1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,…
First of all, HE ASSERTS THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF HIS OFFICE, to which he was "called though the will of God." This pro found sense of the 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.
Parallel VersesKJV: Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,