1 Corinthians 1:7-9
So that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:…
The early Church conceived that the Lord Jesus Christ would return, in some material manifestation, during their age. Inquire how far this idea rested on the view they held of Messiah as an earthly Deliverer and Patriot King. Their question, after our Lord's resurrection, "Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" indicated a bias and preoccupation of mind which even their Lord's ascension did. not correct; and possibly this lingering misconception helped to form the idea of Christ's speedy second coming. It may be further shown that our Lord's assurances about his coming again might have been taken literally, though he so carefully sought to impress the spiritual hearing of his promises, and their fulfilment, mainly in the abiding and indwelling of the Holy Ghost. With the conception of this speedy coming of Christ in their minds, the apostles regard the proper attitude of the Christian and the Church as being one of "waiting." Such waiting becomes a virtual "preparing;" it involves a care to have and hold all things ready, and this is a good sign of the faithful and diligent servant. "The attitude of expectation is thought of as the highest that can be attained here by the Christian. It implies a patient, humble spirit, one that is waiting for, one that is looking forward to, something nobler and better." The moral influence of a high and noble expectation may be pointed out. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also;" and it is certain that to fitness for it your life and conduct will be moulded. In these verses we find a double thought associated with the Lord's second coming.
I. PAUL'S THOUGHT OF CHRIST'S COMING TO REWARD. As he has been writing of "gifts" and their use in the Church, he must have in mind Christ's gracious reward of his faithful ones. Reward is proper from one occupying the position of Master. Rewards may be given for work that is far short of perfection, Rewards may be bestowed when no absolute claims can be made for them. Divine rewards can only be gifts of grace. The moral ends to be served by granting rewards are such as God may seek by such means. So it is rational and right that we should still watch, work, and use our gifts, in the full expectation of gracious recognition and reward in due season. Qualify, however, the expectation, by showing that the New Testament strives to impress on us that Divine and future rewards must be spiritual, not material; we are to have crowns, but they are crowns of life, righteousness, and, glory.
II. PAUL'S THOUGHT OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE TO CONFIRM. Too much attention to Christ's coming would lighten the conviction of his real, though spiritual, presence now with the individual and with the Church. That presence Paul conceives as the confirmation, the imspiration, and the security of Christ's servants. In it they have their only, but their all sufficient, guarantee that, amid. frailties, temptations, and perils, they shall hold out unto the end, attaining unto the coming of the Lord. Either of these thoughts of Christ may prove misleading if it stands alone. Each tempers and qualifies the other. Both together keep us wisely looking down on our work, beside us at our helper, and on to our reward. The thought of "reward" makes us wonder how the Divine One will ever be able to testify to our "blamelessness and unreprovableness." Illustrate by David's appeal to his "integrity." We may be genuine and sincere. A standard of consistency may be pressed on us as Church members; but nothing less than the standard of absolute purity must be pressed, on us as one clay to stand in the presence of the glorified Christ. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: