Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, and author of Biblical Prayer for Today's Believers: Transform Your Prayer Life (available on Amazon).
Introduction to 1 Corinthians
As we begin art church our series on Paul’s first epistle to the church in Corinth, I would like to share with you a brief message on the first few verses of this epistle. 1 Corinthians is one of Paul’s earliest letters, written in approximately 54 A.D., during his third missionary journey, close to the end of his ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19:21-22).
In Acts 18:1-17, we read that Paul visited Corinth, and stayed there a year and a half teaching the word of God. The Lord spoke to Paul in Corinth, and said to him, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
Accordingly, although Paul was persecuted by the Jews in Corinth, he met Aquila and Priscila, with whom he worked as a tent maker. He also lodged with a believer named Titius Justus. A Jewish leader of a synagogue, Crispus, together with all his house, believed in the Lord.
Moreover, Paul was joined in Corinth by Timothy and Silas.
According to Acts 19:1, Apollos went to Corinth after Paul left for Ephesus.
This, in a nutshell, is the background of Paul’s ministry in Corinth.
1 Corinthians 1:1-10
Now, let us read together, from the English Standard Version, the opening of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 1:-1-10.
"1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment." (1 Corinthians 1:1-10, ESV)
In this brief introduction, Paul is greeting the believers at Corinth. And what does he say to them? I think we can organize the information in this greeting in three groups:
Paul talks about what God had done for the Corinthians, what God would do for the Corinthians, and what the Corinthians were to do. And I believe, these points apply to us.
What God Did for You
God sanctified you in Jesus Christ. That is, when you believed in Jesus Christ, God set you apart for Himself—He made you his own. If you believe in Jesus Christ—if you repented of your sins, if you put your trust in him, if you love him, if you have welcomed him into your heart—you now belong to God. He forgave your sins, He set you apart for Himself, and He granted you eternal life.
God also called you to be a saint. In other words, you are called to be a holy thing for God–to live for God. God has now giving you a new way of living—a holy way of living. He has ordained you to live a holy life. God, then, has given you a new way of life.
Moreover, God also called you into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ. In other words, God wants you to enjoy a positive and healthy relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, and with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, this detail is important: verse 2 says that you are “called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:” Not only does this mean that you are part of God’s church, but it also means that everyone everywhere who calls on the name of Jesus Christ (according to the gospel of the apostles) belongs to God and to Jesus Christ—the church is not a religious organization, it is the fellowship of all who believe in Jesus Christ, regardless of what nation they live in, regardless of what time of history they live in, and regardless of what Christian denomination they attend.
So then, God has done great things for you, just as He did great things for the Corinthians, and just as He has done great things for everyone who has ever believed in Jesus Christ.
Moreover, God has also given you, on top of the saving grace that He has given you through faith in Jesus Christ, additional grace to enrich you in everything. In other words, God has given you spiritual gifts to help you serve Him and edify the body of Jesus Christ.
Now, the church in Corinth was particularly enriched with all knowledge and utterance. God gave them all kinds of spiritual gifts that many of our churches do not have today. We would be hard-pressed to find a modern church that enjoys all the gifts that God gave to the church in Corinth—they were particularly blessed. God, in all his wisdom, chose to bless them with spiritual gifts more than other churches, probably to help us understand spiritual gifts.
Nevertheless, even if we do not find the same wide range of spiritual gifts in our churches today, we too are enriched—because, as we will learn further on this epistle, God has made many spiritual gifts available to us also.
What God Will Do for You
And not only has God done these amazing things for us, but He will also do some wonderful and very important things for us throughout our lives here on Earth:
First, realize that God and His Son, Jesus Christ, want you to enjoy grace and peace in your life. They want you to enjoy His grace in your life and the peace that He gives in our hearts regardless of what is going on in the world. This is why Paul wrote, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:3, ESV).
Whatever you are facing in life, God and Jesus Christ want to give you grace and peace.
Second, God will remain faithful to us. God will not give up on us, He will not betray us, He will not forsake us, He will not abandon us. We can continue to trust in Him throughout our lives.
Third, Jesus will sustain us until the end so we can be guiltless in his day. In other words, Jesus will continue to help us and guide us throughout our lives and ensure we are guiltless before Him when He finally returns to reveal Himself to the world.
You need not fear life or death, you need not fear your past, present, or future, because Jesus Christ will sustain you and keep you guiltless before Him.
God then, will br with you throughout your life until He receives you in eternity
What You Are Supposed to Do
In response to everything God has done for you, God expects you to do some things here on Earth:
He obviously wants you to lead a holy life, separated from sin.
He also wants you to be thankful—just as the Apostle Paul was thankful: "I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus" (1 Corinthians 1:4, ESV).
He also wants you to wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ: be patient, keep your faith, and look forward to the time when we will be forever with Him.
God also wants our churches to have no division, but to be perfectly joined together: to have the same mind, to have the same judgment—unit is a very important thing to God: He wants us to live in unity. Now—that’s a challenge, and we’ll talk more about it in our next message.
God has done great things for everyone who believes in Jesus Christ, and God will remain faithful to all who have believed in Jesus Christ—those who have received Him, embraced Him, and those who love Him. Are you one of them?
Have you believed in God's Son? Have you received Him in your heart? Have you embraced Him in your life? Do you love Him?
And if so, are you living a holy life for Him? Are you waiting for his coming? Are you serving Him in this life through the gifts He has given you? Are you living in unity with other believers?
As we begin a new year (2021), let us remember that God has done great things for us and that we can trust Him throughout this new year. In all our planning, and in all our new year's resolutions, let us also—and mainly—think about how we will serve Him this new year.
© 2021 Marcelo Carcach