The Book of 1 Corinthians: Summary

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Updated May 25, 2023 | Infoplease Staff
Book of Corinthians

The Book of 1 Corinthians is one of the most important books of the New Testament, written by an important apostle by the name of Paul to the church of God in Corinth, around 55 A.D.[1] It is a letter that is still relevant to Christians today, as it deals with issues that are still prevalent in our society. In this summary, we will take a closer look at the Book of 1 Corinthians, and explore its many themes, messages, and characters.

1 Corinthians: Background and Context

The city of Corinth was known for its wealth and diversity, with a mix of Greek, Jewish, and Gentile peoples. The Corinthian church was founded by Paul during his second missionary journey, and he stayed there for a year and a half, teaching and establishing the church, before moving on to preach in Ephesus.

However, after he left, the church struggled with issues such as quarreling, sexual immorality, and the misuse of spiritual gifts. Paul wrote this letter to address such issues and to provide guidance on how to live as a Christian.[2]

In the Beginning...

1 Corinthians 1:1 is the first verse of the first chapter of Corinthians, acting as an introduction to the book. The verse reads, "Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes."

This verse is the opening to Paul's letter to the Corinthians. He introduces himself as an apostle of Christ Jesus, indicating that he has been called by God to be a messenger of the gospel. He also mentions Sosthenes, who is believed to have been a fellow Christian and possibly even a co-author of the letter.

Paul's Corinthian Message

The main message of 1 Corinthians is the power of God's grace, and the importance of following the will of God. Paul emphasizes the “name of our Lord Jesus Christ” throughout the letter, reminding the Corinthians that everything they do should be in his name. He encourages this audience to focus on the wisdom of God, rather than human wisdom, and to seek sanctification and wisdom through the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians: Themes and Teachings

Like other books of the Bible, 1 Corinthians contains many, many lessons for the faithful who follow this religious text, and some fascinating historical information for those who study it.

Unity and Diversity

One of the key themes of this book is the dichotomy of unity and diversity within the church. Paul addresses the issue of division among the Corinthians, reminding them that they are all members of the body of Christ. He uses the analogy of the body to illustrate that each member has a different function, but all are important and necessary for the body to function properly.

1 Corinthians 1:9: "God is faithful, through whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." The word "fellowship" in this context refers to a close relationship or partnership, and Paul is emphasizing to the Corinthians the intimate connection that believers have with Christ.

Spiritual Gifts

Another important theme in Corinthians is the use of spiritual gifts. Paul addresses the misuse of spiritual gifts in the Corinthian church, and emphasizes that they are given by the Holy Spirit for the common good. He lists various gifts, such as prophecy, tongues, and healing, and encourages the Corinthians to use them in love and order.

1 Corinthians 1:8: "He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." This phrase is mentioned in the Bible several times, with Paul reassuring the Corinthians that God will keep them steadfast until the end, so that they will be blameless in the second coming.

The Cross of Christ

The cross of Christ is a central message in 1 Corinthians, and Paul emphasizes its importance throughout the letter. He reminds the Corinthians that Christ was crucified for their sins, and that God and the message of the cross are foolish things of the world at large, but to those who believe, it is the power of God. He also addresses the importance of the Lord's Supper, and how it should be approached with reverence and respect.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4: "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." Paul is reminding the Corinthians that Jesus died for their sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, and then rose from the dead on the third day.

Stumbling Blocks

Paul also addresses the issue of stumbling blocks to the faithful, warning the Corinthians not to cause others to stumble in their faith. He reminds them that Christ is the foundation of their faith, and that they should not let human wisdom or worldly desires lead them astray.

1 Corinthians 1:23: "But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles." Here, Paul is emphasizing the centrality of the crucifixion of Christ to the gospel message. He acknowledges that the message of the cross is a stumbling block to some and foolishness to others, but he insists that it is the power of God for salvation to all who believe.

Old fresco on the wall of St.Nicholas church, Demre
Image Source: Getty Images

1 Corinthians: Key Figures

This book of the Bible has several people in particular who push the narrative forward. The following are just a few of the most important figures who feature in 1 Corinthians.


The author of 1 Corinthians and a prominent figure in early Christianity and in establishing the Corinthian church. An apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul was a missionary who traveled extensively throughout the Roman Empire and amid the Romans, spreading the gospel and establishing churches. In this letter, he shares his wisdom and insights with the church in Corinth, correcting their behavior and guiding them in their faith.


A member of the church in Corinth who had informed Paul about the various issues and quarrels present in the church. Paul mentions Chloe’s household by name as a source of information and as evidence that these issues were not just rumors or hearsay.


A fellow Christian preacher and teacher who was well-respected in the early church. Apollos had visited Corinth before Paul wrote his letter, and some members of the church were starting to identify themselves as followers of Apollos instead of Paul. Paul addresses this in his letter, emphasizing that all Christians should be united in their faith in Christ.

Cephas (Peter)

One of the original disciples of Jesus and a leader in the early church, Peter had visited Corinth at some point, and some members of the church were claiming to follow him exclusively. Paul again emphasizes the importance of unity among all Christians, regardless of who they may follow.

Stephanas and His Household

Another member of the original Corinthian church, the household of Stephanas is mentioned as having been the first converts in Achaia.


Crispus is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:14 as one of the few people that Paul baptized in Corinth. He was the leader of the synagogue in Corinth before he converted to Christianity.


Gaius was a congregant of the church in Corinth, and his home hosted Paul during his stay in the city.


Sosthenes was a leader in the Corinthian synagogue and was allegedly beaten by the Jews.

Timothy and Titus

Timothy and Titus were both associates of Paul, and are described as having been sent to Corinth to help with the issues in the church.

First Corinthians: Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians

1 Corinthians is a rich and complex letter that addresses many issues that are still relevant to Christians today. Its teachings on unity, spiritual gifts, and the cross of Christ provide guidance on how to live as a Christian. The book’s emphasis on the grace of God is a message of hope and encouragement for the religious and a fascinating historical artifact for scholars.

If you want to uncover the Old Testament Books in Order, or test yourself with the Books of the Bible Quiz, Infoplease is the place to be! You can also peruse our Bible summaries of Deuteronomy, Ecclesiastes, Philippians, and others.

People Also Ask...

Do you have any burning biblical questions? You're not alone, so we've collected some common queries from other readers below.

What Is the Main Message of 1 Corinthians?

The main message of 1 Corinthians is to address the many problems and challenges facing the church in Corinth. Paul tackles issues such as divisions, immorality, and false teachings, and emphasizes the importance of love and unity among believers.

What Are the Words to 1 Corinthians 13?

1 Corinthians 13 is often referred to as the "love chapter", and reads: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”[3]

Is 1 Corinthians Paul’s First Letter That He Wrote to the Corinthians?

There is some debate among scholars, but it is generally believed that 1 Corinthians is not the first letter that Paul wrote to the Corinthians. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 5:9, Paul refers to an earlier letter that he had written to the Corinthians. However, this earlier letter has not survived and we do not know its contents.

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Sources +

[1] Summary of the Book of 1 Corinthians. Retrieved May 25, 2023 from

[2] Heil, J. P. (2011). 1 Corinthians. In The Letters of Paul as Rituals of Worship (1st ed., pp. 28–49). The Lutterworth Press.

[3] 1 Corinthians 13 NIV. Retrieved May 25, 2023 from