Study Guide for 1 Corinthians by Chuck Smith (2024)

  • 1 CORINTHIANS 1: God's Work in Us
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 2: The Wisdom of God
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 3: Divisions in the Body
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 4: Ministers of Christ
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 5: The Case of Incest
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 6: Christians and the Law
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 7: Christian Marriage
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 8: Christian Liberty
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 9: More on Christian Liberty
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 10: Lessons from the Wilderness
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 11: The Communion Service
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 12: The Body of Christ
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 13: Agape Love
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 14: The Proper Operation of Spiritual Gifts
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 15: The Resurrection of Christ
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 16: Conclusion

Paul went to Corinth in Greece on his second missionary journey. Corinth was a thriving commercial center and a very corrupt city. The church in Corinth had several problems, so Paul wrote this epistle to deal with them.


v. 2 In the phrase "called to be saints." the words to be were inserted by the translators. All Christians are called saints. not just those especially devout. This epistle is addressed to those of us who call upon the name of Jesus, as well as to the church that was in Corinth.

v. 3 After we accept the grace of God, we're able to experience the peace of God.

v. 5 "Enriched" comes from the Greek "plutocrat." It means "lavishly wealthy."

v. 6 Their lives were a confirmation of the truth of the Gospel.

v. 7 There was an abundant use of the spiritual gifts in the Corinthian church. Christ wants us to live in anticipation that He may come at any time.

v. 8 He will complete His work in us so that we will be blameless when we're presented to God. The "day" of Jesus is the day of His coming.

v. 9 "Fellowship" means "communion" or "oneness".

v. 10-12 Some of the people were taking sides in disputes that had arisen. Carnality, not spiritual maturity, leads to division in the Body of Christ.

v. 14-17 If a person had to be baptized in order to be saved, Paul would never have made these remarks about baptism. Baptism is the outward symbol showing that the filth of the flesh has been washed from our hearts, but it is our faith in Christ that saves us.

v. 18 The death of Christ isn't meaningful to those who are dying in their sins (Hebrews 12:25).

v. 19-20 Romans 1:21.

v. 21 Preaching appears foolish to those who are wise in the world.

v. 2-27 Not many of the wise and powerful have been chosen by God for He has chosen the humble so that He will be glorified in them.

v. 30-31 Jesus is our wisdom and deserves all the glory.


v. 2 This verse gives us the message of Paul's preaching.

v. 4 Paul's preaching was a demonstration of God's Spirit and power.

v. 6 "Perfect" means "complete."

v. 9 The wisdom of the world hasn't revealed to man the glorious things God wants to do for us. We who have received His grace are experiencing the blessings of being His children. Many people misinterpret this verse as referring to future things God will do for us, but the next verse shows Paul's intention more clearly.

v. 10-13 The Spirit brings us to an understanding of God and His plans for our lives.

v. 14 The natural man is blinded to spiritual things.

v. 15 "Judgeth" means "understands." The Holy Spirit gives us knowledge beyond our experience.

v. 16 Philippians 2:5.


v. 1 Many of the Corinthian Christians hadn't entered the spiritual dimension yet. They were still living the carnal lives of babes in Christ (2 Peter 1).

v. 2 Babes in Christ aren't able to digest a message that contains basic doctrine. They look more to testimonies and stories.

v. 4 The party spirit was the mark of carnality, for God was responsible for the work done in their lives.

v. 6 In the church at Ephesus, Paul planted and Apollos watered the seed.

v. 11 Jesus Is the foundation for our faith.

v. 13-15 Matthew 6:1.

v. 21-23 Though Bible commentaries can add to our knowledge, the best study is the time we spend reading the Bible with the Holy Spirit as our teacher.


v. 1 "Ministers" in the Greek means "under-rowers" or "galley slaves." Just as the galley slave heard and obeyed the voice of his master, so the minister should be in submission to the Lord Jesus. The steward was the housekeeper who protected the treasures of the house and drew from them for the needs of the family. The truths of God are treasures which the ministers hold and share with the members of God's family.

v. 2 God requires that we be faithful to the ministry to which he has called us.

v. 4 "By" means "against."

v. 5 God will judge the secret motivations of our hearts.

v. 7 We're all alike as sinners before God, and anything of value that we have has been given to us by God.

v. 9 God used the patriarchs, kings, priests, and prophets to minister His truth to the people. Paul felt that the apostles were the last in this long line of God's spokesmen.

v. 10-13 Paul here describes the difficulties of apostleship.


v. 5 God protects us from many attacks of Satan (Job 1:10). The man involved in incest would reap the consequences of his sin when the church separated him from the protection of fellowship.

v. 6 The church had been proud of its tolerance toward the man.

v. 9 The word translated "fornicators" in the Greek means "male prostitutes."

v. 10-11 Paul knew the Christians would be around wicked people as long as they were to exist in this world, but he warned them not to allow men who practiced these sins to remain in the church.


v. 1-6 Members of the Corinthian church were suing each other in the civil court. Paul told them to settle their disputes within the church, because the least-esteemed man in the church could judge better than a man in the worldly court.

v. 9 The "abusers of themselves with mankind" are hom*osexuals.

v. 11 Christ washes. sanctifies and justifies us when we turn our lives over to Him.

v. 12 We shouldn't exercise our freedom in such a way that we re brought into bondage to something.

v. 15 Since our bodies belong to Christ, we involve Him in everything we do.

v. 20 God purchased us at a tremendous price from the old life of sin. Now we re obligated to glorify Him with our bodies and our spirits which belong to Him.


v. 1-2 The Corinthians had written to Paul for advice about marriage and physical relationships. The Corinthian society was evil and exerted an amoral influence on the people. Paul wanted to help the believers to resist the temptations of the world.

v. 9 It's better to marry than to burn with lust.

v. 14 A believing husband or wife sanctifies the home and the marriage.

v. 20-23 If a man was a servant when he became a Christian. he should continue in service unless the opportunity arose to purchase his freedom. If a man was free when he came to Christ. he should not sell himself into slavery.

v. 25-31 Paul felt that Christ would return soon. and he didn't want the Christians to be involved in things of the world.

v. 32-35 Carefulness means worries. Paul realized that married people were distracted from service to God by their concerns for each other He felt that if people could remain single, they would be spared the problems and worries of marriage and could devote themselves wholeheartedly to God

v. 39 Paul reaffirmed that marriage is for life Widows were free to remarry as long as they married Christians.


v. 1 Edifieth means builds up

v. 2-3 The knowledge of God is the most important knowledge.

v. 4-7 Though most Christians could eat meat sacrificed to idols without feeling guilty. some Christians suffered pangs of conscience if they ate it.

v. 8-13 We re to practice our liberty in Christ in submission to the law of love so that we don t destroy our brothers by offending their con sciences.


v. 1 One of the requirements of apostleship was to have seen the resurrected Christ

v. 2 The Corinthian church was another proof of Paul's apostleship.

v. 6 The apostles weren't required to work at regular jobs, since they were busy with God's work.

v. 10-11 Paul was explaining the right of the minister to be supported by those he ministered to.

v. 13 The Old Testament priests were allowed to partake of the offerings.

v. 14 God ordained the support of ministers.

v. 15 Paul didn't want the Corinthians to send money to him. He just wanted to make the point that he didn't allow any people to support him, and he'd rather die than become a financial burden to them.

v. 18 Paul gladly preached the Gospel without charge.

v. 19 Though Paul wasn't obligated to the Christians, he offered himself as a servant to them.

v. 20-23 Paul sought to win people to Jesus Christ by being sensitive to their needs and identifying with them. We should try to reach people where they are today and expect to see changes later.

v. 24-27 Paul encouraged the Corinthians to put all they had into living the Christian life. He said he blackened his eyes and beat and bruised his body to keep it "under," that is so the Spirit might rule.


v. 1-5 Paul teaches here that the experiences of the Children of Israel have spiritual applications for us.

v. 6 The lessons we're to learn from the Children of Israel are:

(1) We're not to desire evil things.

v. 7 (2) We're not to worship anything or anyone other than God.

v. 8 (3) We're not to commit fornication.

v. 9 (4) We're not to challenge the work of God in our lives.

v. 10 (5) We're not to murmur complaints about the circ*mstances God puts us in. God wants us to trust Him to work it out for our good.

v. 13 God won't allow us to be tempted beyond our endurance. He'll always provide a way out for us.

v. 16 "Communion" means "fellowship" or "oneness."

v. 17 In the Oriental culture, eating the same food together brought people into oneness, for the food they ate became part of all their bodies.

v. 20 The idols were inhabited by demons, so eating food sacrificed to idols would bring Christians into fellowship with demons.

v. 23 All things are lawful to us, but some things can tear us down and hurt our Christian walk.

v. 24 We're not to think only of ourselves but of others as well.

v. 25 "Shambles" means "market." It was better not to ask whether the meat had been offered to idols when they went to the meat market. so they could eat it with a clear conscience.

v. 29-33 When we're thinking of others, our liberty is bounded by their needs.


v. 3 The chain of authority is set up here.

v. 4 The Jews pray to God with their heads covered as a symbol of their unworthiness to approach Him. Since Jesus opened the door for us to approach God freely, it would nullify His work if a Christian man covered his head for prayer.

v. 5-6 The prostitutes in Corinth went about unveiled. A wife who didn't wear her veil dishonored her husband, since people would think she was

v. 8 The woman was made from part of the man (Genesis 2:21-23).

v. 13 This rule applied only to the women in Corinth because of the prostitutes in that city. The other churches didn't have any customs concerning veils.

v. 20-21 Some of the people were eating and drinking greedily at the agape feasts, leaving very little for the others.

v. 27 "Unworthily" also means "in an unworthy manner."

v. 30 Those asleep were dead. Paul was either saying that the Christians were sick and dying because they had celebrated the Lord's Supper Improperly, or because they hadn't appropriated the healing that Christ had for them.


v. 1 The word "gifts" isn't in this verse in the Greek. Paul was moving away from the carnal issues to discuss spiritual things.

v. 4 There are different gifts but one Holy Spirit.

v. 5 People can have the same gift, but it works differently in their lives.

v. 7 The gifts of the Spirit are given to profit everyone in the Body of Christ.

v. 8 The word of wisdom isn't a reservoir that can be drawn upon at any time, but a spontaneous prompting of the Spirit. How to discern between our own heart and the voice of God:

(1) Anything that modifies or contradicts God's already revealed truth isn't from God, for His truth doesn't change.

(2) If something is ridiculous, it isn't from Him.

(3) We can wait and see if it comes to pass. The word of wisdom is knowledge applied. Sometimes we're given knowledge so that we'll pray. No other action may be necessary.

v. 10 The gift of prophecy is more a speaking forth of God's message than a foretelling of events. Discerning of spirits is the ability to discriminate between the Spirit of God and the spirit of Satan (Revelation 2:2).

v. 13 The whole Church is one body. We need the unifying power of the Holy Spirit to bring us together in love.

v. 22-26 All the parts of the body are vitally important.

v. 31 Our place in the body determines what the best gifts are for our ministry. We desire the power of the Spirit in our lives, but love demonstrates a deeper walk with God than the exercise of spiritual gifts.


v. 1-3 The gifts of power are nothing if we don't exercise them in love.

v. 4 The description of agape love ("charity") begins here. "Vaunteth" means "boasts." "Puffed up" means "blows itself up".

v. 5 Love is gracious and doesn't misbehave. Love doesn't seek its own way. Love isn't provoked (the word "easily" isn't in the Greek manuscripts). Love doesn't keep a record of evil.

v. 7 "Bears all things" means "covers as a shield to protect."

v. 8-9 We don't need spiritual gifts when we have our heavenly bodies.

v. 10 Most Greek scholars agree that "that which is perfect" refers to the coming of Jesus Christ. Some say that this refers to the full revelation of the Bible, but the context doesn't bear this out. The gifts of the Spirit are helpful and should be in operation until Christ returns (Acts 2:16-20).

v. 12 We're looking through a dark glass, and it's hard to understand the things of the Spirit. We still need Him to speak the words of God to our hearts. We'll know each other in heaven, for we'll know more, not less, than we know now.

v. 13 If we read verses 4-7 and substitute the name of Jesus for "charity," the verses flow easily. However, when we put our own name in the place of "charity" we see how much we need the work of the Spirit in our lives.


v. 1 We shouldn't close the door to God's work in our lives. "Prophesy" here again refers to speaking God's truth by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

v. 2 The tradition of a "message in tongues" followed by an interpretation in which God is seemingly speaking to the congregation is unscriptural. In this situation, the "interpretation" is usually a prophecy addressed to the congregation for tongues are addressed to God (Acts 2:5-13). "Mysteries" means "divine secrets".

v. 3 Prophecy builds up, encourages, and consoles.

v. 4 When the Holy Spirit edifies us. He builds up Christ in us. The Holy Spirit helps us to praise God without the limitations of our intellect. He also helps us to pray for things according to God's will and to intercede in a situation when we're not sure how to pray. Prophecy builds up Christ in the whole Church.

v. 13 This verse doesn't apply to our personal prayer lives, but to those times when we might be in a group and pray in tongues.

v. 15 We have control whether we speak aloud or keep quiet when the Spirit tells us something. Therefore, if we interrupt a service. we're responsible. not the Holy Spirit (v. 32).

v. 26 The first rule for church services is that everything should build up Christ.

v. 27-33 Paul here gives some suggestions for orderly services.

v. 34-35 The men and women were separated and seated on either side of the assembly during services. The women were calling to their husbands to ask questions during the service. so Paul asked the women to wait until they were home to discuss the message.

v. 40 The second rule of the church services is that everything be done with dignity and order.


v. 12-19 Most Greeks didn't believe in the resurrection of the dead. and some of the Corinthian Christians were led astray by the Greeks' worldly doctrine.

v. 20-26 Whereas Adam's sin brought death to the whole world, Christ's righteousness brought life to the whole world.

v. 29 Baptism for the dead is a practice that was common in the pagan religions of Greece and is still practiced today by some cults; but it doesn't change a person's sentence, for that is determined while he lives (Luke 16:26).

v. 36 "Quickened" means "made alive."

v. 37-38 Resurrection is demonstrated in nature all the time by plants. The seed dies and later comes forth in a new body.

v. 39-44 The bodies we "plant" in the grave aren't the bodies we'll have when we're resurrected. Our new bodies will be spiritual, incorruptible, and perfectly adapted to heaven.

v. 52 Greek scholars say that this "trumpet" isn't the seventh trumpet of judgment in the Book of Revelation (11:15), for the construction in the Greek would have to be entirely different. This trumpet will call the Church home.

v. 55-56 Christ removed the sting of death when He forgave our sins.


v. 2 This verse indicates that the Church was meeting on the first day of the week. Paul wanted all the offerings to be taken before he arrived in Corinth.

v. 6-7 Paul was very flexible about his plans for the months ahead so he could be subject to the leading of the Lord.

v. 8-9 Paul wanted to stay in Ephesus for awhile, because there was strong opposition to the Gospel there.

v. 10-11 Paul asked the Corinthians to accept Timothy and his teaching without intimidating him.

v. 13 "Quit" means "acquit".

v. 19 Aquila and Priscilla met Paul when he first came to Corinth. They were among the first converts there and opened their home for Bible studies.

Used With Permission

© The Word For Today. We thank Chuck Smith, The Word For Today and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for their permission to utilize this work.

Study Guide for 1 Corinthians by Chuck Smith (2024)
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