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Preaching - 1 Corinthians 1.4-9 - Preaching Notes

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          The connection between “hope” & “grace”

In 1 Corinthians 1:4-9, Paul expresses the hope and thankfulness he has as he contemplates God’s grace


·        Corinth - an incredibly sinful church

·        Yet we see in this prayer, Paul is giving thanks for some of the very things causing problems in the church

“I thank my God always”

Ø the verb in the present, along with this adverb, indicates habitual action

·        This means that Paul regularly, habitually, prays for them

·        It could also be said that he repeatedly prays for them

·        or even that “he never forgets them.”

> The passives in this section show that it is a praise for what God accomplishes and not for what they have done.

·        Thankfulness “concerning” them, but thankfulness “for” God and his grace

·        The word “for” in Greek indicates the “cause” of Pauls thankfulness

-       was the grace of God given to the Corinthian church, not necessarily their faithfulness

·        Paul does not thank God for any qualities of theirs, but for what God’s grace has accomplished in them. 

·        He only thanks God for God’s grace, gift, confirmation, etc.

And in that, he is not snuffing the Corinthians, but rather he is modeling for them a true prayer of thankfulness that brings glory to God

·        such prayers are based on “grace”

“GRACE” à unmerited favor from God

Ø Means = God’s favor (blessing) w/o merit

-       Gifts

-       Blessings

-       Successes

-       Usefulness

·        and we keep it without any merit

Ø means = All of the guilt from our actions is gone

·        we may still feel the guilt, and we should

-       we should feel remorse, for we have grieved our Lord

·        But we should not assume that b/c we feel guilty that we are guilty

-        (if indeed, we have trusted Christ to forgive our sin)

-       As mature believers we must learn to distinguish between our feelings and our “position” before God

Ø The fact that God pours out goodness on us despite our unworthiness gave Paul a sense of hope & thankfulness

We see that first of all in that Paul gives thanks for…

1.     Confirmation of Grace (v. 4-6)

“the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus…even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you”

Ø Paul could not give up hope on the Corinthians b/c he understood God’s grace at salvation

·        this is really the foundation to any other special grace that God brings into our lives.

·        Paul could be thankful because of the establishment of Christ in them.

He refers to their salvation as the time that…

“the testimony of Christ” was confirmed in them

·        this is the witness born [by their preaching] to Christ

·        the testimony “about” Christ

·        this denotes the content of their preaching à CHRIST


Ø refers to something “firm, reliable, certain, beyond doubt.”

·        It conveys the idea of something that will be fulfilled

·        It is confirmed to them in their hearts

·        The Holy Spirit convince them that the testimony was true and they came to firmly believe in it

·        That is the testimony was confirmed by God in their minds.

·        2 CORINTHIANS 1:21-22

–       Paul makes clear that this confirmation comes from the Holy Spirit

·        There is no other validation of preaching other than the work of the spirit (Barrett, 38).

·        As Andrew Peters told me this week at his 81st birthday party at Dick and Liz Matthews’ home, the Holy Spirit is nothing but a doctrine in most churches

–       Few understand what it is to depend on His working in people’s hearts.

·        Martyn Lloyd Jones à preacher’s ½ hour wait

God’s grace to confirm in them the gospel gave Paul hope for the Corinthians future sanctification

It is not only God’s grace in the past in salvation that drives Paul to hope & thankfulness

but it is also God’s grace in the present through…

2.     Gifts of Grace (v. 7)

“that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge…”

Ø Paul took hope & encouragement that God had not held back in any gift necessary for their enrichment

·        I thank my God for the grace given you, specifically that you were enriched in speech and knowledge

-       not that all of them had gifts of speech and knowledge

-       but their church had the benefits of all these gifts

-       this is not that every gift was being performed by the church members at Corinth

·        AND, it is obvious that by “all things” Paul does not have an absolute sense in mind

-       for they were not rich materially

-       nor by the testimony of their lives were they rich in faith. 

Ø But Paul limits what “all things” in the words…

     “all speech and all knowledge.

·        “speech” is related to the presentation of “Christian truth.”

-       a church who has been “given” teachers should count itself “rich.”

-       but there should not be pride in the acquired knowledge

·        this is a reference to the gifted men in teaching and speaking gifts

-       the Corinthians church had experienced in abundance

-       and the resultant doctrinal knowledge that had come from it.

-       They had been gifted with men like Apollos, who was “mighty in the Scriptures”

-       apparently they had experienced the ministry of Peter (v. 12)

-       some of them had even been taught be Christ Himself

-       and obviously some of them were very gifted in their speaking ability

*       for they struggled with boasting in their superiority of speech or of wisdom (1:31-2:1).

·        This knowledge is the result of the “giftedness” of “speaking” that they had received

-       as the speaking abounded, consequently, they abounded in their knowledge.

-       doctrinal “knowledge” and thus superiority is such a big issue in the church

-       As we will see a “richness in speech and knowledge” had a strong appeal to the Corinthians

-       the word “knowledge” is used more in 1 Corinthians than any other book in the NT

-       but also in 2 Corinthians 10 – attack on Paul

·        The Corinthians had received ministry ‘from’ all the gifts, including the ministry from the apostles.

but Paul says that they were enriched…

“in Him”

Ø the source was not themselves, it was not even the apostles

Ø the Corinthians had forgotten that what they had received were gifts

·        thus – they had forgotten to be thankful.

·        “they had not understood the terms under which Christians hold their riches

·        this was a fundamental problem in the Corinthian church


          1 Corinthians 1:12

·        they were boasting that they had the better teacher

·        the implication is not that Paul & Peter, etc. were against each other

·        the Corinthians were boasting that their “knowledge” was more profound

          1 Corinthians 3:4-7

·        The Christian finds his real riches in Christ. 

-       Paul uses the name “Christ” ten times in the first ten verses.

·        The ‘in Him’ qualifies the ‘in everything.’

-       That is, we have everything that Christ has to give,

-       and He gives everything we need

-       In Jesus Christ we “have been made complete” (Col. 2:10).

the result (according to v. 7) is that they did not lack in any gift…

 “so that you are not lacking in any gift”

Ø This refers to “not lacking” in the sense of possession of the gifts

·        In other words, they are without excuse in their failures

-       it is not that God has given them a task and not given them the means to accomplish that task.

·        The deficiencies in their church were not due to a lack of gifts

-       but to a lack of balancing in using them

-       and an overestimation of their own gift and usefulness

Ø But Paul must remind them that this rich provision of gifts is not the end.

-       The gifts were only a temporary provision while they were…

“waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

-       this “waiting” denotes a burning expectation for things to conform to the Divine plan.

-       This denotes an eager and active waiting. 

-       Benjamin’s eagerness when I come home

This, however, is not the position that the Corinthians had taken

Ø 1 Corinthians 4:8-13

·        they thought they had already “arrived”

·        they thought the gifts were meant to exalt them

–       that exaltation came when Christ returns

·        The Corinthian believers needed to keep their lack of perfection in mind

–       that would lead to a properly use their gifts

–       that would lead to an eager wait for the second coming.

·        Spiritual gifts are not the end

–       Being found blameless is the end

Ø That’s why Paul would not lose hope for the Corinthian church.

·        he knew that God had not held back in giving them every gift à and He would not hold back in continuing to pour out His grace

and that is what Paul tells them in the next verse

He gave thanks for the…

3.     Guarantee of Grace (v. 8-9)

“Who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”

Ø Paul could take hope and encouragement for he knew God was not through with them

Ø He knew how to gaze into the future and see what they would be à a key quality for any spiritual leader

·        and this caused him to give thanks

Ø the future work to be done in them will be a continuation of what has already been done

·        The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you and he will also confirm you to the end

·        This is what makes us wait so eagerly

·        God is going to confirm us to the end, so that we will never have to be found blameworthy because of our sin.

·        This is blameless in a forensic sense – so that no indictment can be lodged before a judge

–       of course some of us (like the Corinthians) are not so eager because we think we are already blameless.

Paul says this because…

“God is faithful”

·        this is the reason or the grounds for the preceding verse

-       God will confirm you to the end because He is faithful

-       God’s faithfulness guarantees the faithfulness of the believers.

It is God, Paul says, who…

“called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”

Ø The passive verb indicates that God is the agent of the call

·        while this preposition indicates that he is also the medium through which the call was given

·        God is the One who directly calls us to fellowship with his Son

-       We are simply his instruments

-       but God moves on people’s hearts directly.



·        this word can indicate communion or partnership

-       we both have communion with the son

-       AND we in the priviledges of sonship with Him

-       we will share in his righteousness

-       we will share in his dominion

-       we will reign together with Him.

God’s grace will stop at nothing short of those goals

That is why Paul could be tremendously hopeful about the Corinthian church

His heart overflowed with thanksgiving at God’s plan for His church

That is why we can be hopeful and thankful for our church.

Not b/c of our righteousness, but because of God’s grace

Just as He did at salvation, God IS GOING TO POUR OUT HIS GOODNESS ON BELIEVERS, regardless of their merit


Some of us, though, can not expect God’s goodness in our lives b/c we have never experienced salvation

you continue to think God is pleased with you b/c you do so much for Him

          your righteous deeds are like “filthy rags”

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