1 Corinthians – Chiastic Structures

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You may wish to read Chiastic Structuring: An Introduction first.

Summary of Centres of Major Chiasms
Two Indices of Chiasms:
    By Centres
    By opening verse
Detailed structure of Chiasms
    Overall Chiasm
    First Secondary
   Third Secondary Chiasm
    Fourth Secondary Chiasm
The Writing of the Letter
The main points that Paul is making are indicated by the centres of his chiasms, and, generally speaking, the longer the chiasm, the more major is the point that he is making. Usually, as we shall see, Paul is building several chiasms simultaneously: the primary (1o), a secondary (2o), a tertiary (3o), and a quartan (4o), plus perhaps more.  The primary, the secondaries, and two major tertiaries are indicated in the following diagram:

Summary of Centres of Major Chiasms:

1 Corinthians: Overall Chiasm: 1.1-8.6a x 8.6b-16.24
   Centre:  For us:
        One God, the Father, ...
        One Lord, Jesus Christ, ...
     But not in all is this knowledge
1st Secondary: 1.1-3.11a x 3.11b-6.12
  Centre: Only possible foundation:
Jesus Christ
Tertiary: 1.1-24 x 1.24-32
  Centre: To those who are called, Jews and Greeks:
Christ, God's Power and God's Wisdom
Tertiary: 4.1-15b x 4.16-6.11
  Centre:  I begat you in Christ:
thus be imitators of me.
2nd Secondary: 6.1-8.6a x 8.6b-10.33 Apparently structured on Decalogue
  Centre: (10th - 1st : 1st - 10th commandments)
One God, the Father ...:
One Lord, Jesus Christ ....
3rd Secondary: 10.23-13.7 x 13.8-14.40
  Centre: Love bears/hopes/believes/endures:
all else shall cease.
4th Secondary: 14.33-15.45a x 15.45b -16.24 [worked out by John  R. Bradley, student at UTC, 1973]
  Centre: The First Man Adam became a living soul :
The Last Man a life-making Spirit

        In the following pages will be found the details of (1) the primary or overall chiasm of 1 Corinthians (1.1-8.6a x 8.6b-16.24) related to an outline of contents, (2) the series of four secondary chiasms (1.1-3.11a x 3.11b-6.12; 6.12-8.6b x 8.6c-11.1 [details of this second secondary are given in the centre of the primary chiasm]; 10.23-13.7 x 13.8-14.40; 14.41-15.45a x 15.45b-16.24), and three tertiary chiasms (1.1-24 x 1.24-3.22; 4.1-15b x 4.16-6.11; 11.2-12.13a x 12.13b-13.2). Their bearing on aspects of the letter's meaning and integrity, and the likelihood that it was written in two stages will be discussed. 
        But first, here is a double index of some thirty-nine chiasms in the letter.
        The First Index, in which the chiasms are numbered, is the order in which their centres occur (without regard to where they start, and the content of the centres is given.  (The left-hand column indicates primary and secondary chiasms).
        The Second Index simply gives the chiasms in the order in which their opening verses appear, and then gives the number assigned to the chiasm in the first index.

FIRST INDEX - By Centres of Chiasms
  1 1.3a-b x 1.3c-d 1.3 a. Grace, b Peace x b' God the Father, a' Lord Jesus Christ
  2 1.1-5b x 6a-12 1.5 f. Every way enriched: Not lacking in any gift.
  3 1.12b-e x 13a-13 1.12 f. 'I of Christ': Is Christ divided?
  4 1.13-15 x 16-17 1.15 f. Baptized in my name: I baptized Stephanus'
  5 1.17c-21a x 21b-25 1.21 World through wisdom knew not God: God through foolishness of preaching saves.
3o 6 1.1-24 x 1.24-3.22 1.24 To those that are called, Jews and Greeks: Christ [is] God's Power and God's Wisdom
  7 1.17a-29a x 1.29b-2.9 1.29 No flesh shall boast: before God
  8 1.26-31b x 1.31c-2.5 1.31 Let him who boasts: boast of the Lord
  9 2.3-4b x 5a-5c 2.4 f. Demonstration of Spirit and power: that your faith stand ... in power of God
  10 2.1-5a x 5b-8 2.5 That your faith: should not stand in the wisdom of men
  11 2.1-12a x 2.12b-3.9 2.12 The spirit of the world: the Spirit ... of God
2o 12 1.1-3.11a x 3.11b-6.12 3.11 One foundation: Jesus Christ
  13 3.18b-4.4b x 4.4c-10b 4.4 He that judges me is the Lord: Judge nothing before the time.
  14 4.1-10 x 10-21 4.10 We are fools; you wise; we weak, you strong; you have glory, we have dishonour
3o 15 4.1-15b x 4.16-6.11 4.15 f. I begat you in Christ: thus be imitators of me.
  16 4.18-5.1 x 5.2-6 5.1 f. Incest among you: You ought to mourn.
  17 5.1-8b v 8c-13 5.8 Not with leaven of malice and wickedness: But with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
  18 4.19-6.3 x 6.4-14 6.3 f. We to judge angels, thus things of this life: If judge things of this life, then do not set outsiders as judges over you.
  19 6.15-19cx 6.20a-7.7 6.19 f. You are not your own: You were bought with a price.
  20 7.1-4a x 4b-6 7.4 Wife rules not own body; husband does: Husband rules not own body, wife does.
  21 7.8-14a x 14b-17 7.14 'Consecrated ... consecrated': 'unclean ... holy'. 
  22 7.17-25c x 25d-32 7.25 I give my judgement: As one that has obtained mercy.
  23 7.25-30a x 30b-35 7.30 Weepers as though wept not: rejoicers as though rejoiced not [since this age is passing away - cf. vv. 29, 31]
1o 24 1.1-8.6a x 8.6b-16.24 8.6 One God the Father: One Lord Jesus Christ
  25 8.10-9.11a x 9.11b-23 9.11 If we sowed you spiritual things; should we not reap your carnal [physical] things?
  26 9.15-21b x 21.c-27 9.21 Being not lawless before God: but en-lawed of Christ
  27 9.25-34a x 34b-38 9.34 Unmarried woman anxious about things of Lord: Married woman anxious about things ... of husband.
  28 9.8-10.7 x 10.21-11.15   [Incomplete at centre: appears to indicate 10.8-20 is an addition - cf. No. 31 below]
  29 10.6-9a x 9b-11 10.9 Neither let us tempt the Lord: As some of them tempted.
  30 10.15-22a x 10.22b-11.2 10.22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?: Are we stronger than he?
  31 9.21-27 & 10.23-26 x 10.26-11.1 10.26 Ps. 24:1: "For the earth is the Lord's: And all; the fullness thereof."
[continuous chiasm by omitting 10.1-22, which Héring claims is an interpolation - cf. No. 28 above and also discussion in exegetical notes on 11.1] 
  32 10.27-11.10a x 10b-22 11.10 For this reason ought the woman: to have ἐξουσία on here head - because of angels
  33 1.16-25a x 25a-35 11.25a [after] SUPPER
3o 34 11.2-12.13a x 13b-13.2 12.13 In one Spirit baptized into one Body: Jews, Greeks, bond or free, and all made to drink of one Spirit.
2o 35 10.23-13.7 x 8-14.40 13.7 f. Love believes, hopes, endures always: Love never ceases, but prophesies, tongues, knowledge shall cease.
  36 14.32-36a x 36b-40 14.36 Was it from you that the word of God went forth: Or came it unto you alone?
  37 15.14-26a x 26b-28 15.26 The last enemy that shall be abolished: is Death.
2o 38 14.33-15.45a x 45b-16.24 15.45 The First Man Adam became a living soul: The Last Adam a life-making Spirit.
  39 15.51-55b x 56a x 56a-58 15.55 f. O Death, where is thy sting?: The sting of Death is Sin.
SECOND INDEX - By opening verses of chiasms (Numbers to the left)
1o 24 1.1-8.6a x 8.6b-16.24   21 7.8-14a x 14b-17
  2 1.1-5b x 6a-12   22 7.17-25c x 25d-32
2o 12 1.1-3.11a x 11b-6.12   23 7.25-30a x 30b-35
3o 6 1.1-24 x 24-3.22   25 8.10-9.11a x 11b-23
  3 1.12b-e x 13a-13   28 9.8-10.7 x 10.21-11.15
  4 1.13-15 x 16-17   26 9.15-21b x 21c-27
  7 1.17a-29a x 1.29b-2.9   31 9.21-27 & 10.23-26 x 10.26-11.1
  5 1.17c-21a x 21b-25   27 9.25-34a x 34b-38
  8 1.26-31b x 31c-2.5   29 10.6-9a x 9b-11
  11 2.1-12a x 12b-3.9   30 10.15-22a x 10.22b-11.2
  10 2.1-5a x 5b-8 2o 35 10.23-13.7 x 13.8-14.40
  13 3.18b-4.4b x 4.4c-10b 3o 34 11.2-12.13a x 12.13b-13.2
  14 4.1-10 x 10-21   33 11.16-25a x 25a-35
3o 15 4.1-15b x 16-6.11 2o 38 14.33-15.45a x 15.45b-16.24
  9 2.3-4b x 5a-5c   32 10.27-11.10a x 10b-22b
  16 4.18-5.1 x 5.2-6   36 14.32-36a x 36b-40
  18 4.19-6.3 x 6.4-14   37 15.24-26a x 26b-28
  19 6.156-19c x 6.20a-7.7   39 15.51-55b x 56a-58
  20 7.1-4a x 4b-6      


THE PRIMARY CHIASM (1.1-8.6a reversed in 8.6b-16.24)
1.1-17 x 16.1-24 (Salutation - "Administrations" x "Administrations" - Greetings)
1.1-3 Paul to Church
all who call on name of our Lord

Grace to you and peace



21: Paul, 
19: Churches and all brothers
22:Maranatha (Lord come/Lord is come)
23:Grace of Jesus
24: my love [= Paul] be with you
  .4-6 Your beginnings to now    .15-18 beginnings to now
  .7-8 Coming of Lord Jesus    .13-14 Watch! etc., courageous, strong [re presence of God - cp. Mk 6.50: "Be of good cheer, I AM, be not afraid!"]
  .9-12a agree - peace, no dissensions, Apollos, brethren    .10-12 Timothy, peace, Apollos, brethren
  .12b-13a Paul, Apollos, Cephas: Is Christ divided?    ..9c many adversaries
  .13bc crucified - baptized ["converts"]    .8-9b Pentecost - wide door - effective work opened to me
  .14-15 I [with you] baptized none of you    .7 spend time with you
  .16 I baptized    .2end-6 I will visit you
  .17 Christ sent me to preach gospel without eloquent wisdom; cross of Christ: power    .1-2 Contribution for saints - first day of week: lay up what able to manage - prosper
1.13-2.5 x 15.1-58 (Creative power of God in Word of Cross x Well-being that comes through Gospel of Sacrificial Death [Isaac], Life, New Man in Christ, taught by Teachers)
1.18 Word of Cross:
a. folly/perishing     (//faith)
b. being saved         (//love)
c. power of God       (//hope)
c. steadfast/immovable
b. abounding in work of the Lord
a. labour not in vain
  .19-20 19: destroy ... wisdom

   thwart ... clever

20: Where is wise man/scribe/debater
      of this age?
   .51-57 54-7: perishable/imperishable
         Death to be swallowed up completely
         Victory through Christ our Lord
51-3: We shall be changed [into New Age,
          New Man]
  .21 World set amidst wisdom of God    .39-50 42-50: Adam/Christ
34-41: Genesis 1 sequence
  .22-25 Jews demand signs    [i.e. power]
Greeks seek wisdom  [wisdom]
God versus man          [well-being]
   .35-38 38: God gives body
36-37: Thou foolish man
35: Seeking how dead raised/body
  .26a Not many of you were [i.e. ridiculing] a .34c I speak to move you to shame
  .26 wise
ignorant of God
doing [power] "manners"
If dead not raised [to New Being]
  .27 to shame a' .29-31 [Ironic humour re washing because they touched corpses1]                   
  .28-29 base things and things despised
God chose
things that are not
that he might bring
to nought things that are
x  .27-28
all things (God all in all)
under his feet
all things
under his feet [twice]
all things

1See J. Massingbird Ford, "Rabbinic Humour Behind Baptism for the Dead (I Cor. xv.49)", Studia Evangelica IV (Berlin, 1968), pp. 400-403. (See Note at end of chiasm)

  .30a he is the source of life in Christ Jesus     .26 Last enemy: Death
  .30b who was made to us: wisdom: righteousness, sanctification, redemption; boast of the Lord     .12-25 Christ raised and must reign over all; then all from Son to God that he may be all. [Christ raised from dead to give us life NOW - vv. 19, etc.]
2.1-5 1: I came proclaiming testimony
5: your faith [as creed and trust]
    .1-11 11: we preached ... you believed
1 f.: I preached gospel to you ... believed
2.6-16 x 13.12-14.40 (Speaking God's up-building wisdom among the mature x Prophecy, the Preaching of Prophets, is the true Power that builds up the Church; tongues do not)
2.6-8 6: wisdom of rulers [archontes - "order- makers"] of this age doomed to pass away
8: Archontes crucified Lord of Glory
   ["glory" // "image" - sign of order]
14.31-40 40: decently and in order

31: God of peace [= good order], all
      churches, saints [= renewed creation]
  .10-16 10: God revealed to us through Spirit
11: spirit of man knows man and

      Spirit of God knows God
12: we might know
16: know mind of Christ;
      we have mind of Christ.

16-30: a revelation
24 f.: unbeliever / outsider convicted by all,
         called to account by all; worship God
         and declare God is among you.
20: mature in thinking
1-2: utter mysteries in Spirit
I shall understand fully.
3.1-23 x 13.1-13 (Wisdom for beginners x Love [i.e., God's Wisdom] brought by the Apostles)
3.1-4 Babes in Christ - mere men 13.11 babe
  .10-17 10-15: building [temple] on the one
      foundation: Jesus Christ
16-17: God's temple - don't destroy
    .8-10 Love never ends
  .18-20 Wisdom of God vs wisdom of men     .4-7 Love is ...
  .21a not glory in men     .3c without love I gain nothing
  .21b-23 All are yours     .1-3b Have all and give all
4.1-6.11 (A chiastic unit) x 11.2-12.31 (A chiastic unit)
4.1-5     A Apostles as servants of Christ,
stewards of mysteries
If I understand all mysteries
God has appointed apostles, etc.
  .6-7     B Not puffed up, one vs another - all
you have is a gift [from God]
    .24b-26 One Body, ordained by God
  .8-10   C
You: wise, strong, held in honour
We: fools, weak, held in disrepute
    .22-24a weaker, less honourable parts of Body, are necessary
  .11-13 E We apostles - expiatory sacrifice
[i.e., well-pleasing to God]
    .24b God gives greater honour to inferior parts
Paul the one Father of Corinthians     .4-21 One Body, Christ, Spirit, God
5.1-8     E' Pagans, incest, judge in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Passover sacrificed for us     .1-3 Heathen, led up to dumb idols [as sacrifice], curse Jesus. [2nd start to Passover Haggadah cf. 1 Corinthians and Passover]
 .9-13a D' Not associate with immoral men - drive him out - not eat with him 11.27-34 Let unloving man exclude himself from Eucharist / Agape
  .13b    C' Body for Lord; Lord for Body     .23-26 Last Supper tradition: "Body for you"
6.1-9a   B' Church - judging - brother vs brother

wise                               [wise]
defect                            [powerful]
Kingdom of God         [well-born]
    .17-22 Meet together - despise, humiliate, those who have nothing
22: the despised
21: hungry [i.e. impotent, weak]
19: the approved made manifest
  .9b-10 a' immoral (and vice list) - cp. 4.5     .3-16 woman acting 'immorally' without exousia ('veil' / 'authority') - cp. 12.28
  .11     A' Your beginning in Christ / Spirit     .2 Traditions I delivered to you [at beginning].  You remember me in all things.
6.12-8.6b x 8.6c-11.1  (Decalogue: 6.1-8.6b x 8.6c-10.33 see 1 Corinthians and the Decalogue)
6.12 Things lawful / helpful (συμφέρειν)
(ἐγώ) (as your model)
10.33-11.1 (σύμφερος  - helpful)
I  (ἐγώ) as one to be imitated
  .13-20 Food - Body - immorality - temple of Spirit 10.14-32 Idol-meat, Body of Christ
7.1-6 Touch not - immorality - Satan - tempt   .1-13 Idolaters, temptations, serpents, Destroyer
[first start to Passover Haggadah]
  .7-8 Preferably be like me   9.26-27 Paul's disciplined example
  .9 self-control     .25 self-control
  .12-14 non-believer spouse and children sanctified through believer     .23b joint partaker
  .15 God called us in / into peace     .23a the Gospel's sake
  .16 Will you save your spouse?     .21b-22 I by all means might save some
  .17-19 Each walk his own Way / Law with God     .20-21a Paul meets each man where he is.
  .20-24 Abide as you were called in the Lord's freedom and bondage; do not be made slaves of men.     .19 Paul, free from all, brought self under bondage to all to gain the more.
  .25-26 "present distress" (ἀνάγκη) - "I" (ἐγώ)     .15-18 "I" (ἐγώ) - "distress" (ἀνάγκη, v. 16)
  .27-28 avoid tribulation (θλῖψις)     .12b-14 endure anything to avoid putting obstacle (ἐγκοπή) to Gospel of Christ
  .29-31 not attached to "goods" (v. 30) of world     .6-12a Apostles have right to material goods, but they sow "spiritual good" (v. 11)
  .32-38 unmarried: things of Lord,
                   please Lord
married:     things of world,
                   please wife
'continent' marriage
    .4-5 food and drink - wife rights
[for freedom for Gospel]
  .39-40a Wife bound to husband; free if he is dead     .5 right to lead about a wife
  .40b I have Spirit of God too.     .1-3 I am free, an apostle and have seen Jesus our Lord; you are my seal of apostleship: this is my defence.
8.1-6b x 8.6c-13 (Through idols we are divided and destroyed; in God is our saving unity)
8.1a idol meat
'knowledge' puffs up; love builds up

brother's falling
by your knowledge weak man destroyed
  .2a If anyone imagines he knows something,     .10 You a man of knowledge
  .2b he knows not yet as he ought to know.     .8b-9 re: eating, liberty, stumbling block.
  .3 If one loves God, one is known by him.     .8a Food will not commend us to God.
  .4 Eating idol-meat
know idol has no existence
there is no God but one

Eat food
as really offered to idols
conscience defiled.
  .5 Many so-called gods
as many gods and many lords
    .7b Some being hitherto accustomed to idols
  .6a "Yet to us:     .7a "But not in all is this knowledge (γνῶσις)".
Centre: "ONE GOD, THE FATHER, from whom [are] all things and we for him, and
ONE LORD, JESUS CHRIST, through whom [are] all things, and we through him."

The centre shows God the Father as the only source and goal, with Jesus Christ as the only agent, and with θέος reserved for the Father and κύριος given to Jesus as the Christ in the 're-write' of the first commandment of the Decalogue.

Note to 15.29-31:  This is the convincing interpretation of J. Massingberd Ford, "Rabbinic Humour Behind Baptism for the Dead" (I Cor xv.29)", Studia Evangelica IV (TU 102; Berlin: Akademie, 1968) 400-403.  She notes that the ancient taboo that required self-lustration after touching a corpse is explained in early Judaism on the basis of the belief that the nucleus of the body to be resurrected remains in the corpse and it is this dynamism that defiles the one who touches a corpse, so that if he lustrates himself, he presupposes belief in resurrection. Thus their actions belie their words. She argues that here οἱ νεκροί instead of simply νεκροί means corpses.  (Return to 15.29-31)


First Secondary Chiasm: 1.1-3.11a x 3.11b-6.12
  .10b Let each man ... build (ἐποικοδομέω  - 4x)   .12a If any man build (ἐποικοδομέω)
  .10c I laid a foundation (θεμέλιος)   .12b on foundation (θεμέλιος - 3x)
  .10b A wise masterbuilder [description of Bezalel, builder of Tabernacle - Exod. 31.4;  35..2, 27]   .12c gold, silver, precious stones, wood [Tabernacle materials - Exod. 35.31; cf. 31.4-5]
  .9 We are God's co-workers, you are God's field, God's building   .13 Each man's work shall be made manifest ... prove each man's work
  .8b Each shall receive his own reward (μισθός - 4x) according to his own labour   .14 If any man's work abide, he shall receive a reward (μισθός).
  .7c God gives the increase   .15b He shall be saved [free gift]
Neither he that waters [field]
Neither he that plants [field]
  .16 You are God's temple [building - cf. 3.9: 'field' and 'building']
  .6c God gave the increase   .17 God will destroy [the destroyer of temple]
  .6b-6a Apollos watered, I watered [Eden: Adam's job as gardener - Gen. 2.15]   .18 Let no man deceive himself ['Fall' in Eden in Gen. 3]
  .5c Each as the Lord gave   .19b The Lord knows the reasonings of the vain
  .4 Are you not men (ἀνθρώποι)   .21

Let no man boast in men (ἀνθρώποι)

  .3 Are you not fleshly ... walking after the manner of men? [i.e., unwise]   .22 All things are yours
  .2 You are not yet able (οὐδὲ ... δύνασθε) [i.e., powerless]
  .1b Fleshly ones, babes in Christ [i.e., not yet well-born]
2.16b We have the mind of Christ   .23 You are Christ's, Christ is God's.
2.12c-15 [Judging, discerning] 4.1-5 [Reckoning, judging]
  .15 judging (ἀνακρίνω - 2x in the verse)   .1 reckoning (λογίζομαι)
  .14 ἀνακρίνω   .3 Judges by you (ἀνακρίνω - 2x in the` verse)
  .13 συγκρίνω (judge together, compare)   .4 σύνοιδα (share knowledge)
  .12c ἐιδῶμεν: that we may know the things given us by God   .5 κρίνω (judge)
  .12b but the Spirit which is from God   .6 Be not puffed up vs another
  .12a We received (ἐλάβομεν) not the spirit of the world   .7a You received (ἔλαβες - 2x in the verse)
  .7b Why do you boast as if you had not received (λαβών) it?
  .10-11 Unto us God revealed through ... the Spirit  
  .6-9 God's Wisdom in a mystery ... things God prepared for those that love him.   .8a
You are filled, rich and reign
  .5 That your faith might stand in power of God   .8b without us ... that we might reign with you
  .4 [Paul's demonstration of Spirit and power]   .9-13 [Apostles as fools, weak, despised]
  .4a My word and my kerygma   .14 You are my beloved children
  .15b [I am] your father
  .15c I begat you through the gospel
  .3 My weakness among you   .16 Be imitators of me
  .2 I ... made known among you ... Jesus Christ crucified   .17 Remembrance of my ways
2.1 When I came to you   .18 As though I were not coming
  .19 But I will come
  .21 Shall I come to you ...?
1.31 Let him that boasts, boast in the Lord. 5.1-2 You are puffed up [over incest]. Ought you not rather to mourn?
  .30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made to be Wisdom to us ...   .3-4 I am present in spirit in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ with the power of our Lord Jesus
  .29 that no flesh (σάρξ) should boast before God   .5 Deliver him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (σάρξ)
  .6-7a Your boasting is not good ...
  .27-28 God chose foolish, weak, base things [= Christ and Christians]   .7b Our Passover, even Christ, has been sacrificed for us
  .26 Not many of you wise, powerful, well-born according to worldly standards   .8 Let us keep the feast ... with ... sincerity and truth
  .20-25 Christ crucified: God's Wisdom, God's Power - outclasses men of wisdom and power.   .9-10
Immoral ones of the world.
Immoral brother to be shunned
Judge those inside the church.
  .19 'I will destroy ...reject ...'   .13a God judges those outside
  .18b Us who are being saved   .13b 'Drive out the wicked from among you.'
  .18a Those who are perishing
  .17 ... the Word of the cross ... the Power of God
  .11-16 There are contentions among you (v. 11) 6.1 How dare you, having a grievance against another, go to law ...
  .10d Be of same mind (νοῖ), same judgement (γνώμη).   .2-6 Judging (κρίνω, κρίνω, διακρίνω) things of this life
  .10c Let there be no divisions among you.   .7 Defect in you that you have lawsuits.
  .10ab I beseech you ... let all speak the same thing.   .8 You wrong and defraud your brothers.
  .9b You were called into fellowship of his son Jesus Christ our Lord.   .9-10a The unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God [plus vice list]
  .9a God is faithful ...
  .8 who shall confirm you to the End in the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ   .10b inherit the Kingdom of God [cf. 15.24-28]
  .7 Waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ
   .3-6 ... the grace given to you ...   .11ab And such were some of you, but you were washed, sanctified, justified.
  .2b The name of our Lord Jesus Christ   .11c In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
  .2a The church of God ...   .11d And in the Spirit
  .2a The will of God of our God
  .1a Paul, called an apostle of Jesus Christ   .12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. [cf. 9.1: Am I not an apostle? Am I not free

SECOND SECONDARY CHIASM: For details see the Overall Chiasm


Third Secondary Chiasm: 10.23-13.7 X 13.8-14.40
(Concluding principles and injunctions)    
10.23 All things lawful/expedient/edify 14.40 All things decently and in order
    .24 Seek not own     .39b forbid not tongues
  but neighbour's good     .39a Desire prophecy,
    .25-29a What is sold in meat market: ask no question for conscience' sake     .38 If any man ignorant, let him be ignorant!
['I' section]     .37b [the things which I write to you]
10.26 'For the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.'     .37d I write to you, that they are the commandment of the Lord
11.1 Be imitators of me as I am of Christ     .37b Let him take knowledge of the things
    .2 Hold fast the traditions I delivered to you      
[11.3-15: To women: behave in seemly manner - this and 14.33b-36 are probably later interpolations and  not by Paul]
    .3 But I would have you know     .37a If someone think himself a prophet [masc.] or spiritual one [masc.]
    .4 every man (ἀνήρ) praying or prophesying    
    .5-15 Woman (γυνή) praying or prophesying unveiled - shame   .34-36 Women (γυναῖκες) to be silent
    .7-12 woman under man   .34-36 wife to ask husband at home
    .10 woman to have ἐξουσία ('veil') because of angels     .34d As also says the Law
   .11-12 man/woman interdependent    
  .13-15 woman to be covered    
    .16 Strife-lover: no such custom, neither churches of God     .33 God not of confusion but of peace in all churches of the saints
[Church supper and eucharist in parallel to tongues and prophesying in assembly]
11.17-20 Assembly: coming together:
17: συνέρχεσθε
18: συνερχομένων ... ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ
14.26-32 Assembly, church, coming together:
28: ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ
26: συνέρχησθε
    .19 The approved made manifest (φανεροὶ γένωται)     .25 secrets of his heart made manifest (φανερὰ γίνεται)
    .20 Not with intention of eating Lord's Supper [i.e., dividing the Body of Christ]     .25 God is among you [i.e., good order, building up Body of Christ
    .22b Shall I praise you? I praise you not!     .23 Will they not say you are mad?
    .23 For I received of the Lord     .21 In the Law it is written ... says Lord
    .28 Let each man prove himself     .20 In mind be mature (τέλειοι)
    .33 When you come together     .19 In the church
    .34 Your coming together    

[Putting 'tongues (and interpretation of them) in their place:   a 'lower' gift]

12.2 Dumb idols 14.18b I speak in tongues more than you all.
    .3 No man speaking in Spirit of God says, 'Jesus anathema!'     .18a I thank God that
    .4-11 Diversities of gifts, but same Spirit, same Lord, same God     .12-17 other not gifted ... spiritual [gifts]  ... unto the edifying of the church
    .12-24 One Body, many members; all need each other, yet all are different     .6-12 prophesy for others unto the edifying of the church, don't tongue it for yourself in assembly
    .24 God united (συνεκέρασεν) the Body     .5b that the Church may receive edifying
    .25 No schism in Body - care for one another; you are the Body of Christ and severally members of it     .3-4 edifies the Church
    .28a And God has set     .2 but unto God
12.28b-30 Two-fold list of ministers and gifts, ending with  'tongues', 'interpretation' 14.1c
but rather that you may prophesy
the spiritual gifts (τὰ πνευματικά)
    .31a Desire earnestly (ζηλοῦτε)     .1a Desire earnestly (ζηλοῦτε)
    .31b the greater gifts (τὰ χαρίσματα τὰ μείζονα) 13.13 But now abide faith, hope, love: these three ' and the greatest (μείζων) of these is love.
    .31c And yet I show you a more excellent way.     .12b I know ... I shall know as I am known
        .12a We see in a mirrow darkly

[Centre:The true knowledge/Wisdom: Love (12.31b-13.13)]

13.1-3 All things (tongues. prophecy, knowledge of mysteries, faith, almsgiving, self-sacrifice) without love profit me nothing.     .11 When I was a child (νήπιος, 'babe' - cf. 3.1) ... childish things
    .4-5 Love's actions [towards others - N.B.: almost all verbs]     .10 But when that which is perfect [τὸ τέλειον - cf. 2.6] is come, then the partial shall be done away.
    .6 rejoices not in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth     .9b and we prophesy in part [cf. 14.24 f: prophecy reproves]
    .7a bears always (πάντα* as adverb)     .8d For we know in part
    .7b believes always     .8c Tongues shall cease [Well-being]]
    .7c hopes always     .8b Prophecies shall be done away [Power]
    .7d endures always     .8a Love never fails [Wisdom]

*πάντα, 'all things': basically in the sense of 'under all circumstances', hence 'always'


Fourth Secondary Chiasm: 14.33-15.45a x 15.45b-16.24 (by Bradley, expanded by Gibbs)
15.45a The first Adam 15.45b The last Adam
    .44b If physical, also spiritual     .46a not spiritual first, but physical
    .44a raised a spiritual body     .46b then the spiritual
    .42 perishable     .47 dust
    .41 glory     .49 image
    .39 flesh     .50 flesh and blood
    .35 [Questions]     .51-54 [Answers]


 with what manner of body?


raised incorruptible


How are the dead raised and


mortality put on immortality; Death swallowed up completely [cp. 2 Cor. 5.4]
    .34 Awake up righteously and sin not     .55b-56 Sting of sin is death, and power of sin is Law
    .33 Be not deceived     .57a But thanks be to God
    .32c What does it profit me ...?     .57b who gives us the victory
    .31b in Christ Jesus our Lord     .57c through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    ..31a I protest, brethren     .58a My beloved brethren
    .30 In peril every hour [dying]     .58b be steadfast, immovable [life of well-born - cf. 15.1 (faith) wherein you stand; 15.13; stand fast in the faith]
    .29b if dead not raised [powerless]     .58c abounding in work of the Lord [powerful]
    .29a Else what shall they do who baptize themselves on account of dead (corpses) [foolish] (cf. κενός in 15.14)     .58d your labour is not in vain (κενός) in the Lord [wise]
    .28-27 All things subjected (ὑποτάσσω) 16.1-7 I gave order (διατάσσω)
[Passover: firstfruits of barley harvest; Pentecost: end of barley harvest]     .8 I will tarry until Pentecost
    .26-25 Last enemy: Death     .9 many adversaries
    .24 then the End (τέλος - 'goal'): deliver up Kingdom to God, even, the Father     .11 in peace [as goal - cf. 14.33: God is a God of peace]
    .23b they that are Christ's     .13 Watch!
stand fast in faith [well-born]
be strong [powerful]

et all be done in love [wise]

   .23a, 20 Christ is the firstfruits (ἀπαρχή)     .15 household of Stephanus the firstfruits (ἀπαρχή) of Achaia
(Problem of stabilizing local leadership and unity around it in order to safeguard the gospel of the resurrection [threatened by the 'wise guys' and others?]: 15.5-19 x 16.15b-18)
    .19-12     .15b-16a


If in this life we have only hoped in Christ, then


they have set themselves to minister to the saints


your faith is vain


we are found false witnesses


You are to be subject to such


Some of you say there is no resurrection
    .11 Whether I or they, so we preached and so you believed     .16b and to every one who helps in the work
    .10b I laboured more abundantly than they all     .16c and labours.
    .10a-8 [Paul's credentials as apostle]     .17a I rejoice at the coming of
    .7-5 leaders of church in Jerusalem     .17b-18 leaders of church in Achaia - Give recognition to such men.
15.4-1 I remind you, brethren [of received pre-Pauline gospel in non-Pauline language, common to all the churches] 14.19
The churches salute you
All the brethren
14.40-39 'let all things be done decently and in order' [in worship]     .20b Greet one another with a holy kiss [most likely in eucharist]
    .37b what I am writing to you     .21 my own hand - Paul
    .37a If anyone (εἴ τις) thinks ...     .22a If  anyone (εἴ τις) has no love ...
[14.34-36: Women to be silent! - ignored in chiasm, probably an interpolation]
    .33 God is ... a God of peace, as in all the churches of  the saints.      .23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. [see opening binary salutation, 1.3]
    .24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.
When John Bradley initially worked out this structure, he wrote in between 'let all things be done decently and in order' and 'greet one another with a  holy kiss': The Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius!


The Writing of the Letter

       Our argument below uses the discerned chiastic structures to confirm and reinforce the work of J. C. Hurd, Jr, The Origin of I Corinthians (SPCK, London, 1965).
        Our thesis is:

  1. 1 Corinthians was written in two stages.  When Paul began to write, he was calmly answering questions asked of him by the Corinthians in a letter.  Then, on the basis of the oral reports from Chloe's people (1.11) he re-cast the letter, adding  material written in a peremptory style and demanding that they stop their wrong doings. 

  2. Hurd has clearly sorted out the materials belonging to these two aspects. 

  3. Our chiastic structure matches his analysis.

        Hurd (p. 63) notes that passages indicating the Paul  is answering written questions are all introduced by the phrase περὶ δὲ, 'Now concerning ...

  7.1 the matters about which you wrote ...'
  7.25 the unmarried (or 'celibate') ...'
  8.1 food offered to idols ...'
12.1 spiritual gifts (or 'men') ...'
16.1 the contribution for the saints ...'
16.12 our brother Apollos ...'

        Hurd (p. 74) characterises Paul's answers as follows:

(a) The new topic appears abruptly, introduced only be the common formula, περὶ δὲ, 'Now concerning ....'
(b) The treatment is systematic and the tone calm.
(c) The reply looks towards the future; there is no criticism of the past behaviour of the Corinthians.
(d) Paul seeks to be as persuasive as possible, appealing to the authority of Jesus, scripture, common sense, custom, and his own apostolic commission.
(e) Often he quotes slogans from the Corinthians' letter in order to qualify their statements.
(f) Paul seems much aware of the weakness of human nature and appeals for sympathetic, loving concern for the ;'weaker brother'.

On the basis of the oral reports referred to in 1.11; 5.5 and 11.18, Hurd (pp. 75-82) clearly determines that the sections based on them are 1.10-5.8; 5.13b- 6.1-11; 11.17-34.  Hurd (p. 82) notes the characteristics of how Paul treats this oral information as contrasted to the written questions:

(a) His tone is aroused, even angry.
(b) The treatment is direct and one-sided; all is black and white.
(c) He condemns the past behaviour of the Corinthians; his only concern for the future is the correction and prevention of the abuse in question.
(d) In general he does not appeal to supporting authorities, but speaks for himself.
(e) He does not discuss or seek to persuade; instead he speaks authoritatively.
(f) He makes no appeal for a compassionate understanding of the point of view of those who err.  On the contrary, he is unsympathetic and censorious. 

Paul usually announces his subjects in his opening thanksgiving  (see P. Schubert, The Form and Function of the Pauline Thanksgivings [Beihefte zur ZNW, Beiheft XX; Berlin, 1939]), but Hurd notes (pp.87 f.) that 6.12-20 brings up subjects previously unmentioned and which pertain to the rest of the letter.  In effect, 6.12-20 is a second introduction or transition.  It probably comes from the original casting of the letter answering the Corinthians' questions.

Hurd sorts out the letter as follows:

Material dealing with oral information (Paul disciplining primarily) Introduction of, or transition to, subjects
Material dealing with written questions (Paul instructing, primarily)
1.10-5.8   [5.9-13a]1
    16.1-9, 12

It is obvious that our first secondary chiasm (1.1-3.11a x 3.11b-6.12) matches Hurd's analysis.

        When my students and I at Lichfield Theological College began working out the chiastic structure of the letter in 1970-71, one student, Derek Stiff, felt sure that 1 Cor. 13 would be the centre of the letter.  I believe that this would have been the case if Paul had not received the oral reports, which made him shift his central focus on the basis of who the trouble-makers were, those whom he calls the "puffed-up ones" with their claims to superiority as the 'know-it-alls'.  (I think Paul is using irony, for these claim to be "spiritual", while Paul implies they are full of hot air, not the Spirit.)
        When one sees how carefully balanced Galatians is, with a primary, three secondary, and nine tertiary chiasms (see John Bligh's work in Galatians), it makes it very likely, I would say almost certain,  that Paul had already basically written 6.12-16.24, with three secondary chiasms and an overall chiasm centring on chapter 13 as Derek Stiff suggested.  But with the troubles raised by the 'wise guys' with their unacceptable behaviour and their claims to superior 'knowledge', Paul re-cast the letter to centre on the essential and all-sufficient knowledge of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

1 1Cor. 5.9-13a concerns the Corinthians' reaction to Paul's previous letter.
Regarding 15.1-58, scholars are divided over whether this takes up written or oral information or questions.  But 15.12 is an explicit reference to a question raised by the Corinthians, and the subject concerns a belief held (or disputed) by them, not their behaviour.  From 11.30 we gather that Paul knew some Corinthians had died.  Since possibly he knew this by oral report, perhaps 1 Cor. 15 has a foot in both camps.  1 Cor. 15.12 seem to imply that the letter from the Corinthians had asked about resurrection, but 11.30 leaves open the possibility that in 1 Cor. 15 Paul takes up the subject solely on his own initiative, hence Hurd's use of brackets here, indicating probability rather than certainty.