1 Corinthians

When Paul thought of Corinth he was overcome with fear and trembling (2:3) despite having endured the academic cut and thrust of Athens and having survived a mob attack in Macedonia a few weeks previously. Paul came to Corinth feeling week in every way - physically battered, spiritually unexcited by the Athenian experience, emotionally deprived of the partnership of Silas and Timothy. But Paul stayed in Corinth for eighteen months - longer than anywhere he visited apart from Ephesus (cf. Ac 18:1-18 for narrative). Paul might well have worked with his hands for eight hours a day and taught and preached between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.. A love gift from the churches in Macedonia and Philippi brought later by Silas and Timothy, would allow him to concentrate more on his ministry. The church at Corinth was particularly susceptible to strange teachings coming from so many visiting speakers. Some indulged in speculative theology based on knowledge (gnosis) and wisdom (sophia). According to 1 Cor 5:9 there is a missing letter so the correspondence of 1 and 2 Corinthians as we have it is not all that Paul wrote to the young Christians in Corinth, encouraging them to keep on a straight course. A likely date for the composition of 1 Corinthians would be 53 AD or 54 AD, around the middle of his two and a half year stay in Ephesus.

1 1Paul, called [kaleō] to be an apostle [apostolos] of Jesus Christ through the will [thelēmatos] of God, and our brother Sosthenes [Zōsthenēs ho adelphos]

Paul began work from the synagogue and witnessed the conversion of Crispus, who was responsible for running the synagogue. It is likely that Sosthenes is Crispus' replacement who was also a convert and this would have incensed the Jews. For a time the church was built up, but when a new Roman proconsul took over the province (Gallio - brother-in-law of Seneca, Nero's tutor and philosopher) the Jews glimpsed a chance to have Paul locked up. Gallio however knew how to keep his distance from Jewish trouble-makers, and Paul did not have a charge to answer. If Sosthenes was by this time a Christian he was the one to receive the beating for the name of Jesus.

, 2to the assembly [ekklēsia]

It was a large church, full of cliques, each following a different personality. Many Christians were snobbish, the rich keeping to themselves at fellowship meals, while the poor were ignored. There was laxity in morals and doctrine. They resisted authority and frequently questioned Paul's apostleship. They lacked humility and consideration for others, some taking Christian brothers or sisters to court, others flaunting their new-found freedom in Christ. They were taken with the dramatic spiritual gifts but were short on truth-based love. The Corinthians were proud, competitive and assertive people. They were concerned most of the time for their rights (in marriage, over food laws, in business ethics, in casual relationships, in public worship, in exercising spiritual gifts, and specific areas of doctrine) and were extremely touchy if anyone infringed their rights or inhibited their freedom.

of God which is at Corinth [Korinthō]

Corinth stood on a narrow isthmus, only four miles across, linking the southern part of Greece with the rest of the country and countries to the north. In this important position it inevitably became a prosperous centre of trade and commerce: by land everyone came through Corinth; by sea sailors usually chose to use Lechaeum and Cenchreae, the two seaports flanking Corinth at either end of the isthmus, rather than circumnavigating the dangerous waters of Cape Malea at the southern tip of Greece (a distance of over 200 miles). For large ships it was a matter of unloading at one port and having the cargo carried by porters to the other, to be re-embarked on another ship. Small ships could be placed on rollers and dragged across the isthmus, to be re-launched the other side. Nero, Emperor of Rome from AD 40 to 66, actually made an abortive attempt to build a canal across the isthmus. The Corinth Canal was completed only in 1893. Like most seaports, Corinth became both prosperous and licentious -so much so that the Greeks had a word for leading a life of debauchery: korinthiazein, i.e. to live like a Corinthian. Homer (lliad 2.570) talks of 'wealthy Corinth' and Thucydides (Thucydides 8.7.) refers to its military importance, which it owed to its control of the seaports of Lechaeum and Cenchreae. The Isthmian Games, second in importance only to the Olympic Games, were held at Corinth. Dominating the city was the 'Acrocorinth', a hill of over 1,850 feet, on which stood a large temple to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. The 1,000 priestesses of the temple, who were sacred prostitutes, came down into the city when evening fell and plied their trade in the streets. The cult was dedicated to the glorification of sex. The worship of Aphrodite is parallel to that of the Ashtoreth (taken from Syrian worship of Astarte) in the days of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah (Cf I Ki. 11:1-9,33; 2 Ki. 23:13). At the foot of the Acrocorinth was the worship of Melicertes, patron deity of navigation -the same as Melkart, the chief god or 'baal' of the city of Tyre (whose cult was introduced into Israel in the ninth century BC when Ahab married jezebel, daughter of the ruler of Tyre and Sidon) (Cf 1 Ki. 17ff.). Thus, Astarte and Melkart, goddess and god at Corinth, were the direct result of oriental influence. In addition, there was the Temple of Apollo in the city itself - Apollo, the god of music, song and poetry; also, the ideal of male beauty. Nude statues and friezes of Apollo in various poses of virility fired his male worshippers to physical displays of devotion with the god's beautiful boys. Corinth was therefore a centre of homosexual practices (Cf. Rom 1:26ff). Historical factors also played a significant part in forming the culture of the Corinth which Paul reached in AD 50. In 146 BC the Achaean League of Greek city-states, which had been defying Roman expansion for some time, collapsed and Corinth (which had led the opposition to Rome) was levelled; its citizens were killed or sold into slavery. Thus the strategic site remained for a century, until Julius Caesar refounded Corinth as a Roman colony, i.e., a little 'Rome' planted in other lands amid a non-Roman population to be a centre of Roman life and to maintain the Roman peace. Along the great Roman roads -those military highways which ran from Rome to the various frontiers of the Empire- these colonies of Roman citizens were planted at strategic points and played an important part in the imperial organization. From that date, 46 BC, Corinth emerged into new prosperity and with an increasingly cosmopolitan character. As a Roman colony, Corinth received its share of veterans from the Roman army, who were given land in Corinth to enable them to set up home as settlers. This powerful minority ensured a Roman flavour to the new city, but it soon became a hotchpotch of races, creeds, languages and cultures. Those with commercial interests, entrepreneurs and the like, began to take up residence, including many Jews. The colony of Corinth lacked aristocracy, tradition and established citizens. Corinth was a rough, tough place in the middle of the first century. For Paul, Corinth was the biggest city he had yet encountered. It squeezed nearly a quarter of a million people into a comparatively small area, a large proportion being slaves engaged in the unending movement of goods. Slaves or free, Corinthians were rootless, cut off from their country background, drawn from races and districts all over the empire. Paul had seen a Christian church grow and flourish in the moderately-sized cities he had found in Macedonia. If the love of Christ Jesus could take root in Corinth, the most populated, wealthy, commercial-minded and sex-obsessed city of eastern Europe, it must prove powerful anywhere.

; those who are sanctified [hagiazō] in Christ Jesus, called [klētois] to be saints [hagiois], with all who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, both theirs and ours: 3Grace [charis]

The greeting fills out the conventional Greek and Hebrew words of welcome with specifically Christian content: instead of chaire (greetings) Paul uses charis (grace). He takes the Hebrew shalĂ´m and invests it with emphasis on Jesus.

to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4I always thank [eucharisteō] my God concerning you, for the grace [chariti] of God which was given you in Christ Jesus; 5that in everything you were enriched in him, in all speech [logō] and all knowledge [gnōsei]

The Corinthians majored on these gifts (Chs 12-14) and there may be here an early reference to the pervasive teachings of Gnosticism which created a spiritual elite who claimed alone to possess true knowledge, put it into words and have proper authority to guide and control church life.

; 6even as the testimony [martyrion] of Christ was confirmed [bebaioō] in you: 7so that you come behind in no gift [charismati]; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ; 8who will also confirm [bebaioō] you until the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful, through whom you were called into the fellowship [kaleō eu koinōnian] of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. 10Now I beg you, brothers [adelphoi], through the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that you all speak [legō]

Lit. 'say the same thing' but with the sense of working together in harmonious relationship. Found on the first-century gravestone of a married couple.

the same thing and that there be no divisions [schismata]

Lit. to 'cut apart'. Clement of Rome (c.AD 95) talks about the same cliques (except for the Christ party, v12) and divisions at Corinth in his day so, forty years on, the trouble had not been eradicated.

among you, but that you be perfected together [katartizō]

This word used for resetting a dislocated bone or for mending nets (cf. Mk 1:19; Eph 4:12).

in the same mind [noi] and in the same judgment [gnōmē]

Both these words denote wrestling with and arriving at the truth.

. 11For it has been reported to me concerning you, my brothers [adelphoi], by those who are from Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. 12Now I mean this, that each one of you says, "I follow Paul [Paulou]," "I follow Apollos [Apollō]

According to Ac 18:24-19:7, Apollos came from Alexandria in Egypt, probably the most respected and creative university city of the Mediterranean, and enjoyed a better reputation than Tarsus, where Paul studied.

," "I follow Cephas [Kēpha]

Jewish members would have been attracted to Cephas, a Palestinian Jew who had been a leading disciple among the original followers of Jesus. Educated Greek members, on the other hand, would probably have been drawn to the gifted orator Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew, cf. Ac 18:24-28. To the latter group, fascinated as they were by intellectualism and sophisticated discourse, Paul, the manual worker with amateurish speaking abilities, would have appeared singularly unimpressive in an age in which rhetoric and oratory were highly valued. Not least offensive to this group was Paul's utterly perverse refusal to accept money from them in patronage of his ministry, though he was not above accepting money from the rustic northerners in Macedonia (2 Cor 11:7-9). Moreover, his insistence on disciplinary action against wayward members still caught in (pagan) temple worship or fornication was, many of them would have felt, over-zealous.

," and, "I follow Christ." 13Is Christ divided [merizō]

Lit. 'Has Christ been parcelled out?'.

? Was Paul crucified [stauroō] for you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14I thank [eucharisteō] God that I baptized none of you, except Crispus [Krispon] and Gaius [Gaion], 15so that no one should say that I had baptized you into my own name. 16(I also baptized the household [oikon] of Stephanas [Ztephana]; besides them, I don't know whether I baptized any other.) 17For Christ sent [apostellō] me not to baptize, but to preach the Good News [euangelizō]--not in wisdom of words [sophia logou], so that the cross of Christ [stauros tou christou] wouldn't be made void. 18For the word [logos]

The Greeks speculated their way towards God through reasoning and argument. They found it impossible to conceive of God in personal terms: 'to the Greek idea the first characteristic of God was apatheia, the total inability to feel. A God who feels and could suffer was a contradiction in terms. God was detached and remote.

of the cross [staurou] is foolishness [mōria] to those who are dying [apollymenois], but to us who are saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, "I will destroy [apollymi] the wisdom of the wise, I will bring the discernment of the discerning to nothing." 20Where is the wise? Where is the scribe [grammateus]? Where is the lawyer [syzētētēs]

Catch-phrases in popular philosophy went like this: 'The wise man is king' and 'To the wise man all things belong'. The form in which this worldly wisdom was purveyed was with persuasive eloquence, for the Greeks were intoxicated with fine words.

of this world [kosmou]? Hasn't God made foolish the wisdom [kēryssō] of this world? 21For seeing that in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom didn't know God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save those who believe. 22For Jews [Ioudoiaoi] ask for signs [sēmeia aitousin], Greeks [Hellēnes]

Greeks, Romans and Jews

The Greeks had overcome their problem with Rome by submitting physically and taking her Romans over intellectually. Culturally, the Roman Empire was Greek, especially in the East. Be educated people spoke and thought in Greek, and Greek modes set the standards in art and architecture, drama, music and literature. So the Greeks never had any sense of control submission to Rome. The Jews however had an older culture than the Greeks. They could not match the Greeks artistically and in some other ways, but there and literature was in various fields superior. There were as many Jews as Greeks in the Roman Empire. And a higher proportion of them were literate. Yet the Greeks, who controlled the cultural policies of the Roman Empire, afforded no recognition at all to the Hebrew language and culture. they were of blind towards Hebrew, Hebrew literature and Jewish religious philosophy. They ignored it and knew of it only from inaccurate hearsay. This culture-contempt on the Greek side, and the love-hate which some educated Jews had for Greek culture, were sources of constant tension.

Nonetheless Greeks and Jews had a great deal in common - their universalist notions, for example, their rationalism and empiricism, their awareness of the divine ordering of the cosmos, their feeling for ethics, their consuming interest in man himself - but their differences, exacerbated by misunderstandings, proved more important. Both Jews and Greeks claimed and thought they believed in freedom, but whereas with the Greeks it was an end in itself, realised in the free, self governing community, choosing its own laws and gods, for the Jews it was no more than a means, preventing interference with religious duties divinely ordained and unalterable by man. The only circumstances in which the Jews could have become reconciled to Greek culture was if they had been able to take it over - as, in the form of Christianity, they eventually did.

seek after wisdom, 23but we preach [kēryssō] Christ crucified [stauroō]; a stumbling block [skandalon] to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks [ethnesin], 24but to those who are called [klētois], both Jews [Ioudaiois] and Greeks [Hellēsin], Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26For you see your calling [kaleō], brothers [adelphoi], that not many are wise according to the flesh [kata sarka], not many mighty [dynatoi]

Christianity spread most rapidly amongst the lower classes of Mediterranean society, and this single fat (in class-conscious Greek and Roman society) was partly the cause of its being so offensive.

, and not many noble; 27but God chose the foolish things of the world [kosmou] that he might put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world [kosmou], that he might put to shame the things that are strong; 28and God chose the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are: 29that no flesh [sarx] should boast before God. 30But of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness [dikaiosynē] and sanctification, and redemption [apolytrōsis]: 31that, according as it is written, "He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord."

2 1When I came to you, brothers [adelphoi], I didn't come with excellence of speech [huperochēn logou] or of wisdom, proclaiming [katangellō]

A narrative of Paul's eighteen months' stay in Corinth (longer than anywhere he visited except for Ephesus) is provided in Ac 18:1-18. On his arrival, as in Ephesus, Paul's attention would have been drawn to traders in his own occupation of tentmaking or leatherwork. It would have been necessary to have some other source of income because rabbis were expected to perform their religious and legal functions without demanding a fee. One of the local crafts in his own province of Cilicia was tentmaking, with the cloth made from goats' hair (known as 'cilicium'). As in Ephesus, he practiced his trade as a tentmaker, at least in the opening weeks of his ministry until he had worked himself into the situation and had become known as a preacher and a teacher. A love-gift from the churches in Macedonia and Philippi, brought later by Silas and Timothy, also gave him freedom to concentrate on his ministry. Paul might well have given up to eight hours a day to his manual work, leaving perhaps 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for his ministry of the word. In the hot months of the year this was a rigorous schedule for a man who was not in the best of health. Paul came to that city feeling physically battered, spiritually unexcited by the Athenian experience, and emotionally deprived of the partnership of Silas and Timothy.

to you the testimony [mystērion] of God. 2For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified [stauroō]. 3I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4My speech [logos] and my preaching [kērygma] were not in persuasive words [logois] of human wisdom, but in demonstration [apodeizei] of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith wouldn't stand in the wisdom [sophia anthrōpōn] of men, but in the power [dynamei] of God. 6We speak wisdom, however, among those who are full grown [teleiois]

Used in the Greek mystery-religions of the 'initiated', but Paul's conception is different, cf. Eph 4:13; Col 1:28; Phil 3:8-15.

; yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world [archontōn aiōnos], who are coming to nothing. 7But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery [sophian en mystēriō], the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds [aiōnōn] for our glory, 8which none of the rulers of this world [archontōn aiōnos] has known. For had they known it, they wouldn't have crucified [stauroō] the Lord of glory. 9But as it is written, "Things which an eye didn't see, and an ear didn't hear, which didn't enter into the heart of man [kardian anthrōpou], these God has prepared for those who love [agapaō] him." 10But to us, God revealed [apokalyptō] them through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God, except God's Spirit. 12But we received, not the spirit of the world [kosmou], but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that were freely given [charizō] to us by God. 13Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches [didaskō anthropenēs sophias logois], but which the Holy Spirit teaches [didaskō pneumatos], comparing spiritual things with spiritual things [pneumatikois pneumatika]. 14Now the natural man [psychikos] doesn't receive the things of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can't know them, because they are spiritually discerned [pneumatikōs anakrinō]. 15But he who is spiritual discerns [anakrinō] all things, and he himself is judged [anakrinō] by no one. 16"For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct [symbibazō] him?" But we have Christ's mind.

3 1Brothers [adelphoi], I couldn't speak to you as to spiritual [pneumatikois], but as to fleshly [sarkinois], as to babies in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not with meat; for you weren't yet ready. Indeed, not even now are you ready, 3for you are still fleshly [sarkikoi]. For insofar as there is jealousy, strife, and factions among you, aren't you fleshly [sarkikoi], and don't you walk in the ways of men? 4For when one says, "I follow Paul [Paulou]," and another, "I follow Apollos [Apollō]," aren't you fleshly [sarkikoi]? 5Who then is Apollos [Apollōs], and who is Paul [Paulos], but servants [diakonoi] through whom you believed; and each as the Lord gave to him? 6I planted. Apollos watered. But God gave the increase. 7So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8Now he who plants and he who waters are the same, but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's farming [geōrgion], God's building [oikodomē]. 10According to the grace [charin] of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder [sophos architektōn] I laid a foundation, and another builds on it. But let each man be careful how he builds on it. 11For no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones [timios], wood, hay, or stubble; 13each man's work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test [dokimazō] what sort of work each man's work is. 14If any man's work remains which he built on it, he will receive a reward. 15If any man's work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, but as through fire. 16Don't you know that you are a temple [naos] of God, and that God's Spirit lives [oikeō] in you? 17If anyone destroys [phtheirō]

Could be used for the destruction of a house, financial ruin, or ruining or corrupting someone morally.

the temple [naos] of God, God will destroy [phtheirō] him; for God's temple [naos] is holy [agios], which you are. 18Let no one deceive himself. If anyone thinks that he is wise among you in this world [aiōni], let him become a fool, that he may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world [kosmou] is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He has taken the wise in their craftiness." 20And again, "The Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that it is worthless." 21Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22whether Paul [Paulos], or Apollos [Apollōs], or Cephas [Kēphas], or the world [kosmou], or life [zoē], or death, or things present, or things to come. All are yours, 23and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.

4 1So let a man think of us as Christ's servants [hypēretas]

Lit. 'under-rower', i.e., one who is responding to higher authority and doing his job. An unusual word.

, and stewards [oikonomous]

Housekeeper or overseer (often a slave), charged with providing the establishment of a large estate with food and whatever was needed. He answered directly to the lord of the house.

of God's mysteries [mystēriōn]. 2Here, moreover, it is required of stewards, that they be found faithful. 3But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged [anakrinō] by you, or by man's judgment [hēmeras]. Yes, I don't judge [anakrinō] my own self. 4For I know nothing against myself [syneidō]

NIV uses 'conscience' here. Greek and Roman philosophers (e.g., Plato and Seneca) regarded conscience as passing final judgement on a man, not God.

. Yet I am not justified [dikaioō] by this, but he who judges [anakrinō] me is the Lord. 5Therefore judge [krinō] nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each man will get his praise [epainos] from God. 6Now these things, brothers [adelphoi], I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos [Apollōn] for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to think beyond the things which are written, that none of you be puffed up [physioō] against one another. 7For who makes you different? And what do you have that you didn't receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 8You are already filled. You have already become rich. You have come to reign without us. Yes, and I wish that you did reign, that we also might reign with you. 9For, I think that God has displayed [oti theatron] us, the apostles [apostolous], last of all, like men sentenced to death. For we are made a spectacle [theatron] to the world [kosmō], both to angels and men. 10We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise [phronimoi] in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You have honor, but we have dishonor. 11Even to this present hour we hunger, thirst, are naked, are beaten, and have no certain dwelling place. 12We toil, working with our own hands [chersin]

Attitudes to manual labour

The upper classes held on to an instinctive contempt for anyone obliged to earn his keep. The very idea of paid work inspired paroxysms of snobbery. It affronted all the homespun peasant values in which wealthy moralists, lounging comfortably in their villas, affected to believe. Their scorn embraced not only the wretches starving on the streets or crammed into insulae (high-rise slums), but also traders, shopkeepers and craftsmen. It was assumed that 'necessity made every poor man dishonest'. Plebs was a word never spoken by a nobleman without a curling of the lip, but the plebs themselves took a certain pride in it. At least if provided a badge of identity. Cf. also 1 Thess 4:11, and see note on Rom 15:5

. When people curse [loidoreō] us, we bless [eulogeō]. Being persecuted [diōkō], we endure [anechomai]. 13Being defamed [blasphēmeō], we entreat [parakaleō]. We are made as the filth of the world, the dirt wiped off by all, even until now. 14I don't write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children [agapēta]. 15For though you have ten thousand tutors [paidagōgous] in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, I became your father through the Good News [euangeliou]. 16I beg you therefore, be imitators of me. 17Because of this I have sent [pempō] Timothy [Timotheon] to you, who is my beloved [agapēton] and faithful [piston] child in the Lord, who will remind [anamimnēskō] you of my ways which are in Christ, even as I teach [didaskō] everywhere in every assembly [ekklēsia]. 18Now some are puffed up [physioō], as though I were not coming to you. 19But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord is willing [thelō]. And I will know [ginōskō], not the word [logon] of those who are puffed up [physioō], but the power. 20For the Kingdom of God [basileia tou theou] is not in word, but in power. 21What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod [rabdō], or in love [agapē] and a spirit of gentleness [prautētos]?

5 1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality [porneia]

Lit. 'resorting to prostitutes'. In Corinth the priestesses of the temple to Aphrodite were sacred prostitutes and the practice of porneia was prevalent. The word came to refer to any deviant sexual behaviour. Whether the offender had seduced his step-mother, or she was divorced from his father, or the father had died, leaving her a widow, incest was appalled even by pagan writers (cf. Cicero, Pro Cluentio 5.14, 'An unbelievable crime - one, moreover, completely unheard of except in this one particular case'. Forbidden by the Torah (Lv 18:8; Dt 22:30; 27:20) and by the early church.

among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles [ethnesin], that one has his father's wife. 2You are puffed up [physioō], and didn't rather mourn, that he who had done this deed might be removed from among you. 3For I most certainly, as being absent in body [sōmati] but present in spirit [pneumati], have already, as though I were present, judged him who has done this thing. 4In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, you being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5are to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh [sarkos], that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast leavens the whole lump? 7Purge out the old yeast, that you may be a new lump, even as you are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place. 8Therefore let us keep the feast [heortazō Heb. the Seder]

It seems likely that Paul has in mind the annual celebration of the Feast of Passover with its details vivid in his mind. At Passover the Jews recalled the deliverance out of Egypt. Before the Passover sacrifice was offered there was a search for any trace of leaven following which only unleavened bread might be eaten. Leaven normally stands for sin in the Bible and the proverb, 'a little leaven leavens the whole lump', symbolizes the idea that the presence of a sinner in the community made the community guilty of the sin.

, not with old yeast [zymē Heb. chametz], neither with the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread [azymois; Heb. matzah] of sincerity [krineias]

The emphasis in this word is not on our perfection and sinlessness, but our openness and honesty, walking in the light of God's presence and wanting God, by his light, to expose areas of darkness, cf. 2 Cor 1:12; 2:17; 2 Pet 3:1; Phil 1:10.

and truth. 9I wrote to you in my letter [epistolē] to have no company with sexual sinners; 10yet not at all [ou pantōs] meaning with the sexual sinners [pornois]

Its primary meaning would be to forbid all social intimacy but the Corinthians could have deliberately misconstrued this word to mean all social contact, meaning isolationism from the world. This would have been a temptation in Corinth where non-participation would have been an easier option than godly involvement.

of this world [kosmou], or with the covetous [pleonektais]

Normally translates 'covetousness' and has the connotation of grasping more and more, being totally unsatisfied with what we already have.

and extortioners, or with idolaters; for then you would have to leave the world [kosmou]. 11But as it is, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who is called a brother [adelphos] who is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Don't even eat with such a person. 12For what have I to do with also judging [krinō] those who are outside? Don't you judge [krinō] those who are within? 13But those who are outside, God judges [krinō]. "Put away [exairō]


There was nothing more upsetting to a Roman than to feel deprived of fellowship, of a sense of community, and rather than endure it he would go to any extreme. A citizen in exile was barely a citizen at all.

the wicked man from among yourselves."

6 1Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbour, go to law [krinō]

The Jewish custom was to settle disputes within their own community; Greek and Roman social and religious groups followed the same practice. But on the whole, the Greeks loved litigation and were notorious for their love of going to law; the law-courts were one of their chief amusements and entertainments. In a Greek city every man was more or less a lawyer and spent a very great part of the day either deciding or listening to law cases.

before the unrighteous [adikōn], and not before the saints [agiōn]? 2Don't you know that the saints [agioi] will judge [krinō] the world [kosmon]? And if the world [kosmos] is judged [krinō] by you, are you unworthy to judge [krinō] the smallest matters? 3Don't you know that we will judge [krinō] angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life [biōtika]? 4If then, you have to judge things pertaining to this life [biōtika], do you set them to judge [kritēria] who are of no account in the assembly [ekklēsia]? 5I say this to move you to shame. Isn't there even one wise man among you who would be able to decide [diakrinō] between his brothers [adelphou]? 6But brother goes to law with brother [adelphos meta adelphou krinō], and that before unbelievers [apistōn]! 7Therefore it is already altogether a defect in you, that you have lawsuits one with another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? 8No, but you yourselves do wrong, and defraud, and that against your brothers [adelphous]. 9Or don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit [klēronomeō]

Meaning to enter into full possession of something which has been promised.

the Kingdom of God [theou basileian]? Don't be deceived [planaō]

Indicates the tendency to wander off course.

. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes [malakoi], nor homosexuals [arsenokoitai]

This word and the preceding word could perhaps refer to passive and active partners instead of the distinction between 'male prostitutes and homosexual offenders, which might infer that Paul was referring not to all homosexual practices but only to those which were seen as deviant. Homosexuality had swept through the Greek world and invaded Rome. Socrates practiced it; Plato's dialogue The Symposium has for its subject unnatural love. Fourteen out of the first fifteen Roman Emperors practiced homosexuality. Nero had taken a boy called Sporus and had him castrated. He married him with a full marriage-ceremony and took him home in procession to his palace and lived with him as his wife. Nero also married a man named Pythagoras and called him his husband.

10nor thieves [kleptai]

Petty pilferers and sneak-thieves, of which the ancient world was cursed. Houses were particularly easy to break into. Robbers hung out in the public baths and gymnasia, and stole the clothes of those who were washing or exercising. It was also common to kidnap slaves who had special gifts. Three kinds of theft were punishable by death: (i) Thefts to the value of more than 50 drachmae. (ii) Thefts from the baths, the gymnasia, the ports and harbours to the value of 20 drachmae. (iii) Theft of anything by night. Christians were surrounded by a pilfering population.

, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11Such were some of you, but you were washed. But you were sanctified [Hagiazō]

Cf 7:14.

. But you were justified [dikaioō] in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God. 12"All things are lawful [exestin] for me," but not all things are expedient [sympherei]. "All things are lawful [exestin] for me," but I will not be brought under the power of [exousiazō]

The word play here has been captured in the translation: All things are allowed me, but I will not allow anything to get control of me.

anything. 13"Foods for the belly, and the belly for foods," but God will bring to nothing both it and them. But the body [sōma]

The Stoics viewed the body as a prison-house of the soul. One Greek proverb was 'The body is a tomb'. Epictetus had said: 'I am a poor soul shackled to a corpse'. In this way, the human body was denigrated and trivialized and was held to have no moral significance or affect the soul or spirit.

is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body [sōmati]. 14Now God raised up the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power. 15Don't you know that your bodies [sōmata] are members of Christ [melē tou christou]? Shall I then take the members of Christ [melē tou christou], and make them members of a prostitute [pornēs melē]? May it never be [mē genoito]! 16Or don't you know that he who is joined [kollomenos]

'Glued together'. The compound word proskollaomai is used in LXX Gn 2:24 to describe the man's 'cleaving' to his wife.

to a prostitute is one body? For, "The two," says he, "will become one flesh [sarka]." 17But he who is joined [kollaō] to the Lord is one spirit. 18Flee sexual immorality [porneian]! "Every sin that a man does is outside the body [sōmatos]

Possibly a Corinthian slogan, with the claim that physical lust cannot touch the real personality of the 'initiated'. This Paul sharply contradicts: it is precisely his personality that is being damaged.

," but he who commits sexual immorality sins [porneuōn] against his own body [sōma]. 19Or don't you know that your body is a temple [naos] of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own, 20for you were bought with a price [timēs]

Perhaps Paul had in mind the price paid to the prostitute in return for her services. The price would then be worship of the temple-deity (Aphrodite), idolatry and immorality. Paul is saying (not at all delicately), 'You are the one who has been bought by God, therefore you owe your body to him and the service which he requires is his glorification'.

. Therefore glorify [doxazō] God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

7 1Now concerning the things about which you wrote to me: it is good [kalon] for a man not to touch a woman. 2But, because of sexual immoralities [porneias]

Lit. here, 'owing to fornications', referring to numerous sexual temptations in Corinth.

, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3Let the husband render to his wife the affection owed her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4The wife doesn't have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise also the husband doesn't have authority over his own body, but the wife. 5Don't deprive one another, unless it is by consent [symphōnou]

Lit. 'in symphony'.

for a season, that you may give [scholazō]

Lit. 'that you may have or be at leisure for'. In Judaism the newly-married man was excused from saying the 'Shema' so that he could give attention to other prayers. Paul himself, as a member of the Sanhedrin (Ac 26:10), would have been married. It is speculative whether he was deserted (cf. 7:15) or widowed (cf. 7:40).

yourselves to fasting and prayer, and may be together again, that Satan doesn't tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6But this I say by way of concession, not of commandment. 7Yet I wish that all men were like me. However each man has his own gift from God, one of this kind, and another of that kind. 8But I say to the unmarried and to widows, it is good [kalon] for them if they remain even as I am. 9But if they don't have self-control, let them marry. For it's better to marry than to burn. 10But to the married I command--not I, but the Lord--that the wife not leave [chōrizō] her husband 11(but if she departs, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband not leave [aphiēmi]

In Judaism only the husband had the right to divorce, hense the prohibition to the wife in v10.

his wife. 12But to the rest I--not the Lord--say, if any brother [adelphos] has an unbelieving [apiston] wife, and she is content to live with him, let him not leave her. 13The woman who has an unbelieving [apiston] husband, and he is content to live with her, let her not leave her husband. 14For the unbelieving [apistos] husband is sanctified [hagiazō] in the wife, and the unbelieving [apistos] wife is sanctified in the husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean [akatharta]

Normally Jews trace their descent through the mother as it is normally clear who the mother is, but Paul argues that the children of one Christian parent (mother or father) are 'holy'.

, but now they are holy [hagia]. 15Yet if the unbeliever departs, let there be separation. The brother or the sister is not under bondage [douloō]

Lit. 'has not become a slave'.

in such cases, but God has called us in peace. 16For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 17Only, as the Lord has distributed to each man, as God has called [kaleō] each, so let him walk [peripateō]. So I command in all the assemblies [ekklēsiais]. 18Was anyone called [kaleō] having been circumcised [peritetmēmenos]? Let him not become uncircumcised [apispasthō]. Has anyone been called [kaleō] in uncircumcision [akrobystia]? Let him not be circumcised [peritemnesthō]. 19Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. 20Let each man stay in that calling [kaleō] in which he was called. 21Were you called [kaleō] being a bondservant [doulos]? Don't let that bother you, but if you get an opportunity to become free, use it. 22For he who was called [kaleō] in the Lord being a bondservant [douos] is the Lord's free man [apeleutheros]. Likewise he who was called [kaleō] being free [eleutheros] is Christ's bondservant [doulos]. 23You were bought with a price. Don't become bondservants [doulos] of men. 24Brothers [adelphoi], let each man, in whatever condition he was called [kaleō], stay in that condition with God. 25Now concerning virgins [parthenōn], I have no commandment [gnōmēn] from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who has obtained mercy from the Lord to be trustworthy. 26I think that it is good [kalon] therefore, because of the distress that is on us, that it is good for a man to be as he is. 27Are you bound to a wife? Don't seek to be freed. Are you free from a wife? Don't seek a wife. 28But if you marry, you have not sinned. If a virgin [parthenos] marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have oppression [thlipsin]

Persecution had recently been directed against the Jews. Aquila and Priscilla came to Corinth due to an imperial edict expelling all Jews from Rome (cf. Ac 18:1-2). The Roman authorities found it hard to distinguish between the long-standing menace of Judaism and the emerging Christian sect. Nero's reputation for savage treatment of a few Christians was by this time starting to become known. Paul himself was persecuted in Ephesus, the very city from which he now wrote this letter (cf. Ac 19).

in the flesh [sarki], and I want to spare you. 29But I say this, brothers [adelphoi]: the time is short [systellō]

Lit. 'furled like a sail'.

, that from now on, both those who have wives may be as though they had none; 30and those who weep, as though they didn't weep; and those who rejoice [chairō], as though they didn't rejoice; and those who buy, as though they didn't possess; 31and those who use [chraomai] the world, [kosmon] as not using it to the fullest [katachraomai]

'Engrossed' or 'over-using'.

. For the mode of this world [schēma tou kosmou] passes away. 32But I desire to have you to be free from cares [amerimnous]. He who is unmarried is concerned [merimnaō] for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33but he who is married is concerned [merimnaō] about the things of the world [ta tou kosmou], how he may please his wife. 34There is also a difference between a wife and a virgin [parthenos]. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord [ta atou kuriou], that she may be holy [agiazō] both in body [sōmati] and in spirit [pneumati]. But she who is married cares about the things of the world [ta tou kosmou]--how she may please her husband. 35This I say for your own profit; not that I may ensnare [brochon]

Lit. 'to tie a halter or noose' around the necks of married Christians.

you, but for that which is appropriate, and that you may attend to the Lord without distraction [euparedron]. 36But if any man thinks that he is behaving inappropriately toward his virgin [parthenon], if she is past the flower of her age, and if need so requires [hyperakmos]

Can either refer to the man being over-sexed, or the woman being past her prime in terms of childbearing.

, let him do what he desires. He doesn't sin. Let them marry. 37But he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own heart, to keep his own virgin [parthenon], does well. 38So then both he who gives his own virgin [parthenon] in marriage does well, and he who doesn't give her in marriage does better. 39A wife [gynē]

Cf. Ac 6:1ff, Jas 1:27; 1 Tim 5:3-16 for references to an order of widows, instituted at an early stage in the church.

is bound by law for as long as her husband lives; but if the husband is dead, she is free to be married to whoever she desires, only in the Lord. 40But she is happier if she stays as she is, in my judgment [gnōmēn], and I think that I also have God's Spirit.

8 1Now concerning things sacrificed to idols [eidōlothytōn]

Sacrifice to the gods was an integral part of ancient life. When done in private, the animal was divided three ways, a token part being burned on the altar with the remainder being shared between the priests and the worshipper. Feasts of meat were held in private homes or in the temple of the god to whom the sacrifice had been made. The Corinthian way of life was not short of involving a good deal of socializing. An example of a contemporary papyrus invitation reads: 'Chaeremon invites you to dine at the table of the lord Sarapis at the Sarapeion (sc. Temple of Sarapis) tomorrow, the 15th, at the 9th hour'. In public sacrifices again a symbolic amount was burned and the priests received their share after which the magistrates and others ate their share. Leftovers were sold to the shops and markets so bought meat could well have been offered to idols. The age of the Greeks and Romans believed strongly and fearfully in demons, believing that they settled on the food a man ate and so got inside him. Hence the belief that by dedicating the meat to some god or other, the demonic threat could be allayed. As it happened, hardly a man could hardly eat any meat at all that was not in some way connected with a heathen god. The situation was aggravated by the strict kosher laws of the Jews (how an animal should be ritually slaughtered), the legalists in the church, and the famous Jerusalem decree (Ac 15:29), reinforced by members of the Peter-party.

: We know [oida] that we all have knowledge [gnōsin]

This was one of the catch-phrases of the libertines with their budding Gnosticism. Two other slogans are discernable in v4.

. Knowledge [gnōsis] puffs up [physioō], but love [agapē] builds up. 2But if anyone thinks that he knows [ginōskō] anything, he doesn't yet know as he ought to know. 3But if anyone loves God, the same is known by him. 4Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5For though there are things that are called "gods [theoi]

'Copies'. The word 'idol' is used both for the image made of wood or stone, and for the deity worshipped in such idolatry.

," whether in the heavens or on earth [gēs]; as there are many "gods" and many "lords;" 6yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we live through him. 7However, that knowledge isn't in all men. But some, with consciousness of the idol until now, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak [asthenēs], is defiled [molynō]. 8But food will not commend us to God. For neither, if we don't eat, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better. 9But be careful that by no means does this liberty of yours become a stumbling block [proskomma] to the weak [asthenesin]. 10For if a man sees you who have knowledge sitting in an idol's temple, won't his conscience, if he is weak [asthenous], be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11And through your knowledge, he who is weak perishes [apollymi], the brother [astheneō adelphos] for whose sake Christ died. 12Thus, sinning against the brothers [adephous], and wounding [typtontes]

Or batter, as if beating someone over the head.

their conscience when it is weak [asthenousan], you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food causes my brother [adelphon] to stumble [skandalizō], I will eat no meat forevermore, that I don't cause my brother to stumble [skandalizō].

9 1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle [apostolos]? Haven't I seen Jesus Christ, our Lord? Aren't you my work in the Lord? 2If to others I am not an apostle [apostolos], yet at least I am to you; for you are the seal [sphragis] of my apostleship [apostolēs] in the Lord. 3My defense [apologia] to those who examine [anakrinō] me is this. 4Have we no right [exousian] to eat and to drink? 5Have we no right [exousian] to take along a wife who is a believer [adelphēn], even as the rest of the apostles [apostoloi], and the brothers [adelphoi] of the Lord, and Cephas [Kēphas]? 6Or have only Barnabas [Barnabas] and I no right to not work? 7What soldier ever serves at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, and doesn't eat of its fruit? Or who feeds a flock, and doesn't drink from the flock's milk? 8Do I speak these things according to the ways of men? Or doesn't the law also say the same thing? 9For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it for the oxen that God cares, 10or does he say it assuredly for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake, because he who plows ought to plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should partake of his hope. 11If we sowed to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your fleshly things? 12If others partake of this right [exousias] over you, don't we yet more? Nevertheless we did not use this right [exousia], but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance [egkopēn]

Only occurrence in NT. Lit. 'a cutting into'; used of breaking up a road to prevent the enemy's advance. Paul had avoided doing anything which might prevent a clear road for the advance of the gospel.

to the Good News [euangeliō] of Christ. 13Don't you know that those who serve around sacred things [iera] eat from the things of the temple [ierou], and those who wait on the altar have their portion with the altar? 14Even so the Lord ordained that those who proclaim the Good News [euangelion katangellō] should live from the Good News [ek tou euangeliou zēn]. 15But I have used none of these things, and I don't write these things that it may be done so in my case; for I would rather die, than that anyone should make my boasting void. 16For if I preach the Good News [euangelizō], I have nothing to boast about; for necessity is laid on me; but woe is to me, if I don't preach the Good News [euangelizō]. 17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward. But if not of my own will, I have a stewardship [oikonomian]

A steward had no rights and no rewards; only responsibilities.

entrusted [pisteuō] to me. 18What then is my reward? That, when I preach the Good News [euangelizō], I may present the Good News of Christ without charge, so as not to abuse my authority [exousia] in the Good News [euangelizō]. 19For though I was free from all, I brought myself under bondage [douloō] to all, that I might gain [kerdainō] the more. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain [kerdainō] Jews; to those who are under the law [nomon]

The Jewish law consisted of 613 written precepts in the Pentateuch 'mitzvot' (plural) or 'mitzvah' (singular). They were not just about religious practice but also about being honest and fair, and caring for the underprivileged, poor, widows, orphans and foreigners. The 613 are divided between is 365 negative mitzvot, one for each day in the year, and 248 are positive, one for each bone in the body. Together with the written laws, there was an entire system of oral amplification (called by Jesus 'the tradition of the elders'). There were occasions when Paul was prepared to come under the law, notably in the circumcision of Timothy and in discharging a Nazirite vow in the Jerusalem temple (Ac 16:33 and 21:23f). Yet he did not bow to pressure from Judaizers who demanded the circumcision of Titus (Gal 2:3). Paul was equally prepared to ignore all religious obligations in the service of the gospel; cf. his sermons at Lystra (Ac 14:15f) and at Athens (Ac 17:22f).

, as under the law, that I might gain [kerdainō] those who are under the law; 21to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win [kerdainō] those who are without law. 22To the weak [asthenesin] I became as weak [asthenēs], that I might gain [kerdainō] the weak [astheneis]. I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. 23Now I do this for the sake of the Good News [euangelion], that I may be a joint partaker of it. 24Don't you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win. 25Every man who strives in the games [agōnizomai]

According to legend, the Olympics started in 776 BC with a single race, a 192-metre dash held at the sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia. Then, a runner named Koroibos sprinted ahead of the field to become the first ever Olympic champion. The two ideas behind the first Olympics were to compete using skills that would save your own life and to distract men from war. The games, just one part of a quadrennial religious festival held in honour of Zeus, continued for over 1,100 years before they were axed in 393AD by Emperor Theodosius, who insisted the event was too pagan. In the 6th century, the site was decimated by an earthquake. In the era of the ancient Olympics more disciplines were added until there were ten in all, divided into men's track and field and equestrian events, and spread over five days. Over time the Olympics also grew in prestige and fame, completely surpassing similar games held in other cities. Olympia was the Super Bowl of an exclusive circuit of other Games that sprang up at Delphi, Isthmia, Nemea, and Athens. They gave rise to extraordinary works of art and sculptures. The sculpture of Zeus, the patron god of the Olympic Games, dominated the action. It was forty feet tall, covered with resplendent gold and ivory, and stood as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Greeks built temples, treasuries (the ornate frat houses of visiting teams), and gymnasiums. Olympia sported the first stadium in history, named after the stadion, a foot race of about 200 yards that was held there. It also produced history's first hippodrome (for chariot racing). Its athletes were immortalized in the poems of Pindar and Bacchylides. "As in the daytime there is no star in the sky warmer and brighter than the sun, likewise there is no competition greater than the Olympic Games," the Greek poet Pindar said of the games in the 5th century BC. Like the spectacle about to be unveiled in Athens the ancient Olympics were the largest event in the world, drawing thousands of spectators. Only men attended the Games, and the athletes competed in the nude, as has been documented on many a vase and jar. This conformed to the Greek view that the body was a kind of artwork itself. According to Greek thought the body was the outward form of the good and virtuous individual. Greek art depicts athletes as possessing the prototype or imprint of a cosmic mathematical harmony or symmetry of form. Originally open to all free Greek males, the Games later were to include Roman citizens too, and drew competitors from Spain to the Black Sea. Every four years heralds travelled throughout the Greek world proclaiming a sacred truce giving safe passage through any state for athletes and spectators travelling to and from the games. Among the four sacred games of the ancient Greeks, the Olympic and the Isthmian were the most celebrated. Every competitor in these games was obliged to undergo a punishing training lasting up to a year during which time he avoided excesses of every kind. Epictetus, the Greek Stoic Philosopher, elaborates: 'Would you be a victor in the Olympic games? So in good truth would I, for it is a glorious thing; but pray consider what must go before, and what my follow, and so proceed to the attempt. You must live by rule, eat what will be disagreeable, refrain from delicacies; you must oblige yourself to constant exercises at the appointed hour, in heat and cold; you must abstain from wine and cold liquors; in a word, you must be as submissive to all direction of your master as to those of a physician.' Corinth was the centre of the Isthmian Games, which took place every two years. The streets of the city and the hillsides of the Acrocorinth would have been full of athletes in training for these prestigious events.

exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown [stephanon]

Chaplet of leaves. The Olympic crown was made of leaves of the wild olive, the Isthmian crown was made of pine or ivy. From the earliest period of history, chaplets of leaves were bestowed upon heroes who had conquered on the field of battle (cf. Ps 132:18). Olive branches were chosen for the Olympics because of the tree's association with the paramount Greek god, Zeus. A sacred olive tree was said to have grown near his spectacular temple near the arena where the athletes of antiquity sparred. Although the only prize on offer at Olympia was an olive wreath, it is known that victors commonly received other more lucrative rewards when returning to their home city. Winners might have received a prize such as jars of olive oil, worth perhaps $75,000 today. Other rewards awaited the victors at home - perhaps a lifetime of free dining, prime seats at the theatre, or tax exemptions. The benefits might extend to the winner's family or even his descendants. In 600BC Athenian Olympic victors could expect a cash prize of 500 drachmas from the city, the equivalent of $300,000 today. Competitors were not even above switching city states for money. The Roman writer Pausanias tells us of a Cretan long-distance running champion, Sotades, who became an Ephesian having been offered a bribe by the people of Ephesus. Athletes received precious gifts, free meals and even made appearances for cash. Such benefits, in tandem with fame and adulation that bordered on worship, unsurprisingly fuelled the desire to win at all costs and athletes were not above cheating to do so. Although, like their modern counterparts, the athletes swore a sacred oath to abide by the rules, some sought unfair advantages. False starts and illegal manoeuvres were punished with public floggings and expulsion from the games. By the fourth century athletes caught lying, cheating or involved in bribery were also fined and the money used to erect a statue to Zeus along the route to the stadium - an everlasting testament to their shame. The most breathtaking example of race rigging occurred in AD67 when the Roman emperor Nero took part in a 10-horse chariot race, an event added just for his benefit. Despite falling from his chariot and not completing the race Nero was declared the winner - although years later after his death Nero's name was symbolically deleted from the champions list.

, but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore run [trechō]

The famous Marathon race's roots date back to an ancient Greek legend, where a Greek herald named Pheidippides, ran 26 miles from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory against the Persians at the battle of Marathon, a small village back then, but with a great historic value to modern times.

like that, as not uncertainly. I fight [pykteuō]

'Combat.' While training, boxers would strike out at an imaginary opponent merely for exercise. The pankration, was a cross between boxing and wrestling in which choking, finger breaking and blows to the genitals were all permitted. Competitors often succumbed to their wounds days after the games had ended. In 564BC Arrichion of Phigaleia, while competing for his third Olympic crown, found himself being choked in a stranglehold from behind. Unable to free himself he gripped his opponent's ankle and twisted it until it broke. His opponent submitted, but by then the damage was done - Arrichion breathed his last. Tales of athletes giving their lives for Olympic glory were not unusual in ancient Greece. 'Games' is a misleading description for contests in which the winner takes all. There were no prizes given for second or third place, and often the losers suffered blood and broken bones. The Greek word for contest is agon, from which our word "agony" is derived. The verb athleuo (as in "athlete") means not only "I take part in a contest" but also "I suffer." In a sense, every athlete was trying to emulate the national hero, Hercules, who in ancient Greek mythology had faced and overcome a dozen nightmarish trials.

like that, as not beating the air, 27but I beat [hypōpiazō]

Lit. 'buffet'.

my body [sōma] and bring it into submission [doulagōgeō]

Lit. 'lead my body around like a slave'. In one of his celebrated speeches the Greek orator Aeschines asked why any man would be willing to compete at the Olympics in an event like the Pankration. He replied, "Because of the competition and the honour, and the undying fame that victory brings, men are willing to risk their bodies, and at the cost of the most severe discipline to carry the struggle to the end." The Olympic motto is the same now as it was then, "Citius, Altius, Fortius"; 'Faster, Higher, Stronger'. Philosophers like Socrates and Plato, advocates of the gym themselves, saw athletics as a duty, a way for citizen-soldiers to stay physically sharp and ready to defend their homeland. But the running, spear throwing, wrestling, boxing, and chariot racing represented more than just boot-camp rivalries. While the contests were not being held attendees at the ancient Games enjoyed the Arcadian region of Greece, a place of pastoral ease, simplicity and escapism and home of Pan, the goat-god of woods and fields.

, lest by any means, after I have preached [kēryssō] to others, I myself should be rejected.

10 1Now I would [thelō] not have you ignorant [agnoein], brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3and all ate the same spiritual food; 4and all drank the same spiritual [pneumatikon]

Better translated 'supernatural' with other occurrences here.

drink. For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5However with most of them, God was not well pleased [eudokeō], for they were overthrown [katastrōnnumi] in the wilderness [erēmō]. 6Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil [kakōn] things, as they also lusted. 7Neither be idolaters, as some of them were. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." 8Neither let us commit sexual immorality [porneuōmen], as some of them committed, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell. 9Neither let us test [ekpeirazō] the Lord, as some of them tested, and perished by the serpents. 10Neither grumble, as some of them also grumbled, and perished by the destroyer. 11Now all these things happened to them by way of example [typoi], and they were written for our admonition [nouthesian], on whom the ends of the ages [telē ton aiōnōn] have come. 12Therefore let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn't fall. 13No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful [pistos], who will not allow you to be tempted [peirazō]

Or tested.

above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape [ekbasin]

Used by Luke of the exodus Jesus will achieve at Jerusalem (Lk 9:31).

, that you may be able to endure it. 14Therefore, my beloved [agapētoi], flee from idolatry. 15I speak as to wise men [phronimois]. Judge [krinō] what I say. 16The cup of blessing [eulogoias]

The cup of blessing is taken to refer to the third cup at the Passover meal, over which the following prayer of thanksgiving was pronounced. 'Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, Who givest us the fruit of the vine'.

which we bless [eulogeō], isn't it a sharing [koinōnia] of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, isn't it a sharing [koinōnia] of the body of Christ? 17Because there is one loaf of bread, we, who are many, are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf of bread. 18Consider Israel according to the flesh. Don't those who eat the sacrifices participate [koinōnoi]

Cf. Lev 10:12-15 for the priestly menu and 1 Sam 9:10-24 for the ordinary Jew's meal.

in the altar? 19What am I saying then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God, and I don't desire that you would have fellowship [koinōnous]

Paul is thinking of feasts which are explicitly under the patronage of a pagan deity, and which involved the acknowledgement and even worship of that deity. Participants in such a feast were considered to have 'perfect sacrificial communion' with him.

with demons. 21You can't both drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You can't both partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table of demons. 22Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy [parazeloō]? Are we stronger than he? 23"All things are lawful for me," but not all things are profitable [sympherei]. "All things are lawful for me," but not all things build up [oikodomei]. 24Let no one seek his own, but each one his neighbor's good [zēteō]. 25Whatever is sold in the butcher shop, eat, asking no question for the sake of conscience, 26for "the earth [gē] is the Lord's, and its fullness." 27But if one of those who don't believe invites you to a meal, and you are inclined to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no questions for the sake of conscience. 28But if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols," don't eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for the sake of conscience. For "the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." 29Conscience, I say, not your own, but the other's conscience. For why is my liberty judged [krinō] by another conscience? 30If I partake with thankfulness [chariti], why am I denounced [blasphēmeō] for that for which I give thanks [eucharisteō]? 31Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory [doxan] of God. 32Give no occasions for stumbling [aproskopoi], either to Jews, or to Greeks [Hellēsin], or to the assembly [ekklēsia] of God; 33even as I also please [areskō] all men in all things, not seeking my own profit [symphoron], but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.

11 1Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ. 2Now I praise [epainō] you, brothers [adelphoi], that you remember me in all things, and hold firm the traditions [paradoseis]

Denotes the twin process of hearing and of passing on. In a culture that was basically non-literary, the fundamental importance of reliable oral tradition takes on added emphasis. In fact, oral tradition is very reliable, as the elementary example of nursery rhymes indicates. It is thought that the early church possessed a body of Christian catechesis dealing with ordinary discipleship and basic doctrine known as 'house-tables' or Christian ground rules.

, even as I delivered them to you. 3But I would have you know [oida] that the head [kephalē]

On rare occasions meant the ruler of a community, but normally carries the sense of source or origin. It is used of the source of a river. A third sense apart from its literal meaning is the directive sense, conveyed by our understanding of headship or leadership.

of every man is Christ, and the head [kephalē] of the woman is the man, and the head [kephale] of Christ is God. 4Every man praying or prophesying, having his head [kephalēs] covered, dishonors his head [kephalēn]. 5But every woman praying or prophesying with her head [kephalē] unveiled dishonors her head [kephalēn]. For it is one and the same thing as if she were shaved. 6For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7For a man indeed ought not to have his head [kephalēn] covered, because he is the image and glory [doxa] of God, but the woman is the glory of the man. 8For man is not from woman, but woman from man; 9for neither was man created for [dia] the woman, but woman for [dia] the man. 10For this cause the woman ought to have authority [exousian] on her head [kephalēs]

In first-century Greece dress for men and women was apparently very similar, except for the women's 'head-covering', her veil; kalumma. This was not the equivalent of the Arab veil, but a covering for her hair alone. The normal, everyday dress of all Greek women included the kalumma, so there was no dressing up for attending the fellowship meetings of the church. The only women who did not wear them were the 'hetairai', the 'high-class' mistresses of influential Corinthians. Also, slaves had their heads shaved, and the same practice was enacted as punishment for convicted adulteresses. It has been suggested that the sacred prostitutes from the local temple of Aphrodite did not wear veils. Pagan prophetesses in the Graeco-Roman world also have prophesied with uncovered heads and disheveled hair. Perhaps certain Christian women became so uninhibited in public worship that they threw back their head-dresses to allow their hair (which they always wore long) to fall loose, causing distraction to the men at worship, especially to those who were accustomed to Jewish temple-worship in which the women were kept on their own, out of sight behind a screen while the men always prayed with their heads covered (11:4). Wearing the veil was a sign of the woman's submission to others present. This was so in the city and should remain the convention in worship. In this sense the veil, far from being repressive, was a sign of the new authority she now has to do things which formerly she had not been allowed to do. On the other hand, Paul could also be saying that only in submission is a woman free to minister in the worshipping life of the church. So by covering her head, the woman both secures her place of dignity and authority while simultaneously recognizing her subordination.

, because of the angels. 11Nevertheless, neither is the woman independent of the man, nor the man independent of the woman, in the Lord. 12For as woman came from man, so a man also comes through a woman; but all things are from God. 13Judge [krinō] for yourselves. Is it appropriate that a woman pray to God unveiled? 14Doesn't even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonour to him? 15But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her, for her hair is given to her for a covering. 16But if any man seems to be contentious, we have no such custom [synētheian], neither do God's assemblies [ekklēsiai]. 17But in giving you this command, I don't praise [epainō] you, that you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18For first of all, when you come together [synerchomai] in the assembly [ekklēsia], I hear that divisions [schismata] exist among you, and I partly believe it. 19For there also must be factions [haireseis]

Lit. 'sects'. From this we derive the word 'heresy', and it has the root meaning of 'choose'.

among you, that those who are approved [dokimoi]

'Genuine', 'passed the test', cf. Apelles, Rom 16:10.

may be revealed among you. 20When therefore you assemble yourselves together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. 21For in your eating [phagein]


Nothing was more scandalous to the Romans than a reputation for enjoying haute cuisine. Celebrity chefs had long been regarded as a particularly pernicious symptom of decadence. Back in the virtuous, homespun days of the early Republic, so historians liked to claim, the cook 'had been the least valuable of slaves', but no sooner had the Romans come into contact with the fleshpots of the East than 'he began to be highly prized, and what had been a mere function instead came to be regarded as high art' Livy, 39.6. An ancient principle stated that a citizen should subsist off the produce of his land. This principle was sometimes used to justify the building of elaborate salt-water ponds to cultivate exotic fisheries for the rich. Even the most luxurious villas also served as farms.

each one takes his own supper first. One is hungry, and another is drunken. 22What, don't you have houses to eat and to drink in? Or do you despise God's assembly [ekklēsias], and put them to shame who don't have? What shall I tell you? Shall I praise [epainō] you? In this I don't praise you. 23For I received [paralambanō]

The technical word for oral transmission down the generations and across different groups.

from the Lord that which also I delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread [arton; Heb. Matzah]

The head of any Jewish home would have performed such actions with bread and wine at any meal, and with special solemnity at the Passover-meal.

. 24When he had given thanks [eucharisteō Heb. made the b'rakhah, blessing], he broke it, and said, "Take, eat. This is my body, which is broken for you. Do this in memory of me." 25In the same way he also took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant [diathēkē] in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink, in memory [anamnēsin] of me." 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim [katangellō] the Lord's death until he comes. 27Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the Lord's cup in a manner unworthy of the Lord will be guilty [enochos]

This word has a forensic application.

of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. 29For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment [krima] to himself, if he doesn't discern [diakrinō] the Lord's body. 30For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep [koimaomai]. 31For if we discerned [diakrinō] ourselves, we wouldn't be judged [krinō]. 32But when we are judged [krinō], we are punished by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world [kosmō katakrinō]. 33Therefore, my brothers [adelphoi], when you come together to eat, wait one for another. 34But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest your coming together be for judgment [krima]. The rest I will set in order whenever I come.

12 1Now concerning spiritual things [pneumatikōn]

The Christians in Corinth had been delivered from the Greek mystery-religions, in which spiritual experiences were the norm. They had grown accustomed to being moved by supernatural or demonic forces, either into a state of trance or into ecstasy or into some strange course of action. Such inspiration was regarded as an authentication of the divine force involved without which the power of the divinity was suspect.

, brothers [adelphoi], I don't want you to be ignorant. 2You know that when you were heathen [ethnē], you were led away to those mute idols, however you might be led. 3Therefore I make known [gnōrizō] to you that no man speaking by God's Spirit says, "Jesus is accursed [anathema Iēsous]." No one can say, "Jesus is Lord [kyrios 'Iēsous]

Cf. previous mention of the multitude of gods and lords in the world at that time in 8:5, 'many "gods" and many "lords"'. Each different culture had its own deities, and they demanded the loyalty and allegiance of their devotees. Christians proclaim that 'Jesus is Lord', identical with Yahweh in the OT, supreme over the Roman Emperor, the risen conqueror of every conceivable cosmic or demonic principality and power.

," but by the Holy Spirit. 4Now there are various kinds [diaireseis]

Can mean either diversity or assignment. Perhaps Paul has in mind a double nuance.

of gifts [charismatōn]

The modern Greek word means 'birthday present'.

, but the same Spirit [auto pneuma]. 5There are various kinds of service [diakoniōn], and the same Lord. 6There are various kinds of workings [energēmatōn], but the same God, who works [energeō] all things in all. 7But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [phanerōsis tou pneumatos] for the profit [sympheron] of all. 8For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom [logos sophias], and to another the word of knowledge [logos gnōseōs], according to the same Spirit [auto pneuma]; 9to another faith [pistis], by the same Spirit [autō pneumati]; and to another gifts of healings [charismata iamatōn]

(Both are plural).

, by the same Spirit; 10and to another workings of miracles [energēmata dynameōn]; and to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits [diakriseis pneumatōn]

'Discernings of spirits'.

; to another different kinds of languages [glōssōn]; and to another the interpretation of languages [glōssōn]. 11But the one and the same Spirit works [energeō] all of these, distributing to each one separately as he desires. 12For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized [baptizō]

Baptised 'in' or 'with' (eis). It is likely that the word 'baptism' carries the double connotation of 'being initiated into' and 'being overwhelmed by'. For example, contemporary secular Greek sources spoke of a submerged ship being 'baptized'. That ship was not only 'initiated into' water; it was thoroughly 'overwhelmed by' water. Similarly, Christians are in the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is in Christians. Or, just as wind, air and breath are metaphors or the Holy Spirit, a body (soma) is surrounded by air, but must breathe in the air if it is to live and grow.

into one body, whether Jews or Greeks [Hellēnes], whether bond [douloi]

These references remind us of the cosmopolitan seaport of Corinth and its multi-layered society.

or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit. 14For the body is not one member, but many. 15If the foot would say, "Because I'm not the hand, I'm not part of the body," it is not therefore not part of the body. 16If the ear would say, "Because I'm not the eye, I'm not part of the body," it's not therefore not part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the smelling be? 18But now God has set [tithēmi] the members, each one of them, in the body, just as he desired [thelō]. 19If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20But now they are many members, but one body. 21The eye can't tell the hand, "I have no need for you," or again the head to the feet, "I have no need for you." 22No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23Those parts of the body which we think to be less honourable, on those we bestow more abundant honour; and our unpresentable parts have more abundant propriety; 24whereas our presentable parts have no such need. But God composed [sygkerannumi]

'Composed' or 'adjusted'. The Greek word 'synekerasen' has the basic meaning of mixing different parts together with a specific purpose in mind, i.e., to produce mutual support and interdependence. The same word has been used of mixing colours.

the body [sōma] together, giving more abundant honour to the inferior part, 25that there should be no division [schisma] in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26When one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. Or when one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 27Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28God has set [tithēmi] some in the assembly [ekklēsia]: first apostles [apostolous], second prophets, third teachers [didaskalous]

There were no books available to members of the early church. Jewish Christians had a working knowledge of the OT (but heavily over laden with rabbinic additions and interpretations). Writing and education in general were confined to a privileged minority. All this enhanced the value of the teacher.

, then miracle workers [dynameis], then gifts of healings [charismata iamatōn], helps [antilēpseis]

Refers to the gift rather than the person. This word may have a more limited and specialized meaning, being closely related to the handling of money. Evidence from recently discovered papyri suggests that the Greek for administration was a technical term in the field of banking and referred to the chief accountant. The most common interpretation of this word, however, applies it to the general ministry of practical assistance of all kinds. The root meaning of the word is 'to take a burden on oneself instead of another'.

, governments [kybernēseis]

Lit. 'pilotings', referring to the helmsman of a ship, the one with the responsibility of steering the vessel, keeping it on course, avoiding dangers, recognizing changes in the weather and adjusting accordingly. Modern Greek uses the same word of an airline pilot.

, and various kinds [genē]

Hence 'generic'.

of languages [glōssōn]. 29Are all apostles [apostoloi]? Are all prophets? Are all teachers [didaskaloi]? Are all miracle workers [dynameis]? 30Do all have gifts [charismata] of healings? Do all speak with various languages [glōssais]? Do all interpret? 31But earnestly desire [zeloō] the best gifts [charismata]. Moreover, I show a most excellent way to you.

13 1If I speak with the languages [glōssais] of men and of angels, but don't have love [agapēn]

The Greek word for love in the NT was not previously in common use. It was taken into the Greek of the NT specifically to describe the love of God in Jesus.

, I have become sounding brass [chalkos]

A piece of copper.

, or a clanging cymbal [kymbalon]

Single-toned instrument incapable of producing a melody. Both were used in the mystery religions, either to invoke the god or drive away demons or rouse worshippers. They beat out a distracting monotone and caused a jarring din. The streets of Corinth resounded with such sounds which were a feature of the devotees of Greek mystery-cults. They worshipped Dionysus (god of nature) and Cybele (goddess of wild animals). Dionysus, the Thracian and Phrygian god of the reproductive energies of nature, was worshipped with orgiastic rites, including the tearing in pieces and devouring of animal, possibly also human, sacrifices. Worshippers, especially women, losing their own personality, were identified with him. He tended to specialize as the god of wine. Cybele, the mistress of wild nature, was often shown with lions and other beasts. Phrygia appears to have been the centre of her cult, which was introduced into Rome and had great popularity during the early Roman Empire (i.e., first century AD), especially among women.

. 2If I have the gift of prophecy [prophēteian], and know all mysteries [oida ta mystēria] and all knowledge [gnōsin]; and if I have all faith [pistin], so as to remove mountains, but don't have love [agapēn], I am nothing. 3If I dole out all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned [kaiō], but don't have love [agapēn], it profits [ōpheleō] me nothing. 4Love [agapē] is patient and is kind; love [agapē] doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag [perpereuomai], is not proud [physioō], 5doesn't behave itself inappropriately, doesn't seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil [logizomai to kakon]

Refers to keeping an account, or list.

; 6doesn't rejoice [chairō] in unrighteousness [adikia], but rejoices [sygchairō] with the truth; 7bears all things, believes [pisteuō] all things, hopes all things, endures [hypomenō] all things. 8Love [agapē] never fails [ekpiptō]

Lit. 'falls' or 'collapses'. Such love never folds under pressure of the most intense and sustained kind.

. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages [glōssai], they will cease. Where there is knowledge [gnōsis], it will be done away with. 9For we know in part [ek merous], and we prophesy in part [ek merous]; 10but when that which is complete [teleion] has come, then that which is partial [to ek merous] will be done away with. 11When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. 12For now we see in a mirror [esoptrou]

The very best mirror, which in those days was made of metal and inevitably gave only a blurred and imperfect picture, is as nothing compared with the full encounter, cf. 1 Jn 3:1f.

, dimly [en ainigmati]

Connected to the word 'riddle'.

, but then face to face. Now I know [ginōskō] in part [ek merous], but then I will know [piginōskō] fully, even as I was also fully known [epiginōskō]. 13But now faith, hope, and love [agapē] remain--these three. The greatest of these is love [agapē].

14 1Follow after love [diōkō ten agapēn], and earnestly desire [zeloō] spiritual gifts [pneumatika], but especially that you may prophesy. 2For he who speaks in another language [glōssē] speaks not to men, but to God; for no one understands [akouō]; but in the Spirit he speaks mysteries [mystēria]. 3But he who prophesies speaks to men for their edification, exhortation, and consolation [paraklēsin]

Cf. Jn 14:16, etc..

and comfort [paramythian]

This has the sense of whispering in the church's ear, probably to allay fear and enable God's people to be calm under pressure.

. 4He who speaks in another language [glossē] edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the assembly [ekklēsian]. 5Now I desire to have you all speak with other languages [glōssais], but rather that you would prophesy. For he is greater [meizon] who prophesies than he who speaks with other languages [glōssais], unless he interprets [diermēneuō]

In classical Greek there were three nuances in the verb: to explain or interpret, to articulate or express clearly, and to translate.

, that the assembly [ekklēsia] may be built up. 6But now, brothers [adelphoi], if I come to you speaking with other languages [glōssais], what would I profit [ōphelēsō] you, unless I speak to you either by way of revelation [apokalypsei], or of knowledge [gnōsei], or of prophesying, or of teaching [didachē]? 7Even things without life, giving a voice, whether pipe or harp, if they didn't give a distinction in the sounds, how would it be known what is piped or harped? 8For if the trumpet gave an uncertain sound, who would prepare himself for war? 9So also you, unless you uttered by the tongue [glōssēs] words easy to understand, how would it be known what is spoken? For you would be speaking into the air. 10There are, it may be, so many kinds of sounds [phōnōn] in the world [kosmō], and none of them is without meaning [aphōnon]. 11If then I don't know [oida] the meaning of the sound, I would be to him who speaks a foreigner [barbaros]

Greeks were very proud of the beauty of their language and regarded every other language as boorish and grating. To them these languages sounded like a heavy 'bar-bar-bar' noise: hence 'barbaros'.

, and he who speaks would be a foreigner [barbaros] to me. 12So also you, since you are zealous [zeloō] for spiritual gifts [pneumaton], seek that you may abound to the building up of the assembly [ekklēsias]. 13Therefore let him who speaks in another language [glōssē] pray that he may interpret. 14For if I pray in another language [glōssē], my spirit prays, but my understanding [nous]

In the emotional and enthusiastic atmosphere of the church at Corinth, with latent influences of the mystery-religions, the tendency was not to be over-cerebral, but to devalue the importance of the mind. Paul is concerned, therefore, to stress manifestations of the Spirit which do not bypass the mind.

is unfruitful [akarpos]. 15What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding [noi] also. I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding [noi] also. 16Otherwise if you bless [eulogeō] with the spirit, how will he who fills the place of the unlearned [idiōtou]

'Uninstructed.' They had their place in the Christian assembly but were interested inquirers, having not committed themselves, cf. v23. Idiotes refers to one who is not part of the group, e.g., laymen being not priests; citizens over against those in public life; privates instead of officers.

say the "Amen [Amēn]" at your giving of thanks [eucharistia], seeing he doesn't know what you say? 17For you most certainly give thanks well, but the other person is not built up. 18I thank [eucharisteō] my God, I speak with other languages [glōssais] more than you all. 19However in the assembly [ekklēsia] I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I might instruct [katēcheō] others also, than ten thousand words in another language [glōssē]. 20Brothers [adelphoi], don't be children in thoughts [phresin], yet in malice be babies, but in thoughts [phresin] be mature. 21In the law it is written, "By men of strange languages and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people. Not even thus will they hear me, says the Lord." 22Therefore other languages [glōssai] are for a sign [sēmeion], not to those who believe, but to the unbelieving; but prophesying is for a sign, not to the unbelieving, but to those who believe. 23If therefore the whole assembly [ekklēsia]

Probably the different home-churches at Corinth meeting together in the large house of one of the few wealthy Christians in the city. Such occasions, which would have been not nearly as frequent as the regular home-church gatherings, were the context in which Paul expected interested inquirers and other 'outsiders' to be present. The instructions in v26f on the other hand turn to the regular gatherings of believers in different homes throughout the city, cf. 16:19.

is assembled together and all speak with other languages [glōssais], and unlearned [idiōtai] or unbelieving [apistoi]

This and the previous word are two descriptions of the outsiders.

people come in, won't they say that you are crazy [mainesthe]

'Mad', not meaning fit for the asylum, but under the influence of some spiritual force on a par with those active in the mystery-cults. The result of believers all speaking in tongues in a time of worship is that the very people they are hoping to win become convinced that Christianity is like any mystery-religion, into which they have to be properly initiated if they want to belong. Since they have not been initiated into the secret vocabulary and practices they leave.

? 24But if all prophesy, and someone unbelieving or unlearned comes in, he is reproved by all, and he is judged [anakrinō] by all. 25And thus the secrets [krupta] of his heart are revealed. So he will fall down on his face and worship God, declaring that God is among you indeed. 26What is it then, brothers [adelphoi]? When you come together [synerchomai], each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching [didachēn], has a revelation [apokalypsin], has another language [glōssan], has an interpretation. Let all things be done to build each other [oikodomēn] up. 27If any man speaks in another language, let it be two, or at the most three, and in turn; and let one interpret. 28But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the assembly, and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29Let the prophets speak, two or three, and let the others discern. 30But if a revelation [apokalypsthē] is made to another sitting by, let the first keep silent. 31For you all can prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted. 32The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, 33for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the assemblies of the saints [ekklēsiais tōn agiōn], 34let your wives [gynaikes]

Roman views of women

Roman morality did not look kindly on female forwardness. Frigidity was the ultimate marital ideal. Anything else was associated with prostitution. A woman whose conversation was witty and free laid herself open to an identical charge. Women had no choice but to exert their influence behind the scenes, by stealth, teasing and seducing those they wished to influence, luring them into what moralists were quick to denounce as a feminine world of gossip and sensuality. The Republic scorned dancing, partying, debauchery, promiscuity and late nights. Every citizen knew that women were depraved and promiscuous by nature.

keep silent in the assemblies [ekklēsiais], for it has not been permitted for them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as the law also says. 35If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to chatter in the assembly [ekklēsia]. 36What? Was it from you that the word [logos] of God went out? Or did it come to you alone? 37If any man thinks [dokeō] himself to be a prophet, or spiritual [pneumatikos], let him recognize the things which I write to you, that they are the commandment of the Lord. 38But if anyone is ignorant [agnoeō], let him be ignorant [agnoeō]. 39Therefore, brothers [adelphoi], desire earnestly [zeloō] to prophesy, and don't forbid [kōlyō]

Better 'hamper', 'hinder', 'prevent' or 'restrain'.

speaking with other languages [glōssais]. 40Let all things be done decently [euschēmonōs]

The root meaning conveys the sense of something being vital, participatory, expectant and attractive.

and in order.

15 1Now I declare [gnorizō]

Greeks believed in the immortality of the soul, originally expressed with supreme brilliance by Plato nearly 500 years earlier. The body was seen as a prison, and death marked the release of the hitherto-captive soul to soar to the real world, of which everything on this earth is only a shadow. Greek Christians brought up with this philosophy found it difficult to discard. Gnostic trends in contemporary Christian circles were capable of turning Christians away from apostolic truth into an over-spiritualized approach to life before and after death. In this way Christians became skeptical of the resurrection and needed reminding of the gospel that was preached to them.

to you, brothers [adelphoi], the Good News which I preached [euangelion ho euangelizō] to you, which also you received [paralambanō]

Refers to an established tradition passed on personally, and almost certainly by word of mouth, from the original eyewitnesses of the facts involved in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Cf. same vocabulary used in 11:23f. This letter was written in the early fifties, placing these facts concerning the resurrection of Jesus within twenty years of the actual events. We are as close as we can possibly come to eyewitness accounts of what took place in Jerusalem in those days.

, in which you also stand, 2by which also you are saved, if you hold firmly the word which I preached [logō euangelizō] to you--unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared [oraō] to Cephas [Kēpha], then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared [oraō] to over five hundred brothers [adelphois] at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have also fallen asleep [koimaomai]. 7Then he appeared [oraō] to James, then to all the apostles [apostolois], 8and last of all, as to the child born at the wrong time [ektrōmati]

The word refers to a miscarriage or abortion, but probably should not be taken too literally. It was a term of abuse. Paul's opponents may have ridiculed Paul personally, not having an impressive appearance (2 Cor 10:10), while also criticizing his doctrine of free grace. They would have derided him, claiming he was more abortion than born again.

, he appeared [oraō] to me also. 9For I am the least of the apostles [apostolōn], who is not worthy to be called an apostle [apostolos], because I persecuted [diōkō] the assembly [ekklēsian] of God. 10But by the grace [chariti] of God I am what I am. His grace [charis] which was bestowed on me was not futile, but I worked more than all of them; yet not I, but the grace [charis] of God which was with me. 11Whether then it is I or they, so we preach [kēryssō], and so you believed [piteuō]. 12Now if Christ is preached [kēryssō], that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection [anastasis] of the dead? 13But if there is no resurrection [anastasis] of the dead, neither has Christ been raised. 14If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching [kērygma] is in vain [kenon]

Lit. 'empty'.

, and your faith also is in vain. 15Yes, we are found false witnesses [pseudomartyres] of God, because we testified [martyreō] about God that he raised up Christ, whom he didn't raise up, if it is so that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead aren't raised, neither has Christ been raised. 17If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. 18Then they also who are fallen asleep [koimaomai] in Christ have perished. 19If we have only hoped in Christ in this life [zōē], we are of all men most pitiable. 20But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep [koimaomai]. 21For since death came by man, the resurrection [anastasis] of the dead also came by man. 22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive [zōopoieō]. 23But each in his own order [tagmati]

A military word; 'order'; 'rank'.

: Christ the first fruits [aparchē]

Cf. arche, 'first-born' in Col 1:18.

, then those who are Christ's, at his coming [parousia]. 24Then the end [telos] comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God [basileian tō theō], even the Father; when he will have abolished [katargeō] all rule [archēn] and all authority [exousian] and power [dynamin]. 25For he must reign [basileuō] until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that will be abolished [katargeō] is death. 27For, "He put all things in subjection under his feet." But when he says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that he is excepted who subjected all things to him. 28When all things have been subjected to him, then the Son will also himself be subjected to him who subjected all things to him, that God may be all in all. 29Or else what will they do who are baptized [baptizō]

It has been suggested that some believers got themselves baptized on behalf of friends or relatives who had died unbaptized. Had there been an epidemic or natural disaster many Christians could have died unbaptized. Paul is not condoning the practice by citing it but using the practice as an argument against the assertion that 'there is no resurrection of the dead'. If so, why practice baptism for them? Alternatively, the baptism for the dead could have meant baptisms that are inspired by the way Christians faced death, or baptisms with a view to the dead, i.e., their resurrection.

for the dead? If the dead aren't raised at all, why then are they baptized for the dead? 30Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? 31I affirm, by the boasting [kauchaomai] in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32If I fought with animals at Ephesus [Ephesō]

In the stadium which was built to seat 25,000, being 230m long and 30m wide, Paul was attacked by a lion but was unscathed and walked out alive.

for human purposes, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, then "let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die [apothnēskō]

Paul quotes an aphorism (also mentioned in Is 22:13) which was in contemporary vogue in most Greek society.

." 33Don't be deceived! "Evil companionships corrupt good morals [ēthē]

Lit. 'manners'. From the Greek comedy Thais written by the poet Meander.

." 34Wake up [eknēphō] righteously [dikaiōs], and don't sin, for some have no knowledge [agnoeō] of God. I say this to your shame. 35But someone will say, "How are the dead raised?" and, "With what kind of body do they come?" 36You foolish one, that which you yourself sow is not made alive [zōopoieō] unless it dies. 37That which you sow, you don't sow the body that will be, but a bare grain, maybe of wheat, or of some other kind. 38But God gives it a body even as it pleased [ēthelō] him, and to each seed a body of its own. 39All flesh [sarx] is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh [sarx] of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40There are also celestial bodies [sōmata epourania], and terrestrial bodies [sōmata epigeia]; but the glory of the celestial differs from that of the terrestrial. 41There is one glory [doxa] of the sun, another glory [doxa] of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory [doxa]. 42So also is the resurrection [anastasis] of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. 43It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory [doxē]. It is sown in weakness [astheneia]; it is raised in power [dynamei]. 44It is sown a natural body [sōma psychikon]

The Greek psyche, often translated 'soul', is used by Paul to describe our natural physical existence as human beings, as opposed to our spiritual existence. Cf. also 2:14 where psychikos is again contrasted with pheumatikos. The Greeks did not conceive of man as a tripartite being such as body, mind and spirit.

; it is raised a spiritual body [soma pneumatikon]. There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body. 45So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul [psychēn zōsan]." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit [psychikon zōopoieō]. 46However that which is spiritual [pneumatikon] isn't first, but that which is natural [psychikon], then that which is spiritual. 47The first man is of the earth, made of dust [gēs choikos]. The second man is the Lord from heaven. 48As is the one made of dust, such are those who are also made of dust; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49As we have borne the image of those made of dust, let's also bear the image of the heavenly. 50Now I say this, brothers [adelphoi], that flesh [sarx] and blood can't inherit the Kingdom of God [basileian theou]; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. 51See [idou], I tell you a mystery [mystērion]. We will not all sleep [koimaomai], but we will all be changed [allassō], 52in a moment [atomō]

Hence 'atom'. Signifies the smallest possible amount of time.

, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last [eschatē] trumpet [salpingi; Heb. shofar]. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed [allassō]. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54But when this corruptible will have put on incorruption, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: "Death is swallowed up [katapinō] in victory." 55"Death, where is your sting [kentron]

The word refers primarily to the sting of bees, serpents, and the like.

? Hades, where is your victory?" 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks [charis] be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my beloved brothers [adephoi mou agapētoi], be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord's work [ergō], because you know that your labour [kopos]

The word talks of the fatigue involved in hard work that requires perseverance and determination.

is not in vain in the Lord.

16 1Now concerning the collection for the saints [agious], as I commanded the assemblies [ekklēsiais tēs Galatias]

The first of five Roman provinces mentioned: Judaea (3), Macedonia (5), Achaia (15) and Asia (19). These areas of the Roman Empire reflect very different cultures and conditions: European and Eastern, Jew and Arab, Greek and Roman, urban and rural. In the Mediterranean world of the first century this international church exploited the efficiency of the Roman Empire. Roman roads radiated throughout the provinces. Roman legions ensured that travel was reasonably safe: pax Romana (the peace of Rome) became a byword. The Romans also had a very effective postal system, and various hostelries dotted the main roads. Throughout the whole region the Greek language was the lingua franca. The vision and dedication of the early Christians, married and single, businessmen and missionaries, produced an international church which took full advantage of the situation.

of Galatia, you do likewise. 2On the first day of the week, let each one of you save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come. 3When I arrive, I will send whoever you approve with letters [epistolōn] to carry your gracious gift [charin] to Jerusalem. 4If it is appropriate for me to go also, they will go with me. 5But I will come to you when I have passed through Macedonia [Makedonian], for I am passing through Macedonia [Makedonian]. 6But with you it may be that I will stay, or even winter, that you may send me on my journey wherever I go. 7For I do not wish to see you now in passing, but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. 8But I will stay at Ephesus [Ephesō] until Pentecost [pentēkostēs; Heb. Shavu'ot], 9for a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. 10Now if Timothy [Timotheos] comes, see that he is with you without fear, for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11Therefore let no one despise him. But set him forward on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I expect him with the brothers [adelphōn]. 12Now concerning Apollos [Apollō tou adelphou], the brother [adelphōn], I strongly urged him to come to you with the brothers; and it was not at all his desire to come now; but he will come when he has an opportunity. 13Watch [gregoreō]! Stand firm in the faith! Be courageous [andrizō]

Lit. 'quit yourselves like men'. Courage, mercy, justice and sense of duty were all time-tested Roman virtues.

! Be strong! 14Let all that you do be done in love [agapē]. 15Now I beg you, brothers [adelphoi] (you know the house [oikian] of Stephanas [Ztephana], that it is the first fruits of Achaia [Achaias], and that they have set [tassō]

Speaks of a dedicated and disciplined lifestyle.

themselves to serve the saints [diakonian tois agiois]), 16that you also be in subjection to such, and to everyone who helps in the work and labours. 17I rejoice [chairō] at the coming of Stephanas [Ztephana], Fortunatus [Phortounatou], and Achaicus [Achaikou]; for that which was lacking on your part, they supplied. 18For they refreshed [anapauō] my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge [epiginōskete] those who are like that. 19The assemblies [ekklēsiai] of Asia [Asias] greet [aspazomai] you. Aquila [Akylas] and Priscilla [Priska]

This couple had been of immense importance in nurturing the church in at least three key centres: Rome, Ephesus and Corinth. They seemed to be involved in a family business which entailed a lot of traveling, cf. Ac 18:3.

greet [aspazomai] you much in the Lord, together with the assembly that is in their house [oikon autōn ekklēsia]. 20All the brothers [adelphoi] greet [aspazomai] you. Greet [aspazomai] one another with a holy kiss. 21This greeting [aspasmos] is by me, Paul [Paulos], with my own hand. 22If any man doesn't love [philei] the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed [anathema]. Come, Lord [Maran atha]

The Greek and Aramaic are juxtaposed: anathema maran atha.

! 23The grace [charis] of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24My love [agapē] to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen [amēn].

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