ApostlePaul wrote the book of 1 Corinthians and was written during the three yearsthat he lived in Ephesus about A.D.
55. According to Acts 18, Paul spent someeighteen months in Corinth where he founded the church. Within only a couple ofyears, that is, around A.D. 54-55, he wrote 1 Corinthians. It was an attempt todeal with wayward behavior among the Corinthians, which was itself rooted in amisunderstanding of the Christian message.
According to 1 Corinthians 1:10 and1 Corinthians 16:17, Paul had received information about the Corinthians frommembers of the Corinthian church. They reported to him that the CorinthianChristians were dividing up into groups or cliques. In addition, in 1Corinthians 7:1 we read that the Corinthians had sent a letter to Paul, seekingadvice on a number of issues, including sex and marriage, eating and worshippractices, and spiritual gifts. Throughout the letter, we can peer through thewindow into a host of ethical problems at Corinth. No doubt, these grew out ofstruggles to understand how to live the Good News in a city known in theancient world for its wealth, immorality, and lack of traditional roots. Although Paul must deal with manyissues, several are more central to his attempt to get the Corinthian Christiansback on track in their faith and their lives together: throughout the letter,Paul explores with the Corinthians the importance of the body, and he does soin what might have been surprising ways. As the physical body is the “home’ forthe human spirit, he says, so the church as a “body” is the home for the Spiritof God.
1 This means that whatbelievers do as individuals affects both their own spiritual lives, and alsothe lives of all other believers; they are joined together by the one Spirit ofGod. So, the Corinthians should take more seriously the sexual problems of someChristians among them. Closely related is Paul’s concernwith the lack of unity among the believers at Corinth. Their divisions andhostility between cliques, he insists, is actually a denial of the truth of theGood News.
This becomes most evident in the way they share in the church meal,1 Corinthians 11:17-37. Their meals do not honor the Lord because theseChristians are not caring for one another. In fact, they are embarrassing thepoor among them. Paul’s response is simple: The actions of those who followJesus ought to be like the actions of Jesus, who did not think of himself butof others when he gave up his life on the cross. Finally, in 1 Corinthians 15, thereal problem among the Corinthians comes to the surface. Paul recognizes thatthese believers want to act as though the end of time has already come. Theybelieve the time of resurrection has already come, so they can now live as theyplease.
This is not the time to live as though salvation had come in itsfullness. Instead, our lives in the present should be shaped by the example ofJesus on the cross. We await his return, and in the meantime, we allow hisselflessness, his fundamental concern for others, to shape how we live witheach other.
Apostle Paul wrote the book of 2Corinthians and was written later in the same year as 1 Corinthians, A.D.55.
Following the delivery of Paul’sfirst letter to the Corinthians, Paul ahs encountered a new set of extremelydifficult problems with these Christians. Most importantly, they have come todoubt his care for them, wonder if he is even an apostle, and question whetherthe message he preached ot them was genuine. In 2 Corinthians, Paul is verymuch on the defensive, and we gain important insight into his understanding ofhimself and the message he proclaimed. The tension between Paul and theCorinthians is related, first, to his change in travel plans, an issue he takesup in the opening chapters of this letter. More to the point, between thewriting of 1 Corinthians and of this letter, perhaps a year later, othermissionaries have come to Corinth and caused trouble for Paul. Although, theyare Christians, they do not share with Paul all of the same ideas about theChristian message.
In 2 Corinthians, then, we are allowed to listen in on oneside of the conversation as early Christian leaders struggle to understand asfully as they can the nature of the Good News. Paul takes these outsiders to taskfor a variety of reasons. They ‘sell the word of God for a profit, 2Corinthians 2:17. And they look too much on outside appearances and not enoughon what God is doing on the inside of his people.
As he demonstrates throughoutthe letter, these intruders identify with Jesus only in their showy signs,their powerful works, their extraordinary spiritual experiences. Even thoughPaul could not talk about these same kinds of experiences. Instead, he insiststhat the true way to prove you follow Jesus is to identify with Jesus in his sufferingand rejection. For this reason, Paul provides lists of his own suffering, 2Corinthians 6:3-10; 2 Corinthians 6:23-33. In other words, in 2 CorinthiansPaul is contending with Christians who would like to think that the Christianlife is about success, power, and fame. Because Paul has suffered so much,because he has been rejected by many local Jewish groups, been thrown inprison, whipped, and so on, these Christians doubt whether he really is aChristian leader.
Paul’s position is that those who serve Jesus can and shouldexpect the same treatment he received: misunderstanding, rejection, suffering. 1 Thessalonians was written byApostle Paul and was written likely in Corinth around A.D.
51 and 52. The storyof Paul’s early mission at Thessalonica is told in Acts 17:1-10. Having foundedthe Thessalonian church, Paul now writes this letter in order to encouragethese Christians in their suffering and in faithful living. He especiallyaddresses issues that have been raised about the second coming of Jesus. Paul’s earliest message to the Thessalonianshad apparently emphasized the end times and especially the Lord’s return. Sincethe founding of the church, this emphasis of his had apparently become thefocal point of their understanding of the Good News.
Believing that Jesus’return would be very soon, they wondered whether those members of the churchwho had died would be included in the triumph of Jesus’ appearing. Paul’s response is not to deny thecoming of Jesus, but to assert that the return of Jesus calls for faithfulliving now. Thus, he can encourage them to be ready for the Lord’s return, byabstaining from sexual sin, continuing to work, constant prayer, self-control,and so on. 2 Thessalonians was also written byApostle Paul and in Corinth around A.D.
51 and52, several months after 1Thessalonians. In spite of his earlier letter to the Thessalonians, theirsituation had not changed much. In fact, it may have worsened, since some hadapparently come to believe that Jesus had already returned, 2 Thessalonians2:2. Paul addresses the Thessalonianswith much the same message as before. He encourages them in their suffering andinstructs them about the second coming of Jesus.
He also devotes time to theproblem that some Thessalonians were refusing to work, perhaps because theyexpected the Lord to return so quickly. 1Joel Green & Tremper Longman, III,The Everyday Study Bible, (Word Publishing, 1990)