together for prayer and the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries; but there were hot disputes and many breaches of fraternal charity. The Fathers mention only three parties; but the text obviously implies that there was another party the members of which said, "I am of Christ". This view is now held by several Catholics, and by many non-Catholics. What was the nature of this party it is difficult to determine. It has been suggested that a few of those who were specially endowed with spiritual gifts, or charismata, boasted that they were above the others, as they were in direct communication with Christ. Another explanation is that they had seen Christ in the flesh, or that they claimed to follow His example in their reverence for the Law of Moses. At any rate, the statement, "I am of Christ", seemed to make Christ a mere party name, and to imply that the others were not Christians in the genuine and perfect sense of the word.

St. Paul, hearing of this state of things, sent Timothy together with Erastus (probably the "treasurer of the city" of Corinth — Romans 16:23) round by Macedonia, to put things in order. Soon after they left, Stephanas and other delegates came with a letter from the Corinthians. This letter contained some self-glorification and requested the Apostle to give a solution to several serious difficulties which they proposed to him; but it made no mention of their shortcomings. By this time he had become fully aware of the grave state of affairs amongst them. Besides party strife, some made light of sins of impurity. One man had gone to the extent of marrying his stepmother, his father being still alive, a crime unheard of amongst the pagans. So far were they from showing horror that they treated him in a friendly manner and allowed him to be present at their meetings. As matters were too pressing to wait for the arrival of Timothy, St. Paul at once wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians and sent it by Titus about Easter A.D. 57.

Importance of the first epistle

This is generally regarded as the greatest of the writings of St. Paul by reason of the magnificence and beauty of its style and the variety and importance of its contents. So splendid is its style that it has given rise to the conjecture that St. Paul took lessons in oratory at Ephesus; but this is highly improbable. St. Paul's was not the type of eloquence to be moulded by mechanical rules; his was the kind of genius that produces literature on which rules of rhetoric are based. If the Corinthians were impressed by the eloquence of Apollo, they could not help feeling, when they heard and read this Epistle, that here was an author capable of bearing comparison not only with Apollo, but with the best that they could boast in Greek literature, of which they were so justly proud. Scholars of all schools are loud in its praise. The striking similes, figures of speech, and telling sentences of the Epistle have passed into the literatures of the world. Plummer, in Smith's "Dict. of the Bible", says that chapters xiii and xv are among the most sublime passages, not only in the Bible, but in all literature.

But this Epistle is great not only for its style but also for the variety and importance of its doctrinal teaching. In no other Epistle does St. Paul treat of so many different subjects; and the doctrines which are touched upon (in many eases only incidentally) are important as showing what he and Silvanus, a disciple and trusted delegate of the older Apostles, taught the early Christians. In some of his letters he had to defend his Apostolate and the freedom of Christians from the Law of Moses against heretical teachers; but be never had to defend himself against his bitterest enemies, the judaizers, for his teaching on Christ and the principal points of doctrine contained in these two Epistles, the obvious reason being that his teaching must have been in perfect harmony with that of The Twelve. He distinctly states in ch. xv, 11, "For whether I, or they [The Twelve Apostles], so we preach, and so you have believed."

Divisions of the first epistle

Instead of giving a formal summary of the contents of the Epistle, it may be more useful to give the teaching of the Apostle, in his own words, classified under various heads, following, in general, the order of the Creed. With regard to arrangement, it may be stated, in passing, that the Epistle is divided into two parts. In the first six chapters he rebukes them for their faults and corrects abuses: (1) He shows the absurdity of their divisions and bickerings; (2) deals with the scandalous case of incest; (3) their lawsuits before pagans; and (4) the want of sufficient horror of impurity in some of them. In the second part (the remaining ten chapters) he solves the difficulties which they proposed to him and lays down various regulations for their conduct. He deals with questions relating to (1) marriage, (2) virginity, (3) the use of things offered to idols, (4) proper decorum in church and the celebration of the Eucharist, (5) spiritual gifts, or Charismata, (6) the Resurrection, (7) the collections for the poor of Jerusalem.

Its teaching

God the Father (passim)

"Yet there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we by him" (viii, 6). Compare 2 Corinthians 13:13: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you all." (Bengel, quoted by Bernard, calls this an egregium testimonium to the Blessed Trinity.)

Jesus Christ

(1) "Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (i, 3). "You are called unto the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (i, 9). "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (i, 24). "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, a wisdom which is hidden, which Godordained before the world, unto our glory, which none of the princes of this world knew; for if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory" (ii, 7, 8). "But you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God" (vi, 11 — see also i, 2, 4, 7, 9 13; iii, 5, 11; vi, 11; xii, 4-6). (2) "The word of the cross to them that are saved is the power of God" (i, 18). "We preach Christ crucified, unto them that are called Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (i, 23, 24). "But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and justice, and sanctification and redemption" (i, 30). "For I judged myself not to know any thing among you, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (ii, 3). "For Christ our pasch is sacrificed" (v, 7). "For you are bought with a great price" (vi, 20 - cf. i, 13, 17; vii, 23; viii, 11, 12.) (3) The following passage probably contains fragments of an early creed: "The gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received. . . . For I delivered unto you first of all, which I also received: how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures: and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the scriptures: and that he was seen by Cephas; and after that by the eleven. Then was he seen by more than five hundred brethren at once: of whom many remain until this present, and some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen by James, then by all the apostles. And last of all, he was seen also by me, as by one born out of due time" (xv, 1-8). "Have not I seen Christ Jesus our Lord?" (ix, 1). "And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (xv, 14). "But now Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep" (xv, 20 - cf. vi, 14). (4) "Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (i, 7). "That the spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (v, 5). "He that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge not before the time; until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise from God" (iv, 4, 5).

The Holy Ghost

"Now there are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit; and there are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operations, but the same God" (xii, 4-6). "But to us God hath revealed them, by his Spirit. The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God . . . the things that are of God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God" (ii, 10, 11 — cf. ii, 12-14, 16). "Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (iii, 16). "But you are washed, but you are sanctified . . . in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God" (vi, 11). "Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own? . . . Glorify and bear God in your body" (vi, 19, 20). "But all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will" (xii, 11). "For in one Spirit were we all baptized unto one body" (xii, 13). "Yet by the Spirit he speaketh mysteries" (xiv, 2).

The Holy Catholic Church

"The head of every man is Christ" (11:3).


"Is Christ divided?" (i, 13). "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but that you be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment" (i, 10). He devotes four chapters to the reprehension of their divisions, which did not really amount to anything constituting formal schism or heresy. They met in common for prayer and the participation of the Blessed Eucharist. "Know you not that you [the Christian body] are the temple of God . . . but if any man violate the temple of God [by pulling it to pieces], him shall God destroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are" (iii, 16, 17). "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free" (xii, 12, 13). [Here follows the allegory of the body and its members, xii, 14-25.] "Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member" (xii, 27). "And God hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets . . . Are all apostles?" (xii, 28-31). "For God is not the God of dissension, but of peace: as also I teach in all the Churches of the saints" (xiv, 33). "I have sent you Timothy, who is my dearest son and faithful in the Lord, who will put you in mind of my ways, which are in Christ Jesus: as I teach everywhere in every church" (iv, 17). "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor the church of God" (xi, 16). "The gospel which I preached to you . . . and wherein you stand; by which also you are [being] saved, if you hold fast after the manner I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain" (xv, 1-2). "For whether I, or they [The Twelve Apostles], so we preach, and so you have believed" (xv, 11). "The churches of Asia salute you" (xvi, 19).

Old Testament Types

"Now all these things happened to them in figure: and they are written for our correction" (10:11).


"What will you? shall I come to you with a rod; or in charity, and in the spirit of meekness?" (iv, 21). "Now concerning the collections. . . . as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, so do ye also" (xvi, 1).

Power of excommunication

"I indeed, absent in body, but present in spirit, have already judged, as though I were present, him that hath so done. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, you being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved" (v, 3-5).

Jews and pagans exempt from Church's jurisdiction

"For what have I to do to judge them that are without . . . For them that are without, God will judge" (5:12-13).


"For the temple of God is holy, which you are" (iii, 17). "Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ" (vi, 15). "Your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost . . . Glorify and bear God in your body" (vi, 19, 20 — cf. vi, 11, etc.).


"God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it" (x, 13). "Grace be to you . . ." (i, 3). "But by the grace of God, I am what I am; and his grace in me hath not been void, but I have laboured more abundantly than all they: yet not I, but the grace of God with me" (xv, 10).

Virtuous life necessary for salvation

"Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate . . . nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, . . . shall possess the kingdom of God" (vi, 9, 10). This, like a dominant note, rings clear through all the Epistles of St. Paul as in the teaching of his Divine Master. "But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway" (ix, 27). "Wherefore he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall" (x, 12). "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast and unmoveable; always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (xv, 58). "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, do manfully, and be strengthened" (xvi, 13). "Do all to the glory of God" (x, 31). "Be without offence to the Jews, and to the Gentiles, and to the church of God" (x, 32). "Be ye followers of me as I am of Christ" (xi, 1).

Resurrection of the body and life everlasting

"For God hath raised up the Lord, and he will raise us up also by his power" (vi, 14). "And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive." "For star differeth from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour, it shall rise in glory." "Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall all indeed rise again." "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible." (See all of ch. xv.) "We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known" (xiii, 12).


"Were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (i, 13). "I baptized also the household of Stephanus" (I, 16). "For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body" (xii, 13). "But you are washed [apelousasthe] but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God" (vi, 11).


"The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? . . . But the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils . . . You cannot drink the chalice of the Lord and the chalice of devils" (x, 16-21). "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body . . . In like manner also the chalice; etc. . . . Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. . . . For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord" (xi, 23-29). On the words of consecration see the two able articles by Dr. A.R. Eagar in "The Expositor", March and April, 1908.


Its use. Marriage good, but celibacy better. — The marriage of divorcedpersons forbidden. — Second marriage allowed to Christians; but single state preferable for those who have the gift from God. (vii, 1-8.) Pauline Dispensation: a Christian is not bound to remain single if his pagan partner is unwilling to live with him (vii, 12-15).


It is not wrong to marry; but preferable to remain single — St. Paul's example — "He that giveth his virgin in marriage doth well; and he that giveth her not doth better. (vii, 25-40.)

Principles of moral theology

In ch. vii; and following chapters St. Paul solves several difficult cases of conscience, some of them of a very delicate nature, falling under what we should now call the tractatus de sexto (sc. præcepto decalogi). He would, doubtless, have preferred to be free from the necessity of having to enter into such disagreeable subjects; but as the welfare of souls required it, he felt it incumbent upon him, as part of his Apostolic office, to deal with the matter. It is in the same spirit that pastors of souls have acted ever since. If so many difficulties arose in a few years in one town, it was inevitable that numerous complicated cases should occur in the course of centuries amongst peoples belonging to every degree of barbarism and civilization; and to these questions the Church was rightly expected to give a helpful answer; hence the growth of moral theology.

The second epistle

The Second Epistle was written a few months after the First, in which St. Paul had stated that he intended to go round by Macedonia. He set out on this journey sooner than he had anticipated, on account of the disturbance at Ephesus caused by Demetrius and the votaries of Diana of the Ephesians. He travelled northwards as far as Troas, and after waiting some time for Titus, whom he expected to meet on his way back from Corinth, whither he had carried the First Epistle, he set sail for Macedonia and went on to Philippi. Here he met Titus and Timothy. The news that Titus brought him from Corinth was for the most part of a cheering character. The great majority were loyal to their Apostle. They were sorry for their faults; they had obeyed his injunctions regarding the public sinner, and the man himself had deeply repented. We hear no more of the parties of Paul, Apollo, and Cephas, though the letter appears to contain one reference to the fourth party. His friends, who had expected a visit from himself, were deeply grieved at his not coming as he had promised; a few who were his enemies, probably judaizers, sought to take advantage of this to undermine his authority by discovering in this a clear proof of fickleness of mind and instability of purpose; they said that his unwillingness to receive support betrayed want of affection; that he used threatening language when at a safe distance, but was in fact a coward who was mild and conciliating when present; that they were foolish to let themselves be led by one who made the rather enormous pretension to be an Apostle of Christ, when he was nothing of the kind, and was in reality, both naturally and supernaturally, inferior to men they could name. This news filled the soul of St. Paul with the deepest emotion. He purposely delayed in Macedonia, and sent them this Epistle to prepare them better for his coming and to counteract the evil influence of his opponents. It was sent by Titus and two others, one of whom, it is almost certain, was St. Luke. The circumstances under which the Epistle was written can be best gathered from the text itself. We can easily imagine the effect produced when it was read for the first time to the assembled Christians at Corinth, by Titus, or in the sonorous tones of the Evangelist St. Luke. The news that their great Apostle had sent them another letter rapidly spread through the city; the previous one had been such a masterly production that all were eager to listen to this. The great bulk of the expectant congregation were his enthusiastic admirers, but a few came to criticize, especially one man, a Jew, who had recently arrived with letters of recommendation, and was endeavouring to supplant St. Paul. He said he was an Apostle (not of The Twelve, but of the kind mentioned in the Didache). He was a man of dignified presence, as he spoke slightingly of St. Paul's insignificant appearance. He was skilled in philosophy and polished in speech, and he insinuated that St. Paul was wanting in both. He knew little or nothing of St. Paul except by hearsay, as he accused him of want of determination, of cowardice, and unworthy motives, things belied by every fact of St. Paul's history. The latter might terrify others by letters, but he would not frighten him. This man comes to the assembly expecting to be attacked and prepared to attack in turn. As the letter is being read, ever and anon small dark clouds appear on the horizon; but when, in the second part, the Epistle has quieted down into a calm exhortation to almsgiving, this man is congratulating himself on his easy escape, and is already picking holes in what he has heard. Then, suddenly as upon the army of Sisara, the storm breaks upon him; lightnings strike, thunder upbraids. He is beaten down by the deluge, and his influence is swept out of existence by the irresistible torrent. At any rate, he is never heard of again. These two Epistles as effectively destroyed St. Paul's opponents at Corinth, as the Epistle to the Galatians annihilated the judaizers in Asia Minor.


This Epistle, though not written with the same degree of care and polish as the First, is more varied and spontaneous in style. Erasmus says that it would take all the ingenuity of a skilled rhetorician to explain the multitude of its strophes and figures. It was written with great emotion and intensity of feeling, and some of its sudden outbursts reach the highest levels of eloquence. It gives a deeper insight than any other of his writings into the character and personal history of St. Paul. With Cornely, we may call it his "Apologia pro Vitâ Suâ", a fact which makes it one of the most interesting of the writings of the New Testament. Erasmus described it as follows: "Now it bubbles up as a limpid fountain; soon it rushes down as a roaring torrent carrying all before it; then it flows peacefully and gently along. Now it widens out as into a broad and tranquil lake. Yonder it gets lost to view, and suddenly reappears in quite a different direction, when it is seen meandering and winding along, now deflecting to the right, now to the left; then making a wider loop and occasionally doubling back upon itself.

Divisions of the epistle

It consists of three parts. In the first of these (chapters i to vii, incl.), after (1) introduction, (2) the Apostle shows that his change of plan is not due to lightness of purpose but for the good of the people, and his teaching not mutable; (3) he did not wish to come again in sorrow. The repentant sinner, the cause of his sorrow, to be now reconciled. (4) His great affection for them. (5) He does not require, like others, letters of recommendation. They, as Christians, are his commendatory letters. (6) He writes with authority, not on account of arrogance, but because of the greatness of the ministry with which he was entrusted, as compared with the ministry of Moses. Those who refuse to listen have the veil over their hearts, like the carnal Jews. (7) He endeavours to please Christ Who showed His love by dying for all, and will reward His servants. (8) Moving exhortation.

The second part (chapters viii and ix) relates to the collections for the poor Christians at Jerusalem. (1) He praises the Macedonians for their ready generosity in giving out of their poverty. He exhorts the Corinthians to follow their example in imitation of Christ Who, being rich, became poor for our sakes. (2) He sends Titus and two others to make the collections and to remove all grounds of calumny that he was enriching himself. (3) He has boasted of them in Macedonia that they began before others. (4) A man shall reap in proportion as he sows. God loves the cheerful giver and is able to repay. Giving not only relieves the poor brethren but causes thanksgiving to God and prayers for benefactors.

The third part (last four chapters) is directed against the pseudo-Apostles. (1) He is bold towards some who think he acts from worldly motives. He has powerful arms from God for humbling such and punishing their disobedience. Some say he terrifies by letters which are weighty and strong; but has bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible". Let such a one understand that such as he is in his Epistle, so will he be when present. (2) He will not pretend, as they do, to be greater than he is, nor wilt he exalt himself by other men's labours. (3) He asks pardon for talking like a worldly-minded man. It is to counteract the influence of the pseudo-Apostles. He jealously guards the Corinthians lest they be deceived as Eve was by the serpent. (4) If the new-comers brought them anything better in the way of religion, he could understand their submission to their dictatorship. (5) He is not inferior to those superlative Apostles. If his speech is rude, his knowledge is not. He humbled himself amongst them, and did not exact support in order to gain them. The false Apostles profess a like disinterestedness; but they are deceitful workmen transforming themselves into Apostles of Jesus Christ. And no wonder: for Satan transformed himself into an angel of light, and they imitate their master. They make false insinuations against the Apostle. (6) He, too, will glory a little (speaking like a foolish worldly person, in order to confound them). They boast of natural advantages. He is not inferior to them in any; but he far surpasses them in his sufferings for the propagation of the Gospel, in his supernatural gifts, and in the miraculousproofs of his Apostleship at Corinth, "in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds". The Corinthians have all that other Churches had except the burden of his support. He asks them to pardon him that injury. Neither he nor Titus nor any other of his friends over-reached them. He writes thus lest he should come again in sorrow. He threatens the unrepentant.

Unity of the second epistle

Whilst the Pauline authorship is universally acknowledged, the same cannot be said for its unity. Some critics hold that it consists of two Epistles, or portion of Epistles, by St. Paul; that the first nine chapters belong to one Epistle, and the last four to another. As these two sections are held to have been written by St. Paul, there appears to be nothing in this view that can be said to be in opposition to the Catholic doctrine of inspiration. But the hypothesis is very far from being proved. Nay more, on account of the arguments that can be alleged against it, it can scarcely be regarded as probable. The principal objection against the unity of the Epistle is the difference of tone in the two sections. This is well stated and answered by the Catholic scholar Hug ("Introduction", tr. by Wait, London, 1827 p. 392): "It is moreover objected how different is the tone of the first part, mild, amiable, affectionate, whereas the third part is severe, vehement, and irrespectively castigatory. But who on this account would divide Demosthenes' oration De Coronâ into two parts, because in the more general defence placidity and circumspection predominate while on the other hand, in abashing and chastising the accuser, in the parallel between him and Æschines, words of bitter irony gush out impetuously and fall like rain in a storm." This argument is referred to with approval by Meyer, Cornely, and Jacquier. Others save explained the difference of tone by supposing that when the first nine chapters were finished fresh news of a disagreeable kind arrived from Corinth, and that this led St. Paul to add the last four chapters. In the same way the parenthetical section (vi, 14, vii, 2), which seems to have been inserted as an afterthought, can be explained. It was added, according to Bernard, to prevent a misconception of the expression used in vi, 11, 13, "our heart is enlarged . . . be you also enlarged", which in the O. T. had the bad meaning of being too free with infidels. St. Paul's manner of writing has also to be taken into account. In this, as in his other Epistles he speaks as a preacher who now addresses one portion of his congregation, now another, as if they were the only persons present, and that without fear of being misunderstood. Dr. Bernard thinks that the difference of tone can be sufficiently accounted for on the supposition that the letter was written at different sittings, and that the writer was in a different mood owing to ill-health or other circumstances. The other objections brought against the unity of the Epistle are ably refuted by the same author, whose argument may be briefly summarized as follows: the last section, it is said, begins very abruptly, and is loosely connected with the previous one by the particle de. But there are several other instances in the Epistles of St. Paul where transition is made in precisely the same way. On the last part, it is objected, people in open rebellion are denounced, whereas that is not the case in the first portion. Still, there is clear reference in the first section to persons who accused him of being fickle, arrogant, brave at a distance, etc. One of the strongest arguments against the integrity is that there are several verses in the first nine chapters which seem to presuppose an equal number of passages in the second, and the contention is that the last section is a portion of an earlier Epistle. But on closer examination of each passage this connection is seen to be only apparent. On the other hand, there are at least as many passages in the last part which clearly and unmistakably look back to and presuppose verses in the first. It is remarkable, moreover, that the only extant fragments of the supposed two Epistles should fit so well. It has also been urged that the First Epistle is not "painful" enough to account for statements in the Second. But a close examination of i, 11, 14; ii, 6; iii, 1, 2, 3, 4, 18; iv, 8, 9, 10, 18, 19; v, etc., of the First Epistle, will show that this objection is quite unfounded. The linguistic unity between the two portions of the Epistle is very great; and many examples can be given to show that the two sections were always integral portions of one whole. The evidence afforded by early manuscripts, translations, and quotations points strongly in the same direction.

Organization of the Church at Corinth as exhibited in the two epistles

There is nothing in either Epistle which enables us to say what was the precise nature of the organization of the Church at Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 12:28, we read: "And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors; after that [the gift of] miracles; then the graces [charismata] of healings, helps, governments [or wise counsels], kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches. Are all apostles? . . . Are all workers of miracles? Have all the grace of healing?" From the whole context it is clear that this passage is nothing else than an enumeration of extraordinary gifts, and that it has no bearing whatsoever on church government. The word apostle is probably used here in its broad sense, not as meaning the Apostles of Jesus Christ, but the apostles of the Church. If it is meant to include the former, then the reference is not to their ruling power, but to their supernatural gifts, upon which the whole argument turns. St. Paul thanked God that he spoke with all their tongues Barnabas is called an apostle (Acts 14:4, 13). In 2 Corinthians 8:23, St. Paul calls his messengers "the apostles of the churches". (Compare Romans 16:7; Revelation 2:2.) The Didache, or "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles", which is probably a work of the first century, has the statement that if an apostle remains till the third day claiming support, he is to be regarded as a falseprophet. It also says that every true teacher and trueprophet is worthy of his support; and it gives one of the rules for detecting a falseprophet. "Prophets and doctors" are referred to in Acts 13:1. It is extremely probable that St. Paul had organized the Church at Corinth during his long stay there as carefully as he had previously done in Galatia ("and when they had ordained to them priests in every church" — Acts 14:22) and in Ephesus "wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops" — Acts 20:7-28). We have these statements on the authority of the author of the Acts, now admitted, even by Harnack, to be St. Luke, the companion of the Apostle. St. Paul had spent six or eight times as long at Corinth as he had at Philippi, yet we find him writing to the latter place: "Paul and Timothy . . . to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons" (Philippians 1:1 — cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:12). The principal office of the bishops and deacons was, according to the Didache, to consecrate the Blessed Eucharist. It is only by accident, as it were, on account of abuses, that St. Paul speaks, in the First Epistle, of the form of consecration used at Corinth, and which is substantially the same as that given in the Gospels. Had the abuses not arisen, it seems clear that he would not have referred to the Eucharist. He says nothing of it in the Second Epistle. In that case there would not be wanting those who would have loudly asserted that the Corinthians "knew nothing of it", and, by implication, that the Apostle's mind had not yet developed to that extent. But as he speaks so clearly we may take it as certain, too, that the ministers of the Eucharist were the same as in other places. There is no evidence that it was ever consecrated without a bishop or priest. These, with the deacons, were the regular ministers in each place, under the immediate jurisdiction of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. From all this we may conclude that the Church in Achaia was as regularly organized as the earlier Churches of Galatia, Ephesus, and the neighbouring Province of Macedonia, or as in the Church of Crete (Titus 1:5). There were "bishops" (which word certainly meant priests and perhaps also our modern bishops) and deacons. Later on, Timothy, and Titus, and others were appointed over these "bishops", priests, and deacons, and were monarchical bishops in the modern sense of the word. Other such bishops succeeded the Apostles. (SeeBISHOP.)


The usual Introductions such as CORNELY, JACQUIER, SALMON, BELSER, ZAHN; BERNARD, Second Corinthians in Expositor's Greek Testament (London, 1903); FINDLAY, First Epistle to the Corinthians in Exp. Gr. Test. (London, 1900); RICKABY, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians (London, 1898); KENNEDY, Second and Third Corinthians (London, 1900); ALFORD, The Greek Test. (London, 1855), II; ROBERTSON in HASTINGS, Dict. of the Bible; Lives of St. Paul by FARRAR, CONYBEARE and HOWSON, LEWIN, FOUARD; MCEVILLY, An Exposition of the Epistles of St. Paul (3rd ed., Dublin, 1875) CORNELY, Commentarius (Paris, 1890). See also the commentaries of ESTIUS, BISPING, MAIER, LOCH, REISCHL, DRACH, STEENKISTE. The critical commentary of SCHMIEDEL, Die Briefe an die Korinther in Hand Kommentar (Leipzig, 1893); LIGHTFOOT, Biblical Essays, Notes on Epistles of St. Paul (notes on seven chapters of First Cor. — London, 1895); ROBERTSON, Corinthians in The International Critical Commentary (Cambridge, 1908).

About this page

APA citation.Aherne, C.(1908).Epistles to the Corinthians. In The Catholic Encyclopedia.New York: Robert Appleton Company.http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04364a.htm

MLA citation.Aherne, Cornelius."Epistles to the Corinthians."The Catholic Encyclopedia.Vol. 4.New York: Robert Appleton Company,1908.<http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04364a.htm>.

Transcription.This article was transcribed for New Advent by Vernon Bremberg.Dedicated to the Cloistered Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of the Infant Jesus, Lufkin, Texas.

Ecclesiastical approbation.Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor.Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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