1 Corinthians 1
(Ryrie Study Bible) Corinth was a Port city on a narrow isthmus...ships would be dragged across it instead of going below the dangerous tip of Greece. It had an outdoor theater that could hold up to 20,000 spectators…and was second only to the Olympics in athletic games. It also had the temple of Aphrodite with 1,000 temple prostitutes who were part of the depraved religious practices there. The immoral condition was such that the word "Korinthiazomai" (literally, “to act the Corinthian”) came to mean "to practice fornication". There were many bars. Corinth was noted for everything sinful.
Paul first preached there on his second missionary journey (A.D. 50). He lived there for a while with Aquila and Pricilla, then with Titius Justus. The Jews accused him before the Roman Governor Gallio...but the charge was dismissed. He was in Corinth for 18 months (Acts 18:1-17; 1 Corinthians 2:3). After he left, Paul wrote the church in Corinth a letter, but it has been lost (5:9). The church then wrote him a letter that contained some disturbing news (including church divisions, numerous problems of immorality among the members of the church, and questions concerning marriage, food, worship, and the resurrection). That prompted Paul to write them, again (7:1)...that letter is what we refer to as 1 Corinthians. He wrote this letter from Ephesus (16:8)...around A.D. 56.
1 Corinthians 1:1-3-It is interesting, knowing the rampant immorality of Corinth, and that it had become an issue in the church, that Paul addresses the letter very specifically...almost as if he is making a point in doing so...to the "sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (:2). In the NASV, we see the words “calling” and “call” in verse 2. In the Greek they come from two different root words. “Calling” comes from a word that means to be invited, or appointed.
- called, invited (to a banquet)
- invited (by God in the proclamation of the Gospel) to obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom through Christ
- called to (the discharge of) some office
- divinely selected and appointed
Paul begins the letter, making it clear, that Christians have a sanctified calling on their lives. By the work of God they have been appointed as sanctified. The word “sanctified” and the word “saints” both come from the same Greek word, “hagios” and it means holiness, or holy.
Holiness, Holy, Holily:
akin to A, Nos. 1 and 2, which are from the same root as hagnos (found in hazo, "to venerate"), fundamentally signifies "separated" (among the Greeks, dedicated to the gods), and hence, in Scripture in its moral and spiritual significance, separated from sin and therefore consecrated to God, sacred.
(a) It is predicted of God (as the absolutely "Holy" One, in His purity, majesty and glory): of the Father, e.g., Luk 1:49; Jhn 17:11; 1Pe 1:15,16; Rev 4:8; 6:10; of the Son, e.g., Luk 1:35; Act 3:14; 4:27,30; 1Jo 2:20; of the Spirit, e.g., Mat 1:18 and frequently in all the Gospels, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Cor., Eph., 1 Thess.; also in 2Ti 1:14; Tts 3:5; 1Pe 1:12; 2Pe 1:21; Jud 1:20.
(b) It is used of men and things (see below) in so far as they are devoted to God. Indeed the quality, as attributed to God, is often presented in a way which involves Divine demands upon the conduct of believers. These are called hagioi, "saints," i.e., "sanctified" or "holy" ones.
This sainthood is not an attainment, it is a state into which God in grace calls men; yet believers are called to sanctify themselves (consistently with their calling, 2Ti 1:9), cleansing themselves from all defilement, forsaking sin, living a "holy" manner of life, 1Pe 1:15; 2Pe 3:11, and experiencing fellowship with God in His holiness. The saints are thus figuratively spoken of as "a holy temple," 1Cr 3:17 (a local church); Eph 2:21 (the whole Church), cp. Eph 5:27; "a holy priesthood," 1Pe 2:5; "a holy nation," 1Pe 2:9.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G40&t=NASB
Here, “sanctified” is a passive verb…meaning that they are holy by virtue of what someone else has done, not what they have done. They have “been sanctified”. In other words, God has sanctified them through the work of Jesus Christ.
The word “call” means that the name of Jesus has become their name. Because of their affiliation with Jesus people will refer to them by His name.
Call, Called, Calling:
epi, "upon," and No. 1., denotes
(a) "to surname;"
To call upon the name of Jesus means that as a result of their public relationship with Jesus…people would associate them with Him. So, we should live in such a manner that when people learn that we are followers of Jesus they will see a true reflection of Who Jesus is. And, there should be nothing in our lives that would bring reproach or discredit to Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1:4-9-Here, Paul lets them know that they are not lacking anything necessary to be sanctified…and ultimately to stand before God. He briefly mentions several facts that support this.
- They have been “enriched” (:5, in other words, they have a wealth of it) in matters concerning speech and knowledge of the Gospel.
- Their testimony (:6) of how Christ has worked in them is proof.
- They have the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence through the spiritual gifts (:7)that He has given them.
- The Lord, Himself, will “confirm” (:8, guarantee) that you are sanctified on the day when they stand before the Father in Heaven.
- God is faithful and He is the One who declared that they had fellowship with His Son (:9).
1 Corinthians 1:10-17-Paul says that indeed, there are doctrinal issues to be dealt with. But that much of the problem within this church is personality driven...people taking sides and demanding their own way...on things that have nothing to deal with true spiritual issues. Evidently, some of them can be very persuasive in their arguments (:17), but their arguments are smoke and mirror issues...not matters that are of true importance. However, they are attacking each other and making them seem like more of an issue than they really are.
1 Corinthians 1:18-31-Paul makes the argument that these people who claim to know so much and who are driving this division need to recognize that the Gospel has nothing to do with their intelligence, or their ability to articulate their particular position. The Gospel is not about them, and they are not necessary for the Gospel. Evidently, they think that they should be the ones to make the decisions just because they think that they are so brilliant. In reality, Paul says that not many of them were of prominent status when they were saved...though some were. His point is that God did not selectively choose just the prominent people to be saved, or to lead. God alone selects who will lead and any ability that they have to do so is not their own, but comes from Him. And in fact, at times God has intentionally selected people who would appear to not have those abilities naturally...so that He can give them those abilities supernaturally and He will receive the glory.
Prayer: Father, please help our church to not be personality driven, or issue drive...but Holy Spirit driven. Help us to look to You, and You alone, for the direction that we are to go in ministry and the resources we need to accomplish it. Help us to never be in a position where we can be self-sufficient...but always to be dependent on You.