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Strolling Through the Book of First Corinthians June 5, 2011

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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I’ve recently started reading through the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians with the aid of a commentary by Charles Hodge. I should note that I’ve previously read through 1 Corinthians. As in my recent experiences with the book of Romans, I hope to comprehend 1 Corinthians as a whole – and not as a collection of individual verses/chapters – while delving into its structure, grasping the flow of Paul’s arguments and reinforcing my understanding of the fundamentals of Christian faith and practice – especially in the context of a local body of Christ.

I plan to blog about this experience as I read through both the epistle and Hodge’s commentary. Each post will correspond to a specific section in the NIV translation.

For starters, here are my thoughts on 1 Corinthians 1:1-3.

Summary: In this passage, Paul greets his readers – especially the Corinthian church. As a divinely appointed messenger of Christ, he extends greetings to them; Sosthenes, who is well-known to them, does likewise. He writes to the believers in Corinth, as they

  • belong to God
  • have been set apart for His service by being united with Christ Jesus
  • are inwardly renewed by the Holy Spirit.

He also writes to all other believers (those who worship the Lord) in Achaia, wherever they happen to be. He then invokes the blessings of God’s love and its inherent benefits to them, as 1) God has adopted them and 2) Christ – by His redeeming work for them – is their Lord who is willing and able to protect them.

Thoughts: In verse 2, we see that Paul refers to the believers in Corinth as “those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people.” Given what we know of the Corinthian church at this time, this statement is rather difficult to digest. Hodge offers some helpful thoughts on this point:

In Scripture people are always addressed according to what they profess. If they profess to be saints, they are called saints; if they profess to be believers, they are called believers; and if they profess to be members of the church, they are addressed as really belonging to it. This passage also teaches, as Calvin remarks, the useful lesson that a body may be very corrupt both in doctrine and practice, yet be properly recognized as a church of God.

I thought about this passage for a bit, and I’ve concluded that since Paul was an apostle, God must have given him a clear indication that the members of the Corinthian church were genuine believers. Now I still entertain doubts regarding Hodge’s comments. If a church is “corrupt both in doctrine and practice,” is it possible that its members are not really saved to begin with? Is Paul essentially saying that we have no right to judge our fellow believers for their actions, as God is their final judge? If we allow the “corrupt” actions of so-called believers to go unchecked, doesn’t that weaken Christianity in the eyes of unbelievers?

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1. Final Greetings « Ringing In - September 6, 2012

[…] enjoyable; it even served as a welcome break from my relatively in-depth strolls through Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Ephesians. To understand why many believers have delighted in reading this […]


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