1 Corinthians 1:1-9: Introduction To Corinthians

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The Introduction To This Letter; Paul And Sosthenes Introduce Themselves; They Identify The Ones To Whom They Are Writing; A Prayer For Grace And Peace; Their Commendation Of The Corinthians; An Assurance Of God’s Commitment To Them To Keep Them Firm So That They Would Be Blameless When Messiah Returns

This letter was written by one of the greatest men who ever lived. Paul was a great rabbi, evangelist, author, prophet and an apostle – one of God’s special representatives. He was not just any apostle, but the apostle to the Gentiles, the one entrusted to reach the peoples other than the people of Israel, and teach them, and help them apply the truth about the Jewish Messiah to their cultures. The Lord used Paul to write a good portion of the New Testament, which, along with the Tenach, is the greatest book ever written. What an amazing man.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was written about 55 AD, while Messiah’s Community was still in its early stage of growth.

This letter was written from the city of Ephesus.

It was written to Messiah’s Community in Corinth. Corinth was a port city in Achaia (Greece). It was a prosperous commercial center. Corinth was known for being a center of sexual immorality.

Paul started this community on his second missionary journey. After arriving in Corinth, Paul met Aquila and his wife, Priscilla. Aquila was a Messianic Jew, and Priscilla probably was too. Paul lived and worked with them and taught at the synagogue until opposition forced him to move next door, to the house of Titius Justus.

Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half. During that time, Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, and all his household, believed in the Lord; and many Corinthians came to faith.

When Paul wrote this letter, Messiah’s Community in Corinth was young. It was about five years old. It was made up of Jewish people and Gentiles, peoples from the nations. It was a community that was experiencing challenges: there were divisions in the community; and there was a very serious problem with a man involved in a very immoral situation. It was a community that had a lot of questions.

After leaving Corinth, Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthians. That letter has been lost (see 5:9). The community wrote Paul a letter (7:1), and this letter is his response. He deals with the problem of division and the issue of immorality; and he answers their questions.

Paul, called to be an apostle of Messiah Yeshua by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes. An apostle is an emissary; a representative; someone sent to represent someone else. Paul is a representative of Messiah Yeshua. He was sent by God to represent Messiah Yeshua.

Paul was not a self-appointed apostle, but was called to be an apostle. God the Father gave Paul his position as an apostle.

Paul apostleship did not originate from Paul’s will. God the Father was the One who wanted Paul to be an apostle. Paul was called to be an apostle by the will of God, and God’s will, what God wants, must be respected.

As a called-by-God representative of Messiah Yeshua, Paul has the highest spiritual authority. He and his writings are to be respected. He and his writing are to be obeyed.

Paul was not the sole author of this letter. Paul, called to be an apostle of Messiah Yeshua by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, This letter was co-authored by Sosthenes, who very possibly was the Sosthenes mentioned by Luke in Acts 18. According to that divinely inspired history, Paul had been accused by the Jewish people of Corinth of being a false teacher. He appeared before Gallio, the Roman authority of that area, to face his accusers.

When Gallio dismissed the case, stating that the accusations against Paul were a matter of Jewish law and not under his jurisdiction, the Jewish crowd, who were unhappy with Gallio’s decision, beat a man named Sosthenes, who was the leader of the synagogue. If this is the same Sosthenes, which seems likely, this is another Jewish leader in Corinth who became a Messianic Jewish believer.

In this letter, sometimes Paul and Sosthenes write together, using the first person plural – we, us and our. However, in most of the letter Paul takes over and uses the first person singular – I, me and my.

We know who wrote this letter. Next we are told to whom this letter was written. To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Messiah Yeshua and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah – their Lord and ours:

Church: It’s a community of individuals who are called out of a dying world. It’s a community of people who are called to belong to God.

It’s the church of God: it was created by God; it was redeemed by God; it belongs to God; it is exceedingly precious to God.

It’s a community of people who are sanctified in Messiah Yeshua. Human beings who are not in Messiah Yeshua, who are not united to the Son of God, are not sanctified. They are not holy. They are not set apart from an unholy, dying world. Only those who are in Messiah Yeshua are set apart – to live forever with the eternal God. The only way to be sanctified is to be in Messiah Yeshua, to be joined to the Son of God. That only happens when we have faith; when we become loyal to Yeshua, the risen Lord and Savior.

The church is a community of people who are sanctified in Messiah Yeshua and called to be his holy people. We are invited to be Messiah’s holy people. And those who are called to be Messiah’s holy people are expected to live like Messiah’s holy people. Are you?

The Rabbi and Sosthenes reminded Messiah’s followers in Corinth that they are not the only ones who are sanctified in Messiah Yeshua and called to be Messiah’s holy people. They are part of a much larger community. To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Messiah Yeshua and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah – their Lord and ours: Paul and Sosthenes reminded the Corinthians that there were many others in many other places who also called on the name of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah – called on Him by confessing that they believed that Yeshua is the risen Messiah and living Lord. Paul and Sosthenes of course confessed the same thing. Yeshua was their Lord, the Lord of the believers everywhere, and ours – the Lord of Paul and the Lord of Sosthenes.

It’s encouraging to know that there are many others throughout the world who share our faith in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. When I look at our little congregation, and consider some of our struggles; or when I think about the way the Evangelical Church in the United States and Europe is shrinking, I can get discouraged. But, when I think about the hundreds of millions of people in Africa, China, Korea, Mexico and Central and South America who, in the past 50 years, have been calling on the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, I get encouraged. I get excited. My enthusiasm for the Lord and for evangelism gets renewed.

Next comes a prayer from the Rabbi and Sosthenes – one of my favorite kinds of prayer – a short and sweet one: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Grace is something good that happens that is unmerited, undeserved, unearned. The truth is that we are sinners who deserve punishment. But God is gracious, and does not give us what we deserve. Instead He gives us what we don’t deserve. He gives us good things. He gives us grace. Along with grace, the Rabbi prays that they would receive peace. Peace is wholeness. Peace is completeness. Peace is well-being. Since we are damaged, broken, fractured; since we lack wholeness and integrity, we are in the most desperate need of peace.

What great, beneficial things, things that we so desperately need, the Rabbi prays for. Let’s learn from Paul, and pray frequently, for our fellow Messianic Jews and Christians everywhere, that they would be blessed with grace and peace.

Note well that Paul asks two separate, distinct persons – God the Father and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah – to give the people who belong to them, grace and peace. The Father is a person, with mind, emotion and will. The Son is a person, with mind, emotion and will. The Father is a person, who is distinct from the Son. The Son is a person who is distinct from the Father. The Son is not a mode or a way that God reveals Himself. The Father is not a mode, or a way that God manifests Himself. The Father is a person. He always was a person. The Son is a person. He was always a person. The Father is a person, and was always a person, and the Son is a person, and was always a person, in the position of Son to the Father – from all eternity.

The teaching that there is one God who manifests Himself in three ways or three modes, but is not three Persons, is an old heresy called Modalism. God the Father, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah and the Holy Spirit, are not three modes or manifestations or the ways the one God expresses Him, but three Persons. As the old hymn says: God in three Persons, blessed Trinity. Any so-called spiritual leader who does not strongly support God in three Persons should be avoided.

The Father and the Son are united in nature; they share the same divine nature; they share the same divine Spirit; and they are also united in purpose. And one of their purposes is to give their people grace and peace. The Father and the Son work together, in perfect unity, to bring their people grace and peace.

The Father and the Son are full of grace and peace.

The Father and the Son want to bless their people with grace and peace.

The Father and the Son are able to bless their people with grace and peace.

You want grace and peace? You want good things to happen to you that you don’t deserve? You want to know that, in spite your circumstances, you have peace? Peace with God? That no matter what happens, is well, it is well with your soul? Then you need to belong to the Father and you need to belong to the Son. You need to be part of their holy people.

That only happens when you enter into a right relationship with God. You become part of God’s set apart people by understanding that God the Father is real; that Yeshua is the Messiah and the Son of God and the Lord; that the He came into this world through the incarnation; lived a perfect life; died an atoning death; rose from the dead; is alive now, ascended, exalted, powerful. You make a serious commitment to serve the Father and the Son; to be loyal; obedient; faithful. The Father and the Son then send their Holy Spirit to you, who lives with you, and begins the work of transforming you from within.

Later in this letter, Paul will correct the Corinthians. Before he does that, however, he commend them. I’ve learned that when I need to correct someone, it helps if I first commend him for some of the good things he is doing. That communicates that I appreciate him and support him and am not his enemy. Commendation helps softens the blow of correction. The Rabbi does the same thing here. I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Messiah Yeshua. Paul thanked God for the Corinthians because they were joined to Yeshua, and God had graced them in many ways. For in him you have been enriched in every way – with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge. United to Messiah, they had been enriched – spiritually enriched, in every way, especially with spiritual knowledge and the ability to effectively communicate that knowledge to themselves and to others.

Paul had told others about the community in Corinth – that their faith was genuine; that they were growing in their knowledge about God and their ability to communicate that knowledge. Now he is able to write that what he had told others about them was true. God thus confirming our testimony about Messiah among you. How reassuring for Paul, who started this community, and who invested a year and a half of his life into them, to be able to confirm that what he had told others about them was true.

Paul again commends them. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Yeshua the Messiah to be revealed. The Rabbi communicated to them that he knows that they had been graced with many spiritual gifts. And, along with their many spiritual gifts, Paul let them know that he knew that their hearts were in the right place. They were eagerly waiting for the Lord Yeshua the Messiah to be revealed. Those who are eagerly waiting for the Lord Yeshua the Messiah to be revealed, to appear, to return to Earth, are not engaging in sinful activities. They are not allowing themselves to get caught up in the world, and money and materialism and worldly living. They are keeping themselves holy. They are serving the Lord and building Messiah’s Community and proclaiming the Good News.

Paul assures them that they were firm, and God would keep them firm until the time Messiah was revealed, so that they will be blameless. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. It’s very comforting, very reassuring to know that God knows how to make us firm and keep us firm; to keep us safe; solid; stable; to protect us from all evil so that in the very special day when Messiah returns, we will be blameless. Human beings are not blameless; in fact, we are quite the opposite. We are born into a world full of blame. The sin and guilt and blame are part of us. How wonderful to know that a time is coming when those who are united to Messiah will be blameless; guiltless; free from any taint of sin! How wonderful to know that God is able to make us firm and keep us firm until we are blameless on the day Messiah is revealed!

This promise – to make Christians and Messianic Jews firm and keep them firm until they are with Messiah and blameless, is connected to God’s faithfulness. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Messiah Yeshua our Lord. How wonderful to know that God is faithful, and His faithfulness is working to keep us firm, so that we will be blameless when we meet Messiah!

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Messiah Yeshua our Lord. The same God who is faithful has called us into fellowship with His Son. There are various kinds of fellowships, based on various shared interests. This is the greatest fellowship of them all. This is a fellowship between human beings and God and the Son of God, the Messiah and Lord. It is a fellowship of shared life; shared values; shared goals; shared purpose; shared future; shared inheritance; shared blessedness.

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Messiah Yeshua our Lord. God is the initiator of salvation, not us. We don’t call ourselves into fellowship with God’s Son, into the wonderful sharing and communion we enjoy with Messiah Yeshua our Lord. God the Father is the one who calls us into fellowship with His Son. If God did not call us, invite us, draw us, woo us, reveal truth to us, we would never enter into the amazing fellowship we have with the Lord Yeshua the Messiah.

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son.

God the Father, who calls human beings into fellowship with His Son, is faithful. He can be counted on to keep those human beings He has called into fellowship with His Son, in fellowship with His Son. He can be relied on to bring them to the goal of eternal fellowship with His Son. If God has called you into fellowship with His Son, you can count on Him, rely on Him to keep you in fellowship with His Son – now and forever.

Let’s pray:

Avinu Malkaynu, our Father and our King, thank You for Paul; and for Sosthenes. Thank You for this great letter they wrote to the Christians and Messianic Jews in Corinth. Thank You that it is divinely inspired. Thank You that it has been preserved for us.

Avinu Malkaynu, our Father and our King, we believe that Paul was called to be an apostle of Messiah Yeshua by Your will. We respect that. We honor that. Help us honor him and his teachings, including everything in this letter to the Corinthians.

Avinu Malkaynu, our Father and our King, thank You for the Church of God, Your community of people who are called out of a dying world; a community of people who are called to belong to You. Thank You that many of us here today are part of that community. Please add people to our community who are being called out of this world, and being called to live forever with You.

Avinu Malkaynu, our Father and our King, thank You that human beings, who are not sanctified, are sanctified in Messiah Yeshua; that when we are united to the Son of God, we are set apart from an unholy world, set apart to live forever with You!

Avinu Malkaynu, our Father and our King, You have called us to be Your holy people. We are Your holy people already, right now, simply because You have called us and we have responded to Your call. Now, help us to live like Your holy people.

Avinu Malkaynu, our Father and our King, just as Paul and Sosthenes asked You and Your Son to supply the Corinthians with grace and peace, I pray that You and Your Son would shower us with grace and peace – that You and Your Son would do good things to us that we don’t deserve; that You and Your Son would bless us with wholeness and completeness and a peace not dependent on our circumstances.

Avinu Malkaynu, our Father and our King, just as the Corinthians were enriched in every way – with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge – I pray that You would spiritually enrich us in every way.

Avinu Malkaynu, our Father and our King, just as our brothers and sisters in Corinth were eagerly waiting for our Lord Yeshua the Messiah to be revealed, I pray that You would help us to eagerly wait for our Lord Yeshua the Messiah to be revealed. Help us not get caught up in the world. Help us not to be seekers of money and material possessions. Help us keep ourselves holy, serving You, building Messiah’s Community and proclaiming the Good News.

Avinu Malkaynu, our Father and our King, thank You for Your commitment to make Christians and Messianic Jews firm and keep them firm until they are with Messiah and blameless, and that You are faithful to Your commitments; that we can rely on You to keep your commitments.

Avinu Malkaynu, our Father and our King, thank You that although we are born into a world full of blame, and sin and guilt and blame have been part of us and have rubbed off on us, You will make us blameless; guiltless; free from any taint of sin!

Avinu Malkaynu, our Father and our King, thank You that we are part of the greatest fellowship of all, the fellowship between human beings and You and the glorious Son of God, a fellowship of shared life; shared values; shared goals; shared purpose; shared future; shared inheritance; shared blessedness. Help us treasure that fellowship. Help us to conduct ourselves so that we do nothing to harm that fellowship. Help us to be passionate to help others join our fellowship.

By | 2017-04-03T23:30:40+00:00 April 1st, 2017|Categories: Commentaries by Rabbi Loren, Sermons by Rabbi Loren|Tags: , |Comments Off on 1 Corinthians 1:1-9: Introduction To Corinthians

About the Author:

Rabbi Loren Jacobs is the senior rabbi and founder of “Congregation Shema Yisrael” (which means “Hear O Israel”). Congregation Shema Yisrael is a Messianic synagogue which was started in 1986 when Rabbi Loren and his wife Martha moved to Michigan to proclaim the Good News about the Messiah to the Jewish people living in the metro Detroit area. Rabbi Loren was raised in a Jewish home in the Chicago area, and became a Messianic Jew in 1975. He graduated from Moody Bible Institute’s Jewish Studies program in 1979 and received a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Literature from Northeastern Bible College in New Jersey in 1986. His wife Martha is a fifth generation Messianic Jew, which is quite unusual. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.