Monday

I give thanks to my God always for you ... (v. 4)

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 Monday 2 March 2020

Psalm: Psalm 1

Background

 I suspect that Paul was especially eager to plant a church in Corinth. It was a key location, situated at the narrowest point of the isthmus that links mainland Greece to the southern area. Today, a canal provides a shortcut so that ships can avoid the long passage round the peninsula. In Paul’s time, a ship trackway enabled ships to be towed across. So Corinth was a transport hub – the perfect place for preaching the gospel, with the likelihood that people would hear the good news and take it with them all over the empire.

There were problems, however. The congregation tended to split into factions over all sorts of issues. Some were well-off, many were poor (1:26). Some spoke in tongues and regarded those who didn’t as inferior Christians (12:14-26). Some thought they belonged to other church leaders, not to Christ (1:12). Paul wrote extensively to the church in Corinth and his letters reflect the ongoing pastoral struggle to help this fellowship learn what it means to follow Christ.

Paul begins his letter, as usual in those days, by naming himself and giving his credentials. He identifies himself as ‘called and sent’, for ‘apostle’ means ‘one who is sent’. His primary identity is shaped by his commission to preach the gospel. Then he identifies the letter’s recipients. Despite the many problems he will address, these Christians are a church of people who are already made holy in Christ, already called to be saints. Paul reflects the mixed identity of the church by greeting them in both Gentile and Jewish style – grace and peace.

Paul uses his introduction to set the tone of the whole letter. Though he has many hard issues to address, he wants above all to give thanks for the church at Corinth. They have received God’s grace! God has made them rich! God has given them every possible spiritual gift! Paul is hinting at the problems he will discuss later, but he sets these in the context of thanksgiving for all that God has given them. They could ask for nothing more than this, and he is ready to celebrate God’s generosity with them.

 

To Ponder:

  • If Paul was writing to you or to your church, what would he want to give thanks for?
  • Paul identifies himself as ‘called and sent’. Which words would you choose to go with your given name and describe your calling from God?
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