Lesson 2 of 5
In Progress

Outline of 1 Corinthians

1. Address, Greeting, and Thanksgiving (1 Corinthians 1:1-9)

Paul and his coworker Sosthenes address this letter to “the church of God that is in Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:1-2). With its reference to the Corinthians having been enriched in every way in Christ Jesus, Paul’s introductory thanksgiving hints at themes to come.

2. Divisions in the Church and Unity in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10-4:21)

The Corinthians have apparently divided themselves into camps supporting various apostles and claiming knowledge and strength that is superior to that of others. Paul speaks of the shared nature of apostolic ministry and undermines the Corinthians’ scorekeeping attempts with the message that God’s power has been made perfect in the weakness of the crucified Christ. This section has four parts:
a.    Report of divisions in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:10-17)
b.    Paul proclaims Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5)
c.    God’s Spirit contrasted with the spirit of the world (1 Corinthians 2:6-16)
d.    The nature of apostles’ ministry (1 Corinthians 3:1-4:21)

3. The Community’s Role in Ensuring Individual Accountability (1 Corinthians 5:1-6:20)

Paul is mystified by the way that the Corinthians’ experience of being in Christ does not seem to be bearing fruit in their individual and corporate lives. He counsels the exclusion from the community of a man who is sexually involved with his stepmother and he rebukes believers who do not turn to the community to mediate disputes, but instead take each other to court. He reminds the Corinthians that their spiritual connection to Christ has implications for their physical activities. This section has three parts:
a.    Responding to a man living with his father’s wife (1 Corinthians 5:1-13)
b.    Responding to believers taking each other to court (1 Corinthians 6:1-11)
c.    Responding to reports of moral license (1 Corinthians 6:12-20)

4. Paul Replies to the Corinthians’ Questions (1 Corinthians 7:1-11:1)

Paul replies to questions the Corinthians have put to him in a letter, offering a combination of his own wisdom and elements of Jesus’ own teaching. His ethical counsel is shaped by his conviction that “the appointed time has grown short” until Christ’s return (1 Corinthians 7:29) and by the conviction that believers should limit their own freedom voluntarily whenever the exercise of that freedom may harm a brother or sister in Christ. This section has two parts:
a.    Staying “as you were” (1 Corinthians 7:1-40)
b.    Individual freedom is limited by care for others (1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1)

5. Paul Comments on Issues Related to Corporate Worship (1 Corinthians 11:2-14:40)

Worship in the Corinthian church was apparently something of a free-for-all. Paul addresses several worship-related issues, urging restraint and mutual respect as values for the Corinthians’ corporate worship. This section has five parts:
a.    Prophesying and respecting others (1 Corinthians 11:2-17)
b.    Sharing the Lord’s Supper and respecting others (1 Corinthians 11:17-34)
c.    Respecting the variety of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1-31)
d.    Love as the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
e.    Guidelines for orderly worship (1 Corinthians 14:1-40)

6. The Resurrection of the Dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-58)

Paul argues from the past resurrection of Christ to a future general, bodily resurrection of all the dead, declaring, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, RSV).

7. Conclusion (1 Corinthians 16:1-24)

Paul closes his letter with an appeal for the Corinthians to contribute toward a monetary gift he is collecting for the church in Jerusalem, as well as greetings to and from fellow believers. He promises an extended visit to Corinth soon. The section has three parts:
a.    The collection (1 Corinthians 16:1-4)
b.    Travel plans (1 Corinthians 16:5-12)       
c.    Concluding greetings, instruction, and blessing (1 Corinthians 16:13-24)