Reading the Bible together
1 & 2 CORINTHIANS
Read on your own or with others, whichever
This leaflet is just a brief overview of the ‘big picture’ of
1 & 2 Corinthians. If you have been reading the Bible for some time, you will be aware there is much more to these books.
If you are new to reading the Bible, don’t worry too much
if there are details you do not quite get at the moment –
focus on the ‘big picture’.
1 & 2 Corinthians are two of the letters that Paul, the apostle, wrote to the church in Corinth. This was a church that Paul was instrumental in beginning alongside people like Priscilla and Aquila (see Acts 18).
1 Corinthians addresses problems in the life of the church in Corinth. It begins with
an amazing description of what it means to be a Christian, and this is Paul’s reason
to write, and the motivation he uses to encourage change.
A word about division (Chapters 1-4)
It is evident that the church in Corinth is dividing into groups and fighting among each other. They are called to be united in Jesus.
A word about sin (Chapters 5-6)
The Christians in Corinth were also falling-in short in their view of sin. Rather than being sad about the presence of sin they were boasting about it (5:2). They are called to take action.
A word about disputable matters (Chapters 7-10)
These chapters show us how we should address the grey areas of Christian living by asking right questions. Not, is this right or wrong, but is this helpful, Christ honouring and Gospel promoting?
A word about worship (Chapters 11-14)
What should happen when the church meets together? These chapters address the roles of men and women, the communion service, and the use and attitudes towards spiritual gifts.
A word about the resurrection (Chapter 15)
Some in Corinth are beginning to doubt that God’s people will be physically raised from the dead. Here we are reminded that Jesus rose from the grave, and what that means for every Christian.
Words to end with (Chapter 16)
The letter ends with some final words of instruction that show us the heart of a
godly man, and give wise and sound advice on how the church should function.
2 Corinthians was written to expose people who were ridiculing the apostles and
the ‘weak’ ministry that they had. The main point of the book is that the apostles,
and all Christians, are weak, but that in this weakness God demonstrates His
An explanation given (Chapters 1-3:6)
The letter begins by answering the charges that had been levelled at Paul and his companions.
A pattern of ministry (Chapters 3:7-7:1)
Next the letter explains the nature of Christian ministry. It is a great privilege and
at the same time it is filled with hardship and is too much for us to accomplish.
The strength and power to continue and to see results can only come from God.
Some instructions (Chapters 7:2-9:16)
The next section contains some instructions, and particularly focuses on the giving
of a gift to the church in Jerusalem that was struggling at the time. Notice how Paul doesn’t command them to give, but urges them to experience the blessing of giving and respond to God’s incredible gift. The gospel is always the motivation.
An embarrassed defence (Chapters 10-12)
Paul doesn’t want to, but he is forced to defend his credentials as an apostle and minister of the gospel. The proof is not what we might expect!
A final word (Chapter 13)
The letter ends with a call to examine ourselves and commit ourselves to the Lord.
Asking the questions the Bible wants you to ask
What does this book teach us about Jesus? (Luke 24:45-47)
What does this book teach us about yourself? (James 1:23 & 2 Tim 3:16-17)
How were you encouraged? (Romans 15:4)
How were you corrected? (2 Tim 3:16-17)
What did you learn that helps you to build up the church (Eph 4:11-6)
What did you learn that helps you love the Lord your God? (Matt 22:37-40)
What has helped you love your neighbour as yourself? (Matt 22:37-40)