The congregation in Corinth consisted primarily of Gentile Christians who had converted through previous interaction with Paul, yet they profoundly misapplied Christian teachings in general and Paul’s instructions in particular. The Corinthian church faced mounting challenges: divisions and factions, sexual immorality, participation in pagan rituals, controversies over the Lord’s Supper, and speaking in tongues, along with the recurring threat of Gnosticism. Paul’s words of advice, encouragement, and reproach for the church in Corinth remain fitting and useful for contemporary challenges in the church, and Harrisville’s commentary on 1 Corinthians brings Paul’s words to the fore.
“The thesis of this commentary is that the striking parallels between Paul of Tarsus (a city celebrated for its Stoic schools) and the popular Stoic philosophy do not derive from intimate acquaintance with Stoicism, but rather from Paul’s contact with a society for which Stoic terms and concepts were part and parcel of that ‘spirit of the age.’” (Page 20)
“Paul’s choice of language here is deliberate, critical. The ‘pneumatic,’ the ‘spiritual person’ is such, not by natural endowment or by training, but by grace, by the divine favor.” (Page 207)
“The reversal, the standing of folly or wisdom on its head has come about by the fact that God has made his power and wisdom weakness and folly, that is, has deliberately set his saving activity against whatever may be grasped through perception or conception, opposed it to whatever is provable or able to be disproved by appeal to sense or reason (for Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, v. 22).” (Page 40)
“The fracture of systems, concepts, occurred of itself, as if automatically, once attention was concentrated on the crucifixion of Jesus. Not an idea, but an event, an event rooted in time and space, had turned everything on its head: ‘We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God’ (1:23–24). What was Jewish or Greek would be abandoned or would be retained, not for its Jewishness or its origins in Greek thought, but for its service to the ‘Christ crucified.’” (Page 21)