The Date of the Epistle
After a sojourn of eighteen months (Act_18:11) in this fruitful field, Paul departed, most probably in the year 52 (compare Turner, article “Chron. New Testament,”), and having visited Jerusalem and returned to Asia Minor (third journey), established himself for a period of between two and three years in Ephesus (Act_18:18 onward). It was during his stay there that his epistle was written, either in the spring (pre-Pentecost, 1Cor_16:8) of the year 55, when he left. But that may not give sufficient time for a visit and a letter to Corinth, [between 1 Cor and Paul’s departure from Ephesus] as some believe. If that is the case then in the spring of the preceding year, 54. This would give ample time for the conjectured events, and there is no good evidence against it. Pauline chronology is a subject by itself, but the suggested dates for the departure from Ephesus, and for the writing of 1 Corinthians, really fluctuate between the years 53 and 57. Harnack, Turner and McGiffert adopt the earlier date; Ramsay chooses 56; Lightfoot Zahn and Robertson opt for 57. Many regard 57 as too late.
After Paul’s departure from Corinth Paul was kept informed of what was happening. The distance from Ephesus was not great – about eight days’ journey by sea – and in the constant coming and going between the cities news of what was transpiring must frequently have come to his ears. Members of the household of Chloe are distinctly mentioned (1Cor_1:11) as having brought tidings of the contentions that prevailed, and there were no doubt other informants. Paul was so concerned by what he heard that he sent Timothy on a conciliatory mission with many commendations (1Cor_4:17; 1Cor_16:10 f), although the present epistle probably reached Corinth first. He had also felt impelled, in a letter (1Cor_5:9) which is now lost, to send earnest warning against companying with the immoral. Moreover, Apollos, after excellent work in Corinth, had come to Ephesus, and was received as a brother by the apostle (1Cor_3:5, 1Cor_3:6; 1Cor_16:12). Equally welcome was a deputation consisting of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (1Cor_16:17), from whom the fullest information could be gained, and who were the probable bearers of a letter from the church of Corinth itself (1Cor_7:1), appealing for advice and direction on a number of points.
Ponder these verses for a while:
- 1Cor 1:11 – For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters.
- 1Cor 4:17 – That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go.
- 1Cor 16:10 – When Timothy comes, don’t intimidate him. He is doing the Lord’s work, just as I am.
- 1Cor 5:9 – When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin.
- 1Cor 3:5 – After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.
- 1Cor 3:6 – I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.
- 1Cor 16:12 – Now about our brother Apollos—I urged him to visit you with the other believers, but he was not willing to go right now. He will see you later when he has the opportunity.
- 1Cor 16:17 – I am very glad that Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus have come here. They have been providing the help you weren’t here to give me.
- 1Cor 7:1 – Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter.
Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.Martin Luther King Jr
One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.E. M. Forster