Sermon Ideas For 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 Part 1
Corinth was known in the ancient world as "wealthy Corinth" (Strabo). It was the administrative center of Roman government in Greece. Some of the members of Paul's church in Corinth, such as Gaius and Erastus, were wealthy and powerful. Paul wants the wealthy Corinthians to understand that a new force has been unleashed in history, which he calls "the grace of God." This grace is manifest in spiritual gifts of speech and knowledge.
In Paul's opening salutation to the people in the Corinthian church the apostle gives thanks for God's grace and peace given to them through Christ Jesus. What Paul verifies is that because of Jesus a change has been wrought. In good Jewish fashion Paul is speaking not of ideas and concepts but of reality. He states that the Corinthians are a living testimony to the birth of a new consciousness.
Nicolai Hartmann, in his work entitled Ethik, states that there emerged into consciousness through Christianity a new class of moral values in that the fundamental value of the ancient world, justice was surpassed by brotherly love, setting the value on a higher plane.
Hartmann writes, "To disentangle this change of outlook from its religious basis is not easy, but it is itself altogether possible. Especially, can this be done without distortion in the case of the main feature, brotherly love. It becomes impossible only where Christianity permeated the ancient outlook, obscuring it."
One need only to read thoroughly the first letter of Paul to the church at Corinth to appreciate some of their doctrinal and ethical problems and to receive first hand evidence of what Hartmann refers to when he states, "The idea of wisdom, for example, was submerged under the new, all-controlling relationship of man to God."
Paul writes, "For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power." (1 Cor 1:17) He follows this statement by stating that God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom. (1 Cor 1:18-25)
Hartmann continues, "in the same way self-control or moderation was submerged under the religious conception of sin and grace and the ethos of courage and pride under steadfastness of faith and humility of the sinner."
All of these considerations the Apostle addresses, "Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not his own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body." (1 Cor 6:18b-20) And again, "But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall." (1 Cor 8:12, 13) Further, he continues, "Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (1 Cor 15:58)
From the point of view of Nicolai Hartmann there was a conflict between the values of the world and "those of the Beyond." But he makes the case that they were bridged as new understanding of the relationship of person to person developed.
It was the apostle's aim to concentrate upon this new emerging reality. A new consciousness and enrichment was taking shape in men and women in immaterial form: through "speech and knowledge." Changes were so obvious that they could now be considered spiritual gifts.
The Apostle knew that revolutionary understanding of this dynamic shift of thought and action as it pertained to all things, including wealth and power, did not happen easily. Therefore, he tells the Corinthians to "Wait for revealing" insist ing that they can endure the wait and the apparent contradiction of the gospel because "God is faithful."
The Apostle's concluding remark might easily be passed over but the essence of it is profoundly significant. While the concept of love is not revealed here and will only later be developed in a full way by Paul (1 Cor 13), it is, nevertheless, hinted at when he reminds the community of their fellowship. Fellowship or fellow feeling is the result of one's disposition and behavior toward another. Fellowship happens when two persons or more, of their own free will, look to the welfare of the other person first. This conduct is what the members of the community experience having been called together in Jesus Christ.
Reality-wise, the gospel gave meaning and validity to each other in the fellowship of Jesus Christ.