Thursday, January 18, 2024

Knowing and Persevering (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)

"God is faithful, by whom you were called …" (1 Cor. 1:9).

Paul thanks God for His gift of grace in bringing the Corinthians to Christ and enriching them with knowledge. Some were prophets, some teachers, some had the gifts of tongues. These were different forms of the gift of utterance (v. 5). The church abounded in every kind and degree of religious knowledge; utterance here may be taken in the sense of doctrine and the word for knowledge, in the sense of insight. “The meaning would then be, that the church in Corinth was richly endowed with divine truth, and with clear apprehension or understanding of the doctrines which they had been taught,” Hodge wrote. “They were second to no other church either as to doctrinal knowledge or spiritual discernment.”

Because they had knowledge of the Gospel in Christ, the church longed for His second coming, which was so eagerly anticipated by the early Christians that Paul describes believers as those “who love His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). With earnest hope, the Corinthian church, along with other believers, looked forward to the day when they would be fully conformed to the image of Christ, when they would be “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Touching on the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints in verse 9, Paul took great confidence that every child of God would be brought into glory. “The apostle’s confidence in the steadfastness and final perseverance of believers was founded neither on the strength of their purposes to persevere, nor on any assumption that the principle of religion in their hearts was indestructible, but simply on the fidelity of God,” Hodge wrote. “If God has promised to give certain persons to His Son as His inheritance, to deliver them from sin and condemnation and to make them partakers of eternal life, it is certain He will not allow them to perish.”

Believers are partakers of eternal life because they are partakers of the divine nature of Christ, participating in the blood of Christ (2 Cor. 13:13) and in the Holy Spirit. We are effectually called by His Spirit to be partakers of His life and character, His sufferings, and ultimately His glory. Because believers are in union with Christ, by the faithfulness of God, Paul was assured that the Corinthian church would never perish.

Paul does not allow the Corinthians’ abuses of spiritual gifts to minimize the importance of true spiritual knowledge. How have people in the modern church minimized spiritual knowledge in reaction to abuses of spiritual gifts in the church? What should your attitude be toward the gifts God has given the church and you in particular?