Editor’s Reflections -- By: William David Spencer

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 27:2 (Spring 2013)
Article: Editor’s Reflections
Author: William David Spencer

Editor’s Reflections

William David Spencer

By the time he wrote the letter we call 1 Corinthians, Paul was obviously becoming exasperated with the saints at Corinth. After his ever cordial and didactic greetings—reminding them that their calling and sanctification in the Lord is not unique to them, but it is a privilege that they share with other Christians everywhere (1 Cor 1:2)—he starts right in on what he sees is wrong with them. But, before he does that, he shares some words of encouragement, nourishing his students with a kind of pedagogical sandwich, as every good teacher will, mentioning something positive, then the negative that needs correction, then ending with a positive, encouraging appeal, urging the students to do better in the future.

So Paul begins in verse 4 by expressing gratitude to God for the grace God has given them—and here he highlights the positive aspect of knowledge (the negative aspect he will correct as the letter proceeds). He thanks God for the “word”—that is, literally, the logos—and the knowledge with which God has enriched these believers (v. 5). Logos, of course, is the same word the Apostle John will use to describe Christ himself, God-Among-Us, the person of the triune Godhead who enters our world to bring us true knowledge of God. In our day, in English, the term logos has been brought over from Greek as a cognate to represent all study or learning, so that we build it into the names of our academic disciplines, as theology (theos-logos, God-study), anthropology (human-study), sociology (society-study), and on and on. In Greek, the term also indicates teaching and reasoning. Paul is careful to locate that learning in Christ Jesus, the one who enriched the Corinthians with the learning that they value so highly, who confirmed them in their “testimony” (v. 6), and who equips them with spiritual gifts (v. 7), preservation from blame (v. 8), and faithful perseverance to carry them through to the second coming of Christ and the last judgment (v. 8).1 As a result, their entire faith should rest on God’s power, not on human wisdom (2:5). Paul then appeals to them in 1:10 that they apply these blessings by training their minds and purposes to agree.

What is Paul concerned about? Reminding the Corinthians of the origin of their kno...

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