1 Corinthians was written from Ephesus on Paul’s third journey. On his second journey he started the church in Corinth and spent a great deal of time their working with his new friends Aquila and Priscilla. At the beginning of his third journey he traveled directly to Ephesus where he set up shop and ministered for two years. While Paul was battling with the silversmiths and Artemis worshippers in Ephesus, he received disturbing news from a messenger concerning his church in Corinth. 1 Corinthians is the letter that Paul wrote in response to the news he received.
There were two parts to the message he was given. The first part was a bit of a tattle tale. Certain members of the Corinthian church were falling into very sinful behavior and the messenger was expressing concern as to how to deal with it. The second part of the message was a list of practical theological questions that the church had come up with since Paul left them. Since they knew Paul was “in the neighborhood,” and since the church was arguing about everything, they thought they would seek his wisdom on the questions. As you read through the letter, make a list of the different topics that Paul addresses and try to guess what the original list of questions was.
The overall tone of 1 Corinthians is that of correction and disciplinary action. It’s as if a parent left his teenagers at home for the first time overnight and they threw a huge party while he was gone. He is upset, yet understanding. Read the letter through those lenses and you won’t be far off.