The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text

By Anthony C. Thiselton | Go to book overview

I. Address, Greeting,
and Thanksgiving (1:1-9)

A. ADDRESS AND GREETING (1:1-3)

(1) Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and
our Christian brother Sosthenes (2) to the church of God which is in Cor-
inth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy people, to-
gether with all who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place,
both their Lord and ours. (3) Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and from the Lord Jesus Christ
.

We reserve our main introduction to chs. 1–4 to its beginning immediately before the propositio of 1:10. Here we simply introduce briefly the Address and Greeting (1:1-3), also postponing an introduction to the Thanksgiving (1:4-9). Paul does not disdain the use of conventional formulae for the commencement and structure of a letter in the Graeco-Roman world of the first century. He does not discard the literary or social conventions of his time, as if the gospel were necessarily a counterculture which undermined expected conventions and courtesies when these are value-neutral.

Nevertheless, Paul fills the stereotypical form with a distinctively Christian content. To his own name, as the sender of the letter, he adds the designation apostle to indicate that he writes as one specially commissioned by God to perform an apostolic ministry.1 Far from striking an authoritarian note (as many writers claim), the term points away from his own personal wishes or initiative to a given task which he has been called to undertake. His call to apostleship carries with it a dimension of necessity or compulsion (9:15-18; cf. Acts 26:14 and Gal 1:15 reflecting directly Jer 1:4-10; 20:7-9).2 We argue below that the

1. J. Murphy-O’Connor, Paul the Letter Writer (Collegeville, Minn.: Glazier/Liturgical Press, 1995), suggests that whereas the earlier 1 Thess 1:1 (and 2 Thess 1:1) simply include the name of the sender(s), the fuller description “not by human persons but by God” (Gal 1:1) marks a new phrase which is reflected in 1 Cor 1:1 and thereafter (45-48).

2. See, e.g., J. Munck, Paul and the Salvation of Mankind (Eng. trans., London: SCM, 1959), 20-33; and H. Merklein, Der erste Brief an die Korinther, Kap. 1–4 (Gütersloh: GütersloherEchter, 1992), 63-64. On the transparency of apostleship as pointing away from the person of the

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