Mark Hart

How to Read 1st & 2nd Corinthians

The city of Corinth was a busy place. A lot of trading was done in the city, and it was known for its great economic prosperity and success. Attracting many people from all walks of life, Corinth was also known for its rampant sinfulness. It was kind of like the Las Vegas of its time.

St. Paul himself had helped to start the Church in Corinth, but he was unable to remain in the city and oversee its spiritual growth (Acts 18:1-18). Unfortunately, a lot of scandalous behavior began to emerge within the Church in Corinth after the apostle left. Through word of mouth, St. Paul heard about some of the gross sins the Christians had been committing, and he was writing to encourage them to reject their immoral behavior and to renew their commitment to a life grounded in the love of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:6-13).

First and Second Corinthians are very powerful letters, and they address a lot of the struggles we face in the Christian life. Peer pressure isn't something new. It is something that Christians living in the early Church had to face as well. And in these letters St. Paul is very understanding and sensitive to human weakness, yet clear about how we should respond to struggles in the Christian life. Like a good father, St. Paul is lovingly ÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉrm in his guidance (2 Corinthians 10-13). He reminds us that everything we have ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù even our bodies ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù belongs to Christ (1 Corinthians 6:12-20), and that we should pursue love above all things (1 Corinthians 12-14).

The Christian life is not easy, but Christ's love and grace are sufÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉcient to get us through the difÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉcult times and overcome our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 8-10).

Here are some of the key themes and verses we discover in these letters:

  • Christian unity and maturity are very important: 'I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10 – 4:21).'
  • Marriage and celibacy are both sacred callings, and they should be treasured: 'I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another (1 Corinthians 7).'
  • The Eucharist is sacred and must be treated with great reverence: 'Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself (1 Corinthians 11:23-32).'
  • Love is the greatest of all spiritual gifts: 'So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 12-14).'
  • Christ will comfort us in our suffering: 'For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too (2 Corinthians 1:3-14).'
  • Christ has transformed us by the power of His love: 'Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come (2 Corinthians 5-6).'
  • Be generous to God and those around you: 'He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully (2 Corinthians 8-9).'
  • God can overcome every human weakness: '’Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏMy grace is sufÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉcient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me . . . for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 10-13).'
Mark Hart

About the Author

My childhood plan was to be a jedi. My teenage plan was to be on Saturday Night Live. God's plan was to have me in ministry. God won - and I'm glad He did.