Theme

“Let all that you do be done in love.” That strikes me as the thematic statement of this letter, though it comes so near the end. Another simple summation of the letter might be, “Aim higher.” The organization of the letter is somewhat unusual for Paul, given that it seems to open with application and only move to doctrine later. But, the overall message is that we who are the church should be acting with concern for our brethren in the church, seeking their good and their improvement even over our own – though not to the neglect of our own. The central image of a body composed of many members conveys this balance to us. We care for each member, but being a member ourselves we care for our own condition as well. The body can only be as healthy as its least healthy part. So, then, we are encouraged to have, if you will, a holistic view of the church, caring for it in total by caring for it in its several individual members.

 

Outline

  1. Introduction (1Co 1:1-1:9)
    1. Greeting (1Co 1:1-1:3)
    2. Affirmation (1Co 1:4-1:9)
  2. Against Divisions (1Co 1:10-4:21)
    1. Factional Pride (1Co 1:10-1:17)
    2. The Nature of Wisdom (1Co 1:18-3:4)
      1. Christ the Power and Wisdom of God (1Co 1:18-1:25)
      2. Election No Basis for Boasting (1Co 1:26-1:31)
      3. The Message of the Cross (1Co 2:1-2:5)
      4. God's Wisdom Revealed (1Co 2:6-2:11)
      5. Spiritual Appraisal (1Co 2:12-2:16)
      6. Immaturity (1Co 3:1-3:4))
    3. Building God's Temple (1Co 3:5-3:23)
      1. Christ the Foundation (1Co 3:5-3:10)
      2. You are God's Temple (1Co 3:11-3:20)
        1. Care in Teaching (1Co 3:11-3:15)
        2. Holiness Prescribed (1Co 3:16-3:17)
        3. Humility Prescribed (1Co 3:18-3:20)
      3. Against Overvalueing Teachers (1Co 3:21-3:23)
    4. The Ministry of the Apostles (1Co 4:1-4:21)
      1. Stewards of Christ (1Co 4:1-4:5)
      2. Humility Versus Arrogance (1Co 4:6-4:13)
      3. Fatherly Concern (1Co 4:14-4:21)
  3. Sexual Morality (1Co 5:1-7:40 )
    1. Against Immorality (1Co 5:1-6:20)
      1. A Case of Incest (1Co 5:1-5:5)
      2. Clean House (1Co 5:6-5:8)
      3. Church Discipline (1Co 5:9-6:8)
        1. Judge Rightly in God's House (1Co 5:9-5:13))
        2. Keep it in God's House (1Co 6:1-6:8))
      4. Remember Your Past (1Co 6:9-6:11)
      5. Abusing Liberty (1Co 6:12-6:20)
        1. Be Wise (1Co 6:12-6:13))
        2. Flee Sexual Sin (1Co 6:14-6:20))
    2. Sexual Purity (1Co 7:1-7:40)
      1. Honor Your Marriage (1Co 7:1-7:5)
      2. Celibacy is Better (1Co 7:6-7:9)
      3. Inviolability of Marriage (1Co 7:10-7:16)
      4. Christian Contentment (1Co 7:17-7:24)
      5. Counsel to the Unmarried (1Co 7:25-7:35)
      6. Asceticism and Marriage (1Co 7:36-7:38)
      7. Counsel to Widows (1Co 7:39-7:40)
  4. Christian Liberty (1Co 8:1-11:1)
    1. Love Excels Knowledge (1Co 8:1-8:13)
      1. The Emptiness of Idols (1Co 8:1-8:6)
      2. Be Conscientious (1Co 8:7-8:13)
    2. Paul's Use of Liberty (1Co 9:1-9:27)
      1. The Pastor's Rights (1Co 9:1-9:10)
      2. Those Rights Relinquished (1Co 9:11-9:15)
      3. All for the Gospel (1Co 9:16-9:23)
      4. The True Race (1Co 9:24-9:27)
    3. A Lesson from the Past (1Co 10:1-10:13)
      1. Israel at Sinai (1Co 10:1-10:5)
      2. Against Presumption (1Co 10:6-10:13)
    4. Against Idolatry (1Co 10:14-10:22)
    5. Live to Glorify God (1Co 10:23-11:1)
  5. Church Order (1Co 11:2-14:40)
    1. Roles of Man and Woman (1Co 11:2-11:16)
      1. Women's Head Coverings (1Co 11:2-11:10)
      2. God's Design (1Co 11:11-11:16)
    2. Communion (1Co 11:17-11:34)
      1. Profaning the Table (1Co 11:17-11:22)
      2. Right Observation (1Co 11:23-11:34)
    3. Spiritual Gifts (1Co 12:1-14:33)
      1. Distinguishing Spirits (1Co 12:1-12:3)
      2. Unity in Diversity (1Co 12:4-12:31a)
        1. One Spirit, Many Gifts (1Co 12:4-12:7)
        2. God Distributes (1Co 12:8-12:11)
        3. One Body, Many Members (1Co 12:12-12:20)
        4. Mutual Dependence (1Co 12:21-12:26)
        5. Varied Distribution (1Co 12:27-12:31a)
      3. The Way of Love (1Co 12:31b-13:13)
        1. Love Superior (1Co 12:31b-13:3)
        2. Love Defined (1Co 13:4-13:7)
        3. Love Imperishable (1Co 13:8-13:13)
      4. The Principle of Edification (1Co 14:1-14:26)
        1. Prophecy Excels Tongues (1Co 14:1-14:4)
        2. Tongues Don't Edify (1Co 14:5-14:13)
        3. Seek to Edify (1Co 14:14-14:19)
        4. All for Edification (1Co 14:20-14:26)
    4. Orderly Use of Gifts (1Co 14:27-14:33a)
    5. Seemliness in Service (1Co 14:33b-14:36)
    6. The Conclusion (1Co 14:37-14:40)
  6. The Doctrine of the Resurrection (1Co 15:1-15:58 )
    1. The Fact of the Resurrection(1Co 15:1-15:11)
    2. The Necessity of the Resurrection(1Co 15:12-15:19)
    3. The Assurance of the Resurrection(1Co 15:20-15:28)
    4. The Logic of the Resurrection(1Co 15:29-15:34)
    5. The Nature of the Resurrection Body(1Co 15:35-15:50)
      1. The Lesson of Nature (1Co 15:35-15:41)
      2. The Perishable Versus the Imperishable (1Co 15:42-15:50)
    6. The Christian's Confidence(1Co 15:51-15:58)
  7. Personal Matters (1Co 16:1-16:12)
    1. The Collection for the Saints (1Co 16:1-16:4)
    2. Paul's Plan to Visit (1Co 16:5-16:9)
    3. Co-Laborers (1Co 16:10-16:12)
  8. Conclusion (1Co 16:13-16:21 )
    1. Final Exhortation (1Co 16:13-16:18)
    2. Greetings (1Co 16:19-16:21)
    3. Benediction (1Co 16:21-16:24)