1 & 2 Corinthians

This session was taught at the Christ Church Manchester School of Theology on Saturday 15th June 2019. The CCM School of Theology was set up to serve local churches in Manchester and beyond.

Topic: 1&2 Corinthians

In this session, we look at Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth.

Speaker: Tom O’Toole

Tom is part of the team at Christ Church Manchester and leads the CCM City Centre site. He also manages the Broadcast Network, training church planters. In this session he looks at the books of 1 & 2 Corinthians.



1 & 2 Corinthians


a) The Story of the Church in Corinth

b) Timeline of Key Events

49 AD – Council of Jerusalem
51-52AD – Paul in Corinth
52-53AD – First Letter (unpreserved) – see 1 Cor. 5:9
53AD – Corinthian Response – see 1 Cor. 7:1
54AD – Second Letter (1 Corinthians)
54-55AD – Corinthian Response (Paul dodges Corinth – sends Titus)
55AD – Third Letter (2 Corinthians)

 c) Corinth as a City

• A busy city
• A start-up city
• A cosmopolitan city
• A wealthy city (for some)
• A status-obsessed city
• A pluralistic city
• A creative city
• An addicted city
• A promiscuous city

d) Key Themes

• Paul’s apostolic authority
• A Christian church in a pagan city
• Christian unity
• Gathered worship
• Servant leadership
• Strength through weakness

1 Corinthians

a) The Structure of 1 Corinthians

• Paul’s instructions to them (ch.1-6)
• Paul’s response to issues raised in their letter to him (ch.7-15)

Five sections:
• The cross and Christian unity (ch.1-4)
• The church and relationships (ch.5-7)
• The church in the culture (ch.8-10)
• Gathered worship (ch.11-14)
• The resurrection (ch.15)

b) The Cross and Christian Unity

• The presenting issue – Christian tribalism (1:10-17)
• The focus of ministry – The cross (1:18-2:5)
• Understanding God through the Spirit (2:6-16)
• Paul’s relationship with Apollos (3:1-23)
• True apostolic ministry (4:1-21)

c) The Church and Relationships

• The presenting issue – A man having an affair with his father’s wife (5:1-2)
• How to respond – holiness & tolerance (5:3-13)
• The presenting issue – Lawsuits between believers (6:1) 

How to respond – resolve the issues within the church; choose to suffer the wrong rather than bring shame to Christ’s reputation (6:1-8)

Teaching on sex, marriage and singleness:
• The Corinthian lifestyle differed from a Christian one in many ways (6:9-10)
– including various aspects of sexual conduct.
• Many of the Corinthian church used to participate in this lifestyle.
• Now they have been washed, sanctified and justified.
• Therefore there is a call to flee from sexual immorality (6:12-20)
• Both marriage and singleness are good gifts from God – but Paul sees
particular strategic gospel advantages in singleness (7:1-40)

d) The Church in the Culture

• The Corinthians, idol feasts and the Jerusalem accord.

Five principles for navigating morally grey decisions:
• The principle of freedom (8:1-6)
• The principle of conscience (8:7)
• The principle of love (8:8-13)
• The principle of trajectory (10:1-22)
• The principle of mission (10:23-11:1)
• Paul’s own example of putting these principles into practice (9:1-22)

e) Gathered Worship

Being the body of Christ in our gathered worship
• The inclusion of all (11:2-16)
• In communion (11:17-33)
• Spiritual gifts (12:1-31)
• Use of prophecy and tongues in worship (14:1-40)
• The key principle – LOVE (13:1-13)

f) The Resurrection
• Jesus is risen (15:1-11)
• We will be raised in him (15:12-34)
• The resurrection body (15:35-58)

 2 Corinthians

a) The Structure of 2 Corinthians

• Paul’s defence of his ministry (ch.2-7)
• Interlude – Famine relief (ch.8-9)
• Paul and the super-apostles (ch.10-13)

b) Paul’s Defence of His Ministry

Response to issues the Corinthians had raised:
• Change of travel plans – for the sake of his relationship with them (1:12-2:4)
• The man who had removed form the church – restore him (2:5-11)
• A missed opportunity in Troas – Titus wasn’t there (2:12-13)

True apostleship
• The ministry of apostles
o The aroma of Christ/fragrance of death (2:14-17)
o The evidence is the fruit (3:1-3)
o The superiority of the new covenant (3:4-18)
o The glory of the gospel (4:1-6)

• The ministers of the gospel
o Frailty (4:7-15)
o Eternal hope (4:16-18)
o Courage to minister in the body (5:1-10)

• The message of the apostles
o Motivated by the love of Christ (5:11-15)
o A message of reconciliation (5:16-6:2)
o Apostolic methodology – bearing hardships (6:3-10)

• An appeal to the Corinthians
o Widen your hearts to us (6:11-13)
o Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers (6:14-7:1)
o Make room in your hearts for us (7:2-4)
o The positive report from Titus (7:5-16)

c) Interlude: Famine Relief

• The example of the Macedonians (8:1-5)
• The appeal to the Corinthians (8:6-15)
• The reliability of Titus (8:16-24)
• The need for readiness (9:1-5)
• The benefits of cheerful giving (9:6-11)
• All to the glory of God (9:12-15)

d) Paul and the Super-Apostles

• Paul was unimpressive in the flesh (10:1-11)
• The invasion of the super-apostles (10:12-18)
• Paul’s justification of his ministry in Corinth (11:1-15)
• Paul’s boasting in his sufferings (11:16-33)
• Paul’s boasting in his revelations (12:1-6)
• Paul’s boasting in his weaknesses (12:7-10)
• The signs of a true apostle (12:11-13)
• A planned third visit (12:14-13:10)

Further Resources

• 1 Corinthians sermon series by Tom O’Toole – https://christchurchmanchester.com/sermon-series-1-corinthians-faith-in-the-city-2018-19/
• ‘Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes’ by Kenneth E Bailey
• ‘Paul: A Biography’ (Chapters 9-12) by NT Wright
• ‘1 Corinthians’ by David E Garland
• ‘The Second Letter to the Corinthians’ by Mark A Siefrid
• ‘Paul For Everyone: 1 Corinthians’ by Tom Wright
• ‘Paul For Everyone: 2 Corinthians’ by Tom Wright
• ‘Straight to the Heart of 1 & 2 Corinthians’ by Phil Moore





To see more theology training from Christ Church Manchester, you can visit our School of Theology, or why not consider subscribing to our theology podcast on iTunes.