Leader's page and Student's page best viewed left/right side together
Lead from the front.
Share the following historical information about Corinth: see map page 4.
Corinth had been a very busy, diverse city when it was captured and sacked by the Romans in 146B.C. It was rebuilt by Julius Caesar in 44B.C. and established as a Roman city and seat of government for the province of Achaia. At the time of Paul’s visits there were probably 100,000 people in the city and surrounding area. That is one fifth of the population of Juba or Port Sudan (from 2019 figures www.worldpopulationreview.com ).
There was a harbour at each side of the isthmus, neck of land, (see map) and a diolkos (Greek for ‘haul across’) - a 6th century B.C. stone paved road way that connected the two - ships were dragged across the diolkos on rollers. This saved a long, time consuming and difficult trip for cargo and passengers. It was controlled by Corinth. A good money-earner for the city no doubt.
A canal across the isthmus at Corinth was begun under the emperor Nero in 67 A.D. but only finally completed in 1893 - four miles of canal to provide an essential shipping route between the Ionian and Aegean seas.
The Corinthians were culturally diverse - from strict Jews to many prostitute priestesses in the Temple of Aphrodite: many followed Greek philosophers in individualism, equality, freedom and distrust of all authority: so there were ascetics who shunned the physical pleasures and hedonists who indulged in them wholeheartedly: the Isthmian Games, second only to the Olympic Games, were held every two years.
Corinth was known for its ‘free love’ and sexual immorality - to follow that way of life was known as ‘to Corinthianise”!
Like both its ancient predecessors, modern Corinth is the centre of commerce between northern and southern Greece. Today, it has a population of about 30,000.
Make sure you have understood page 52 opposite, before working through it with the ladies. The various Corinthian letters (some of which we don’t have) and the number of visits are not easy to sort out. I offer my best guess.
Discover the difficulties together – top half of page 52 - before before Looking through the ‘understandable time line’ that I suggest, together.
Lesson 24 1 and 2 Corinthians 55 A.D.
The city of Corinth was very cosmopolitan (representative of all parts of the world). So new believers came from many backgrounds and ideas. Paul had to be very firm and strong with them, balancing enforcement with encouragement. Remember, we have the Bible to refer to. They did not. They had what they had been taught, but not always the knowledge and wisdom to properly evaluate Corinthian ideas. As Paul wrote to help them, so he helps us.
Paul visited Corinth at least three times:
visit one -Acts 18:1-18
visit three -Acts 20:2b-3a
we only know about the middle visit, two, from 2 Corinthians 2:1.
Reading between the lines
1 Corinthians 5:9-11 a ‘previous’ letter. How was it misunderstood?
2 Corinthians 2:1 ‘I will not make another painful visit’.
Why would a meeting hurt? Look in the next verses, especially 4-8.
2 Corinthians 2:3-4, 7:8 the stern letter.
Sometimes ‘toughness’ brings the right result under God, note 7:9-13. It may well not be easy, but it can be necessary.
Let’s try and put these details into an ‘understandable time line’:
1. Visit 1. see Acts 18:11.
2. Letter 1. A previous or warning letter, which God has not kept for us, mentioned in
1 Corinthians 5:9.
3. Letter 2. Our First Corinthians letter, written from Ephesus.
4. A Planned visit. Mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:6 in Paul’s last year at Ephesus –
‘perhaps I will spend the winter with you’. This did not happen then.
5. Visit 2. The painful visit 2 Corinthians 2:1.
6. Letter 3. A stern letter - letter of tears - mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:3-4, 7:8.
We do not have this letter.
7. Letter 4. Our Second Corinthians letter, talking about when Paul comes for the third
time, 2 Corinthians 13:1-11.
8. Visit 3. see Acts 20:2-3.
It is important to recall to whom our letters are written? 1 Corinthians 1:2, and
2 Corinthians 1:1 tell us, ‘the church of God, people sanctified in Jesus, who are called to holy living under His Lordship, meeting as one people but in various places across the city and Achaia province’. Christians like these (and like us?) still have our challenges!
Ask ladies to read the first set of references and ask everyone to listen carefully. They are trying to discover what the problem is that Paul is addressing, and what his offered solution is.
Ask for their answers – what is the problem?
How do the Corinthians need to correct their thinking? What must they do to respond?
Work through every Bible passage, one at a time.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13 and 3:1-11
Divisions and supporting different leaders Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Church, to Whom all earthly church leaders must openly defer.
The church must always have very high moral standards. They lived in a very lax sexual society. They should have put the wayward man out of their fellowship, back into the realm of Satan, until he realised his wrong, repented, and reformed. Accommodating him was not loving, it was wrong.
Their calling as believers was to honour the name of Jesus, not to drag His name through the non-Christian courts. Always find wise and godly people in the church to adjudicate between people, or, choose to be wronged and leave it go, even suffering loss.
Husbands and wives should always be faithful, and fair, to each other.
Use your freedom wisely, carefully considering its effect on others. An idol has no power. So there is no problem. But if someone who has not thought it through thinks there is a problem, a Christian has a responsibility to the weaker sister (or brother) not to make her stumble. Better not to eat it than to upset the faith of your sister. This carries over into other areas of life as well, not just meat offered to idols. Share some of these from your own experiences if you are able.
Receive and use the gifts of the Holy Spirit only in God-honouring ways. The spiritual gifts are exactly that, gifts. You are given a gift. You do not choose it. God the Holy Spirit chooses what gifts to pass to whom.
All of the gifts are given for the good of the whole Christian fellowship.
For 2 Corinthians 13:11 and 13 – see opposite.
What did Paul write about? And what can we learn for our church life and individual part within it today?
From 1 Corinthians
1:10-13 and 3:1-11
key verses 1:10 and 13
key verses 5:1 and 5:2
key verses 6:1, 5-6
key verses 7:2-4
key verses 4, 9, 13 Meat bought in the market may have been slaughtered in the name of an idol.
key verses 1, 7, 11-12
2 Corinthians 13:11 and 13
The relationship of Paul with the churches in Corinth was not an easy one. Members of the churches came from very different backgrounds, beliefs and even moral thinking. At times some resented Paul’s authority. They could be a loud and headstrong bunch. Paul kept seeing them as his ‘children in the Lord’ and always wanted only what was best for them.
‘Peace’ comes twice in verse 11. How they needed that. Stroppy faction leaders needed to become of one mind in Jesus. They needed to rejoice in what God had done for everybody. They needed to encourage everyone else. They needed to know that other Christian churches loved them, and wanted God’s best for them, worshipping and living in a God-pleasing way.