7. Seven parts of it have been established. I. Rebuke of the Corinthians because of their schisms, and exhortation to preserve unit (1 Corinthians 1-4). II. Rebuke of the same on account of their neglect of discipline in the case of the incestuous man, lawsuits, and impurity of life (1 Corinthians 5, 6). III. Response to their question concerning virginity and celibacy (1 Corinthians 7). IV. Instruction concerning things sacrificed to idols, the dress of women in the Church, and the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 8-11). V. Instruction concerning spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14). VI. Confirmation of the Corinthians in the article of the faith concerning the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15). VII. Epilogue of the Epistle (1 Corinthians 16). Interpreters of the Epistle, Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic; and also a Synoptic Table.
Besides the introduction of the Epistle, it is best summed up in seven major parts. For, first, he rebukes the Corinthians on account of their schisms arising under the pretense of their Teachers, and commends concord and unity to them, Chapters 1-4. Second, he rebukes them on account of their neglect of discipline concerning the incestuous man, public lawsuits, and whoredome, Chapters 5, 6. Third, he responds to their question concerning virginity and marriage, Chapter 7. Fourth, he treats of things sacrificed to idols, the dress of women in Church, order and decorum in the Church, and communion of the Lord’s table, Chapters 8-11. Fifth, he delivers precepts concerning the difference and use of spiritual gifts, Chapters 12-14. Sixth, he confirms them in the faith of the resurrection of the dead, Chapter 15. Finally, seventh, he concludes the Epistle, Chapter 16.
I. His rebuke of the Corinthians because of their schisms, and his exhortation to preserve unity, Chapters 1-4. In which Saint Paul:
1. After the introduction, in which he addresses the Epistle, salutes the Corinthians, and congratulates the same concerning God’s grace and extraordinary gifts (verses 1-9), and dissuades them from schisms (verses 10-12): chapter 1:1-12.
2. Sets forth reasons for avoiding schisms and preserving unity: of which sort are:
a. That by schisms Christ is divided, neither is any other able to be named except He, whose we are, and into whose name we have been baptized (verses 13-17); that he preached Christ in such a way that they might have no occasion of teaching anything else; in which he puts from himself wisdom of speech:
α. Lest the cross of Christ be of no effect, which is indeed foolishness to those perishing (verses 18-23), but to those called, both Jews and Greeks, the power and wisdom of God; especially to the unwise and ignoble called (verses 24-31): chapter 1:13-31).
β. Because loftiness of speech and wisdom fights against the testimony of God and faith upon that (verses 1-5); and the very wisdom of God, surpassing all human capticity (verses 6-9), is revealed by the Spirit of God alone (verses 10-13); and so it is perceived, not by carnal men, but by spiritual men alone (verses 14-16): chapter 2.
b. That schisms furnish evidence of a man not spiritual, but carnal (verses 1-3), that all blessing, growth, and building are of God, not of Paul, Apollos, etc., the ministers of God (verses 4-9), and the foundation already laid is of the sort that besides that no other is able to be laid, although superstructure is provided for it diversely (verses 10-15); that the Church is God’s house and temple, not to be destroyed with impunity by any man (verses 16, 17); because the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God (verses 18-20), neither is it appropriate for anyone to glory in men, since all things are ours, and we are God’s (verses 21-23): chapter 3.
c. That men are merely the ministers of God, and are to be judged, not by any man, but by Christ alone (verses 1-5); that it is not suitable to evaluate except from the Scripture (verse 6); that no one is able to boast of himself, since all things were given by God (verse 7); that no one is full, is enriched, without rather the very Apostles being exposed to the injuries of all in the world (verses 8-17); where in passing he promises his coming to deal with those puffed up (verses 18-21): chapter 4.
II. His rebuke of the Corinthians on account of their neglect of discipline concerning the incestuous man, public lawsuits, and impurity of life, Chapters 5, 6. In which:
1. Paul, rebuking the Corinthians for not removing the incestuous man (verses 1, 2), reveals his decision concerning the delivery of that one to Satan, because a little leaven leavens the whole lump (verses 3-8); and at the same time he teaches with what fornicators they were obliged not to keep company, namely, those professing the name of Christ, not those without (verses 9-13): chapter 5.
2. Rebuking the same on account of their lawsuits prosecuted against each other before unbelievers, he commands that lawsuits be composed in a friendly way by brethren (verses 1-8); he commends holiness and purity of life on account of the punishment of the impure (verses 9-11), shows the use of things indifferent (verse 12), and urges sobriety (verses 13, 14), and chastity, since they are the Temple of the Spirit of God (verses 15-20): chapter 6.
III. His response to their question concerning virginity and marriage, Chapter 7.
In which Saint Paul, teaching the usefulness of marriage (verses 1, 2), enjoins upon spouses the mutual duties of cohabitation (verses 3-6), urges marriage for those that do not have the gift of continence, and that inseparable (verses 7-11), even between believing and unbelieving spouses, unless the unbeliever separates himself (verses 12-16); urges the circumcised and servants to walk as they were called (verses 17-24); urges celibacy on account of the present necessity (verses 25-31), and the advantage of serving God ἀπερισπάστως, without distraction (verses 32-35); instructs him, who is going to give his daughter in marriage (verses 36-38); and explains the liberty of the widow for second vows (verses 39, 40): chapter 7.
IV. Instruction concerning things offered to idols, the dress of women in Church, and the communion of the Lord’s supper, Chapters 8-11. See his instruction:
1. Concerning this offered to idols: chapters 8-10. In which:
a. Speaking by way of preface concerning knowledge, that an idol is nothing, and there is one Lord, he teaches that charity is required together with that knowledge (verses 1-6); and he asserts that charity requires that no stumbling-block be placed before the infirm, and that the eating of things sacrificed to idols should rather be omitted (verses 7-13): chapter 8.
b. Making himself an example of this charity, edifying one’s neighbor (verses 1-4), he thus sets forth his power to take a wife (verse 5), and to receive a stipend (verses 6-11), so that he might show that he has not used, nor is going to use, that power unto the detriment of the Gospel (verse 12-18), and that he, although free, has accommodated himself to all, so that he might gain the weak (verses 19-23), after the likeness of an athlete, disciplined, and exerting himself, lest, while preaching to others, he might be found reprobate (verses 24-27): chapter 9.
c. He dissuades from the eating of things sacrificed to idols because of the danger of idolatry; where, with the example of the Israelites set forth, who, no less illuminated, and confirmed by miracles and sacraments, fell into it, and were grievously punished (verses 1-11), since like temptations also threaten the faithful (verses 12-14), he demonstrates that the eating of things sacrificed to idols is idolatry, because it imports communion with idols, just as the Lord’s Supper imports communion with Christ, sacrificial victims with the altar, the sacrifices of the gentiles with the devil, and it is ἀσύστατος/ inconsistent with the communion of the Lord’s table, and provokes Christ to jealousy (verses 15-22); finally, he concludes the question in such a way that he teaches that all things are lawful, but not all things edify, and that it is lawful to to eat flesh, but not, if it is known that it was sacrificed to idols, and that on account of the conscience of the weak, lest our giving of thanks be evil spoken of, since all things ought to be done to the glory of God (verses 23-33): chapter 10.
2. Concerning the dress of men and women in the Church, where, with the Corinthians commended for the retention of the traditions (verses 1, 2), he shows that it is fitting that a man prophesy with his head uncovered, and a woman with her head veiled, because a man prophesying with a covered head dishonors his head, even Christ; a woman prophesying with her uncovered dishonors her head, even her husband (verses 3-13); and nature itself teach that woman, and not man, is adorned with hair, after the likeness of a veil (verses 14-16): chapter 11:1-16.
3. Concerning the Sacred Assembly, where, with the Corinthians rebuked because they, coming together in the Church, nourish schisms, and do not wait for one another in the taking of the Eucharist (verses 17-22), he repeats Christ’s institution concerning the Eucharist (verses 23-26), and teaches that participation in communion is to be done worthily (verses 27-34): chapter 11:17-34.
V. Instruction concerning spiritual gifts, Chapters 12-14. In which:
1. Saint Paul, revealing the Holy Spirit as the author of spiritual gifts, and the rule of discerning Him (verses 1-3), explains the distribution of them by the one Spirit (verses 4-11), and, from the similitude of a body, on account of the diverse members of the same, and of the diverse use of the members, acting in harmony for mutual well-being, teaches that the body of Christ is not torn by the diverse spiritual gifts (verses 12-14), but that those are directed to shared uses (verses 15-27), with the series of office subjoined, because of which spiritual gifts are bestowed distinctly (verses 28-31): chapter 12.
2. He commends the excellence of charity as superior to tongues, prophecy, and the distribution of goods (verses 1-3), abounding in the most excellent fruit (verses 4-7), enduring, even when prophecy, tongues, and knowledge are to be put an end to (verses 8-12), and the best among those gifts that will remain in the next life (verse 13): chapter 13.
3. Among the remaining gifts he commends prophecy more highly than tongues, since by it men are more edified than by the the use of languages not understood (verses 1-12): whence he commands the one speaking in tongues to pray that he might be able to interpret, lest that which the Holy Spirit works in the mind be without fruit, and so that the unlearned might be able to say Amen to his giving of thanks (verses 13-19); showing that tongues was given as a sign to unbelievers (verses 20-22), and that a stranger is going to judge adversely, if, entering into the Church, he hears tongues (verses 23-25); and finally he shows the usage of the gift of tongues (verses 26-28), and of prophecy (verses 29-35); he restrains private spirits (verses 36-38), and concludes the doctrine concerning spiritual gifts (verses 39, 40): chapter 14.
VI. Confirmation of the Corinthians in the article of faith concerning the resurrection of the dead, Chapter 15.
In which the resurrection of the dead is both proven, as certainly going to come to pass by an argument from the resurrection of Christ (verses 1-23), His kingdom (verses 24-28), baptism for the dead (verse 29); from the certain fruit of piety and patience (verses 30-34): and at the same time is vindicated from the objection that the same body is not able to rise (verses 35-38), where what sort of bodies are going to be raised is also explained (verses 39-57): then that doctrine is recalled for application (verse 58): chapter 15.
VII. The Epilogue of the Epistle, Chapter 16.
In which, after he exhorts them to make a collection for the saints at Jerusalem (verses 1-4), and promises his own coming (verses 5-9), he commends Timothy and Apollos (verses 10-12), exhorts to vigilance, constancy, etc. (verses 13, 14), commends Stephanas (verses 15-18), relates greetings (verses 19-21), inculcates with gravity the love of Jesus Christ (verse 22), and concludes with a prayer (verses 23, 24): chapter 16.