Presented, January 27, 2008 pm
STUDIES IN CORINTHIANS (1)
What a Church SHOULD Be (1:1-9)
I. Background about the book
a. Written by Paul (1) – an apostle of Jesus Christ, called (appointed by God) into that office.
the church of God at Corinth
(2) – The city of Corinth was very important during the time of Paul
being the capital of Achaia as a commercial center.
The city was filled with idol and their temples.
It was also a city of wealth, luxury and immorality.
The church was established on his second missionary journey as he traveled from Athens (Acts 18). He stayed there for 2 ½ years and wrote epistles from there including the letters to the Thessalonians.
c. Why the book was written. Paul probably wrote this letter during his 3rd missionary journey from Ephesus, in response to correspondence he had received indicating there were many problems in the congregation. Paul writes to address these problems and specifically calls for unity in their midst.
d. While not an exact parallel, the society in which we live faces much of the same godlessness and immorality that the brethren at Corinth faced. Consequently, many of the problems Paul dealt with are still prevalent today. Our benefit in studying this book is to examine Paul’s instructions in dealing with these problems and make application today where the problems apply. In our studies we will also examine various false doctrines and misunderstanding that have developed as a result of texts in this book.
e. Our lesson today will examine what Paul said to the church at Corinth about the church of God.
II. What the church SHOULD Be (1:2-9)
a. It is interesting to notice how Paul addresses this church. In these verses Paul in essence describes what a church SHOULD be – but the church at Corinth was lacking in many, if not all, of these things. Nevertheless, it is good to notice how the church is described and to strive to be that church.
church of God (2)
What’s in a name? First a name gives identity. Second, it gives a sense of belonging.
But more than giving this church a formal name, Paul is DESCRIBING what this church is and who it belongs to. The very first thing Paul deals with (1:10- 13) is sectarianism and how they did not fully understand WHO the church actually belonged to.
How is the church the church of God?
i. It was planned by Him before the foundations of the world – Ephesians 3:10-11.
ii. The Son, Christ, is subject to Him and was given authority over the church by Him (Eph. 1:22-23, cf. 1 Cor. 15:57).
iii. His will and the will of Jesus Christ concerning the church are one and the same (John 10:30, 17:22).
consider that the Greek word, from which “church” is derived, had
reference to an assembly, usually of the citizens of a city for some
purpose such as tending to city affairs (cf. Acts 19:32, 41).
But where Christians are concerned it refers to a “called out
body” – being called out of the world and into service to God and
We belong to God, which will be borne out later in this book (6:19-20).
The church in Corinth belonged to God and Christ. As such they should have respected His will in all that they did. They were NOT at liberty to set their own rules.
c. Sanctified in Christ Jesus
i. This is what made them “the church of God.”
already noted that the word “church” means “the called out body.”
That goes hand in hand with the word
sanctify which means to be consecrated or set apart.
It is from the same word as “holy” and “saint” which is the next
word Paul mentions.
The church (and the Christian) is set apart from the rest of the world concerning relationship with God.
John 17:11-19 - The idea is portrayed as our Lord prayed to God in on behalf of His disciples (especially His apostles). In that text Jesus notes that those who are His are in the world but they are NOT of the world (14). He also prays that God keep them from the evil one. Further He says, “Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth.” Note how we are sanctified BY THE WORD of God!
Also know that while God initially sets us apart to Him, having done everything that we cannot do for ourselves to make it possible, we have an obligation to remain sanctified.
1 Thess. 4:3-4 notes that our sanctification depends on moral living and self-control.
iii. This was something the church at Corinth needed.
d. Called to be saints –
i. We have already noted that the word saint is derived from the same word as sanctification. The difference here is that while the church is set apart what makes that possible is when its members are set apart (e.g. saints). The church is made up of Christians (at least it should be). And while there certainly is a distinction to be made between the individual and the church – in the life of the true Christian (e.g. the Saint) they will complement each other. That is why Christians must ALWAYS give consideration to their conduct.
ii. When one becomes a child of God he is set apart from the rest of the world – Galatians 3:27, cf. Romans 6:3-4. That is why he is a saint or a “holy one.”
that these brethren were “called
to be saints.” A word that
means, “invited, welcomed, appointed” (WS Dictionary NT).
It is the same word found in vs. 1 where Paul is “called to be an
Consider this: God calls us to obey His gospel – he chooses the terms and we must submit to His will. Note the rest of this verse where Paul says that they were called “with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (2c). So how does one call on the name of the Lord? Romans 10:13-15, Acts 22:16 - it involves baptism!
iv. Again, when you look at the church at Corinth – there were many who failed in this calling.
Grace and peace from God (3)
– given to them by Christ Jesus .
.In typical greeting fashion, Paul wishes the grace and peace of God to be with them.
f. Enriched in everything by Him (4-7a)
i. Paul thanks God (that is very typical of Paul - praying for brethren everywhere).
ii. Paul sees the grace of God at work (grace is unmerited favor – God doing His part to ensure that our salvation is possible and in blessing us).
enriched in Him in everything.
The word “enriched” means, “to
cause someone to have an abundance of that which is of value or worth”
(Louw & Nida).
When we are in Christ (i.e. right with Him) we are truly blessed –
Physically we may be poor, but spiritually we are very rich. (It all depends on where our treasure is).
Ephesians 3:8 Paul sought to preach, “the unsearchable riches of Christ” to the Gentiles.” Ephesians 1:3 speaks of God having “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Furthermore, we have EVERYTHING we need in Him!
iv. What were they enriched in? “All utterance and all knowledge.” How do we learn of how blessed we are? Through the word of God. As we study and live what we learn – truly we realize how blessed we are.
v. Paul reminds these brethren that they have everything they need to be blessed of Him. AND they had been taught everything they needed (did not come short , [not lacking in any gift – NASU]). And their teaching was not blind faith – it had been confirmed in them – they COULD know where the message was from.
g. Eagerly waiting the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ (7-8).
i. This was their hope and reward – the return of the Lord. What they did was NOT without reward. There is great reward for the one who serves God – Romans 2:7, etc. That is why we should look forward to that day.
But we are
also told that our Lord “will also confirm you to the end, that you may
be blameless” in that day.
In this I see the fact that our Lord is going to stand with us – our
advocate who is there for us.
I am reminded of Matthew 10:32-33 where we are told to confess
Him and He will confess us.
As Paul concludes this letter he says, “O Lord, come” (1 Cor. 16:22).
Could these brethren, living as they were, honestly say they wanted the Lord to return? Can we?
h. Fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (9)
i. The final description we notice is their fellowship with Christ. The word fellowship means to share. It deals with having something in common (i.e. communion, sharing).
ii. Consider that we can be in fellowship with Christ. In fact, we NEED to be in fellowship with Him. But how? 1 John 1:3 says that he declared to them the message so that “you may also have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” As you proceed to study the message you find that your relationship with God and Christ (fellowship) hinges on your love and obedience (which are tied together) – see vs. 3-5 which note that we cannot walk in darkness and be in fellowship with Him (or one another). See also 1 John 2:3-4, 5:3 which tell us that we know Him and love Him be keeping His commandments.
iii. Why is this possible? Because “God is faithful.” In that expression we know that God is constant and He WILL keep His promise. The consolation to us then is this: If we are what we ought to be (both as saints and as His church – a local collectivity) we KNOW that He can and will fulfill His will.
With this salutation, Paul then begins to address the problems they faced and how they lacked many of these qualities. In future lessons we will notice these things.