Address Part 2 of 3 (series: Lessons on 1 Co.)
by John Lowe
It may perhaps appear strange that Paul would give the name of a Church of God to a multitude of persons that were infested with so many faults, so much so that Satan might be said to reign among them rather than God. He certainly did not mean to flatter the Corinthians, as he speaks under the direction of the Spirit of God, who is not accustomed to flattering anyone. So how can anyone call this congregation a church? The words of Jesus may hold the answer— Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city (Acts 18:9-10; KJV14). Keeping this promise in mind, he conferred upon a godly few the honor of recognizing them as a Church in the midst of a vast multitude of ungodly persons. What’s more, even though many vices had crept in, and various doctrines and manners had been corrupted, there were, nevertheless, certain tokens still remaining of a true Church. This is a passage that ought to be carefully studied, because we cannot require that the Church, while in this world, should be free from every wrinkle and stain, or immediately designate as unworthy every society in which everything is not as we want it to be.
to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus,
They were not sanctified by baptism, because they were sanctified before that; they were set apart (from the world’s corruptions), or chosen in Christ from all eternity, saved by grace here, and glorified in the hereafter; justified by the blood and righteousness of Christ. A definition for sanctified, which may not say enough is this: consecrated, or set apart as holy to God in (by union with) Christ Jesus. In the Greek there are no words "to them that are"; a simple translation is "men sanctified."
All Christians are sanctified in Christ Jesus; they are dedicated and devoted to him by baptism, and they are under strict obligations to be holy, and they make a profession of real faith in Christ. If they are not truly holy, it is their own fault. Note, Christianity is designed to sanctify us in Christ. He gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and purify us to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
In Christ Jesus denotes the status of all Christians, a relationship brought about through an obedient faith when they were baptized "into" him (Galatians 3:2715; 1 Corinthians 12:1316; and Romans 6:317). The epic importance of this phrase appears in the fact that it is used no less than 169 times in Paul's epistles.
called to be saints;
Again, "to be" is an unnecessary addition to the text. The Corinthian Christians were not merely candidates for sainthood but were in fact already entitled to this designation by virtue of their being in the spiritual body of Christ, "in him," and therefore possessing a complete identity with the Savior. The humblest Christian is a saint, as well as Peter or Paul. In fact, God by his gracious goodness and absolute love has separated His Christians for himself, and that is where our sanctification comes from: He has called us to holiness and that shows what we are to strive for.
Those that are called to be saints were first chosen as Christ teaches in these words: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," (John 15:167). We were all unholy before we were called. We are in that impure condition, because we fell in Adam, and became both guilty and filthy through his transgression; and by our first birth we are made unholy and unclean, and so were the Corinthians. None of them were born saints, and they were not made so by their own free will, but became such through the powerful grace of God in His effectual calling; and only now does one have a desire for holiness.
with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord;
In conjunction with the church at Corinth, he directs the epistle to all that in every place call on the name of Christ Jesus our Lord, both theirs and ours. Christians are distinguished from the wicked and atheists, by the fact that they don’t dare live without prayer; and they are distinguished from Jews and Pagans, for the reason that they call on the name of Christ. He is their common head and Lord. It is remarkable that in every place in the world there are some that call on the name of Christ. God has a remnant in all places; and we should receive as our brothers and sisters everyone that calls on Christ’s name. To call upon Christ’s name means to acknowledge and take him for actual God. This clause, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our
Lord makes this epistle applicable to the saints of all ages in every place and circumstance.
Lord Jesus Christ ...This use of the compound name JESUS CHRIST by Paul, and by the whole church, barely a quarter of a century after the crucifixion of Christ in A.D. 30 declares the historical accuracy of John's Gospel, which recorded the first usage of it by the Saviour himself in the great prayer of John 17, making it certain that "in Christ Jesus" is equivalent to "in thy name" of John 17:3, 11, 2618
Lord ...Likewise, this title of Jesus was not a development in the last first-century church but was firmly established by the time of Paul's writing here, having been used by Paul in his very first encounter with Jesus (Acts 9:519
both theirs and ours,
This clause can mean several things. First, either, as some think, it refers to "every place" and that is how the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions read; and the sense is, that the apostle dedicates his epistle to all that call upon the name of Christ, whether in Judea or in the Gentile world, in the place where the apostle was, or where the Corinthians were, or where any of the other saints in Achaia were; signifying, that the word of God is not confined to any particular place, but that men may now lift up holy hands in prayer to God everywhere. Second, it may refer to "our Lord", and shows that Christ is the Lord of the saints everywhere, and since there is only one Lord and Master, all Christians should be brethren, and they ought to love one another. Third, since all believers have one and the same Lord (1 Corinthians 8:620
, Ephesians 4:521
); this clause is a virtual rebuke of the divisions within this church, which gives the impression that Christ can be divided (1 Corinthians 1:1322
Jesus Christ is the exclusive property of no one Church, or people, or nation. Calling on or invoking the name of the Lord Jesus, was the proper distinguishing mark of a Christian. In those times of apostolic light and purity, no man attempted to pray to God except in the name of Jesus Christ; this is what genuine Christians still mean when they ask anything from God for Christ's SAKE.
This verse is an appropriate introduction to an Epistle addressed to a church which was to be admonished for its internal dissensions.
3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
This double salutation combined the common greetings of both Greeks and Hebrews, but with a remarkable extension of the meaning of both. Chairein
was the Greek word for "greeting"; but Paul's word Greek: charis
means "grace," calling attention to God's unspeakable gift to humanity. The Hebrew salutation, shalom
, meaning "peace," was united with an affirmation of its coming through Jesus Christ alone.
In Paul's style of mentioning himself first, then the addressee, and next a formal greeting, he followed the format employed by all educated persons of that era; and he used it in all of his epistles. "When Paul wrote letters he wrote them on the pattern which everybody used." However, Paul always extended the form somewhat in order to adorn it with the distinctive sentiments and teachings of Christianity. In these three verses, it is plain that "The distinguishing feature is its stress upon the sanctity of the church." Paul’s Greeting that begins his letter to the Romans is perhaps, though typical, the best example of His method for writing a salutation. I will add it below; You may skip it, if so inclined.
Romans 1:7 (KJV) To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
To all that be in Rome
These words contain both the dedication of the epistle, and the apostle's usual salutation, as in all his epistles, the dedication of it is not to the Roman emperor; or to the Roman senate, or to all the inhabitants in Rome; but to all the saints there, whether rich or poor, bond or free, male or female, Jew or Gentile, without any distinction, being all one in Christ Jesus: and these are described as beloved of God; not for any loveliness there was in them, or because of any love in them to God, or on account of their obedience and righteousness; but through the free favor and sovereign will and pleasure of God, who loved them before he called them, even from eternity, and will love them to eternity; this love of his is the source and spring of all the blessings of grace.
called to be
saints; not born so, or become so through their own power, but were so by calling grace, as a fruit of everlasting love; men are first beloved of the Lord, and then called to be His saints. The salutation follows; the things wished for in it are,