Commentary on Paul’s Letters to the Church at Corinth
ARC Guide Level 1
Ideal for those getting acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community.
I don’t write commentary on the scriptures very much, but as I am currently studying through Paul’s letter to the Corinthians I thought I would share what I am learning and the thoughts that are readily coming to my mind as I attempt to do justice to the teachings of the Word.
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
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.1 Corinthians 1:1-3 English Standard Version
This letter is attributed to two men but written in the voice of only one of them. These two men are the Apostle Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) and Sosthenes [meaning; “safe in strength” Strong’s G4988]. We are aware of the Apostle Paul, but there is some debate over the identity of the second man. Some scholars believe Sosthenes to be the very same chief of the Synagogue who was beaten by the crowds in Acts 18, some think that he is some other Sosthenes as, apparently, it was a popular name at the time. Who he is in actuality is of little value to us, because, as previously mentioned, Paul’s voice is the dominant of the two in this letter. It can be assumed that certain people within the Church would know who he is and his relevance for being named as the co-author of this letter. They are likely writing from Ephesus around 55AD.
Paul is writing to the entire church in Corinth. The quite modern idea of local churches had a few millennia yet to come about, and the robust message of global church unity in the initial chapters gives us no reason to believe that this was meant to be read by one particular house in Corinth. It is a circulatory letter that would have travelled first in and around Corinth and then outside of the city to a broader audience.
Paul’s greetings are never gratuitous outpourings of word salad. They foreshadow his themes and underlying message in the letter and so they deserve to be paid the utmost attention.
Sanctified in Christ Jesus
Paul calls the Corinthians, “sanctified in Christ Jesus,” meaning that they have been set apart as holy. A theme we will see visited in chapter 6. Those who are set apart are by definition saints and Paul includes them with everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord (to be saved). Paul reminds them of their unity with the whole body as a result of their common God.
Sanctification can often receive the definition of the high state and process of ethereal spirituality that happens to us when we receive the love and mercy of Jesus. Please allow me to bring the word out of the clouds and down to our hands. The potter ‘sanctifies,’ a lump of clay to be a pot and, ‘sanctifies,’ another to be a mug. A wood turner sets apart a particular plank to be turned into a spoke or a plate. A baker divides a lump of dough sanctifying each ball to be formed into loaves. Sanctification simply means that we have been set apart for a purpose. There is nothing special about the lump of clay, the plank of wood, or the ball of dough and everything special about the intention of the one who sets it apart. To be sanctified is to be made useful by the master; not only to have been definitively set apart to be made useful but ultimately to be used by God for the purpose God has set us apart to fulfil.
While sanctification can rightly be defined as a linear process which we undergo in life it should also be well remembered that the God who is working it out in us exists outside of time and space, and so, we have simultaneously been set apart, started and are the finished useful work of Christ from the moment of our salvation. A ‘new,’ believer is as much a finished work as the believer who has been saved for 40 years and both have the unmitigated responsibility of repairing the interface with one another, which includes tearing down the secondary interfaces that are our notions of progression being anything to do with us, and, therefore, anything we ourselves can boast in. Paul will address this in the coming chapters.