CORINTHIANS, EPISTLES TO THE, two books of the New Testament. The founding of the Church in Corinth is told in Acts xviii. 1-18. St. Paul's success was prompt and large, and in the year and six months of his stay a vigorous Church was gathered, including Aquila and Priscilla, as well as Crispus, the "ruler of the synagogue" (cf. 1 Cor. i. 14) ; whether Sosthenes, who seems to have succeeded Crispus in his office (Acts xviii. 17), was afterwards converted and became the Christian brother men tioned in I Cor. i. 1 cannot be known. The Church evidently con sisted mainly of Gentile converts (I Cor. x. 14; xii. 2), but may have included some Jews (vii. 18). The latter must have been such as were willing to live under the conditions imposed by full fellowship with Gentile Christians.
The apostle's next long stay was at Ephesus, whither he seems to have gone in the course of the same year in which he left Corinth, and where he stayed three years. Before he arrived at Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla, who had settled there, had made the acquaintance of Apollos (q.v.), a well-educated Jew from Alex andria, who with imperfect Christian knowledge was zealously preaching the gospel of Jesus in the synagogue. He presently went to Corinth (Acts xviii. 24-28). "I planted," says Paul (I Cor. iii. 6), "Apollos watered." From this point on, our information comes from the two epistles, of which the first was written from Ephesus before Pentecost, probably in the year in which Paul left that city, A.D. (I Cor. xvi. 8). It appears that the Church grew in numbers, for Paul refers in 2 Cor. i. 1, to "the saints who are in all Achaea." Its membership was mostly of humble people (I Cor. i. 26-29), but Crispus, Stephanas (who with his household was able to render services that may well have been costly, 1 Cor. xvi. I 5), Gaius and Erastus (Rom. xvi. 23) would appear to have been persons of some substance. It in cluded tradesmen prosperous enough to enter into law-suits; its earning-capacity was sufficient to make gifts to the Jerusalem Christians possible; and the letters imply some degree of educa tion in the readers.
The first need of the Church for help from Paul seems to have grown out of the dangers from surrounding heathenism. In I Cor. v. 9 we read of a letter in which Paul had directed the Christians "not to have company with fornicators." Some hold that this letter is partly preserved in 2 Cor. vi. i4–vii. 1, but the evidence that those verses do not belong in their present position is in sufficient. While at Ephesus, where communication with Corinth was easy and frequent, Paul was visited by persons of the house hold of Chloe (I Cor. i. I I), and by Stephanas with Fortunatus and Achaicus (perhaps his slaves, xvi. 17) . From them and from a letter (vii. I), perhaps brought by Stephanas, he was able to gain the intimate knowledge which the epistles everywhere reveal. The letter from Corinth must have contained enquiries as to practical conduct with regard to marriage (vii. I), meat offered to idols (viii. I), and the spiritual gifts (xii. I), and may well have related to other matters, such as the collection of money for Jerusalem (xvi. I), the visit of Apollos (xvi. 12), the position of women (xi. 2). Paul's reply includes many other topics. At the time of sending it, his trusted helper Timothy had also started on his way (probably through Macedonia) to Corinth, to contribute there to the edification of the Christians (iv. 17, xvi. Io). The letter itself was doubtless sent by the hand of Corinthians return ing home by sea, possibly by the unnamed brethren referred to in xvi. II, and was expected to arrive before Timothy.