Who wrote 1 Corinthians?
December 3, 2011
1 Corinthians was written by Paul. Recently I wrote about 1 Corinthians 15, and regular commenter and all around good guy, Mr Z, asked me why I thought 1 Corinthians was written by Paul. I am no Bible expert, but after going to have a look, here are some of my reasons:
The text says it was written by Paul
The letter begins by identifying the authors as Paul and Sosthenes. 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 says,
Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, to the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The book ends, again identifying the author as Paul. 1 Corinthians 16:21 says,
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.
Paul refers to himself in the letter
Paul talks about himself, and what he did in Corinth in the letter. For example, 1 Corinthians 3:4-6 says,
For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.
There is a very similar passage in 1 Corinthians 1:12-13.
Acts 18 says Paul helped found the church in Corinth
Acts 18 describes Paul going to Corinth,
After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
The whole chapter is worth a read.
Early authors say it was written by Paul
Clement of Rome also wrote a letter to Corinth, in around 96 AD, which we can still read today. This is the first authentic Christian writing we have outside the New Testamant. In it, he refers to Paul’s earlier letters. In chapter 47 he says,
Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you.
It is not only Clement who suggests it was written by Paul, but also many other early writers.
Another example is the Muratorian fragment which I wrote about the other day. It says,
As for the Epistles of Paul, they themselves make clear to those desiring to understand, which ones [they are], from what place, or for what reason they were sent. First of all, to the Corinthians, prohibiting their heretical schisms; next, to the Galatians, against circumcision; then to the Romans he wrote at length, explaining the order (or, plan) of the Scriptures, and also that Christ is their principle (or, main theme).
According to Bible.org, Paul’s writings are also referenced by Clement of Rome, Polycarp, The Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Eusebius, Jerome and Augustine.
It is similar to other writings by Paul
1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans and Philemon all have a very similar style so its seems natural that they also had the same author.
Most places I found say that all the experts say 1 Corinthians was written by Paul, and that the authorship is virtually undisputed. If there’s any reason to think he didn’t write it, I’d be happy to hear it.