Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 503
Context: Paul's stay of eighteen months in Corinth resulted in a well-established church. Rejected by the Jews, he had left the synagogue and preached among the Gentiles, where he gained numerous converts. After he left Corinth and later settled in Ephesus, he received word that the congregation he had built up at Corinth was in the midst of a crisis. An exchange of letters confirmed Paul's worst fears: the church was torn by factions; the congregation was indulging in sexual and other misconduct; and certain rebellious spirits who had assumed leadership were defying Paul's authority. Corinth was a trading center of considerable importance; its population and its religions were alike cosmopolitan, and the city was known throughout the civilized world for its vice. Most of Paul's converts were from the lower classes and retained their pagan moral standards; sexual promiscuity had been encouraged by many of the religions they had abandoned for Christianity. I Corinthians is a stern rebuke in which Paul censures the Corinthians for their misbehavior. Appealing for unity, he points out the evils of factiousness and competition. He then implies that those persons doing the preaching are misusing their office: the ministry is a holy calling, not a means of self-aggrandizement or a position of power. The man who parades his wisdom does so in the confidence born of ignorance, and is a fool: beside that of God, the wisdom of even a great man is nothing. Paul then reproves the Corinthians for fornication and incest, discusses the nature of spiritual love, and warns them that true wisdom is only to be found in the next world. He then discusses the practice of "speaking with tongues." While this practice is good, it is better to prophesy in words others can understand and thus work for the edification of the church. Paul concludes with a discussion of resurrection.
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
. . .
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
. . .
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?