Monday, March 9, 2015

1 Corinthians 1:1–3

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Vs. 1 Through his introduction the Apostle reveals some foundational truths about himself, and us who believe as well. First Paul was called (by Christ) to be an apostle for Him. This occurred on the Damascus road while Saul (Paul's name before his salvation) was still hostile towards the gospel of God (see Acts 9:1-31). Second Paul's being called did not come of himself; of neither his own will, or through his own works (Eph 2:8-9). Nor was it going to be prevented by anyone else's will who did not want Paul to be called by Christ. For mans will does not and cannot override God's Will. Thus Paul's being called to be an apostle of Christ came and was fulfilled by the will of God, something that also describes each and every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ (consider John 1:12-13, 15:16; Acts 13:48; Rom 8:28-30; 9:11; Eph. 1:3-5, 11; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2 etc.). Now Paul's having declared his being called by Christ according to the will of God was not for his sake, but for ours, so that we could have confidence in the authenticity of his person's calling, as well his epistles authority in our lives. And so having introduced himself as an apostle of Christ, through the will of God, Paul now includes in his greeting to us a man named Sosthenes, who must have been with Paul at the time of his writing this epistle. Now there is a Sosthenes also mentioned in Acts 18:17, who being the ruler of the synagogue was beaten by an angry mob stirred up by unbelieving Jews during Paul's preaching there in Corinth (see Acts 18:1-17). Unfortunately whether or not these two are the same man is not known for certain at this time. What is clear though is that the Sosthenes mentioned here is called by the Apostle Paul "our brother". Thus Paul wants all the Corinthians to regard Sosthenes as they would regard himself, a brother and friend in the Lord, just as we should regard each other. 

Vs. 2-3 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

"To the church of God which is at Corinth" could've seemed an oxymoron to the casual observer at the time of the Apostles writing, given the cities flagrant immorality and idolatrous practises. Yet it was there amongst sins carnage that God established a church, by first revealing to the Apostle Paul that though such things were taking place, it was there within that carnage that God had many people who did not yet know Him (see Acts 18:9-11). And so it is that what people currently are, is not always revealing of what they will be. For even the Apostle Paul was once hostile to the gospel of God (consider Titus 3:3-7). Indeed if geographic location revealed anything about anyone, than Jesus Himself would not have been called by God from Nazareth; a "frontier" town with a less than stellar reputation, which was unknown for having any substantial religious significance or impact unlike the more prominent Jerusalem or Judea, from which the religious "elite" claimed rights and residences from. And so location is only relevant and important in retail sales, not in Christian faith and discipleship. Equally then where one went to Bible school or seminary, or if they even went at all is also irrelevant, since that reveals only that one had the education, and or the means to do so, it says nothing of their faith, or person, or even their being called by God to do so. 

Now it's also interesting to note that the expression "church of God" though used by the Apostle Paul eight times in the N.T. is five times used by him in the Corinthian epistles (1 Cor 1:2, 10:32, 11:22, 15:9, 2 Cor 1:1). It seems then the Corinthian believers were in need of some encouragement in regards to understanding their own calling and standing with God. For though they were in the midst of a sinful society, of which some of them had come out of (1 Cor 6:9-11). The Apostle Paul wanted them (just as he wants us all to know) that they had not only been called by God to be saints, (that is to be God's people) they (like ourselves) are sanctified (set apart) by God Himself.
Now sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit (2 Thess 2:13) which He begins within us with our being renewed by the washing and regeneration of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-6). Which itself is describing our being born-again by the Spirit of God (John 3:3-5). Thus having been brought to Spirit life and united with the Lord Jesus Christ for eternity (Eph. 1:13-14) we are to now live sanctified lives. And that is why the Apostle Paul is writing to the Corinthians, to instruct them and us, on how to do just that. Thus in being sanctified by faith in Christ (Acts 26:18) the Apostle Paul extends grace and peace to us from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (also see Rom. 1:7; 2 Peter 2:1). 

Now if you have not yet made that decision to receive the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart and life then then by all means do so. For by a simple prayer of faith, Jesus will come into you, and not only save you from your sins and transgressions, and thus the wrath to come, but Jesus by His Holy Spirit will also wash and regenerate you, something neither you, nor anyone else can do for you.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

Additional Resources Consulted
Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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