April 1 – 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

1 Corinthians 1:1-3 – Greeting

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 

To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul identifies himself in this letter much as he did in his letter to the Romans by identifying himself as an apostle called by God. He was not called by any church or by any person, but his work is done by the will of God. This is an incredible burden that he has accepted. There is no room for personal ambition or a worldly agenda. It is God's will that causes Paul to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is all-encompassing and all-important.

Sosthenes shows up in Acts 18:12-17. He was the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth and was seized and beaten in the presence of Gallio, the Roman governor because he refused to move against Paul, even though the Jews brought Paul in front of a tribunal for his teaching. Paul calls him a brother now. Sosthenes became a convert to Christianity.

Corinth was a wealthy city. Legend tells us that this was where Jason's Argo was built. It was destroyed in 146 B.C., but because of its location on an isthmus that connected Greece to the Peloponnesus, Julius Caesar rebuilt it in 46 B.C. and soon became one of the greatest cities in Greece. It was a commercial hub; bringing in trade from the north, south, east and the west. Its population was quite mixed and was very cosmopolitan.

The Temple of Aphrodite was located in Corinth; one thousand sacred prostitutes worked from there. It is said that every person in Greece knew what a Corinthian girl was; the city was known for debauchery and depravity. Sin prevailed in this city and Paul's letter on holiness seems quite necessary and appropriate.

Paul came to Corinth on his second missionary journey. We read of his time here and the founding of the church from the home of Aquila and Priscilla and from the local synagogue in Acts 18:1-17. Paul stood in that synagogue and taught of Jesus as the Messiah. When he was forced out of the synagogue, he simply moved next door to the home of Titus Justus and continued to preach. At the end of 18 months, he finished in Corinth and returned to Jerusalem.

Paul wrote his letter to the Romans while staying in Corinth, but this letter was written while he was in Ephesus, probably about A.D. 55.  This church is on the front lines and Paul writes to them as a teacher; one who cares very much for them. He offers practical ways to act as the Church in the midst of sin.