Greetings to the Corinthians
1 Cor. 1:1-4
The founding of Christian church in such a worldly, wicked, and corrupt place and society is the
visible proof of the power of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and it is one of the remarkable
victories in the career of Paul. For the love of this church he wrote letters to them. As of any letter
whether it is formal or informal, the beginning if possible is always a warm greeting. And so, Paul the
Apostle as he writes this letter, is sending his warm greetings to the church of Corinth. Before
anything else, let me give you a short background of who really is the Apostle Paul.
I. The Writer: Paul the Apostle
A. Paul was formerly known as Saul of Tarsus. His Jewish name was Saul. His Roman or
Greek name is Paul which means small or little.
1. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews (Ph. 3:5), born in
Tarsus (Acts 9:11; 22:3), the chief city of Cilicia, in Asia Minor. He was brought up
a Pharisee, and educated at Jerusalem, at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), a
2. Overzealous in Judaism, he hates Christianity so much, as shown by his
consenting to the martyrdom of Stephen and by watching over the clothes of
those who stoned him to death. (Acts. 7:58).
3. Persecuted early Christians; had a commission from the high priest to bring
Christians bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2)
4. Converted near Damascus (Acts 9:1-22).
5. Just like anyone else, He was a sinner saved by grace
6. Commissioned an apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 26:13-20).
B. His Apostleship
1. He was not only a sinner saved by grave. He was also a sinner “sent”
2. The word apostle literally means “a sent one” or “one sent from God”. The
rabbis used it as one called and sent as an official representative of another, just
like an “ambassador” (2 Cor. 5:20).
3. The Gospels often use this term of Jesus being sent by the Father (Matt. 10:40;
15:24; Mark 9:37; Luke 9:48).
4. The term apostle also refers to the twelve men who were chosen by Christ to lay
the foundation of the church (Lk. 6:13-16; Eph. 2:20).
5. Paul was “called” to be an apostle of Jesus Christ.
a. This means he is “invited, divinely selected, appointed by the Lord Jesus
Christ (1 Cor. 9:1, 15:9).
b. This was not something that Paul chose for himself, but it was something
that was placed upon him.
c. Paul uses this title for himself in most of his letters as a way of asserting his
God-given call and authority as Christ’s representative (Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1;
2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:1; Titus 1:1).
6. Paul’s Apostolic authority is the major theological issue in the Corinthian letters,
especially in 2 Corinthians.
7. The term “through the will of God” was penned by Paul to let his reader see that
he was convinced that God had chosen him to be an Apostle.
8. Paul knows he is not one of the twelve apostles, but he is on a par with them
because, like them, God choose him, and God called him (Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:1; I
Tim. 1:1; Acts 26:15-19). His enemies said he was not an apostle. Paul reminds
the Corinthians that whatever he is going to write, whether corrective or
constructive, is the “will of God!”
C. Paul and Sosthenes
1. Sosthenes may be the Jewish leader mentioned in Acts 18:17, who was beaten
by the mob and possibly later became a believer and a local church leader. It is
possible that he was Paul’s helper, scribe, or source of information about the
2. Paul calls him “our brother”. For a man to be recognized as a brother by the
Apostle Paul, and his name written in the word of God, is a real blessing and a
II. The Receiver: Sanctified Church of God at Corinth
A. The word church of God here means a divine institution established by God, it
belongs to God, and an instrument of God. Men may despite it, hate it, persecute it,
but they will never prevail against it. The church has a glorious future. The church of
God at Corinth is a local church.
B. The word “sanctify,” “holy,” and “saint” are translated from the same Greek words.
They mean to be set apart for special service.
C. This language was applied to Israel in the Old Testament; it meant that God had set
apart Israel to himself when he redeemed them, and they were therefore to live for
God, not like the nations around them.
D. Unlike the wrong and unscriptural teachings of the Catholic church, a saint is not a
dead person who has been honoured by men because of his or her holy life.
E. Paul wrote to living saints, people who, through faith in Jesus Christ had been set
apart for God’s service.
F. In the N.T. the term “saint” is applied to all true Christians, not merely to believers
who are unusually pure (Acts 9:13,32,41; 26:10; Rom. 8:27).
G. The Corinthian believers were called “saints” not because of their saintly behaviour.
H. They were “sanctified in Christ Jesus” meaning they were “set apart” to God through
faith in Christ Jesus.
I. That means you and me are included too and literally be called “saint”.
J. Even the carnal Christians at Corinth were called saints (2 Cor. 1:1).
K. Christians are not saints because they are sinless; they are saints because they have
a sinless Savior and He has removed their sin from before God (Rev. 1:5-6; 1 Pet.
Illustration: Five Names of Christians
Scripture gives five names to Christians—
1. Saints—for their holiness in Christ;
2. Believers—for their faith;
3. Witnesses—for their testimony;
4. Disciples—for their knowledge;
5. Brethren—for their love for each other. Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations
III. Grace and peace.
A. “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God” (I Cor. 1:3): Grace is unmerited favor.
God gives us salvation by faith (Rom. 3:28; 6:23b).
B. “Peace” is the result of grace — a peace that is the ending of strife and conflict.
These things come “from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
C. Grace was a familiar salutation among the Greeks
D. Peace is the usual greetings among the Jews.
E. Grace and peace would be one of the greatest blessings, especially appropriate to a
church that was torn by factions and strife.
F. Grace and peace can be our prayer or petition for one another and for ourselves.
Illustration: Unmerited Favor
When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day’s pay for his time, that is a wage.
When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a
prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements,
that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves
no award—yet receives such a gift anyway—that is a good picture of God’s unmerited favor. This is
what we mean when we talk about the grace of God.
Clip-Art Features for Church Newsletters, G.W. Knight, p. 53
A. Paul was thankful to God for the Corinthian Church. Though it is the probably the
most problematic church in the NT, he was thankful to God for them.
B. His thankfulness is true and heartfelt for he truly loves the Corinthian Church, even if
he is being attacked and questioned by the very people he served and pointed to
C. He was thankful they were saved and sanctified in Jesus Christ.
D. He was thankful for the grace of God that was given to them.
E. How about you? Are you thankful for your church?
The Apostle Paul wrote this Epistle to the Corinthian church to show them his love. He
wants them to have grace and peace which can only come from God the Father and
from the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you love your church? Are you thankful for your church