How a Christian is Different: First Corinthians by Peter Kreeft

Corinth was the largest, most cosmopolitan, and most decadent city in Greece. 2/3 of it’s 700,000 citizens were slaves. A city full of idolatry which centered around Aphrodite, the goddess of sex. Corinth was the world’s spiritual gutter. Corinthians were rich, well educated, and were known to be sceptics.

Paul came to Corinth in 51-52 AD to evangelize & is writing this letter to the struggling Corinth church 4-5 years later.

The most unifying theme in 1st Corinthians is that Christians must be different. Christians are called out of paganism to a radically distinctive lifestyle. For Christ is Lord of every aspect of life. In 1 Cor 2:2 he says that he “decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ”.

1st Corinthians is not a systematically ordered letter, like Romans. It moves from topic to topic. There are many minor topics, but 4 major ones:

[1] sectarianism – Paul is utterly scandalized at the growing factions in the Corinthian church,

[2] faith and reason – Christianity & philosophy,

[3] sex and love – Paul condemns sexuality immorality & their lax attitudes that accepted it, he gives a positive alternative picture of Christian marriage in ch. 7 & writes the most famous passage about love in chapter 13 – the love that should distinguish Christians.

[4] the resurrection from the dead – both Christ’s and ours. chapter 15 is the second most important chapter in 1st corinthians. It is the primary text in Scripture on the resurrection of the body. Paul needs to convince the Corinthians that the body is actually good, a holy thing.

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