1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,…
The personal appearance and characteristic disposition of Paul, with the particular circumstances which led to the writing of this letter, and roused intense personal feeling, form a fitting introduction. Paul blends Sosthenes with himself in the salutation, partly because of this man's connection with Corinth (see Acts 18:17), partly as an answer to those who charged him with making too much of himself and his apostolic rights. By associating this name in the address, Paul intimates that he did not desire to make himself the sole guide of the Church, nor would he put himself before Christ in the thought of the people. The general idea of apostleship is mission. An apostle is a sent one, or a commissioned one. It was applied to other than the twelve, or thirteen, usually so called; Barnabas and Silas coming under this classification. As applied to the "twelve" (either as including Judas or Matthias), the term involves personal knowledge of Christ and direct reception of the commission from him (Acts 1:21, 22).
I. THE GROUND OF PAUL'S CLAIM. It could not rest on personal knowledge of Christ's ministry. We have no good reason for assuming that Paul ever saw Christ in the flesh. That, however, was not the more essential of the two qualifications. Paul had received a direct call to his office from the Lord himself. For the historical facts, see Acts 9; Acts 13:2. Such a direct call did not involve infallibility; but it did form a ground for feeling personal confidence, for speaking with prophetic boldness, and for exercising measures of authority. More especially when we find the "call" was followed up with signs of the Divine presence and approval in the working of miracles. Paul ever makes much of the directness of his "call." This point he most emphatically insists on when writing to the Galatians (Galatians 1:1, 11, 12). It is characteristic of Paul's training and habit of thought, as a Jew, that even this "call" from Christ should be conceived only as agency carrying out the sovereign and holy "will and purpose" of God the Father. It was, through all the ages, a characteristic of pious Jews that they traced everything to God's supreme will, and saw that will working through all. Compare and illustrate by the Mohammedan conception of Islam, or submission to the will of God.
II. THE SPECIAL FEATURES OF PAUL'S COMMISSION. It was in full harmony with, yet perfectly distinct from, that of the other apostles. Such distinction may be traced in its sphere. He was to go to the Gentiles, and find opportunities of labour among them. He was the pioneer of Christian missions to the Gentile world. But adaptation to this sphere and work involved a further distinction in the subject of his commission. There is a marked individuality in the form of Paul's presentation of the truth in Christ. We must give full recognition to that individuality, and its adaptation to the thought and life of the people among whom Paul laboured; but we should carefully guard against exaggerations which would set Paul's apprehension of the Christian truths out of harmony with that of the earlier apostles. Paul's leading subject may be thus stated: Christ is risen; then his life work is accepted by God; and he is living, prepared for direct saving relations with all who look to him in penitence and faith. To enter into direct, personal, living relations with Christ is to find perfect freedom from all other religious or ecclesiastical bondages, old or new. Apply by showing what is the call to Christian office and ministry now. There is a selection of men by Divine endowment and Divine providence. These two go together, and the recognition of them may be made by other than the man himself. Such a "call" still involves teaching power, persuasive influence, and gracious authorities. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,