Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3
Greetings From Paul
How do you like to be addressed in public?
1 From Paul, whom God called and willed to be an Apostle for Jesus Christ, and from our Christian brother Sosthenes.
2 To the Church of God in Corinth. God made you holy in Christ Jesus. He calls you to be saints along with believers everywhere who pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is our Lord and their Lord.
3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
1 Paul, called apostle of JESUS CHRIST by the will of God, and brother Sosthenes, 2 to the Church of God, the one existing in Corinth, having been sanctified in CHRIST JESUS, called saints, with all those calling upon the name of the LORD JESUS CHRIST in every place, their (LORD) and ours. 3 To you, grace and peace from God our Father and the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
1:1, 2 "called apostle...called saints" The word "called" does not mean "named" by common usage. God, not the believers, called Paul to be an apostle and called the believers to be saints.
1:1 "Sosthenes" was listed as a leader of the Jewish synagogue in Corinth (Acts 18:17). In Acts, this official was beaten by anti-Christian Jews after their complaint about Paul to the proconsul Gallo was rejected. Whether this is the same man is a matter of speculation.
1:2 This verse identified the location of the community (Corinth), then gave several description of "Church": those made holy by Christ, those called by God to be saints, those who call upon the name of the Lord throughout the known world.
1:3 "grace and peace" Paul directed the term "grace" toward Gentile-Christians; "grace" was God's gracious gift of intimacy, life, and salvation. Paul directed the term "peace" toward Jewish-Christians; "peace" or "Shalom" was the sense of God's immanence and activity that caused peace among people. Notice both terms described the full appearance of the Kingdom. Paul's greeting became an opportunity to remind his audience of their belief in the Second Coming; he also wished the presence of God to his audience.
These are the opening lines to Paul's first letter to the Church at Corinth. There is some controversy whether this actually was the first letter Paul wrote, or was only one of two letters that exist to this day (see 1 Cor. 5:9-11). (For example, many scholars believe that Second Corinthians was several letters edited into a single manuscript). Nevertheless, Paul was familiar with the community; he visited Corinth at least once (50-51 AD) to help establish the local Church. Paul wrote the letter most likely in 54 AD in response to the fragmenting and deteriorating conditions within the community. Infighting between various groups and claims of special spiritual gifts and knowledge took the focus of the Corinthians away from evangelization and pointed it inward. These issues urgently needed to be addressed by Paul.
The greeting found in 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 was typical of Paul's style. He established his credentials, then addressed his specific audience. In doing so, he recognized the status of his readers as those who received the grace of God, those whom God called to be saints, and those call upon the name of the Lord (thereby identifying themselves as Christians). He finished the greeting with a prayer of good will that transcended polite convention. As the note above stated, Paul prayed for the presence of the Kingdom upon his audience; in the same breath, he reminded his followers why they believed. They looked forward to the coming of Christ in glory.
One way to read Scripture is personal correspondence. We can read Paul's words as if they were addressed specifically to us. The descriptions of Church and Paul's prayer should give us comfort. We are called by God. We experience his grace and peace now. We place our hope in the coming of the Kingdom. Despite the troubles we might find in our local churches, God still wants us to part of something that transcends our pettiness and appeals to the greater good in us.
We should always remember that God calls us his children. This was Paul's message.
How can you act as a child of God this week? How has God sanctified you this week? How can you show others that you call upon the name of the Lord?