1 Cor. 1:1-10
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:4-8)
INTRODUCTION TO THE MAGAZINE
Why a magazine?
Corinth was often seen as the leading city in Greece, boasting 250,000 people and 400,000 slaves…that’s half a million people. It was “the marketplace or the Vanity Fair of Greece, and even the Empire” ~Plummer
VANITY FAIR : [noun] a vain and frivolous lifestyle especially in large cities.
You might say that Corinth was a lot like America. Like Corinth, America is inhabited by a variety of peoples, including English, Italians, Irish, and Germans, Chinese, middle eastern, etc… Today, America is chief in business, competitive in her systems of education and like Corinth, diverse in her understanding of morality.
Situated between two majors seas, Corinth is located just south of the
Isthmus (bridge) between Rome and the East. Because of Corinth’s unique position, it was not only a major port for business and merchandise, but the metropolis of the Roman province of Achaia. Many who passed through Corinth would stay for both business and pleasure as it was a “natural halting-place on the journey between Rome and the East” (Lightfoot)
The Diolkos [Greek meaning “haul across”] was a paved “road” that connected the Corinthian and Saronic Gulfs before the Corinthian Canal was dug. It was built because sailing around the southern tip of the Peloponnese was very treacherous.
a Corinthian woman was a proverbial phrase for a strumpet (prostitute), and korinthiazein = play the Corinthian, is to play the whore, or indulge whorish inclinations. -Matthew Henry
WHAT HAPPENS IN CORINTH STAYS…
The church in Corinth was dealing with some very very ugly immortality. Let me give you some highlights:
THE EPIC FAILS: petty divisions, gossip, drunkenness at the Lords supper, a brother sleeps with his father’s wife, a mixture of worship with Aphrodite an issue with women wearing head coverings, weak Christians who were accused of only drinking milk., Brothers and sisters in Christ suing one another, sex, sex and more sex.
THE FAMOUS POSITIVES: the love chapter (13), The Resurrection chapter (16), an introduction to the bemah, teaching on the church as a body, discussion of divorce and singleness, and much more.
The church of God
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 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:” 1 Corinthians 1:1
In the midst of all this horrible immorality, Paul opens this letter like he opens every letter. This is a letter written not simply to some messed up church in Corinth, it is written to the church of God. Its God’s church. You are a part of God’s church, ecclessia, God’s ‘called out ones.’ The word church literally means ‘called out ones.’ We have been called out from the world to be sent back into the world with a unique and special purpose to proclaim the gospel.
…to those sanctified in Christ Jesus…
The church of God in Corinth has been sanctified. That means they have been made holy. So how can they be holy, yes still needing rebuke for horrible sin? In the same way that you have been sanctified and made holy, and yet you also need rebuke from some horrible sin. Watch this:
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:” 1 Corinthians 1:2
Literally Paul says, “Called Saints.” Paul calls these Corinthians saints. They have been called out, set apart, sanctified and they are saints. Did you notice how many times we see the world ‘called’ in these 2 little verses? Paul was called as an apostle, the church, that’s you and me and the corinthians, are literally the ‘called out ones’ of God, and we are ‘called saints’ together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I want you to think about that. You have been called. God has called you. He has a calling on your life right now. Are you living like a called one? Are you following your calling? Do you know your calling? Have you forgotten your calling?
Grace and peace
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:3
After introducing himself he gives his typical greeting. “Grace and peace to you.” Paul always says that. He always leads with Grace and Peace. Do you know why? Do you know why he always say that? It is because those two words, even though you might typically pass over them thinking they’re just filler, are the bottom line of the Gospel. Paul has one mission and that is to preach the Gospel. So he lays it out, immediately, at the beginning of every letter he writes. Grace and peace are the baseline of the Gospel. Grace is that thing which pardons our sin and peace is that experience which we have after that sin has been pardoned.
God is faithful
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
As we study this letter there will be times when we might ask ourselves, “How can these people even be Christians?” How could a Christian, a true christian, show up to church drunk? How could a true Christian actually commit adultery with his step mom? These people are so jacked – I’m not sure they’re even Christians. And let me tell you, I have heard that kind of rhetoric all my life in my own church experience. That is how people talk today. So much that I have often doubted wether or not I’m one of the good guys. Quite frankly because I know that I am not. Listen, I have sinned a lot in my life. And I’m not talking about pre-christian life I’m talking about post conversion, Sunday morning, on my way to church sinning. And when I go to confession a swear I think I’m still repenting of the same sins I repented of when I was in my 20’s. And though I’m not prophet I can say with the utmost confidence that that is true for you as well. You’re no saint! Called Out Saint of God… Humph! As if!
But do you see – that is it! That is the Gospel. You are no saint, but you have been made holy by his grace. Thanks God for his grace. And thank God that it is also his grace that sustains you. It is God’s faithfulness not your’s that saves you. God is faithful.
called into the fellowship of his Son
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9
In closing, I want us to see, one more time, this word ‘called.’ God is faithful. He has called you holy, he has called you out for a purpose, and he has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. This is a perfect place for us to end today. In regard to your calling – you have been called into fellowship with Christ. That word ‘fellowship’ is a very powerful word. it is one of my favorite words. It is koinonia.
Koinonia means communion, fellowship or participation. It is used to describe the communion that we have in Christ as we partake of the Lord’s supper. It is also used to describe the participation we have in Christ as we sharing in his sufferings. And, it is used to define the fellowship we have as a church, which is one body made up of very different and sometimes difficult personalities or parts.
So… koinonia is a very rich term that describes, in a very meaningful way, the communion we have with one another as the body of Christ. Together, we share in partaking Christ’s body, we participate in his work, and fellowship together on that journey as one body.