The name Chloe appears only once in the Bible, in 1 Corinthians 1:11, where Paul mentions that some in the church at Corinth reported to him that there were quarrels among them. Specifically, Paul writes “For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.”
From this brief mention, we can gather a few details about Chloe:
- She was likely a believer in Christ and part of the early Christian church at Corinth.
- She had “people” or servants who traveled to visit Paul, likely in Ephesus where he was at the time.
- These “people of Chloe” informed Paul about issues and quarrels happening among the Corinthians Christians.
- Chloe must have been concerned enough about reports of divisions in the Corinthian church that she sent her people to personally update Paul.
Based on her name and the context, Chloe was likely a Greek woman living in the city of Corinth around 55 AD. As a prominent woman with servants, she may have been wealthy or of high social standing. She used her resources to support Paul’s ministry and keep him informed about issues in the Corinthian church that he had founded and cared for deeply.
Some key lessons we can learn from Chloe’s example include:
- Being concerned for the welfare of fellow believers and the reputation of the church.
- Seeking to address and resolve conflicts or quarrels among Christians.
- Informing and involving church leaders when aware of problems in the church.
- Supporting the ministries of godly leaders like Paul through practical helps.
- Being proactive to correct issues rather than sitting by passively.
While we know little about Chloe, her care for the Corinthian believers and desire for unity serves as an example for Christians today. She saw a need and responded by sending aid to Paul through her servants. This allowed the apostle to write a letter addressing the reports of division and quarreling in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians).
In summary, Chloe was a believer in Corinth who discovered issues in the local church there and took action to notify the apostle Paul through her people. This enabled Paul to respond with correction and instructions to fix the problems. Chloe’s example reminds us to care about the welfare of our sister churches, seek unity, notify leaders of concerns, and utilize our resources to support the work of God’s kingdom.
Corinthian Church Background
To better understand Chloe’s context, we should explore the background of the early Christian church in the city of Corinth that Paul established.
Corinth was located on a narrow isthmus connecting southern Greece to the mainland. As a major trade city, it was populated with Greeks, Romans, and Jews. The city had a reputation for sexual immorality and pagan temple worship (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).
On his second missionary journey around 51 AD, the apostle Paul first came to Corinth and preached the gospel, spending 18 months there (Acts 18:1-18). He led many to faith in Christ, including some key figures like Crispus, Gaius, Stephanus, and Erastus (1 Corinthians 1:14, 16; 16:15, 17). This birthed the church at Corinth.
After Paul left Corinth, he likely received word from Chloe’s people that the Corinthian church was struggling with divisions, sexual immorality, lawsuits, marriage issues, food sacrificed to idols, abuses of the Lord’s Supper, and confusion about the resurrection (1 Corinthians 1:11, 5:1, 6:1, 7:1, 8:1, 11:17, 15:12). False teachers were leading some believers astray.
Paul wrote a letter “with many tears” (2 Corinthians 2:4) to correct these issues, instruct properly, and answer questions the Corinthians had asked in a letter brought by Chloe’s people. This letter is what we know as 1 Corinthians.
What Chloe reported helped motivate Paul’s writing to fix many problems in this young Gentile church located in a notoriously sinful pagan city. Her behind-the-scenes role was vital to spurring this inspired Scripture we still study today.
Chloe’s Concern for the Corinthian Church
Chloe lived in Corinth and was part of the church Paul established there. She was originally pagan Greek but converted to faith in Jesus Christ, maybe directly under Paul’s preaching or through other believers.
As part of this new Christian community, Chloe would have heard of and witnessed firsthand the issues and divisions springing up among the Corinthian believers. This included factionalism, incest, lawsuits, confusion about marriage and celibacy, food sacrificed to idols, abuses of the Lord’s Supper, and denial of the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 1:11 – For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.
Rather than ignore the problems or leave the church, Chloe was moved to take action. She cared about the Corinthians and the reputation of the church, which was facing slander from outsiders due to their misbehavior.
Chloe sought to resolve this by sending some of her own people (likely servants) to Paul in Ephesus to directly report the issues, possibly delivering a letter from the Corinthians. This firsthand account from people Chloe trusted motivated Paul to write 1 Corinthians to rebuke, correct, and instruct the wayward believers there.
Chloe acted out of godly concern for the Corinthians’ spiritual welfare. She sought the unity and health of the church. By involving Paul, she facilitated his apostolic guidance to address the quarrels and factions through the inspired Scripture of 1 Corinthians.
Chloe’s Connection to Paul
For Chloe to send her own people to Paul directly, she likely had a personal connection to him from his previous time spent establishing the Corinthian church.
As an early convert, Chloe probably firstheard the gospel from Paul himself during his year and a half of preaching in Corinth. She opened her household to the Corinthian church, perhaps even hosting one of the home fellowship groups mentioned in Romans 16:5 and 1 Corinthians 16:19.
Chloe likely supported Paul financially during his missions efforts in Corinth and developed a spiritual mentorship with him. This gave her confidence to send her people to Ephesus, knowing Paul would listen and respond to her concern. Her actions indicate a care for both Paul’s ministry and the Corinthians’ spiritual state.
Romans 16:3-4 – Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.
Like others Paul mentions such as Prisca and Aquila who “risked their necks” for him, Chloe also sacrificed to support the apostle. As a prominent woman of means, her backing of Paul’s ministry through sending her own people on the long journey to update him on Corinth shows her personal investment.
Chloe’s relationship with Paul and heart to aid the gospel cause aligned perfectly to spur the writing of 1 Corinthians to aid a church in crisis.
For Chloe to send her “people” to Paul indicates she had servants or agents she could dispatch on the long trip from Corinth to Ephesus.
As mentioned, ancient Corinth was a wealthy trade city. Chloe seems to have been a woman of means from her ability to take such an action. She may have been relatively wealthy, perhaps from owning a business or inheriting resources as a widow.
Some speculate Chloe may have owned an inn that put her in contact with sailors and travelers through which she heard the gospel. Her presumed resources enabled her to host one of the home churches in Corinth.
1 Corinthians 1:26 – For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
Most in the Corinthian church were lower class, yet some like Chloe and Gaius (Romans 16:23) had means they used to support the church. Though wealthy, Chloe did not count her status or money as everything, turning to follow Christ instead.
Chloe leveraged her affluence for gospel purposes instead of selfish gain. She dispatched her own people to support Paul’s ministry and report on the Corinthians spiritual state. Her means allowed her to play this unique behind-the-scenes role in the crafting of inspired Scripture for the Corinthians and all believers.
Chloe as an Example
Though mentioned only briefly, Chloe provides a great example of a woman who supported Paul’s ministry and cared for the welfare of fellow believers struggling with sin and division.
Consider some key ways Chloe exemplifies commendable Christian virtues:
- Unity – Chloe sought to bring unity and order by reporting quarreling to Paul (1 Corinthians 1:11)
- Restoration – She aided Paul in efforts to restore and rebuke the sinning Corinthians
- Support – Chloe leveraged her means to support gospel ministry
- Initiative – Rather than being passive, she was proactive in addressing issues
- Generosity – Sending her servants showed sacrifice and generosity
Chloe acted as a partner in Paul’s apostolic ministry through her actions. She did not ignore problems, but sought to resolve them through the God-ordained leadership of Paul guided by the Holy Spirit.
The businesswoman’s example calls us to likewise care for the spiritual health of our sister churches today. When we see sin, error, or conflict among believers, we should notify leaders and support efforts at restoration through the wisdom and power of God’s Word.
Though quarrels and factions inevitably arise in churches as sinful humans, we must continually strive for unity and order according to God’s design, just as Chloe exemplified.
History of Interpretations
Throughout church history, interpretations about Chloe and her role have varied:
- Some see her as the founder of the Corinthian church from people she converted.
- Others view her as simply a member who reported to Paul.
- Some describe Chloe as an overseer or leader in the church at Corinth.
- She is also characterized as a patron who financially backed and hosted the Corinthian believers.
The Bible does not explicitly indicate if Chloe founded the Corinthian church or simply belonged to it. She probably did not function as an elder/overseer, since 1 Timothy 2:12 forbids this role for women in the church.
But as a prominent house church holder with means, she clearly played an important role in the community. She demonstrated spiritual concern and initiative in supporting Paul’s wider ministry when she could have ignored issues in the Corinthian church.
Romans 16:1-2 – I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
Like Phoebe commended by Paul, Chloe also acted as an important patron in aiding the apostle’s ministry for the benefit of the wider church, proving instrumental behind the scenes.
Signficance of Chloe
Though just a minor character, Chloe provides a powerful example of supporting church leadership and promoting unity among believers for the glory of Christ.
Let’s explore why she remains significant:
- Chloe played a vital role in the crafting of 1 Corinthians through informing Paul.
- She exemplifies commendable virtues like generosity, initiative, and care for the church.
- Chloe shows that prominent women used their means to substantially back gospel ministry.
- Her actions were spur of the moment yet greatly impacted dealing with divisions at Corinth.
- She proves even small roles can have huge Kingdom influence when done in faith.
Chloe highlights that donors, encouragers, helpers, and senders behind the scenes can powerfully change lives and communities through support at critical moments for church leaders.
Though the Corinthians struggled greatly, Chloe provides hope that even sincere actions by otherwise “ordinary” believers can mightily further God’s purposes.
Chloe proves that unity, order, restoration, and growth in churches often requires believers take initiative like she did – no matter their status, gender, or means.
While we can learn much from Chloe, some key questions still remain unanswered:
- What specifically motivated Chloe to get involved correcting the Corinthians?
- How did she first hear about Christ and get connected to Paul?
- What conversations occurred between her and Paul when establishing the church?
- What were her specific relationships like with other Corinthians believers?
- How exactly did her actions spur the key teachings in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians?
Since Chloe is mentioned only once briefly, we are left to speculate on these details. We do not know her full background, conversion story, or direct interactions with Paul and other church members in Corinth.
This leaves some mystery around Chloe’s motives and the interpersonal dynamics that led her to play such an unsung but important role behind the scenes. We are given just enough to commend her example but not enough to know her whole story.
In God’s providence, the few details about Chloe serve their purpose – spurring us on to stand for truth, care for fellow believers, support leaders, and seek unity in Christ’s church for the glory of God.
Summary of Chloe
In summary, here are key facts we can gather about Chloe from Scripture:
- Chloe was a believer in Christ at Corinth when Paul established the church there.
- As a prominent woman, she likely had means and servants in the important trade city.
- Chloe send some servants to inform Paul of quarrels and issues among the Corinthians.
- This spurred Paul to write a letter to correct and instruct them – 1 Corinthians.
- Though little is said about her, Chloe proved vital in aiding the Corinthian church.
- Her example highlights the importance of lesser known supporters behind the scenes.
- She exemplifies care for the church, initiative, generosity, and supporting leadership.
- Chloe shows that even small roles at the right moments can mightily further God’s purposes.
Chloe may seem a minor character, but her brave actions to support Paul’s apostolic leadership and aid a wayward church capture our imagination. In just a few words, Scripture gives us an admirable model to follow in caring for Christ’s church today.
May we all demonstrate such initiative, discernment, and gospel-motivated actions as Chloe when we see needs in churches to build up, instruct, warn, and unite the body of believers to the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord.