Author: George Ippolito (Page 1 of 20)

A Very Descriptive Greeting (1 Corinthians 1:1-2)

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

In the opening verses of 1 Corinthians we find a very descriptive greeting – descriptive in the sense that Paul theologically described the church to whom he was writing. He was, in a sense, reminding them of who they were even as he said “hello.” But before we see Paul’s description of them we should not miss his description of himself: Paul, the man who was called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God (vs.1). This epistle was not written by “the people’s philosopher” or a publically elected official, it was written by an apostle who had been called and commissioned by God (vs.1b). The Lord Jesus Christ had intersected Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts. 9:3-6) and ordained him to be an apostle to the Gentiles (Acts. 26:16-18). This was important for the Corinthians to remember particularly because so much of what followed in the epistle was corrective.

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Would You Give Thanks for the Corinthian Church? (1 Corinthians 1:4-7)

Would you regularly give thanks for the church at Corinth? I don’t think that many Christians who are familiar with the problems mentioned in 1 Corinthians would. Granted, I may be wrong. But don’t forget – there were a lot of problems in Corinth! Division, lawsuits among brethren, the toleration of sexual immorality, the abuse of Christian liberty, the mistreatment of the Lord’s table, and the misuse of spiritual gifts, are just some of the problems found among them. Yet despite that abbreviated list of infamy Paul could speak honestly under inspiration of the Holy Spirit and say,

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How a Local Church Won’t Stand (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)

10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1:10-13)

Jesus said that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mk. 3:24); and likewise, we can infer that a local church divided against itself cannot stand either. Apparently this was one of the primary reasons for which Paul wrote to the church at Corinth – to exhort them that there be no divisions among them (1:10b; 3:3-4; 11:18). Therefore, Paul’s first bit of gracious, Christ-centered pleading came in the tenth verse of the opening chapter. The address was serious – he exhorted them by the “name of our Lord Jesus Christ”; and yet, he was tender – he called them “brethren.”

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Sustaining Grace (1 Corinthians 1:8-9)

“who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:8-9)

 

Who will confirm the believer till the day of Christ? A quick glance back to verse four reminds us of that answer. For starters, Paul had addressed his thanksgiving to God (vs.4a), He is the one who bestows grace (vs.4b) and secondly, God is the one who calls believers into fellowship with His Son (vs.9b), and part of what makes that grace so amazing is that it is completely sustaining – it confirms believers till the end.

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Baptism is Great; the Gospel is Greater (1 Corinthians 1:14-17)

14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. (1 Corinthians 1:14-17)

Before Paul began an extended discourse about Christ crucified being the wisdom of God and the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18-2:5), he first gave, what we might call, an interesting bit of thanksgiving. Having already given God thanks for the way His grace was at work in the Corinthian church (vs.4-9), he then thanked God that he hadn’t baptized any of the Corinthians except Crispus (vs.14c), the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth who “believed on the Lord with all his household” (Acts. 18:8b), Gaius (1 Cor. 1:14c), the Corinthian believer who hosted Paul while he wrote the epistle to Rome (Rom. 16:23), and “the household of Stephanas” (1 Cor. 1:16b). It’s not every day you hear someone give thanks for who they haven’t baptized. But Paul’s thanksgiving was not without a good explanation.

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