This epistle was most likely written from Ephesus in the Spring of 57 ad. although the following
is attached to many manuscripts.
<<The first epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi by Stephanas and Fortunatus
and Achaicus and Timotheus.>>
“The date of this Epistle can be fixed with more precision than that of any other. It gives us the
means of ascertaining, not merely the year, but even (with great probability) the month and
week, in which it is written.
(1) Apollos had been working at Corinh, and was now with St. Paul at Ephesus (1 Cor. i.12;
iii.4.22.; iv. 6.; xvi.12.). This was the case during St. Paul’s residence at Ephesus (Acts xix.1.).
(2) He wrote during the days of unleavened bread, i.e. at Easter (1 Cor. v.7.: see the note on
that passage), and intended to remain at Ephesus till Pentecost (xvi.8.; cf. xv.32.). After leaving
Ephesus, he purposed to come by Macedonia to Achaia (xvi.5-7.). This was the route he took
(Acts xx.1, 2.) on leaving Ephesus after the tumult in the theatre.
(3) Aquila and Priscilla were with him at Ephesus (xvi.19.). They had taken up their
residence at Ephesus before the visit of St. Paul (Acts xviii.26.).
(4) The Great Collection was going on in Achaia (svi.1-3.). When he wrote to the Romans
from Corinth during his three months’ visit there (Acts xx.3.), the collection was completed in
Macedonia and Achaia (Rom. xv.26.).
(5) He hopes to go by Corinth to Jerusalem, and thence to Rome (xvi.4. and xv.25-28.). Now
the time when he entertained this very purpose was towards the conclusion of his long
Ephesian residence (Acts xix.21.).
(6) He had sent Timothy towards Corinth (iv.17.), but not direct (xvi.10.). Now it was at the
close of his Ephesians residence (Acts xix.22.) that he sent Timothy with Erastus (the
Corinthian) from Ephesus to Macedonia, which was one to Corinth, but not the shortest.”
The Life and Times of St. Paul, p. 44.
“I. Authenticity of the Two Epistles.
1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians and Romans, all belong to the period of Paul's third missionary
journey. They are the most remarkable of his writings, and are usually distinguished as the four
great or principal epistles; a distinction which not only is a tribute to their high originality and
intrinsic worth, but also indicates the extremely favorable opinion which critics of almost all
schools have held regarding their authenticity. Throughout the centuries the tradition has
remained practically unbroken, that they contain the very pectus Paulinum, the mind and heart of
the great apostle of the Gentiles, and preserve to the church an impregnable defense of
historical Christianity. What has to be said of their genuineness applies almost equally to both.
1. External Evidence:
The two epistles have a conspicuous place in the most ancient lists of Pauline writings. In the
Muratorian Fragment (circa 170) they stand at the head of the nine epistles addressed to
churches, and are declared to have been written to forbid heretical schism (primum omnium
Corinthiis schisma haeresis intredicens); and in Marcion's Apostolicon (circa 140) they stand
second to Gal. They are also clearly attested in the most important writings of the subapostolic
age, e.g. by Clement of Rome (circa 95), generally regarded as the friend of the apostle
mentioned in Php 4:3; Ignatius (Ad Ephes., chapter xviii, second decade of 2nd century);
Polycarp (chapters ii, vi, xi, first half of 2nd century), a disciple of John; and Justin Martyr (born at
close of let century); while the Gnostic Ophites (2nd century) were clearly familiar with both
epistles (compare Westcott, Canon, passim, and IndexII ; also Charteris, Canonicity, 222-224,
where most of the original passages are brought together). The witness of Clement is of the
highest importance. Ere the close of the let century he himself wrote a letter to the Corinthians,
in which (chapter xlvii, Lightfoot's edition, 144) he made a direct appeal to the authority of 1 Cor:
"Take up the letter of Paul the blessed apostle; what did he write to you first in the beginning of
the gospel? Verily he gave you spiritual direction regarding himself, Cephas, and Apollos, for
even then you were dividing yourselves into parties." It would be impossible to desire more
explicit external testimony.
2. Internal Evidence:
Within themselves both epistles are replete with marks of genuineness. They are palpitating
human documents, with the ring of reality from first to last. They admirably harmonize with the
independent narrative of Acts; in the words of Schleiermacher (Einltg., 148), "The whole fits
together and completes itself perfectly, and yet each of the documents follows its own course,
and the data contained in the one cannot be borrowed from those of the other." Complex and
difficult as the subjects and circumstances sometimes are, and varying as the moods of the
writer are in dealing with them, there is a naturalness that compels assent to his good faith. The
very difficulty created for a modern reader by the incomplete and allusive character of some of
the references is itself a mark of genuineness rather than the opposite; just what would most
likely be the ease in a free and intimate correspondence between those who understood one
another in the presence of immediate facts which needed no careful particularization; but what
would almost as certainly have been avoided in a fictitious composition. Indeed a modicum of
literary sense suffices to forbid classification among the pseudepigrapha. To take but a few
instances from many, it is impossible to read such passages as those conveying the
remonstrance in 1Co 9:1-27, the alternations of anxiety and relief in connection with the meeting
of Titus in 2Co 2:1-17 and 2Co 7:1-16, or the ever-memorable passage which begins at 2Co 11:
24 of the same epistle: "Of the Jews five times received I," ere, without feeling that the
hypothesis of fiction becomes an absurdity. No man ever wrote out of the heart if this writer did
not. The truth is that theory of pseudonymity leaves far more difficulties behind it than any it is
supposed to solve. The unknown and unnamable literary prodigy of the 2nd century, who in the
most daring and artistic manner gloried in the fanciful creation of those minute and life-like
details which have imprinted themselves indelibly on the memory and imagination of mankind,
cannot be regarded as other than a chimera. No one knows where or when he lived, or in what
shape or form. But if the writings are the undoubted rescripts of fact, to whose life and
personality do they fit themselves more exquisitely than to those of the man whose name
stands at their head, and whose compositions they claim to be? They suit beyond compare the
apostle of the missionary journeys, the tender, eager, indomitable "prisoner of the Lord," and no
other. No other that has even been suggested is more than the mere shadow of a name, and
no two writers have as yet seriously agreed even as to the shadow. The pertinent series of
questions with which Godet (Intro to New Testament; Studies on the Epistles, 305) concludes
his remarks on the genuineness may well be repeated: "What use was it to explain at length in
the 2nd century a change in a plan of the journey, which, supposing it was real, had interest only
for those whom the promised visit of the apostle personally concerned? When the author
speaks of five hundred persons who had seen the risen Christ, of whom the most part were still
alive at the time when he was writing, is he telling his readers a mere story that would resemble
a bad joke? What was the use of discussing at length and giving detailed rules on the exercise
of the glossolalia at a time when that gift no longer existed, so to say, in the church? Why make
the apostle say: `We who shall be alive (at the moment of the Parousia)' at a time when
everyone knew that he was long dead? In fine, what church would have received without
opposition into its archives, as an epistle of the apostle, half a century after his death, a letter
unknown till then, and filled with reproaches most severe and humiliating to it?"
3. Consent of Criticism:
One is not surprised, therefore, that even the radical criticism of the 19th century cordially
accepted the Corinthian epistles and their companions in the great group. …”
From the first century on, the need has been to recognize righteousness as a necessary trait in
the life of Christians. Righteousness has been rejected in the name of mercy and grace.
However, as Paul poignantly points out in the quotation above, the absence of righteousness
creates an absence of inheritance of the kingdom of heaven.
The first epistle to the Corinthians from its reference to the conduct of those reported by the
household of Chloe to the admonition in closing below, calls for the saints to conduct
themselves as the holy children of God.
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13 KJV)