This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Sosthenes. I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be His own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as He did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.1 Corinthians 1:1-3
Now it is time to start with the text we have, rather than discussing the missing parts etc. Come on, admit it. You have been saying to yourself “Oh come on, Ian. Just get started will you. Enough of this preamble.” The truth is what we have done in the preceding days is essential to our understanding as we go through the book precept by precept.
Paul opens the letter in the normal way for a Greek letter. Do you remember my comments in Bible Gem 134 and the opening of the Epistle to the Romans?
The standard Greek letter makes more sense than our modern letter writing habit. What do we do if we get a letter and don’t know who it is from by looking at the envelope? We immediately look to the end of the letter to see who signed it. It helps us with determining the context of the letter. Who is writing this letter to us? The Greek letter writing practice was to put the name of the sender at the beginning. Then the addressee, who was to receive the letter, then to finish the letter with a closing “Grace to you”.
Therefore note Paul’s standard letter intro:
- From Paul
- To the church at X
- Grace and Peace to you.
Compare the letter openings of 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians (maybe the shortest of all in the NT), and 2 Thessalonians. Seeing these 6 examples of the standard letter form will help you to see the contrasts when other elements are added. The additions are the specific parts that are special for those particular people or on the mind of the writer in terms of the matters that will be addressed in the letter. Noting these can help us to see what the emphasis is in a particular letter.
Take time now to look at the detail of 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 to see what you can make of it. You take the time at first to see what stands out to you. Then I will lead you through it in the next Gem. We will not look at every single detail. I think that would bore you too much. So we will pick out the elements that need comment. But I would encourage you to look at the elements first to give you the practice to know what to look for. So do it now with the Introduction.
We will look at the details in the next Gem.
God lets you choose whether you’ll be arrogant or anointed but you can’t be both.Rick Warren