First Corinthians: Paul’s Introduction

December 31, 2007

Paul had a message on his heart when he wrote the letter we call 1 Corinthians. From beginning to end, every line he wrote in the letter was crafted to convey that message. The message on his heart was the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit was directing Paul to call the Corinthian church back to the gospel.

The church at Corinth needed to be called back to the gospel. In the approximately five years since Paul had left Corinth, the church had drifted in its focus. Paul had received reports of division in the church. Some in the church had written to Paul expressing concerns about practices and controversies within the church. The focus of the church had drifted from the Christ-centered gospel into competitiveness and flawed humanistic values. Paul wrote this letter to set the focus back on the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to call them to live appropriately in response to that gospel.

The introduction to chapter 1 lays a foundation for Paul’s appeal. The first verse asserts that Paul was an apostle by the will of God — a special messenger sent from God to the Corinthian church. His message came with the full authority of God himself. The Corinthian church would do well to pay attention.

The second verse reminds them that they were sanctified (set apart for the purposes of God) in Christ Jesus, and that they were called to be holy. They had been sanctified, and they needed to act like it.

Paul wrote the name “Jesus Christ” nine times in the first ten verses (and “Christ” a tenth time). He reminded the church of the faithfulness of God, who had enriched them with spiritual gifts and who would bring them to the end strong and blameless. God will fulfill the all the promises contained within the gospel of Jesus Christ. Life in the Christian church is motivated by what Christ did. It is instructed by what Christ taught. It is empowered by Christ. It is modelled by Christ. Christian life is made possible by Christ. It really is all about Jesus Christ.

Having laid that foundation for his message, Paul immediately went to work addressing the concerns about the church in Corinth.

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