The book of Acts describes how Paul brought the royal news about Jesus the Messiah to Macedonia (northern Greece), but then had to flee to Achaia (southern Greece) for his own safety. He visited the city of Corinth there, a wealthy and cosmopolitan commercial center. Many people became believers, so he stayed for a year and a half to teach them.
After he left, the Corinthians wrote to Paul (in a letter we no longer have) with some key questions. The Corinthians had adopted the common Greek idea that physical things are bad, so they wanted to free the human spirit from the body. This affected the way they saw such things as marriage, attendance at ceremonial meals for pagan gods, and even the resurrection of Jesus. In the letter we know as 1 Corinthians Paul addresses all of these concerns, as well as questions about worship.
Paul writes that this world in its present form is passing away, but the Corinthians can give themselves fully to the work of the Lord since their labor in the Lord is not in vain. The coming resurrection of the dead, and the new world that will accompany it, will show the value of all their current efforts. Paul’s practical advice for how to consistently embody the new life of God’s kingdom during a particular scene in the biblical drama gives us great insight as we seek to take up our roles today.