1Co 1:1-3 “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul first came to Corinth after preaching Jesus and His resurrection in Athens. Based on his meeting Aquila and Priscilla there, the time of this visit to Corinth is placed at around 50 AD. Aquila and Priscilla had fled Rome as the result of an edict issued by the Emperor Claudius that all Jews should depart Rome (Acts 18:2). Claudius’ proclamation was given around 49 AD.
Scholars indicate that Paul was probably at Corinth for about two years, leaving in 52 AD. When he left Corinth, he came to Ephesus. The letter that we refer to as First Corinthians was written from Ephesus, probably around 55 AD. I offer this time line so that we may understand how much turmoil had surfaced in just two years after Paul left Corinth for Ephesus. Based on 1Co 5:9, First Corinthians was not actually the first letter Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, but it is the first that we still have a copy of.
Paul’s epistles all share some commonality of greeting when he addresses the church. In this case, it was important that Paul remind the church at Corinth by whose authority he addressed them and by whose authority they existed. Like Paul, true ministers of the gospel do not just decide to become ministers like one might decide to become a truck driver, a coach, or some other career path. Those that truly minister the gospel of Jesus Christ are appointed through the will of God.
In the same manner, the church (defined as a religious congregation – see Strong’s) is of God. God is the source of the authority by which the church is purified in Jesus Christ. Just as Paul was appointed, so was the church at Corinth appointed to be sacred. In like manner, both the ministering servants and the church exist by the will and sanctification of God through Jesus Christ today.
We are reminded by Paul’s words that neither we nor the church at Corinth are an island. There is a fellowship that exists with all that worship (call upon) the authority and character (name) of Jesus Christ. It does not matter that we are not all in the same region: it does not matter if we are Jew or Gentile; it does not matter if we are rich or poor. All have been called by the will of the same God and sanctified in Christ Jesus for His honor and glory.
Just as we are called according to the will of God, so do we experience grace and peace. This comes from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. As we continue to seek His face throughout this epistle, it is important to remember that Paul’s salutation included these all in a familial relationship with God.
May we honor God with the understanding that we are called to be saints and ministers by His will and His will alone!