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Grace | Corinth

Commentary on Paul’s Letters to the Corinthian Church

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Ideal for those getting acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community.

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1 Corinthians 1:4-9

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 English Standard Version

God’s Grace

As Paul often does in his introductions, he thanks God for key events in the lives of his recipients. In this letter he thanks God specifically for His grace having been given to the people at Corinth. He cites the confirmation of the Holy Spirit having been given to them and the confirmation of that grace being every manifestation or, ‘gift,’ of the Spirit. He says that they were, “enriched with all speech and knowledge,” leaning into what he will discuss later about having been given everything that they have in Christ and not having something we ourselves can boast in as being unique or of ourselves. The speech and knowledge giftings may also be an indication that they understood the gospel really well and could communicate it just as well, and as Paul says, they were not lacking in any gifting of the Holy Spirit, but were lacking in the application of service and love to their fellow believers which is addressed in chapter 13.

Welcome to the Main Event

Paul links his thanksgiving over the Corinthians having been given all of the above gifts to the return of Christ. It can be tempting when we read the word, “wait,” to think that we are sitting in our seats reading the literature waiting for the main event of Christ’s revealing. It is the main event, but we didn’t come alone and are surrounded by others who are also waiting for the unveiling of Christ. These others have needs, the same as we do and the Spirit of God in each of us has provided for those needs. It is the unveiling of Christ we are waiting for, which will come up later in Paul’s discussion of following after himself or Peter or Apollos, which, if we stick with our analogy, would be like waiting for the unveiling of our sweaty bus driver instead of the arrival of the King. Paul says that these gifts of the Spirit that we have been given are for sustaining us until the unveiling of Christ. They give us value to one another, to be of service to one another and render us “guiltless,” on the day of Christ.

Paul ends his tiptoeing around the issue by reminding them of God’s faithfulness to do what He said He would do and by reminding them that their proverbial bus has only just started towards the main event where everyone is travelling and waiting and caring for one another and enjoying the fellowship of their common love and expectation at the second coming of Christ.

Further Thoughts

Grace is “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense,” which is just more words we only just barely understand. Imagine the most wealthy, most famous person you know putting on an event to which they invite the whole world. This person says that they will pay for all of the expenses it takes to get to the event and will feed and provide for everyone there to come and see their unveiling and be a part of the new project they are doing which involves giving all of us full access to their wealth which none of us could deplete if we wanted to. All we have to do is set out, and invite people along the way and bear one another’s burdens while we connect with others going the same direction along the road. Consider that the value that God gives us is not ours to boast in–none of us did anything worth inviting us to travel to this event. The use of our existing wealth to fund an air conditioned bus might make us and others more comfortable but we are all headed in the same direction no faster than anyone else. Children are being born on this journey, people get hungry, thirsty, and weary. Where the buses break down, we build permanent structures and the drivers start to think they can kick people off their bus and think that all of a sudden they are not on the road to see Christ anymore but instead they leave the bus and are surrounded by infinitely more travellers on their way to see Jesus. Around the broken down buses some build homes and dig gardens along the road. Some dig new roads that branch off of the narrow path thinking they can get to the destination faster than the main route. Some stop altogether and dig down their roots as having arrived already and send out messengers to bring people to their broken down bus and to their saviour but still sweaty bus driver. We have not moved beyond the problems that the Church in Corinth were experiencing in 55AD, in fact, we experience the very same problems with varying severity. The division in the body of Christ has never been more sever and so the letters to Corinth are more applicable than ever.

Ammi Ruhama Community Christian Union

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