Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours…
Upfront ID was Paul’s normal way of writing; no anonymous writings here. Unlike some of his other letters, he quickly presents his credentials here—he’s an apostle, and that by divine appointment. He speaks with authority to a troubled church, one that even at times questioned his apostleship. The confusion and division in that community of believers, in what was considered one of the most decadent cities in the ancient Roman world, required “teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Paul’s ability to write with such authority was endorsed by the venerable apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:14-16, Gal. 2:7-9). In fact, Paul’s commissioning, he quite adamantly asserted, came directly from God (Gal 1:11-12, 15-17).
A man named Sosthenes coauthored this letter and would have had a keen interest in the recipients, being a native of Corinth and a former synagogue ruler there (Acts 18:17). He had left all to join Paul’s mission but still had a heart for his fellow believers “back home.” We understand Paul was the primary author, but including his traveling companions in his writings was not uncommon and probably reflected a discussion about the contents ahead of time.
The intended audience of this letter is clear: the Corinthian believers. They had already been gathered into the form of a “church” even at this early stage, and judging from the topics and tone of the letter, they should have known enough of the Truth to be functioning with good maturity. But that was not the case. In fact, Paul chastises them for their spiritual immaturity and sinful, immoral living.
Despite the stern tone of the letter, Paul’s love for them exudes freely as he reminds them that they have been “sanctified” (that is, made holy, set apart by God for His purposes) in Christ Jesus; they are “saints by calling.” That is the same as Paul would say of all believers everywhere. In other words, the immorality of believers does not negate the truth of their basic fundamental position in the Lord. Their immorality did not cause them to lose their standing “in Christ Jesus.” God still loves them, and the cross still provides the foundation on which to build their lives, both individually and as a community of believers. As we shall see, the solution to their problems is “Christ and Him crucified.”
Lord, thank You for giving us the writings of Paul, inspired by Your Holy Spirit. I look forward to Your word challenging me in my daily living.