Before giving heavy words of correction or discipline, it’s important start with a word of encouragement and affirmation. Paul knew this important principle and, therefore, started his letter with a powerful reminder that though the Corinthians had issues, they were still complete in Christ and firmly held and sustained by the mercy and grace of God.
Discipline is not pleasant, and in the midst of spiritual chastisement, the enemy can easily bring condemnation and discouragement into our hearts and cause us to question our position in Christ. God knows the enemy’s schemes and, thus, inspired Paul to open his letter with this beautiful word of affirmation for the Corinthians.
“Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.”
~1 Corinthians 1:1-2
Paul was the church planter of the church in Corinth and the author of this power-packed letter to that body of believers. As a world missionary, Paul traveled a lot and brushed shoulders with many people, planting churches and building relationships throughout the Roman Empire. However, there were two locations that Paul voluntarily spent extended periods of time: Ephesus and Corinth.
Division. Quarrels. Ungodly culture infiltrating the church. Confusion over Christians’ roles in society. Misunderstanding of core Christian doctrines.
While these were all issues embedded in the Corinthian church that Paul sought to address in his lengthy letter to this young church, they should sound familiar as they are widely prevalent in the church of America today. Packed full of practical instruction, strong words of exhortation and correction, and solid doctrine, 1 Corinthians is a timely message for us as we seek wisdom on how to become a more unified, healthy, and spiritually mature body.