Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard. This
lesson can be found at: <URL:>

INTRODUCTION:  This week we begin our study of the book of 1
Corinthians. Let’s get started.


     A. Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-2.  A modern
memo uses this familiar
introductory format:




     B. A first century letter between Greeks used
a similar
introductory format:




C. Now that we know the format, apply it to
verse 1 and tell
me who wrote this letter? (Paul.)

          1. What about
this Sosthenes fellow? Did he also write
the letter?
(It appears to carry his “authority.” He
probably helped
with the letter. Since you have never
heard of this
fellow before, we will discuss him a little

          2. How does Paul
identify himself? (An apostle.)

a. Is he just bragging? Showing off? Pulling rank?

(1) Read 1 Corinthians 1:11-13. Does Paul’s
claim to be an apostle show that he is trying
to assert his authority over “these other
guys” listed in vv. 11-13?

(2) What kind of “apostle” does Paul claim to
be? (v.1 “An apostle…by the will of God.”)

          3. What is an
“apostle … by the will of God?”  How does
this fit into
the dispute alluded to in vv. 11-13? (This
is a “pointer,” 
an indicator, of what is to come later
in the letter.
Paul wants to establish at the very
beginning that
God is first, last and always in
The Corinthians were having a dispute over
Paul says God chose me to serve Him. Thus,
his service
is for God; not for Paul.)

     D. Let’s look at Sosthenes for a minute. Anyone
know anything
about Sosthenes?  Sosthenes is an interesting
fellow whose
name appears one other place in the Bible.
Turn with me to
Acts 18.  In this chapter we read about
Paul’s first visit to
Corinth. Read Acts 18:1, 4, 8, 12-17.

          1. Was Paul having
any success with his initial
in Corinth? (Yes! He even converted Crispus,
the ruler of
the synagogue.)

          2. Do the court
charges show that he is successful?
(Yes! They are
desperate to stop him.)

          3. How is Sosthenes
described? (v.17: the ruler of
the synagogue.)

a. Isn’t Sosthenes one who is persecuting Paul?

b. Is it possible that one who persecuted Paul could
now be his friend?  Or is this just a different
Sosthenes?  Different guy, same name? (Paul is
living proof that your life can make a 180 degree
change from persecutor to evangelist!   Verse 4,
that tells about the conversion of Crispus, another
synagogue ruler, shows that we even have a
precedent for this in Corinth!)

(1) Why would the crowd beat up someone who is
on “their side?” Why beat up a fellow
persecutor? (This is the nature of an unruly
crowd. They attacked Paul because they needed
someone to blame for those who were leaving
the “faith.”  Have you ever seen a group like
this lose?  When they lost in court, they were
still looking for someone to blame. So, they
turned on one of their own: Sosthenes.)

(2) Why Sosthenes? (We noticed that the former
synagogue ruler, Crispus, had been converted
(v.8).  My bet is that Sosthenes is not whole-
hearted in his attack on Paul and the crowd
turns on him because of this.  They credit him
with the loss.  Of course, this is speculation
on my part. Since I do not believe that any of
the Bible was written by accident, I think we
are given a important “clue” here about the
Sosthenes of 1 Corinthians.)

(3) If I am right that this is the same
Sosthenes, what benefit is it to have him “co-
sponsor” Paul’s letter to the Corinthians?
(Who better than the former head of the
synagogue in that town!)

     E. Let’s get back to verse 2. To whom is Paul
writing? Is this
just a private letter to the church in Corinth?
(It certainly
is written to the church in Corinth as we
mentioned earlier.
But the important part for us is that Paul
also addresses it
to you and me: “those everywhere who call
on the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ….”  This book is
for you!)

          1. How does he
describe the church members? Are they
Are they “saints?” (KJV)  (No. They are
“called” to
be holy, called to be saints.)

          2. Are they sanctified?

a. How can they be sanctified and not yet holy? How
is that consistent with the idea that
sanctification “is the work of a lifetime?”
(Sometimes we get a little carried away with what
our “work” is doing. 1 Corinthians 6:11 says, “But
you were washed, you were sanctified, you were
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and
by the Spirit of our God.” (NIV) Some advertiser
has the jingle “The quality goes in before the name
goes on.”  This is just the opposite: “The name
goes on before the quality goes in.”  We are
declared sanctified by the name of Jesus.  It is
the work of a lifetime to live up to our billing!
(If you want to spent more time discussing what it
means to be sanctified, you may want to read the
following texts that use the same greek word
(“hagiazo”) that is translated “holy” or
“sanctify.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (refers to
sanctification as the work of God); Hebrews 10:10
(“been made holy through the sacrifice of the body
of Jesus Christ once for all”); Colossians 3:12
(those who are “holy” need to be clothed with
“compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and
patience”); Hebrews 3:1 (“holy” brothers need to
fix their thoughts on Jesus); Hebrews 10:13-14(“one
sacrifice” has “made perfect forever those who are
being made holy”).  We are “perfect,” but “being
made holy!”  Friend, Jesus can made you perfect
right now!


     A. We need to keep moving! Read 1 Corinthians
1:3-6.  What
“gift” or “greeting” does Paul give to the
Corinthians from
God? (Grace and peace.)

          1. What do you
think he means by “grace?”  And do you
want it too?
(Verse 4 tells us that the gift of Jesus was
the gift of

          2. Verse 5 suggests
Jesus enriches us in our speaking and
our knowledge.
How is that true?  Is it true for you?
(Thayer defines
“grace” (greek: “charis”) as “what
affords joy,
pleasure delight, sweetness, charm,
When God gave us Jesus, He gave us
something that
gives us “joy, pleasure, delight!”  That
should be reflected
in how we speak and how we think.)

     B. The second part of the “gift” in verse 3
was “peace.”  How
does Jesus give us peace? (The most important
way is described
in Ephesians 2:12-14.  We were “without
hope and without God
in the world.” But now we have been “brought
near [to God]
through the blood of Christ.  For He
Himself is our peace….”
Jesus gave us peace with God.)

     C. Notice in v. 4 that Paul says he “thanks
God” for the
Corinthians.  Do you thank God for those
who reflect the joy
of knowing Jesus?

          1. As we will
see, these are not perfect people. Do we
tend to focus
on the faults of the saints? Or are we
thankful for
the way in which their lives have been
enriched by
God’s grace?


     A. Notice that v.6 says that Paul’s testimony
about Christ
“was confirmed in [the Corinthians.]” 
This may be a little
hard to understand as we continue studying
this book and this

          1. Is the testimony
about Christ confirmed in your

2. In you?

          3. What about
your life confirms the testimony about

4. What part
of that testimony about Christ is confirmed
in your life?

     B. Read vv. 7-9.  Do you recall from other
study of the Bible
that spiritual gifts were a real problem for
the Corinthians?
In 1 Corinthians 12-14 Paul gives the Corinthians
a lot of
advice in this area, so he must have thought
they needed it!
With this background, what do you think Paul
means in v.7 when
he says they do not lack in any spiritual
gift? (I think this
is “aspirational.”  This is something
to which the Corinthians
should aspire. They were very interested in
spiritual gifts.
As the testimony of Christ (v.6) was better
confirmed in their
lives, they would show it by not (as a group)
lacking in any
spiritual gift.)

     C.  All of the verses that we have studied
so far have
something in common.  Can anyone tell
me what all these verses
have in common? (They all mention Jesus. 
Every one of them!)

          1. Is Paul teaching
us something from his writing about
“our part” in
confirming the Bible’s testimony about
Christ? (Just
as Christ is a part of every verse, so
Christ should
be a part of every aspect of our lives.)

     D. Notice that v. 8 tells us that God “will
keep [us] strong
to the end” so that we will be “blameless”
when Jesus comes

          1. How does this
happen?  There can be no doubt that God
is the active
agent in keeping us strong (and not us),
but how does
this happen?

a. Since God is the active agent, does it happen to

          2. Do you find
any obligation on our part in v.9?  What
does God ask
of us? (Our obligation is fellowship.
Remember when
we studied 1 John?  That book had the same
theme. Our obligation
is to walk with God, to fellowship
with Him.)

          3. What does
it mean to fellowship with Jesus?  To walk
with God? (It
means at least what you are doing right
now. Reading
His word. Trying to understand His will for
you. Spending
time with Him.  Friend, I am more and more
convinced of
this principle.  The key to salvation is
getting to know
God. No act of yours, no work of yours
will save you
or damn you.  What is key is fellowship
with God. 
A fellowship which will create in you an
attitude to
do His will, not yours.  You may fail in
living up to
your attitude, but if your action is a
failure to live
up to your attitude (and not the result
of a rebellious
attitude) you will “be blameless on the
day of our Lord
Jesus Christ” (v.8) because “our Lord is
Praise God!  Today is the day to ask God to
come into your
heart and change your attitude!  To give
you a desire
to fellowship with Him.)

IV. NEXT WEEK: Our study is 1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 3:1-23. “DIVIDED
Praise God!  Today is the day to ask God to come into your heart and change your attitude!  To give you a desire to fellowship with Him.)

IV. NEXT WEEK: Our study is 1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 3:1-23. “DIVIDED