The city of Corinth was a major port city of the Roman Empire. The old city of Corinth, which was destroyed by Rome in 146 B.C. was world renowned for its immoral practices; in fact, to ‘Corinthianize’ was synonymous with to fornicate. The new city of Corinth, which was founded afresh as a Roman colony in 29 B.C. was populated by Jews and Greeks, but dominated by Romans of varying social status. As a large commercial center and port city, the new city of Corinth also did not have a reputation for moral decency. Greed and lust which often correlate with big city life abounded.
Some time in early 55 A.D., while he was in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul received word from “Chloe’s household” (1 Cor 1:11) of severe divisions that existed in the Corinthian church that he planted during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-11). This or other letters and reports which landed in the hands of the apostle, communicated the gross immorality, lawsuits, marriage difficulties, idolatry, abuses in the formal worship setting, and heresies which infected the church; all this while the church believed themselves to be spiritual and mature, because of certain religious practices that were taking place in their midst. Paul wrote his epistle to them in order to provide practical instruction on the matters which plagued them. His ultimate goal was to challenge their mindset so that they might leave the way of life which they copied from the city life which surrounded them.