To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours. (1 Corinthians 1:2)
What Is The Church Of God?
In both of his letters to Corinth, the apostle Paul refers to the brethren as the church of God. He begins each letter addressed to the church of God at Corinth and refers to them as a church of God three other times. Paul warned the elders from Ephesus to take heed and to shepherd the church of God which Christ purchased with His own blood. Recounting his previous life the apostle tells the churches of Galatia that he had persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. Finally, writing to Timothy instructing him concerning the qualities of those men who would shepherd the body of Christ, the apostle reminds his fellow preacher an elder need to know how to rule his own house so that he may be skilled in caring for the church of God. The idea of the people of God to be called the church of God is in keeping with the divine plan of God’s redemptive mystery revealed in the church of Christ. Jesus came to build His church, die for His bride and establish the eternal kingdom of God’s grace for all men to find salvation. On the day of Pentecost, three thousand souls were added to the church of God as they obeyed the gospel message of repentance and remission of sins in the waters of baptism. The church of God multiplied in the early days of new covenant and churches of God spread throughout the Roman Empire. There were churches of God in Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. Paul wrote letters to the churches of God in Ephesus, Colosse, Thessalonica, Rome, Philippi and the churches of Galatia. John revealed the message of Christ to the seven churches of God in Asia Minor when he penned the Revelation.
Paul’s first letter to Corinth describes the nature of the church of God as the group of believers in the city of Corinth. He had spent about eighteen months working with the celebrated city of the Peloponnesus, capital of Corinthia. Opposition from the Jews led the apostle to work primarily with the Gentiles and the church was firmly established. Those who made up the church at Corinth were sanctified in Christ Jesus. The city of Corinth was filled with idols in the pagan worship and glorification of temples, art, pleasure, and debauchery of a wealthy and influential Roman city. It would have been a very difficult place to live as a Christian separated from the trappings of an ungodly world. The sanctification of the Corinthian saints suggests they strove diligently to keep themselves unspotted from the world around them. Their separation from things unholy made them holy or sanctified in the eyes of the Lord. The church of God is made up of those individuals who esteem the character of godliness above the reproach of a world filled with the carnal pleasures and pursuits of the pleasure. For the Christian’s in Corinth, Paul commended them for being sanctified in a place like Corinth. The church was filled with severe problems but Paul had faith in their love for God to make the right decisions. His second letter bears out his confidence in the willingness to correct those wrongs.
The idea of being a saint is lost in translation today but the Bible refers to all Christians as saints. Christ had sanctified the Christians through His blood but their lives signified they lived apart from the world and were aptly called to be saints. The souls who seek to keep their lives out of the filth of the world live as saints in a world filled with the carnal pleasures of sin. To be called as saints is the desire of the Father for His children. Corinth was a difficult city to live and seek to follow the path of holiness, purity, and righteousness but these brave souls in the church of God were commended for keeping their lives apart from the decadent world about them. The manner of their calling is described on how they called on the name of Jesus Christ. Lives that are devoted to the Lord will always use His power and authority to guide their hearts to please the Father. Calling on the name of the Lord is as ancient as the world as all those who please God seek His blessing in their lives by keeping His commandments. In the church, those who call on the name of Jesus Christ as Lord have given their lives wholly to the will of the Father. Corinth had infected the church with carnality, sin, and confusion as Paul explained in his first letter. There were many things wrong with the church at Corinth but the apostle addresses them as a church of God and commends their faith before outlining the problems they needed to fix. Reading the second letter the apostle is thankful that because they had a willingness to call on the name of Jesus Christ they fixed many of the problems that plagued the church. A church of God is a place God’s word is honored and held in the esteem of following the New Testament pattern of authority. The church of God which is at Corinth is a wonderful example of how the Lord desires His people to be called saints and to call on the name of His Son Jesus Christ.