Apostle Paul had come to Europe for the first time (around 51 – 54 AD). He also came to Corinth via Philippi, Thessalonica and Athens (Acts 18).
There he remained for 18 months for the Lord “had much people in this city” (Acts 18:10). As usual Paul began his ministry of preaching the gospel in the synagogues of the Jews.
Quite a few came to believe in the Lord Jesus. But when other Jews refused the message Paul withdraw from them and spoke to Greeks also.
This is how a large assembly of Jews and Greeks came into existence in this city as a result of the apostle’s activity (see 1 Corinthians 4:15; Acts 18:4).
Corinth was a large seaport and commercial city on the Isthmus of Northern Greece and the Peloponnese with two well-known seaports (Cenchrea and Lech-ion).
Its central location made Corinth to a centre of trade, culture and philosophy but also of entertainment, immorality and idolatry. The immorality of the Corinthians was proverbial.
The assembly in Corinth which consisted of Jews and Greeks was exposed to the influences of the surrounding world, in two ways: the first reason was that most of the Christians originated from a heathen background (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) and, secondly, they were continually exposed to their evil surrounding.
We learn by the epistle that the sexual immorality of the city of Corinth had influenced some of the assembly (1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 6:15-18).
Some believers saw nothing evil in eating meat that had been offered to idols (1 Corinthians 8; 1 Corinthians 10:23-31). Others had no problem even to enter an idol temple (1 Corinthians 10:14-22).
There were problems among the Christians, too: party-spirit leading to disputes (1 Corinthians 1:11; 1 Corinthians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 11:18); brother went to law with brother (1 Corinthians 6:1-8); disorder in the meetings (1 Corinthians 11:20-34; 1 Corinthians 14:33) and finally they even denied the fundamental Christian truth of resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12; 1 Corinthians 15:35).
In addition to all this, some men stood up and tried to cast doubt on the Apostle Paul’s apostolic authority (1 Corinthians 9).
After returning from his second missionary journey Paul started his third journey. During this journey he remained in Ephesus for three years. This is probably when he came to know more details than the ones mentioned earlier on.
From the First Epistle to the Corinthians we learn that his information was based on two sources. Firstly he had heard of the contentions among the Corinthians by them which were of the house of Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:11).
Secondly, the Corinthians had written a letter to Paul asking various questions which had been in their minds (1 Corinthians 7:1; compare chap. 8:1; 12:1; 16:1).