The text survives in six codices, three of them biblical, in four languages: the Greek codex Alexandrinus 5th c., a Coptic papyrus codex 5th-7th c., a Syriac codex from Edessa 1170; the Greek codex Hierosol. 54 1056, a Coptic codex in Berlin 4th-5th c. and an 11th-c. Latin MS. The letter reveals a strong awareness of the right possessed even then by the Church of Rome, thanks to the example of the apostles Peter and Paul ch. 5, to intervene in the internal affairs of another community i.e., Corinth, in this case to reoncile the split caused by the dismissal of some presbyters by one or two proud agitators.
The whole document aims to recall the Corinthian community to the values of eirene and homonoia 63,2, through the practice of humility and obedience. Not without reason is Christ presented as the model of humility ch. 16 and therefore as the only way of salvation ch. 36. In this way the author wants to lead those who had carelessly and wrongfully revolted against the legitimate authority of the presbyters, founded on the tradition of the apostles, to penitence and acknowledgment of their faults chs. 1 3 and 40 58. To this end the first part of the letter chs. 4-39 is interwoven with admonitory OT passages intended to demonstrate the nefarious effects of envy and hatred on human history, and the good effects of the spirit of humility and peace.
There are also examples taken from the harmony of the cosmos chs. 19,2 20,12, the structure of the army ch. 37,1-4, the human body ch. 37,5 38 and the Levitical hierarchy chs. 40 41, as models of the interconnected, harmonious unity that must inspire Christ’s body, the church. It should be noted that in 40,5 the technical term la¯kos anthropos is used for the first time in Christian literature, to distinguish the people in general from the sacred order of priests and Levites. The author demonstrates an excellent knowledge not only of the OT and Jewish traditions but also of Hellenistic culture, with a decidedly Stoic emphasis: with literary skill he uses the devices of ancient rhetoric, though he puts them in a context of wider paraenetic-homiletic structures not unknown to the preaching of the Hellenistic Jewish synogogue, and sometimes has recourse to examples from mythology, such as Danaus and Dirce ch. 6,2 or the Arabian phoenix ch. 25.