Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes
It is clear that Paul was designated by God to the specific task of bringing the message of Jesus to the nations. Formerly a religious zealot with murderous aspirations against Jesus’ followers, his encounter with the resurrected Jesus completely transformed his entire value system, character, and direction. His newly appointed role within the community of Jesus was to be an apostle – a “sent one”. Note that our word “missionary” is simply the Latin version of the Greek word “apostolos” which is transliterated as “apostle” in our English Bibles. Paul was an outstanding missionary who brought the message of Jesus to most of the known world of his day.
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours
The church is not a building; nor is it an event, social club, or charity. It was not originally labeled according to its denomination but simply by its location – “in Corinth”. The church is, first and foremost, the gathering of Jesus’ followers. Unfortunately, the term itself does not communicate an accurate meaning to us anymore due to frequent, incorrect usage. Perhaps we should use terms such as congregation or gathering because these convey the correct meaning with greater accuracy.
Like Paul, we have also received a calling; we are “called to be saints”. Though having already been “sanctified in Christ Jesus”, our calling is to live out of the reality of that sanctification. Furthermore, sanctification carries the idea of being set apart for a special purpose or use. It was commonly used for those who served as priests in the temple – both Jewish and pagan – because they were employed in the service of divinity.
The church is a gathering of people – people who belong to God and have been designated for a unique and holy purpose because of their association and identification with Jesus. This Jesus is the craftsman from Nazareth of Galilee who, though having spent most of his life in obscurity, changed the entire course of history in only a few years of impact. This Jesus is the Christ – Israel’s Messiah, the long-awaited Anointed One, King of the Universe.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The essence of grace is unmerited favor; this is why it can also often be described as a gift. Our notion of peace is usually just the absence of conflict but Paul’s thinking would have been heavily influenced by the Jewish scriptures. To the Jewish mind, peace was called “shalom” which carries more of a connotation of order and harmony – a state of being where all is as it should be. This benediction is from the creator God of the universe who relates to us as a loving father. It also comes from Jesus – known both as Lord and Christ. His position as Lord describes one who is the master, boss, ruler, noble, etc. Yet it also identifies him with Yahweh of the Jewish scriptures who was almost exclusively called “Lord” by the time of Jesus and Paul. The title of Christ indicates that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise to King David that one of his descendants would rule from his throne forever and bring ultimate peace to both Israel and the entire world.
May we be people who continually rest in God’s grace and peace given to us so that we can treat others likewise.
- Considering the transformation that took place in Paul’s life after his encounter with Jesus, in what ways might we gain a renewed vision of Jesus for our own transformation?
- How can we promote unity and cooperative efforts between various congregations?
- Reflect on your calling – sanctification. What does it mean to be set apart for a special purpose in God’s service?