Here is an outline of chapters 6-10 with comments. For background information on the church in Corinth and the full outline, see here.
5:1-6:20 Disorders in Corinth
5:1-13 Association with Immoral Members
6:1-8 Lawsuits in Pagan Courts: Paul continues his discussion of issues in Corinth. Christians should settle their differences themselves. We do not know what sort of lawsuits Paul is writing about.
6:9-20 Glorify God in Your Bodies: Corinth, as a port city, had a reputation as a morally lax town.
v 9-11 this is a traditional type “catalog” of vices. The terms “male prostitutes” and “sodomites” refers to a particular form of pederasty.
v12-20 These verses conclude the argument of 5:1-6:11 and also introduces the argument of 7:1-40. Paul quotes slogans or well known statements and gives his interpretation of how Christian ought to act and how Christians ought to regard their bodies.
7:1-14:40, 16 Discussion of questions from the Corinthians
The phrase “now concerning” will appear several more times and indicates where Paul is answering particular questions from the Corinthian community.
7:1-16 Sex and Marriage: notice Paul’s emphasis on equal obligation. In a patriarchal society where the status of men and women was unequal, this is a notable statement.
7:17-40 Eschatology and Changes in Social and Marital Status :
v 17-24 the external signs (of lack of) religious initiation no longer matter for Christians. Free persons and slaves are equals in the Christian community.
v25-40 Paul’s preference for singleness is apparent, but one can live a Christian life as either a married or single person.
8:1-11:1 Rights and Responsibilities of the Ekklesia
8:1-13 Concerning Food Sacrificed to Idols: For Christians in the Greco-Roman world avoiding meat sacrificed to idols is not just a religious problem but was also a social problem. Meat that had been sacrificed to idols was sold publicly and thus found at family celebrations, club and association gatherings and public festivals. Jews could buy their own special meat but for Christians who were not Jews avoiding sacrificed meats was extremely difficult. In addition, for poor people, because meat was expensive, the only way they could ever eat meat was at public feasts.
9:1-27 Paul’s Apostolic Rights and Self- Limitation: Paul uses himself as an example for the Corinthians to follow as one who has renounced his rights and power freely to serve others and most importantly God.
10:1-13 Warning against Overconfidence:The structure of this section: a list of God’s saving actions, a list of sins and then a warning to the listeners is a traditional one found in other places in the Bible ( for example, Deut 32. Hebrews, Jude 5) and in other Jewish literature.
10:14-22 Examples, Implications: avoid pagan cultic meals and events. Participating in such events establishes a particular community and allegiance, which Christians must avoid. Christians are in their own relationship with Christ. The pagan world did not worry about religious allegiances and relationships in this way.
10:23-11:1 Freedom and Our Responsibility: In v23 Paul quotes maxims and then provides a maxim of his own (v24).
A prayer from Origen (c. 185 – c. 254) an early church father from Alexandria, for your use as you read 1 Thessalonians.
Lord, inspire us to read your Scriptures and meditate upon them day and night. We beg you to give us real understanding of what we need, that we in turn may put its precepts into practice. Yet we know that understanding and good intentions are worthless, unless rooted in your graceful love. So we ask that the words of Scriptures may also be not just signs on a page, but channels of grace into our hearts. Amen.
Read More About It
Johnson, Luke Timothy, The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation, rev. ed. (Minneapolis:Fortress Press) 1999. Chapter 12 “The Corinthian Correspondence”.
Knox, John, John Reumann “I Corinthians” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Bruce M. Metzger, Roland E. Murphy eds. (New York: Oxford University Press) 1994.
Schussler Fiorenza, Elisabeth “1 Corinthians” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary, rev. ed.James L Mays, ed. (New York: Society of Bible Literature) 2000.