GOD’S CALLED SAINTS NEED TO HEED THE MESSAGE FROM GOD’S CALLED APOSTLE
BACKGROUND TO THE EPISTLE:
I. (:1) THE DIVINE CALLING OF THE AUTHOR — DIVINE APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY LENDS CLOUT TO PAUL’S INSTRUCTION TO THE SAINTS
A. Author = Apostle Paul
“Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God”
1. His Identification
a. Paul’s pre-Christian Roots
– Persecution of the church
b. Paul’s Conversion on Road to Damascus
c. Paul’s Connection with the Church at Corinth
2. His Apostolic Calling
a. Concept of a “Calling”
– Implies Divine Initiative and Determination
– How does this relate to our spiritual giftedness and role in the church?
– How did this relate to Paul’s tent-making role on different occasions?
b. Apostolic Function and Credentials
– Basic Mission of Apostle
– Foundational in the building of the church
– Nature of Apostolic Authority
– Credentials of Apostle
c. Representative of the Head of the Church = “of Jesus Christ”
d. Divine Initiative and Determination
“by the will of God”
Mare: Here he refers to it [his apostleship] because his authority has been challenged (cf. 1 Cor 1:12 and 9:1-27).
B. Companion – Accompanied/Assisted by Brother Sosthenes – Family Intimacy Also Lends Clout to These Instructions to the Saints
“and Sosthenes our brother”
Principle: Differing roles of authority in the church do not compromise equality of brotherhood in terms of personal relationships in the church of Jesus Christ.
Principle: Paul’s ministry is always portrayed as part of a larger team effort, not as a one man crusade.
Probably the same individual identified in Acts 18:17 as ruler of the synagogue at Corinth during Paul’s first visit there. Thus you would have two former Jewish leaders, former opponents of the church of Jesus Christ, who are not united as brothers in their concern for the saints at Corinth. (see Zondervan Pict. Ency of the Bible)
Lenski: In associating himself with this brother Paul conveys the idea that the voice of apostolic authority here unites with the voice of brotherly solicitude and that each is represented in a person who is known to the Corinthians.
II. (:2) THE DIVINE CALLING OF THE RECIPIENTS – HOLINESS SHOULD CHARACTERIZE THE CHURCH OF GOD BECAUSE OF THEIR INTIMATE CONNECTION TO THEIR LORD JESUS CHRIST
A. Application to the Local Church at Corinth
“To the church of God which is at Corinth”
– the church belongs to God . . . not to the Apostle Paul
– Significance of membership in local church
– Context of situation in Corinth
B. Identified as Saints
1. Historical misuse of this term by Roman Catholic Church
MacArthur: A saint, as the term is used in the New Testament, is not a specially pious or self-sacrificing Christian who has been canonized by an ecclesiastical council.
2. Sanctified by Virtue of Our Union with Jesus Christ
“to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus”
Perf passive participle
Grosheide: God has sanctified them. He has liberated them from the unclean world and has put them in a relationship to Himself whereby they might have intercourse with Him (Jn. 17:19; 1 Thess. 5:23).
3. Saints by Calling (and by Nature)
“saints by calling” (same root word)
C. Application to the Universal Church
1. Extends to All Believers Without Exception
Ethnic Background — Gentile vs Jew
Gender — Male vs Female
Age — Young vs Old
Social Class — Rich vs Poor
Not limited by Time – back then or today
2. Not Limited by Physical Location (John 4:24)
“who in every place”
3. Common Faith = Distinguishing Characteristic of Believers
“call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”
– Background from earliest times – concept of Progressive Revelation
– Background from days of Abraham
Gen. 12:8; 13:4; 21:33
– Background from Psalms of David
– Characteristic of Believers in Church Age
– Characteristic of Believers in the day of the Lord
Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21
What do we call on Jesus for?
For Salvation, Deliverance, Provision, Guidance, Protection . . .
Connection to Prayer – the lifeline for believers
Significance of “the name” = the character
– need to get to know Jesus Christ better so we can better call on \ His name
Hodge: To call upon the name of any one is to invoke his aid.
4. Common Allegiance
“their Lord and ours”
[Alternative translation would connect these genitives to “their place of worship and ours”]
Cannot have a possessive or exclusivistic approach as if our particular local church or denomination has some special claim on the Lord
How can people take a stand against “Lordship salvation” and claim that calling on the name of Jesus bears no connection to a willingness to own Him as our Lord and God?
Call to Holiness and conformity to the divine will and character runs throughout the epistle.
III. (:3) THE CALLING FOR DIVINE PROVISION OF SPIRITUAL RESOURCES — GRACE AND PEACE SUM UP THE UNIVERSAL NEED OF SAINTS
A. Two Essential Provisions
Morris: It is not simply the absence of strife, but the presence of positive blessings. It is the prosperity of the whole man, especially his spiritual prosperity.
B. Two Reliable Providers
1. “from God our Father” – our inclusion in the family of God
2. “and the Lord Jesus Christ” – our allegiance to the head of the Church
Hodge: These infinite blessings suppose an infinite source; and as they are sought no less from Christ than from God the Father, Christ must be a divine person.