Text: 1 Cor 1:1-9 (NIV):
1Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ their Lord and ours: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
This lesson introduces us to the in-depth verse-by-verse studies of the book of 1 Corinthians. Most tactfully, Paul opened his letter by reminding the believers of the wonderful blessings they had in Christ in chapter 1. Paul does that before reproving them for their sin. For they were living beneath their privileges as believers. It seems to Paul that the Corinthians were not walking in a manner worthy of their calling in Jesus (Ephesians 4:1).
Spiritual blessings in Christ
Paul identifies some of the spiritual blessings of the Corinthians that they were ignoring and thus depriving themselves of spiritual power. These include:
- Called of God (1 Cor 1: 2)
To Paul, the Corinthians were called by God. This means that they were sanctified (set apart) and members of that elect group, which is the church. Paul is by this assuring the Corinthians about who they were in Christ. To Paul, therefore, they were not living like saints, but they were saints!
2. Grace of God (1 Cor 1: 3-4)
Grace means that God gives us what we don’t deserve; mercy means He doesn’t give us what we do deserve. This grace came through Jesus Christ by faith.
3. Gifts from God (1 Cor 1:5 and 7)
Paul expresses his deep appreciation to God for endowing the Corinthians with many spiritual gifts. Paul discusses spiritual gifts later in chapters 12-14. The Corinthians were wonderfully blessed with spiritual gifts, especially the gifts that have to do with an utterance (1 Cor 14:26). The Corinthians were enriched with knowledge, too. To Paul, however, despite all their gifts and knowledge, they lacked love (1 Cor 13:1-3). They could not get along with each other. It is worthy of note that spiritual gifts do not take the place of spiritual graces.
4. Testimony for God (1 Cor 6)
Everything Paul said concerning what Jesus could do for them came to pass in their lives. Thus Paul was convinced that God’s Word came true in their lives.
5. Hope from God (1 Cor 7-9)
To Paul, the Corinthians were eagerly waiting for Jesus to return in addition to possessing every spiritual gift. Meanwhile, they were not living in the light of Christ’s coming (1 John 2:28). Paul seems to imply here that though the Corinthians were sinful on earth, God would be able to present them as blameless in heaven. This passage should not be used as an excuse for sin. It should rather be seen as an encouragement that God is faithful even though we may fail God.
Conclusion and application
This lesson has sought to introduce us to Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. It has been established that Paul has sought to commend the Corinthians by reminding them of their spiritual blessings in Christ. They were the called, sanctified people who were endowed with much grace, gifts and full of hope. Most importantly, these virtues serve as an overture of what Paul would write about in the story that follows. To begin, Paul’s description of himself as a called to be an Apostle in 1 Cor 1:1 is later elaborated in 1 Cor 9. Paul’s address of the Corinthian believers as “those who are sanctified” and “called to be saints” in 1 Cor 1: 2, will later, however, demonstrate several ways that they have failed to live holy lives. Next, Paul’s commendation of the Corinthians as endowed with the grace of speech and knowledge in verse 5, will later be taught by Paul that eloquent speech and great knowledge have no value apart from Christian love. Relatedly, Paul’s mention of spiritual gifts in 1 Cor 1:7 introduces the reader to what would later be discussed in 1 Cor 12-14. Significantly, reading 1 Cor 1:1-9 should remind us about the need to show deep appreciation to God and to the people who are in Christ about their God-given blessings before any attempt to remind them of any kind of possible spiritual weaknesses that they might face.
Thank you Rev Dr. Fosu for teachings on
1Cor. 1:1-9. I have learned a great lessons from what you taught. God bless you.