1 Corinthians 1

Today’s reading comes from 1 Corinthians 1.

During Paul’s two year stay in Ephesus, which we read about yesterday in Acts 19, he probably wrote 1 and 2 Corinthians so we will read those letters, then come back to Acts later.

The church at Corinth had a lot of problems and Paul started addressing them right away here in chapter 1 verse 10. Despite their many--and serious--problems, Paul took time to appreciate the evidence of their faith in God and express confidence in God’s power to make them holy in verses 4-9. The reason for this confidence was that they were “sanctified [set apart] in Christ Jesus” (v. 2) and that God was faithfully working in them (vv. 8-9). The Corinthians, it seems, had lost sight of the fact that God was the source of their faith and their salvation (vv. 28-30). Judging from Paul’s words in this chapter, it appears that the Corinthians began to think that they had some level of discernment on their own. They argued about who was the best teacher--Paul or Apollos (vv. 10-17) which suggests that they thought one or the other was more insightful. Those who argued for their guy may have thought, if you only had the spiritual insight I have, you’d see that Paul is the better teacher. Paul reminded them that it was not their clever insights that brought them to Christ, but Christ and his grace. Apart from his grace, we would consider Jesus and his atoning death for us to be foolishness (vv. 18-23); God, however, called us to trust in Jesus which is why we turned to him in faith (v. 24a). When we turned to Christ in faith, that’s when we learned that Jesus was God’s power and wisdom embodied (v. 24b). In fact, Christ is everything to us by the grace of God--“our wisdom... righteousness, holiness and redemption” (v. 30).

The pride that Paul addressed in the Corinthians is a present temptation to Christians at all times including us. Sometimes we may be tempted to pity or even despise the lost because of how deeply sin and unbelief has infected them. But it was not our keen insight that saved us from that life; it was God’s gracious work in our minds and hearts when we heard the gospel.

This should cause us to thank God for the gift of grace he gave to us. We’d be lost in our sins just life everyone else if it weren’t for his saving work. And, since God is the one who chooses and who saves, we should never write anyone off as being beyond the power of God. The gospel, by the grace of God, is a transformative message. You’ve witnessed its transforming power in your own life but don’t be proud of that fact. Instead, be proud of God (v. 31) and willing to share his message with others so that they may experience his grace as well.