CONTEXT: Matthew Henry comments as follows: In this chapter we have, I. The preface or introduction to the whole epistle, ver 1-9. II. One principal occasion of writing it hinted, namely, their divisions and the origin of them, ver 10-13. III. An account of Paul’s ministry among them, which was principally preaching the gospel, ver 14-17. IV. The manner wherein he preached the gospel, and the different success of it, with an account of how admirably it was fitted to bring glory to God and beat down the pride and vanity of men, ver 17 to the end.
This is an interesting verse for many reasons. I will try and unfold them one by one:
To the church of God that is in Corinth, – looking at God and Corinth from an outsider’s perspective is like mixing oil and water, it just does not seem a good fit. Corinth was a major city of the time and known for its debauchery so announcing the Church of God there seems an odd fit.
to those sanctified in Christ Jesus – amongst all, that sinfulness and worldliness live a group of folks who have been sanctified solely by the redeeming Blood of Christ Jesus. This is who Paul is writing to.
In verse one Paul writes; called…to be an apostle, literally a called (by God) apostle. Here in our text, called to be saints together again, the literal Greek reads called saints having the same idea of being set apart by God.
with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: I was unaware that this phrase actually had some controversy attached to it from some commentators. I think the majority agree that this refers to the fellowship of the Universal (Greek word, καθολικός, or catholic) Church. Could Paul be referring to the Roman Catholic church, NO! It did not exist in 50 A.D. what did exist and continues today is the universal (catholic) fellowship enjoyed amongst TRUE believers.
Sometimes, when we get caught up in petty denominational differences we just need to be reminded of that fellowship.
MacLaren’s Expositions of Holy Scripture (Extract)
There are some difficulties, with which I need not trouble you, about both the translation and the connection of these words. One thing is quite clear, that in them the Apostle associates the church at Corinth with the whole mass of Christian believers in the world. The question may arise whether he does so in the sense that he addresses his letter both to the church at Corinth and to the whole of the churches, and so makes it a catholic epistle. That is extremely unlikely, considering how all but entirely this letter is taken up with dealing with the special conditions of the Corinthian church. Rather I should suppose that he is simply intending to remind ‘the Church of God at Corinth . . . sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,’ that they are in real, living union with the whole body of believers. Just as the water in a little land-locked bay, connected with the sea by some narrow strait like that at Corinth, is yet part of the whole ocean that rolls around the world, so that little community of Christians had its living bond of union with all the brethren in every place that called upon the name of Jesus Christ.