First and Second Corinthians were written by Paul, having been the one who planted the church and had visited it at least twice, based on scripture. The Church of Corinth was comprised similarily as the Church of Rome, with Jewish and Gentile/Greek converts. The city was a commercial hub in the Roman Empire, as well as entertainment and in particular philosophy. This Church had a number of issues which prompted Paul to bring correction, some of which had been reported to him by people from Chloe’s household, others were public knowledge.
In greeting the Church, Paul speak of his office as an apostle; having been “called through the will of God”. His reminder served to bring the earnestness of his correction to them. Yet this letter was not intended for just this captial of Achai, it was also for those “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (set apart from sin to Christ), “called saints” (those who had been called to be saints), “with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (the global church), “both theirs and ours” (Christ isn’t exclusive property of any 1 church, denomination, etc. – but the entire Body of Christ).
Apostles are called of God, confirmed by fruit and witnessed by man.
Two foundational messages of apostolic ministry are grace (enabling power) & peace (wholeness, strength). Grace – enriches for speech & knowledge that completes our lives, enables us to endure, causes us to be able to walk in purity.
The apostle recognized the grace of God had deposited gifts within this particular congregation; so that they excelled in speaking, understanding and being able to testify of Christ. They weren’t lacking in any gift and lived with the expectation of the Lord’s return.
The correction now begins, as Paul addresses the issue of division that had been reported by Chloe; some saying they were of Paul, others were of Apollos, others of Peter and still others say they were of Christ. The division was so serious it became “contentious”, speaking of physical altercations. Responding to this issue, Paul asked the question “Is Christ divided? Wast Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” Each of the groups referenced needed to be reminded that Jesus was Lord, not their favorite teacher.
Currently there are those who elevate Paul above the Lord Jesus, stating his gospel is purer and higher than that of Jesus. Paul makes it clear that it’s JESUS Who is the head and lead of the Church. Paul was a master builder, but Christ is the cornerstone!
We see in this segment of correction that apostles, in particular Paul, were rarely involved in water baptisms. They gave themselves primarily to the ministry of the Word, preaching the gospel. Some in Corinth viewed the message and mode as being “foolishness”, yet those who did believe and were saved it “is the power of God”. He then quotes from the prophet Isaiah.
The commission of an apostle is to preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in the ability of witty words or earthly wisdom.
A series of rhetorical questions are asked: “where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age?” Where is the one with Godly wisdom, the one who can pen the wisdom of God. Where is the one who can bring defense of the gospel in a rational manner? Each of these came through those considered as foolish messengers of a foolish message. The Jews consistently asked the Lord Jesus for a sign; the Gentile or Greek individuals wanted rational debated and proof through reason as to legtimacy of the gospel; yet it was through the preaching of “Christ crucified” that caused the Jew to stumble and the Greek saw it as being foolish. Again for those who are being conformed daily to the image of Christ, that strategy was “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
The call of God for apostolic ministry isn’t based on externals, rather something that is seen, uncovered by the Spirit of God in the heart of the apostle.
Paul’s humility is once again evidenced by what is written in verse 26-29; yet with that perception Paul still recognized that believers were in “Christ Jesus” Who made them “wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption”. Humility isn’t less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less; trusting in the Lord Jesus.
The prayer or heart cry of apostolic ministry is oneness. Correction is declared whenever that is threatened.