Scripture reading for August 4th: 1st Corinthians 1:1-17
Corinth was a modern commercial center of Paul’s day. It was a city with many different people and cultures and full of paganism and idolatry. Paul had planted the church there in that culture on his second missionary journey recorded in Acts 18. He warned them of coming troubles when he left them in Acts 20:29-31. This letter was an attempt to deal with problems that arose and keep the church moving forward.
Paul opens his letter with a greeting and thanksgiving for the church in Corinth. The greeting helps them center on Paul’s understanding of their calling. “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ–their Lord and ours: Grace and Peace to you from our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1st Corinthians 1:2-3) These believers were set apart to be holy by their Lord, Jesus Christ. They were a part of a larger family consisting of all those who believe in Jesus.
These believers were precious to Paul because it was by his testimony and ministry that they were saved. God had poured out on them the Holy Spirit and the gifts and given them the hope of eternal life. They understood that Jesus was going to return and awaited Him. However, there were problems that needed correction and the apostle Paul sought to address them quickly in this letter.
“My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” (1st Corinthians 1:11-12) This division was not from God, but was a result of their elevating men who served Christ. They had favorite teachers and made serving Christ something that was dividing them instead of unifying them.
Today we have hundreds of denominations and many more sects that have split off of these. We elevate certain teachers who have charisma and a message we like to hear. Many in the church are divided from others who may not believe exactly like them. We fail to live in the unity that Christ prayed for! (John 17:21) Check your own life today. Are you living in unity with those who call Jesus Christ Lord?