Christianity Without Corinthians: A Half-Painted Portrait

The defining role of 1 & 2 Corinthians in determining the nature of original apostolic Christianity deserves further consideration. In sharpest contrast with Paul’s coherent setting forth of the Christian gospel in Romans, the Apostle’s extant Corinthian correspondence is regularly regarded as a hodge-podge of disconnected reactions to problems of an early Gentile church, sometimes viewed as rather irrelevant to the modern day. But what would apostolic Christianity look like without these two letters? A deeper inquiry uncovers at least twelve themes developed in detail that have guided the church through many challenges across the centuries, and that speak directly to the universal church of today. Without these two letters, the resulting image of apostolic Christianity would look like a half-painted portrait.

The principal topics of these two letters to the Corinthians are as follows: I. The Nature and Challenges of the Apostolic Office; II. Hermeneutical Lessons from an Inspired Apostle; III. The Transforming Power of the Gospel; IV. Diversified Gifts for Ministry; V. Marriage and Sexual Immorality; VI. Lawsuits Among Believers; VII. The Exercise and Non-Exercise of Christian Liberty; VIII. God-Ordained Order in Worship; IX. The Resurrection of the Body; X. Offerings for the Lord; XI. Masquerading “Super-Apostles”; XII. The Worldwide Spread of the Gospel.

Limitations of time would not allow for careful consideration of each of these issues as treated in Corinthians. But treatment of key issues should prove sufficient to establish the indispensable nature of these very early documents of the Apostle Paul in determining the nature of original apostolic Christianity.

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