Grace and Peace and Hope
1 Corinthians 1:3–9
By Mike Cooper
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus… God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth in order to address a variety of issues he had heard about. According to a few reports from believers in the area, the church was struggling with arrogance, disunity, and a lack of moral purity. But before he addresses these issues Paul follows standard letter-writing procedure for the first century. He identifies himself at the beginning, and then he sends his greeting and offers a thanksgiving. Go back and count how many times Paul mentions Jesus in his greeting and thanksgiving. By my count it is no fewer than ten times. Paul’s letter was going to be dealing with a difficult situation, and so Paul’s first thoughts for them are of Jesus Christ.
One problem the Corinthians faced was their own arrogance. They had become proud of their eloquent speech and their knowledge, to the point of claiming that the gifts they enjoyed were actually of their own doing instead of coming from God. They had crossed the line between celebrating what God had done, and taking credit for the result of God’s work in their midst. They were no longer looking for Christ to be revealed. More to the point, they were no longer revealing Christ to the city of Corinth. Verse 6 tells us that these special gifts of the Holy Spirit which they had so lavishly received were for that very purpose! This is why Paul’s greeting mentions Christ in every single verse: he wants to remind them that God’s self-revelation in the person of Jesus Christ is ongoing, and they are to bear witness to that truth using the gifts God had given them.
Just as the church in Corinth was called to give testimony to Christ’s saving power, so we are called to reveal Christ in our cities, workplaces, and schools. But we need to be careful that we don’t fall into the same trap that caught the Corinthians. It is only in God’s strength that we can be “enriched in every way, not lacking any spiritual gift” (v5) as we reveal Christ now, and “wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v7) when he comes again.
God will be with us through every trial, and through every challenge, keeping us strong as we wait for that revelation. God is faithful. (v9) God will do what he has promised. This is the grounds of our confidence as we wait.
Lord, help us bear witness of your love to the world around us, and help us eagerly expect the day you return.