The greeting in 1 Cor 1.1-3 includes God three times. All three mentions are of great importance.
From Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Sosthenes, our brother, 2 to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
- Paul was called by the will of God. His apostleship had divine origin. He worked according to the Lord’s mission. Paul wants to do God’s will and he wants everyone to be “concerned about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord” 1 Cor 7.32. Doing God’s will means giving up our own will. Paul received a miraculous calling on the road to Damascus, but ours is no less divine today, coming as it does through Scripture and the message of the Cross. Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane is the ultimate submission to God’s will, and is ours as well.
- The saints in Corinth were the church of God. Soon Paul would test their obedience but for the moment he exercised patience as he waited for the arrogant ones to repent. A church can lose its place before God, Rev 2.5. At this point in Corinth, however, Paul still calls the converts the church. They should recognize God’s sovereignty. God owns the church and he determines how it must demonstrate faith and fulfill its mission. No man, even if the church meets in his house or if he shepherds the flock, can determine what the church must do. God speaks to guide the church, so no one must go beyond what is written, 1 Cor 4.6.
- Grace and peace come from God our Father. The great truth of the new covenant in Christ is that God is our Father and offers to all men the new birth so that they may enter into the family of faith. When God is Father, he blesses his children with grace and peace and every spiritual blessing in Christ, Eph 1.3. Grace is the great leveler of men. All come into the body of Christ through immersion in water, 1 Cor 12.13, receiving from the one Spirit a diversity of gifts, 1 Cor 12.11. Two levels of hierarchy exist therefore: God as Father, and all Christians as his children. Thus, there can be no competition and no glorying in humans, 1 Cor 1.31; 3.21.
What others lessons are evident from this threefold mention of God in Paul’s greeting in 1 Cor?