Posted December 16, 2003
Book: 1 Corinthians: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Author: David E. Garland
Baker Academic, A Division of Baker Book House Co. Grand Rapids, Michigan, pp.870
From the Introduction:
The city of Corinth was ideally situated on the narrow land bridge between Peloponnesus and mainland Greece. Strabo attributes the city’s wealth to the fortune of being “the master of two harbors.” Cenchreae, about six miles to the east on the Saronic Gulf, led straight to Asia, and Lechaeum, about two miles to the north on the Corinthian Gulf, led straight to Italy. A four-mile rock-cut track (diolkos, built ca. 625-585 B.C.) Connected the two ports, enabling cargo ad even small ships to be hauled across the isthmus to the other gulf, and thus allowed transporters to avoid the treacherous sea journey around the cape of Peloponnese. Corinth was a natural crossroad for land and sea travel.
Corinth had aroused Rome’s wrath as the chief city of the Achaean league, which revolted rather that submit to Rome’s demands to dissolve the league. The Roman military machine’s superior numbers and prowess led to the league’s inevitable defeat and the demolition of its leading city in 146 B.C. Lucius Mummius, the Roman general, sacked and burned the city. Reportedly, the male population was killed, the women and children sold into slavery, and the city’s treasures were plundered. The extent of the destruction of the city may have been exaggerated by the ancient sources, but 146 B.C. marks its end as a normally functioning city.
. . . .In Paul’s time, Corinth had a mixed ethnic population of Roman freedmen, indigenous Greeks, and immigrants from far and wide. De Vos argues that it is conceivable that Jews were included among the original colonists and that a strong Jewish community was “well integrated and on good terms with the wider community.” Despite this diversity, Corinth was heavily influenced by Rome, and C. Williams argues that its population “felt themselves to be Roman.” Pausanius’s claim that the city was basically Greek has been reevaluated. Winter remarks, “While Pausanius provides important information on the topography and religious sites of Corinth form a later era, his rereading of Corinth from the fashionable perspective of the Greek Classical revival in the Rome of his day does not provide hard background evidence of the culture of the mid-first century.” Stansbury concludes, “The Greek Corinth of old would live on in folk memory and literature, reinforced by the traditions of the Isthmian festival.” But everything was given a Roman stamp. When Paul visited, the city was geographically in Greece but culturally in Rome.
Excerpt from Book:
The Report of their factions (1:10-17)
In 1:10-17, Paul develops the idea of fellowship introduced in 1:9. The Corinthians were called into fellowship in Christ but instead have divided up the body of Christ into competing cliques. Paul knows this through reports from Chloe’s people. It is not an open rebellion against Paul’s leadership but an internal squabble among the bigwigs in the church scrambling for position. The rifts are between themselves and not with Paul. He writes this letter assuming that they still regard him highly as their founding father in the faith and Christ’s apostle sent to them by God. In this passage, he launches his censure of their infighting by reducing their disputes to absurdist comedy that would divide up Christ into lifeless fragments.
Table of Contents:
1. Letter Opening
2. Thanksgiving for God’s grace given to them
3. Factions and dissension in the Church
4. Incest, lawsuits and prostitution
5. Instructions about sexual relations, divorce, and marriage
6. The dispute over food sacrificed to idols
7. Headdress in public worship
8. Divisions at the Lord’s Supper
9. The use of spiritual gifts in public worship
10. The Resurrection
11. Instruction for the collection and travel itineraries
12. Letter closing