Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
dignity belonging to his vocation, as one sent of God, was a supreme principle of his nature; not an opinion, but a conviction, and a conviction too strong to be dislodged from its central seat in his mind by any assault of adverse circumstances. It must needs be subjected to manifold and severe tests, since in this way alone can a conviction be made available for the highest moral uses. Owing to his exceptional position, St. Paul underwent, in this respect, a series of peculiar trials which distinguish him from the other apostles, so that, while he shared with them the persecution incident to the apostolate in itself, he had an experience of its perplexities and sorrows, personal to himself, in the distinctive and supplementary attitude he was ordained to maintain. Like all men, he had fluctuant moods, the ebb and flow of emotion with its reflex influence on intellect and volition. His natural temperament was extremely sensitive, and it was aggravated by hardship and disease. The blood that warmed and the nerves that thrilled under the touch of outward agencies, had their counterpart in the sensibility of his spiritual life, and, accordingly, body and soul were in singularly close partnership in his nature, and acted and interacted very powerfully on each other. Yet, in spite of this liability to the moods of subjective sensations and internal impressions, the conviction of his call to be an apostle of the Lord Jesus, and to exercise his Divine endowments in a specific way, stood altogether apart from the variations of ordinary thought and feeling, and held its strength of consciousness unimpaired throughout his career. So strong and yet so beautiful; humility the ornament of its energetic vigour, so that while he starts with "Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ," he loses not a moment, but in the opening verse of the Epistle introduces "Sosthenes our brother." Not a trace of Sosthenes appears in the Epistle; the production is Pauline to the core; and yet St. Paul would associate with him "Sosthenes our brother." If St. Paul is about to rebuke intellectual pride and vanity, and condemn the evil partisanship that grows out of selfishness and disguises an inflated personality under the mask of homage to a great leader, what more fitting words can he utter on the threshold of his letter than "Sosthenes our brother," whose name was no battle cry of faction? Naturally enough, this sense of unity in St. Paul's mind with all Christians finds immediate vent in addressing "the Church of God" at Corinth, "with all that in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord," adding with touching expressiveness, "both theirs and ours." A true sense of manhood is always known by its prompt and hearty identification with the manhood of the race. All growth and culture advance from the individual and the personal towards the universal, until at last - the providential work of development on earth accomplished - the narrow horizon that was quite sufficient for youth and early manhood, widens to the reach of the world. When we find this circumference, we find our real centre. Not otherwise can a man attain genuine individuality. For the light that blesses his eyes, for the air that feeds his lungs, for the food nourishing bodily strength, he is a debtor to the universe. And it is the aim of Christianity to call out and perfect the latent vigour of this instinct of race, and, but for its Divine office, the sentiment were impossible as a spiritual actuality. No wonder, then, that St. Paul announces to the mixed population of Corinth - to Romans, Greeks, Asiatics, in the Corinthian Church - the doctrine of grace for all, and emphasizes the gift as "both theirs and ours" The formative thought of the first chapter is thus intimated. To prepare for its enlargement, he reminds the Corinthians that it was as a Church arid in their organic capacity they were "saints;" that, as members of Christ's body, they had been "enriched by him in all utterance, and in all knowledge;" and then proceeds to show that the faithfulness of God was pledged to their continued progress in this selfsame line of direction, viz. fellowship in Christ Jesus as the Son of God and Lord of humanity. Here, as everywhere in St. Paul's writings, the two ideas of the Divine and the human in Christ are assumed as the ground of our fellowship in him and with one another; brethren because disciples, one below because one above, the strength and purity and permanence of the tie between man and man in this fellowship being determined solely by our union in him. On no other basis could the word "fellowship" have taken its specialized place in the vocabulary of Christianity. The contents of the term outreach what we ordinarily mean by respect, confidence, intercourse, and like expressions, and signify a deep sense of equality, of the recognition of common rights and privileges, and of a sympathy that has its roots, not in the shallow soil of races and their latitude and longitude as geographical facts, but in One who was the Representative in a peculiar and exclusive manner of the human race. Fellowship is an acknowledgment of redemption. It is not union alone, but a vital unity, a communion of man with man, and as man by means of communion with God in Christ - a bond that exists between spirit and spirit through the common grace of the Holy Ghost, as the Executive of the Father and the Son in the heart of every believer. Who knew more of the intensity of race-blood, of its subtle force, of its open and virulent activity in all the practical questions of the age, of its perpetuated and unyielding traditions, of its frantic emergence on every occasion unless repressed by the arm of authority, - who understood this better than St. Paul, himself a notable example for years of its power to blind common sense and stupefy common instincts? And where was there a city of such miscellaneous activity of mind and such collisions of inherited beliefs and such ill-adjusted public life as this same Corinth - a huge reservoir for all the tributary streams of civilization that had washed down into its bosom whatever had survived of the degeneracy in Asia Minor, in Egypt, in Italy? Yet this St. Paul is the man to speak of fellowship, and this Corinth is the community to which he would address himself in behalf of the grace "both theirs and ours." - L.
I. THE DESIGNATION OF THE WRITERS.
Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God.
The Study.I. THE CHARACTER OF PAUL.
1. There were two things the apostle knew confidently.(1) That he was "not meet to be called an apostle." The same humility should mark us. Our humility, however, must not weaken faith or enfeeble energy. For —(2) Paul was an apostle. We are not "meet" to be saved, but we should never doubt our salvation when the Word of God assures us.
2. The strength and nobleness of Paul's character was based on the confidence that he was "called of God" to be and to do the work of an apostle. A little thing will not make us lose heart in our work if we believe we are "called of God."
II. THE CHARACTER OF THE CORINTHIANS.
1. They also were "called of God" "to be saints" — i.e., separated to God. They were not self-called, to be and to do what they liked. They were called of God to be like God, and to do His will; to be separated from their former selves.
2. They had been called out of a society —(1) Where the Greeks sought for "wisdom" and the Jews for "signs."(2) That was morally corrupt.
3. The character given them by God should inspire them with jealous care against —(1) The admission into the Church of the elements of Corinthian society.(2) Religious bigotry and intolerance — the spirit of the Jew. They were but a part of the Church.
III. THE BENEDICTION. Grace is essentially an element of "peace." Its great dispensation was heralded in by "peace on earth." "Sinai" and "peace" were not known; but "Calvary" and "peace" are one. They who build on anything but "grace" will not know "peace." The Church, too, will be characterised by "peace" in the measure of the "grace" in the heart of its members. The peace-breaker is never a man "full of grace."
1. An apostle means "one sent," a missionary to teach the truth committed to him; and the authority of this apostolic mission St. Paul substantiates in ver. 1, for it was questioned. In the firm conviction of his call by the will of God lay all his power. No man felt more strongly his own insignificance, but more deeply did he feel that he was God's messenger. Imagine that conception dawning on him in the midst of his despondency, and his joyful boldness against the slander of his enemies, and the doubtfulness of his friends is natural. This should be our strength. Called to be a politician, a tradesman, a physician. Why should not each and all of us feel that? But we get rid of it by saying that God called the apostles, but does not speak to us. But observe the modesty of the apostolic claim. He did not wish that his people should receive his truth because he, the apostle, had said it, but because it was truth.
2. St. Paul's joining with himself "brother" Sosthenes is another proof of his desire to avoid lording it over God's heritage. If Sosthenes be he of Acts 18., what a conqueror St. Paul, or rather Christianity, had become. Like the apostle, Sosthenes now built up the faith which once he destroyed.
II. THE PERSONS ADDRESSED.
1. "The Church," which, according to the derivation of the word, means the House of God. It is that body of men in whom the Spirit of God dwells, and who exist on earth for the purpose of exhibiting the Divine life, to penetrate and purify the world. It has an existence continuous throughout the ages, not on the principles of hereditary succession or of human election, but on the principle of spiritual similarity of character, just as the seed of Abraham are the inheritors of his faith.
2. There is, however, a Church visible and invisible; the latter consists of those spiritual persons who fulfil the notion of the ideal Church; the former embraces within it all who profess Christianity, whether they be proper or improper members of its body. Of the invisible Church St. Paul speaks as "called to be saints," "temples of the Holy Ghost." Of the visible as "carnal, and walking as men," and when he reproves their errors Christ too speaks of the same in the parables of the draw-net and the tares. To illustrate the abstract conception of a river is that of a stream of pure water, but the actual river is the Rhine or the Thames, muddy and discoloured. So of the Church. Abstractedly and invisibly it is a kingdom of God in which no evil is; in the concrete, and actually, it is the Church of Corinth, Rome, or England, tainted with impurity; and yet just as the muddied Rhone is really the Rhone, and not mud and Rhone, so there are not two churches, the Church of Corinth and the false church within it, but one visible Church in which the invisible lies concealed (cf. the parable of the Vine).
3. But beyond the limits of the visible is there no true Church? Are Plato, Socrates, Marcus Antoninus, and such as they, to be reckoned by us as lost? Surely not. The Church exists for the purpose of educating souls for heaven; but goodness is goodness, find it where we may. A vineyard exists for the purpose of nurturing vines, but he would be a strange vine-dresser who denied the reality of grapes because they had ripened under a less genial soil, and beyond the precincts of the vineyard.
4. The visible Church of which the Church of Corinth formed a part existed to exhibit what humanity should be to represent the Life Divine in(l) Self-devotion. They were "sanctified in Jesus Christ." When ecclesiastical dignity makes godliness a means of gain, or when priestcraft exercises lordship over God's heritage, then it is falsifying its mission.(2) Sanctity. The Corinthian converts came out of a factious and extremely corrupt society, and carried into the Church the savour of their old life, for the wine-skin will long retain the flavour of the wine. We find immorality existing, old philosophy colouring Christianity, the insolence of wealth at the Lord's Supper, and spiritual gifts exhibited for ostentation. Such was the Church of Corinth, the Early Church so boasted of by some! Nevertheless all are "called to be saints," and their mission is to put down all evil.(3) Universality: "With all who, in every place," &c. The Corinthian Church was only a part of the Church universal as a river is of the sea. Paul would not permit, it to think of itself as more spiritual or as possessing higher dignity than the Church at Jerusalem or Thessalonica. There is no centre of unity but Christ: We boast of our advantages over Dissenters and Romanists. Whereas the same God and the same Christ is "theirs and ours."(4) Unity. Christ was the Saviour of all, and His Spirit bound all together into a living and invisible unity. Each in their several ways contributed to fill up the same building on the same Foundation; each in their various ways were distinct members of Christ's body, performing different offices, yet knit into one under the same Head; and the very variety produced a more perfect and abiding unity.
III. THE BENEDICTION: "Grace and peace," &c. The heathen commenced their letters with the salutation, "Health!" There is a life of the flesh, and there is a life of the spirit — a truer, more real, and higher life, and above and beyond all things the apostle wished them this. He wished them neither "health" nor "happiness," but "grace and peace," &c. And nosy comes the question, What is the use of this benediction? How could grace and peace be given as a blessing to those who rejected grace, and not believing fell no peace? Its validity depended on its reception by the hearts to whom it was addressed. If they received it they became in fact what they had been by right all along.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
1. That the praise there bestowed on faith and holiness is here almost confined to gifts such as knowledge and wisdom, which were obviously not incompatible with the moral degradation into which some of the members of the Church had fallen. And it is in accordance with the apostle's method to seize, in the first instance, on some point of sympathy and congratulation, not merely from a prudential policy, but from natural courtesy and generosity.
2. That this apostolic practice is an exemplification of the general rule, according to which Scripture presents strongly the ideal of the whole without describing the defects and sins of the parts. The visible society of Christians was to the apostles, in spite of its many imperfections, the representation of Messiah's kingdom. And then, although the Christian congregation in each city or country was distinct from the heathen community in which it was situated, it was, as it were, the Christian representative of that community. A Christian of Corinth or Ephesus might travel backwards and forwards from one to the other; but however great were the disorders of the one or the excellences of the other, there was no call upon him to exchange communions unless he actually ceased to reside in Corinth or Ephesus. The supposed duty of gaining proselytes from Christian communities different from our own, and the consequent division of Churches by any other than their local and national designations, are ideas alien from the apostolic age. "Spartam nactus es; hanc exorna," was a maxim of apostolical, no less than of Grecian wisdom. No Church of later ages has presented a more striking example of corruption or laxity than was exhibited at Corinth, yet the apostle does not call on his converts to desert their city or their community; and he himself steadily fixes his view on the better and the redeeming side.
(Dean Stanley.)I. THE WRITER — "Paul, an Apostle," &c.
1. An apostle is one sent, as Christ was sent by the Father (1 John 17:18). It was therefore an office no one could take to himself, nor was it promotion from previous service. This explains one of Paul's most prominent characteristics: the combination of humility and authority. He is "not worthy to be called an apostle," yet he never hesitates to assert his claim to be listened to as the ambassador of Christ. And this is for us all the source of humility and confidence. It is altogether a new strength with which a man is inspired when he knows that God calls him to do this or that.
2. What share in the letter Sosthenes had we cannot say. He may have written it, and he may have suggested a point here and there. Paul did not stay to inquire whether Sosthenes was qualified to be the author of a canonical book; but knowing the authoritative position he had held among the Jews of Corinth, he naturally conjoins his name with his own.
II. THE PERSONS TO WHOM THIS LETTER IS ADDRESSED (ver. 2).
1. With them are joined "all that in every place," &c. And therefore we may gather that Paul would have defined the Church as those who "call upon the name of Jesus Christ." This implies trust in Him, and acknowledgment of Him as supreme Lord. It is this which brings men together as a Christian Church.
2. But at once we are confronted with the difficulty that many persons who call upon the name of the Lord do so with no conviction of their need, and with no real dependence upon Christ or allegiance to Him. Hence the distinction between the Church visible, which consists of all who nominally belong to the Christian community, and the Church invisible. Where the visible Church is its members can be counted, its property estimated, its history written. But of the invisible Church no man can fully write the history, or name the members, or appraise its properties, gifts, and service.
3. From the earliest times it has been said that the true Church must be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. That is true if the Church invisible be meant. But it is not true of the Church visible. Paul here gives us four notes which must always be found in the true Church.(1) It is composed of consecrated people. The word "sanctify" means that which is set apart to holy uses. The New Testament word for Church, ecclesia, a society "called out," shows that it exists not for common purposes, but to witness for God and Christ and to maintain before men the ideal life realised in Christ.(2) Its members are called to be "saints." This Church was in danger of forgetting this. One of its members had been guilty of immorality; and of him Paul says, "Put away from among yourselves that wicked person." Even with sinners of a less flagrant sort, no communion was to be held. No doubt there is risk and difficulty in administering this law. The graver hidden sin may be overlooked, the more obvious transgression be punished. But the duty of the Church to maintain its sanctity is undeniable, and those whose function it is to watch over the purity of the Church would be saved from all doubtful action were the individual members alive to the necessity of holy living.(3) It is to be found not in one country or age, in this or that Church, whether it assume the title of "Catholic" or national, but is composed of "all that in every place," &c. No visible Church can claim to be catholic on the ground of its being co-extensive with Christendom. Catholicity is not a matter of more or less; it cannot be determined by a majority. No Church which does not claim to contain the whole of Christ's people without exception can claim to be catholic.(4) The Lord of all the Churches is one Lord; in this allegiance they centre, and by it are held together in a true unity. Plainly this note can belong only to the Church invisible. It is doubtful whether a visible unity is desirable. Considering what human nature is and how liable men are to be imposed upon by what is large, it is probably quite as conducive to the spiritual well-being of the Church that she is broken up into parts. Outward divisions would sink into insignificance, and be no more bewailed than the division of an army into regiments, were there the real unity which springs from true allegiance to the common Lord and zeal for the common cause rather than for the interests of our own particular Church. And Christian people are beginning to see how much more important are those points on which the whole Church is agreed than those which split the Church into sects.
4. Paul, with his usual courtesy and tact, begins with a hearty acknowledgment of the distinctive excellences of the Corinthian Church (vers. 4-6).(1) Paul was one of those large-natured men who rejoice more in the prosperity of others than in any private good fortune. Paul's joy was to see the testimony he had borne to Christ's goodness and power confirmed by the new energies and capacities in those who believed his testimony. The gifts of the Corinthian Christians made it manifest that the Divine presence and power proclaimed by Paul were real. And it is the new life of believers now which most strongly confirms the testimony regarding the risen Christ.(2) It is somewhat ominous that the incorruptible honesty of Paul can only acknowledge their possession of "gifts," not of those fine Christian graces which distinguished others. But the grace of God must always adjust itself to the nature of the recipient. The Greek nature was lacking in seriousness and moral robustness; but for many centuries it had been trained to excel in intellectual and oratorical displays. These natural gifts were quickened and directed by grace. Each race has its own contribution to make to complete the full-grown Christian manhood.(a) Paul thanked God for their gift of utterance. Perhaps had he lived now he might have had a word to say in praise of silence. There is more than a risk nowadays that talk takes the place of thought and action. But this utterance was a great gift. In no other language could Christian ideas have found such adequate and beautiful expression. And in this Paul saw promise of a rapid and effective propagation of the gospel. Legitimately may we hope for the Church when she so apprehends her own wealth in Christ as to be stirred to invite all the world to share with her.(b) But utterance is well backed by knowledge. Often has the determination to satisfy the intellect with Christian truth been reprehended as idle and even wicked. The faith which accepted testimony was a gift of God, but so also was the knowledge which sought to recommend the contents of this testimony to the human mind.(3) But however rich in endowments the Corinthians must be made to feel that no endowment can dispense with the necessity of conflict with sin. Richly endowed men are often most exposed to temptation, and feel more keenly than others the real hazard of human life. Paul therefore assigns as the reason of his assurance that they will be blameless in the day of Christ, that "God is faithful," &c. God calls us with a purpose in view, and is faithful to that purpose. He calls us to the fellowship of Christ that we may learn of Him and become suitable agents to carry out the whole will of Christ.
(M. Dods, D. D.)1. The ground of ministerial authority.
2. The motive to ministerial usefulness.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
1. The messenger of Christ.
2. Divinely called.
3. Set apart by the will of God as indicated by His Providence.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
And Sosthenes our brother.I. WHO WAS SOSTHENES?
1. After Paul began work at Corinth, Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, was converted; and that Paul considered his a notable case is proved by the fact that he personally baptized him. But as Paul was compelled to leave the synagogue, it is probable that Crispus would also have to leave; and the fact that Sosthenes is afterwards mentioned as chief ruler implies that Crispus was deposed. Paul continued his lectures next door to the synagogue, and its success would naturally enrage Sosthenes, who was doubtless the head of the conspiracy which led Paul before Gallio. We know the result. The Jews had risen in insurrection; it was now the turn of the Greeks, who made Sosthenes the special object of their attack.
2. That the Sosthenes of the text is the same as he of Acts 18, seems likely.(1) It is probable that if converted he would leave Corinth. His conversion would create deeper resentment than that of Crispus, for he had been not only chief ruler of the synagogue, but the persecutor of the new religion.(2) If Crispus had to leave Corinth he would naturally take a deep interest in the Church there, as we do in the home of our first birth and of our second.(3) Paul would surely regard Sosthenes with special interest. He had himself been a bitter persecutor. And if he had to flee from Corinth it is natural that he should have clung to Paul and Paul to him.(4) Paul would pray and strive for his conversion. After his acquittal Paul "tarried yet a good while" at Corinth, and would deeply regret the onslaught on Sosthenes, some of whose assaulters, if not Corinthians, were doubtless attached to Paul, which would lead to an expression of regret on the part of the apostle. And who can tell what such an apology would lead to? Perhaps Paul would, during the interview, refer to his own conversion, and lead his listener to see in it a reflection of his own case. And then, Paul would see in Sosthenes one who was so like what he had been.(5) Unless this Sosthenes is he of Acts 18. it is difficult to understand why Paul should have here introduced his name, which is not found elsewhere; but if the two are the same nothing is more natural.
II. THE LESSONS.
1. How wonderful in its operations is the grace of God! Here is a man the very last one would expect to become a Christian.
2. Do not be hopeless over any case. Sosthenes was in office, and officials are always difficult to move, and the indignities he suffered would exasperate him against Christianity.
3. Cherish a forgiving spirit. How fully Paul forgave his enemy and admitted him into his friendship.
4. Cultivate kindly feelings towards the Christian friends with whom we have been or are associated. The first Christians Sosthenes knew were at Corinth. At first he hated them, but afterwards he loved them as he had never loved friends before; but the brotherliness was on both sides.
(A. Scott.)ἐκκλήσια (church), formed of the two words "out of" and "to call," denotes in ordinary Greek language an assembly of citizens called out of their dwellings by an official summons (cf. Acts 19:41). Applied to the religious domain in the New Testament, the word preserves essentially the same meaning. Here, too, there is a summoner — God, who calls sinners to salvation by the preaching of the gospel (Galatians 1:6). There are the summoned — sinners, called to faith thenceforth to form the new society of which Christ is the Head. The complement "of God" indicates at once Him who has summoned the assembly, and Him to whom it belongs. The term, "the Church of God," thus corresponds to the Old Testament phrase, "the congregation of the Lord"; but there is this difference, that the latter was recruited by way of filiation, while in the new covenant the Church is formed and recruited by the personal adherence of faith.
Threefold sanctification (Jude 1, text, and 1 Peter 1:2): — Mark the union of the three Divine Persons in all their gracious acts. How unwise all those who make preferences in the Persons of the Trinity. In their love, and in the actions which flow from it, they are one. Specially is this in the case of sanctification. This being the case, what value God must set upon holiness! God could as soon cease to be as cease to be holy, and sooner renounce the sovereignty of the world than tolerate anything unholy. Sanctification means —
I. SETTING APART — the taking of something which might legitimately have been put to ordinary uses for God's service alone.
1. E.g., in Exodus 13:2 God claimed the firstborn of men and cattle. The tribe of Levi was set apart to be the representatives of the firstborn. In Genesis 2:3, God set apart for His own service what had been an ordinary portion of time before. So Leviticus 27:14 was meant as a direction to devout Jews, who intended that the produce of the field or the occupation of the house should be wholly given to God. So in Exodus 29:44 we read that God said, "I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar." To the same effect are the sanctification of the altar, instruments, and vessels (Numbers 7:1), the setting apart of Eleazer to keep the ark (1 Samuel 7:1), and the establishment of cities of refuge (Joshua 20:7). This Old Testament use of the word explains John 10:26. Immaculately conceived and preserved from all stain of evil, Christ needed no sanctifying work within Him. All that is here intended is that He was set apart (John 17:19). You understand now the text in Jude. God the Father has specially set apart His people.
2. What suggestive and solemn thoughts are here.(1) If we are sanctified by God we ought never to be used for any purpose but for Him. Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price. "But must we not work and earn our own bread?" Yes! but still as "serving the Lord." If any man say, "I have an occupation in which I cannot serve the Lord," leave it, you have no right in it; but there is no lawful calling in which you will not be able to say, "I do all to the glory of God." The Christian is no more a common man than was the altar a common place. It is as great a sacrilege for Christians to live to the world as it would have been for the Jews to use the holy fire for their own kitchen.(2) It was a crime which brought destruction upon Babylon when Belshazzar had brought forth the cups of the Lord, the goodly spoil of the temple at Jerusalem." Just as the sacred vessel touched the sacrilegious lip, a hand was seen mysteriously writing out his doom. Oh, take heed, ye that profess to be sanctified by the blood of the covenant, that you reckon it not to be an unholy thing. See to it that ye make not your bodies which ye profess to be set apart to God's service, slaves of sin. If you and I are tempted to sin, we must reply, "No, let another man do that, but I cannot; I am God's man." When Antiochus Epiphanes offered a sow on the altar, his awful death might have been easily foretold. Oh! how many there are who make a high profession, who have offered unclean flesh upon the altars of God; have made religion a stalking-horse to their own emolument.
II. That the thing set apart for holy uses is TO BE REGARDED, TREATED, AND DECLARED HOLY.
1. E.g., in Isaiah 8:13, it is said, "Sanctify the Lord of Hosts, Himself." Now the Lord does not need to be set apart for holy uses, nor to be purified, for He is holiness itself. When Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10.) put strange fire on the altar, and the fire of the Lord consumed them, the reason was — "I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me"; by which He meant that He would be treated as a most Holy Being with whom such liberties were not to be taken (see also Numbers 10:12, and "hallowed be Thy name" in the Lord's Prayer).
2. Have we not some light here concerning our second text — "Sanctified in Christ Jesus" ? In Christ Jesus the saints are regarded by God as being holy, and treated as such, i.e., are justified. A holy God cannot have dealings with unholy men; but He views us, not in ourselves, but in our federal Head, the Second Adam. We may boldly enter into the Holiest, where no unholy thing may come, because God views us as holy in Christ Jesus. We now come to —
III. ACTUALLY TO PURIFY OR MAKE HOLY.
1. In Exodus 19:10-12 sanctification consisted in certain outward deeds by which they were put into a cleanly state and their souls were brought into reverential awe. In Joshua 3., when Israel were about to pass the Jordan, they were to prepare themselves to be beholders of a scene so august. Men in the old times were sprinkled with blood, and thus sanctified from defilement and considered to be pure in the sight of God. This is the sense in which we view our third text, "Sanctification through the Spirit," the sense in which it is generally understood.
2. Sanctification begins in regeneration, and is carried on in two ways — by mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh are subdued, and vivification, by which the life which God has put within us is made to spring up into everlasting life. This is carried on every day in what we call perseverance, and it comes to perfection in "glory." Now this work, though we commonly speak of it as being the work of the Spirit, is quite as much the work of Christ. There are two agents: one is the worker who works this sanctification effectually — that is the Spirit; and the other, the agent, the efficacious means by which the Spirit works this sanctification is — Jesus Christ and His most precious blood. There is a garment which needs to be washed. Here is a person to wash it, and there is a bath in which it is to be washed — the Person is the Holy Spirit, but the bath is the precious blood of Christ.
3. The Spirit of God as the Author of sanctification employs a visible agent. "Sanctify them through Thy truth. Thy Word is truth." How important then that the truth should be preached.
4. In another sense we are sanctified through Christ Jesus, because it is His blood and the water which flowed from His side in which the Spirit washes our heart from the defilement and propensity of sin (Ephesians 5:25). There is no being sanctified by the law; the Spirit does not use legal precepts to sanctify us. No; just as when Marah's waters were bitter, Moses had a tree cast in, and they were sweet, so the Spirit of God, finding our natures bitter, takes the tree of Calvary, casts it into the stream, and everything is made pure. He finds us lepers, and to make us clean He dips the hyssop of faith in the precious blood, and sprinkles it upon us and we are clean. The blood of Christ not merely makes satisfaction for sin, but works the death of sin. The blood appears before God and He is well pleased; it falls on us — lusts wither, and old corruptions feel the death-stroke.
5. Just as the Spirit only works through the truth, so the blood of Christ only works through faith. Our faith lays hold on the atonement, sees Jesus suffering on the tree, and says, "I vow revenge against the sins which nailed Him there"; and thus His precious blood works in us a detestation of all sin.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. IT IS GOD'S — but to distinguish it from the heathen ἐκκλησίαι — a name never used in profane Greek to denote a religious assembly — but to distinguish it from the κόσμος, which is the antagonist of the kingdom and out of which the Church is called. Though the name ecclesia was borrowed from the clubs or associations of the time, the apostle discovers in it a Christian idea — that of separation from the world. To say that the Church is an ecclesia is to say it is God's.
II. As a result of its being an ecclesia, the Church is SANCTIFIED (cf. John 17:16-19). The primary meaning is consecration. The Christian enters into the place hitherto occupied by the Jewish Church. But consecration in its Christian form resolves itself into holiness. Christ takes possession of every morality and raises it into spirituality. All goodness becomes a religion, binding the soul to God. "In" means that believers are not only sanctified "through the offering of Christ" (Hebrews 10:10), but also continue holy in virtue of union with Christ (cf. Romans 15:16).
III. It consists of men "CALLED TO BE SAINTS." They are saints by reason of a Divine call from without as well as of a Divine operation from within (cf. Romans 1:6; Leviticus 23:2). The notion of saintship is in Scripture inseparable from that of being reckoned, of being allotted a place by God.
Grace be unto you, and peace.
(C. Hodge, D. D.)
I. THE BLESSING WE ANNOUNCE.
1. Grace and peace.
2. Needed by all.
3. Offered to all.
II. THEIR SOURCE.
2. Our Father.
3. Through Christ.
4. Hence the supply is inexhaustible.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
Links1 Corinthians 1:1 NIV
1 Corinthians 1:1 NLT
1 Corinthians 1:1 ESV
1 Corinthians 1:1 NASB
1 Corinthians 1:1 KJV
1 Corinthians 1:1 Bible Apps
1 Corinthians 1:1 Parallel
1 Corinthians 1:1 Biblia Paralela
1 Corinthians 1:1 Chinese Bible
1 Corinthians 1:1 French Bible
1 Corinthians 1:1 German Bible
1 Corinthians 1:1 Commentaries