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"Enriched in Everything"
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Wednesday AM Bible Study
February 21, 2007
Theme: The grace shown the believer in Christ is the starting point for addressing all the things that need to be corrected in church life.
In this letter, Paul is dealing with the many problems suffered by the church in Corinth. But Paul doesn't simply put a band aid on these problems. He gets to the root by pointing out to them what is true of them in Christ.
In the first few verses of Paul's letter, he asserts that because of what is true of the believer in Christ, all the problems are resolved in Him. You might say that everything in the rest of the letter is touched upon by this greeting. The rest of the letter is simply a “post-script” to what he says in the introduction.
I. THE GREETING OF THE LETTER (vv. 1-3).
A. Who it is from (v. 1).
1. It's a letter from Paul who is (literally) “called an apostle”. This may speak of his identity (that he is called by the title “an apostle”) or his appointment (that he was “called to be an apostle”). In either case, it is by the will of God that he was called; and this underscores his authority in this letter (see 3:14-16; also Gal. 1:1).
2. It's also from “Sosthenese” who is identified as a “brother”. If this is the same man as is mentioned in Acts 18:17, then he was formerly the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth who was beaten by the Jews for his identification with Paul. He would be a brother who demonstrates the life changing power of the gospel; and who speaks along-side Paul with a great deal of credibility.
B. Who it is to (vv. 2-3).
1. It is to “the church of God which is at Corinth”. The Greek word that is used (ekklasia) means “called out assembly”; but here, it is identified as God's “called out assembly” in a wicked city. It has a very significant identity in this world.
2. It is composed of individuals who are “sanctified” (i.e., “set apart unto holiness”) in Christ, and who are (literally) “called saints”; and this is an identity that they share in common with all who likewise call upon the name of Jesus Christ, who is “our Lord, both theirs and ours”. They are a called-out community of called-out individuals among a larger called-out community of all who “call out” to Jesus Christ.
3. In this context, Paul gives a typical greeting (v. 3). But it is a very significant one; because “grace” must precede “peace”; and both are the gift of God to the Corinthians.
II. THE THANKS (vv. 4-9).
A. The manner of Paul's thanks (v. 4a). He thanks God “always” concerning them. This would mean that he regularly, and without breaking the pattern, gives thanks to God upon them.
B. The reasons for Paul's thanks (v. 4b). He thanks God for the grace which was given to them by Christ Jesus. This is the key note of this greeting. All that Paul is going to deal with in this letter assumes first the grace of God that is already shown to the believers in Corinth—not only saving grace, but also the ongoing grace of God's provision to them. Note the care with which Paul speaks. He doesn't say that he thanks God for them (as he does, for example, in 1 Thessalonians 1:2). Rather, he speaks 'diplomatically'; and says that he thanks God “concerning” them for the grace of God that was given them in Christ. (You know the old saying, “If you can't say anything nice about someone; don't say anything at all”? It's always true that, no matter how disobedient a believer may be, we can at least say that we thank God for the grace of God toward them in Christ. And that is a very good thing to say.)
C. The details of Paul's thanks (vv. 5-9). He thanks God for . . .
1. Their enrichment (v. 5). They are “enriched” (or “made rich”) by Christ “in everything”. There is nothing lacking of all that they need in Christ (Eph. 1:3). This is even to the level of “all utterance and all knowledge”; which may refer to the words of Christ (John 17:8), and the wisdom that is granted in Christ (Col. 2:3).
2. Their establishment (v. 6). The “testimony” (that is, the gospel preached to them) was “confirmed” (or “verified”) in them. It may mean that it saved them, or it may mean that they clearly went on to be transformed in a manifest way by it (see 6:11).
3. Their sufficiency (v. 7a). They “come short” in no gift. Every spiritual gift that they need from Christ, in order to minister to one another in the church, and in this world, is provided to them (see 1 Corinthians 12-14).
4. Their expectation (v. 7b). They live with the eager expectation of the “revelation” (that is, “the unveiling”) of Christ's glory at His return (Col. 3:4; 1 John 3:1-3).
5. Their blamelessness (v. 8). Christ Himself will “confirm” them (same word as in verse 6), “blameless” (that is, “irreproachable”) unto the end—even unto the time of final judgment (Romans 8:33-34).
6. Their support (v. 9a). God Himself is faithful to protect and preserve them (Jude 24-25).
7. Their fellowship with Christ to which they were called (v. 9b). Even then, they have entered into a fellowship with the Son of God Himself (1 John 1:4; John 17:20-24).
* * * * * * * * * *
This passage reminds us that the motivation of our conduct as a church, and as individual believers, is the grace that has already been showered upon us in Christ. The closer we draw to Him, the more the problems will be solved.
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