Thanksgiving Part 1 of 4 (series: Lessons on 1 Co.)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

JULY 16, 2012

First Corinthians
By: Tom Lowe

Lesson 1.2: Thanksgiving
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1.4-1.9

1 Cor 1:4-9 (KJV)
4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.


Commentary

4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

I thank my God always on your behalf (account),
The apostle begins this passage with thanksgiving for various blessings bestowed upon this church, which is a proof of the apostle's great love for it, and how much its welfare was on his heart. The object of thanksgiving is God, because he is the author of all mercies, and therefore, he should be given the glory and praise for them. The apostle calls him "my God", to distinguish him from all others; and to express his faith in Him as the only true God; and to confirm to this church, that all the good things they enjoyed came from Him, who was his God and their God, his Father, and their Father. This is the reason he thanked Him for them, and by so doing set them an example: the persons on whose behalf he gave thanks were not at this time himself and Sosthenes, but the members of the church at Corinth; and Paul will "always", express his thankfulness for them, as often as he went to the throne of grace, or at any other time he thought of them.

Some may question why Paul begins this way; by thanking God on their behalf. But this may be one of the most amazing verses in the New Testament. It is almost inconceivable that a church troubled by so many blunders and outright sins, as in the case of the Corinthians, should have been the object of fervent thanksgiving by an apostle! The explanation lies in the key words, IN CHRIST JESUS. In the Lord, the Corinthians were credited with the holy righteousness of Christ himself, even as the Christians of all ages; and the blood of Christ, was CONTINUALLY cleansing them from all sins (1 John 1:71). The very fact that a church should have been brought into existence at all in so wicked a place as Corinth was evidence of God’s grace and power.

There may yet be another reason for why Paul opens his letter with thanksgiving: Before speaking of the faults which he must rebuke, he speaks of the grounds for praise and hope. Admittedly there was much that he could not praise, but he could see their improvement over their former condition, as well as their present faults. A good example for all critics, and one that I have personally followed in my career; I made sure that I found something to praise everyone for (everyone does something well). I tried to bank several compliments before I would offer criticism. It worked well for me; and it was not part of Paul’s disposition to withhold praise where it was due. On the contrary, he was inclined to be faithful in admonishing Christians for their errors; but he was no less inclined to commend them when it was warranted. (see Romans 1.82). A willingness to commend those who do well is as much in line with the gospel, as a disposition to criticize where it is deserved. A minister, or a parent, may frequently do more good by sensible approval than by giving a reprimand, and much more than by fault-finding and harsh criticism. This is a good illustration of what the theologians like to call the “communion of the saints”; that is, to give thanks to God for the mutual benefits that he extends to all believers.

for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
and includes all sorts of grace, adopting, justifying, pardoning, regenerating, and sanctifying grace; every particular grace of the Spirit, such as faith, repentance, hope, love, fear, humility, self-denial are; all are gifts of God, and we owe it all to his free grace, and not to man's free will and power, or to any virtues of his; and all come through the hands of Christ, and are given out by him, as the Mediator of the covenant, and

they are the consequence of his blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and merit. Here, in this verse, he particularly gives thanks to God for the grace . . . given you--(Compare to 1 Corinthians 1:7)—by . . . Christ—literally, "IN Jesus Christ" given you as members in Christ, which is their position following their conversion to faith in Jesus Christ. He is the great procurer and distributor of the blessings of God. Those who are united to Him by faith, and made to partake of his Spirit and merits, are the objects of divine favor. God loves them, bears them bountiful good-will, and bestows on them his fatherly smiles and blessings. This is what the church of Corinth was famous for; the abundance of their spiritual gifts. They did not lag behind any of the churches in any gift, (see v. 7).


Article 1: Grace
GRACE — favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it and in spite of what that person deserves. Grace is one of the key attributes of God. The Lord God is “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:6). Therefore, grace is almost always associated with mercy, love, compassion, and patience.
In the Old Testament, the supreme example of grace was the redemption of the Hebrew people from Egypt and their establishment in the Promised Land. This did not happen because of any merit on Israel’s part, but in spite of their unrighteousness (Deut. 7:7–8; 9:5–6). Although the grace of God is always free and undeserved, it must not be taken for granted. Grace is only enjoyed within the COVENANT—the gift is given by God, and the gift is received by people through repentance and faith (Amos 5:15). Grace is to be humbly sought through the prayer of faith (Mal. 1:9).
The grace of God was supremely revealed and given in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not only the beneficiary of God’s grace (Luke 2:40), but was also its very embodiment (John 1:14), bringing it to humankind for salvation (Titus 2:11). By His death and resurrection, Jesus restored the broken fellowship between God and His people, both Jew and Gentile. The only way of salvation for any person is “through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:11).
The grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ is applied to human beings for their salvation by the HOLY SPIRIT, who is called “the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29). The Spirit is the One who binds Christ to His people so that they receive forgiveness, adoption to sonship, and newness of life, as well as every spiritual gift or grace (Eph. 4:7).
The theme of grace is especially prominent in the letters of Paul. He sets grace radically over against the law and the works of the law (Rom. 3:24, 28). Paul makes it abundantly clear that salvation is not something that can be earned; it can be received only as a gift of grace (Rom. 4:4). Grace, however, must be accompanied by faith; a person must trust in the mercy and favor of God, even while it is undeserved (Rom. 4:16; Gal. 2:16).
The law of Moses revealed the righteous will of God in the midst of pagan darkness; it was God’s gracious gift to Israel (Deut. 4:8). But His will was made complete when Jesus brought the gospel of grace into the world (John 1:17).
Youngblood, R. F. 1995. Nelson's new illustrated Bible dictionary. Rev. ed. of: Nelson's illustrated Bible dictionary.


5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

This verse explains the preceding one. Paul gives thanks for the grace which they had received, that is, that they have been enriched in Him in every way. Here it says they have been enriched in speech and in every kind of knowledge. That is, with all the gifts of speaking and knowledge. Some were prophets, some were teachers, and some had the gift of tongues. These were different forms of the gift of utterance. By Knowledge, he means every kind and degree of religious knowledge.

That in every thing ye are enriched by him,
This is still a continuation of the thanksgiving for this church (v. 1), that they were "enriched", or plentifully and abundantly provided for by Christ, with all grace, with all the riches of grace; with his own unsearchable riches, of which they were made partakers, and the riches of glory, to which they were entitled by Him; and all which come to them through his poverty, which makes his grace in the donation of these riches even more memorable: and particularly the apostle is thankful, that they were enriched by “the grace of God” in Christ.

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