We know Paul is the author because it is stated twice with the letter, both in 1 Cor 1:1 and 1 Cor 16:21. However, it is probably not the first letter Paul wrote to the Corinthian church. In chapter 5 verse 9 he refers to a letter he has previously written. We do not have a copy of this letter.
Paul first went to Corinth, the chief city of Achaia, on his second missionary journey. Corinth was situated on an isthmus, much like Auckland, between the northern and the southern part of Greece making it a major port on the Mediterranean trade route. It was under Roman rule and was a melting pot of ethnicity including Greek, Romans and Jews. It was to the Jews that Paul first started preaching.2 In Corinth he stayed with a Jewish couple, Aquila and Priscilla who had come to Corinth from Italy, as they were tentmakers like him.3
While some Jews Paul testified to such as Crispus became Christians, the majority opposed him and became abusive.4 For this reason he stopped preaching to them and devoted his time to the Gentiles.5 We are told in the Bible “many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized”.6 It is to these believers in Corinth that this letter is written.
Paul had received information from Chloe’s household that there were problems in the church.7 In the beginning of his letter he talks about wisdom and addresses the issues of division among the church, lawsuits against each other and sexual immorality in the church. Corinth had a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. It was a sex soaked city where sexual immorality was regarded as normal.
Paul then goes on to address the concerns the church had written to him about: marriage and virgins, food sacrificed to idols, propriety in worship, the...