1 Corinthians


1. Introduction, 1:1-9

ii] Thanksgiving - Longing for Christ's return


Paul, following the convention of the time, begins his letters with a salutation, or greeting, and then follows up with a thanksgiving. In the passage before us we have the thanksgiving; Paul gives thanks to God for the Corinthian believers.


i] Context: See 1:1-3.


ii] Structure: Paul's thanksgiving:

Paul's thanksgiving for the Corinthian believer, v4-6;

Paul's eschatalogical thanksgiving, v7-9.


In the Greek text this passage is virtually one sentence controlled by the verb eucaristw, "I thank". Paul gives thanks to God for the Corinthians, for the "grace" given them "in Christ." This grace, or favor of God, directed toward the Corinthians, is specifically seen in an abundance of spiritual gifts in the Corinthian church. These gifts confirm the gospel ministry which was exercised by Paul and his mission team, and they serve as a foretaste of final glory. Three conjunctions are used to introduce clauses which serve to outline the evidence of God's grace operative in the Corinthian believers: oJti, "because", v5; kaqwV, "since", v6, and wJste, "so that", v7.


iii] Interpretation:

As is typical of most of Paul's letters, he begins the body of the letter by thanking God for the blessings bestowed on his readers, blessings past, present and future. Of course, in first century rhetoric, speakers would often butter-up their audience by thanking the god's for them (the Exordium), but Paul's words are by no means a rhetorical ploy. The focus of his thanksgiving is upon the spiritual gifts which the Corinthian church possesses - particularly "speaking" and "knowledge". These carisma, "gifts of grace" (a specific contextual use of the word) most likely refer to the gifts of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. The gifts of the Spirit is one of the central issues dealt with by Paul in this letter. There is no problem with spiritual gifts as such, and this is why Paul gives thanks for the abundance of these gifts in the Corinthian church. Yet, there is a problem when they become a source of pride and self-satisfaction. That the gifts are now corrupted somewhat is evidenced by the fact that Paul does not thank God for the Corinthians' love, nor love's fruit. Already Paul seeks to address this problem by affirming the truth that these gifts come from Christ as a gift to the fellowship of believers, and that they are but a taste of the glory yet to come in "the day of our Lord."


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 1:4

Paul's thanksgiving, v4-9: i] A thanksgiving to God for the grace he has bestowed upon the Corinthian believers, v4-6. Although Paul is often burdened by what he calls his "concern for all the churches", 2Cor.11:28, he none-the-less can give thanks for his brothers and sisters in the Lord. Paul is able to separate their problems from their spiritual standing.

eucaristw (eucaristew) pres. "I [always] thank" - i give thanks. The thanksgiving is an important introduction to Paul's letters. Such introductions (the exordium) were common in rhetoric of the time.

mou gen. pro. "my" - [to god] of me [always]. The genitive can be construed as possessive, but a more respectful approach would lead us to subordination.

tw/ qew/ (oV) "God" - to god. Dative of direct object after the verb "to give thanks."

peri + gen. "for [you]" - concerning, about [you]. Usually expressing reference / respect, "about, concerning", but when in a prayer it usually expresses representation, "for", as NIV.

epi + dat. "because of" - upon. With the dative expressing cause / basis; "the basis on which an action rests", Edwards. "On the ground of", Thiselton.

tou qeou (oV) "his" - [the grace] of god. The genitive may be classified as adjectival, possessive, "God's grace", of that quality of mercy and kindness possessed by God", but verbal, subjective is possible.

cariti (iV ewV) "grace" - Paul gives thanks to God for the "grace" the Corinthians have received "in Christ". This "grace" may be taken in a general sense as God's undeserved favor, but also it may be, in a more specific sense, referring to the "gifts of grace" the Corinthians now boast of. These "gifts" are the spiritual abilities (the charismata) of which the Corinthian church has an abundance.

th/ doqeish/ (didwmi) dat. aor. pas. part. "given" - having been given. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting the dative "grace [of God]; "the grace of God which is given", AV.

uJmin dat. "you" - to you. Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage.

en + dat. "in" - in [christ jesus]. Local, sphere, incorporative union; "in union with." Divine grace is ours when we are incorporated into Christ. As already noted, an idiomatic sense is always present meaning simply "as believers."


Paul goes on to identify two of the spiritual gifts which are in abundance in the Corinthian church, but he does so by underlining the fact that they possess these gifts "in him", ie., in Christ. The gifts are given by God through the work of Christ to those who associate with Christ, who are "in" Christ. The two important gifts are "speaking", in the sense of spiritual utterance, and "knowledge", in the sense of spiritual insight.

oJti "for" - that / because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul gives thanks, as NIV, although possibly introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of the thanksgiving; "that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and wisdom", ESV.

en + dat. "in" - in [everything]. Used with panti, "in everything", and autw/, "in him", and "in all speech and all knowledge", expressing space / sphere, "in all situations / every circumstance", and "in union with him", but possibly "in everything" is expressing reference / respect, "with respect to everything."

eploutisqhte (ploutizw) aor. pas. "you have been enriched" - you were made exceedingly wealthy. "You have received a wealth of blessings."

panti (paV) adj. "[in] all [your speaking] / [with] all kinds of [speech]" - [in] all [words]. Probably not "all speech", but rather "all kinds of speech."

logw/ (oV) "speaking" - words = speaking, or utterance in the spirit. The NIV misses the thrust of this word which would be better translated as "spiritual utterance". The letter itself defines what Paul means by the word logoV. It refers to speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy...... all forms of spiritual utterance. The Corinthians have turned these gifts into a major cause of dissension in the church, yet they are still gifts from God which, when rightly used, bring blessing. Paul can therefore give thanks for the gift while later condemning its misuse.

gnwsei (iV ewV) "knowledge" - [and all] knowledge. Again, the context of this letter defines the meaning of the word. It is knowledge, wisdom.... spiritual insight, which serve as the basis of ecstatic prophetic revelation.


The spiritual gifts which the Corinthians possess are a consequence of Paul's ground-breaking gospel ministry in their midst; the gifts are "because of our testimony about Christ." The gifts serve as a confirmation of the power of the gospel and of the validity of Paul's preaching ministry.

kaqwV "because" - even as. Possibly serving as a comparative, introducing a parallel statement, "insomuch as, even as, just as", but better leaning toward a causal sense, "for indeed", Conzelmann, as NIV. "All of which verified the testimony we bore to Christ", Moffatt

marturion (on) "testimony" - the testimony, witness. Nominative subject of the verb "to confirm." The witness borne [by our preaching] in Christ", Robertson.

tou Cristou (oV) "about Christ" - of christ. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, but there is debate as to whether it is objective, the testimony about / concerning Christ, as NIV, or subjective, the testimony that Christ himself gave while on earth. Possibly adjectival, epexegetic, "the testimony which consists of Christ."

ebebaiwqh (bebaiow) aor. pas. "was confirmed" - was authenticated, confirmed, guaranteed. "Was brought home to your deepest conviction as true by the witness of the Spirit", Robertson.

en + dat. "among [you]" - in [you]. Expressing space, as NIV, or possibly adverbial, temporal; "when we were with you", Moffatt.


ii] Paul's eschatological thanksgiving, v7-9. As a consequence of their acceptance of the gospel, the Corinthians were endowed with an abundance of "spiritual gifts". This does not mean that they were extraordinary because they possessed such gifts, but just that they did not miss out in the distribution of spiritual gifts. They possessed the normal spiritual gifts of a church empowered by the Spirit of God, gifts that will serve the church until the coming of Christ.

wJste + inf. "therefore]" - so that. Introducing a consecutive clause expressing result; "so that you are not lacking in any gift", ESV.

mh ..... mhdeni "[you do] not [lack] any" - [you are] not [to lack in] nothing [gift]. The double negation for a single negative statement is correct form in Koine Gk.; the second negation is confirming the first, so "you are not lacking in any gift."

en + dat. "in" - in. Adverbial, expressing reference / respect; "with respect to any spiritual gift."

carismati (a) "spiritual gift" - gift. These are spiritually enriched abilities given to the church by Christ through the ministry of the Spirit for the upbuilding of the members of the congregation. The word is also used of the divine gift of salvation, as well as any grace or mercy bestowed by God. Here it is obviously referring to "spiritual abilities." "Spiritual endowment", REB.

apekdecomenouV (apekdecomai) pres. part. "eagerly wait for" - waiting expectantly for. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, "while you wait"; "during these days of waiting", Moffatt. Note the double prepositions in the prefix denoting the intensity of the waiting. The word is used of believers waiting for the coming of the Lord.

tou kuriou gen. "[our] Lord [Jesus Christ]" - [the revelation] of the lord [of us jesus christ]. The genitive is adjectival, verbal, objective, "as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to reveal himself", Cassirer.

thn apokaluyin (iV ewV) "to be revealed" - the revelation, unveiling. Accusative object of the participle "waiting expectantly for." Paul states that the present spiritual blessings operative in the Corinthian church reflect a strong desire for the culmination of all things in the second coming of Christ. Paul sometimes uses the word "coming" to speak of this event, and at other times, as here, he uses the word "revelation". The point he is making reflects the view that spiritual gifts are something for this age and not of the age to come. In that sense they must not be over-stressed. This is, of course, exactly what the Corinthians are doing. In technical terms the Corinthians have an over-realized eschatology.


Although the Corinthians have not yet arrived, they will indeed share in the day when Christ is "revealed". "He (God) will keep you strong to the end" - guarantee your standing to the end. God will see to it that the Corinthian believers will arrive on that day. On that day they will arrive "blameless", guiltless and sinless before the Judge of the universe, and this because they stand perfect in their union with Christ. Their state of purity will be proclaimed on "the day of our Lord Jesus Christ". The "day" is the Old Testament "day of the Lord", the day of judgment.

o}V pro. "he" - who. Nominative subject of the verb "to confirm." Who is the "he", God or Christ? Commentators divide, eg., Fee argues it is God and Meyer that it is Christ. "Who", REB, is better than "He", as NIV.

kai "-" - and = also. Probably adjunctive; "he / who also."

bebaiwsei (bebaiow) fut. "will keep [you] strong" - will confirm, guarantee (better than "strengthen""). Origin asked "who keeps us strong?" and answered "Jesus Christ."

e{wV + gen. "to [the end]" - [you] until [end, goal]. Temporal, of time up to; "until". Most often time is in mind, but it can mean "complete". Here the "end" of this world is in mind, ie., "the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."

anegklhtouV adj. "so that you will be blameless" - free of accusation, blameless, irreproachable, unimpeachable. The accusative is usually treated adverbially, consecutive, expressing result, as NIV. The word doesn't imply freedom from sin, but rather freedom from condemnation, ie., "unimpeachable", Plummer.

en + dat. "on [the day]" - in [the day]. Temporal use of the preposition.

tou kuriou (oV) gen. "of [our] Lord" - of the lord [of us]. The genitive is best taken as adjectival, idiomatic / temporal, limiting hJmera, "day", "on the day when the Lord Jesus comes." "Day" is used in a technical sense of a divine manifestation, a coming day of judgment. The particular "day" in mind is the one in which Christ takes up his seat beside the Ancient of Days to execute judgment - blessing and cursing. "On the day when the Lord Jesus makes his appearance", Cassirer.

Cristou (oV) gen. "[Jesus] Christ" - Variant "Christ" is found in p46, a very reliable text, so Metzger notes that it is a line-ball decision as to whether it is in or out.


The Corinthians' arrival safely on the day of the Lord, rests with the character of God himself; He "is faithful". The God of Israel has shown himself to be a dependable and reliable God, Deut.7:9, Ps.144:13. So, the God who called us into the fellowship of his Son, will carry us through to the end.

pistoV oJ qeoV "God ....... is faithful" - god is the one who is faithful. Predicate adjective; emphatic by position in the Gk. text. God is unfettered, but chooses to be fettered by his promises, he "chooses to constrain himself by his own pledges", Thiselton. For Paul, the faithfulness of God rests in his covenant promises, apart from the worth of the recipient of those promises - a central concept in Pauline theology.

dia+ gen. "-" - through, by means of [whom]. Expressing agency; "by whom you were called", AV, or "through whom." The call may be ascribed to either the Father or Christ, although Lightfoot says "whenever God the Father and Christ are mentioned together, origination is ascribed to the Father and mediation to Christ." It can also be argued that the reference expresses an indirect calling through the gospel.

eklhqhte (kalew) aor. pas. "has called" - you were called. The word "call" is always problematic. It is often described as an effectual call of God, whereby he summons the elect into the kingdom. It would be better to argue that God's "call" is more in the terms of an invitation (through the gospel) to participate in his elect community ("the fellowship of believers", see below). In dealing with this theological issue it is unwise to either devalue human freedom, or divine sovereignty.

eiV + acc. "into" - Possibly expressing purpose / end-view, "for"; "you were called to share the life of his Son", Barclay.

koinwnian (a) "fellowship" - the fellowship, participation. The word is usually taken to refer to an intimate relationship with Jesus prompted by being "in" him - unity, oneness, communion, fellowship; "a participation in the life of Christ", Godet, or better "to share in the life of his Son", REB. Yet, Barnett sees the word extending beyond the notion of being in union with Jesus, to believers being in union with Jesus, such that "the fellowship of believers", ESV, is the church. We are called into a relationship with Jesus and each other which extends into eternity.

tou uiJou (oV) gen. "with [his] Son" - of the son [of his, jesus christ the lord of us]. The genitive is usually taken as adverbial, expressing association, "with the Son." More commonly expressed by the prepositions meta, or sun, or a dative. "Who called you into this intimate and powerful relationship with his Son", Junkins. Yet, if we take "fellowship" here in the sense of "the Christian fellowship", the genitive is likely to be adjectival, possessive - we are Christ's body, the church.


1 Corinthians Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]