A Retake Of 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Here is my translation and explanation of the Epistle for Sunday.
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and (our) Lord, Jesus Christ. 4 I make Eucharist to my God always on your behalf because of the grace of God which was given to you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in all things you have been made rich in him, in every utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the Testimony of Christ was made sure among you. 7 So that you are not lacking in any spiritual grace, as you await the Revelation of our Lord, Jesus Christ. 8 Who will sustain you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the Day of our Lord, Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful! Him through whom you were called into the Communion of his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Scripture is a liturgical text first and foremost. Lutheran Orthodoxy of the 17th century had it wrong when it made Scripture about doctrine to the virtual exclusion of worship.
We see St. Paul open his letter with liturgy. By this letter he exercises his apostolic prerogative and inserts himself, as it were, into the Eucharistic worship of the church that assembled in Corinth.
In v. 4 Paul doesn't just give inchoate thanks. But he "makes Eucharist" to God on behalf of the Corinthian believers, because of the grace God has extended towards them to bring them salvation in Christ. This is what has always been part and parcel of the Eucharistic Prayer, which Lutherans reject. Though it is making a very small come back in LSB DS 1 & 2. In the EP, among other things, the church prays for the good estate of the church throughout the world, and includes particular petitions. That is what I think Paul is doing as he is simultaneously celebrating the Eucharist in his locale. (Let us make Eucharistia to the Lord our God. It is meet and right so to do.)
The "utterance" and "knowledge" of verse 5 should not, in my opinion, be heard in the abstract. Instead Paul here refers to the liturgy they pray. Their form of worship. It is in line with the "taksin" (order) they received from him (cf 14:40 and Col. 2:5). The Testimony of Christ that was made sure and certain among them. This testimony is not a vague notion, or merely a verbal gospel, but liturgical Baptism and the Eucharist which are the practice of the Christian faith.
Paul is reminding them that they received the genuine form of Christian worship from him when he was there; however much he is about to straighten out their wrong thinking in the rest of the sermon / epistle.
Because of what they were given by Paul when he taught them Christian worship (Acts 18ff), they are in possession of every "spiritual gift." We are not talking Pentecostal "gifts of the Spirit" here. Or a spiritual "inventory." But of form and content of Christian worship.
And what is the "revelation" they are awaiting? Is it the Parousia (return of Christ), or
is it the Eucharist, each celebration of which is an installment of the Parousia? And what is the "Day of the Lord" he refers to? Is it the "big one" or is it the one that comes every 8th Day?
Lastly, v. 9 is wrongly translated. "Fellowship" is not the right word in English because it is misunderstood. For most it means pot luck dinners, and coffee. But here Paul talks about the Eucharist. "Koinonia" (Communion) is the word he chooses. That has a very special and technical meaning in Christian literature from day one.
And so, once again, Scripture should be read and heard and interpreted as a liturgical text. Doctrine flows from that.
More in Pastor's Blog
December 17, 2017The History Theology And Practice Of Christian Worship - Part 7
December 17, 2017The History Theology And Practice Of Christian Worship - Part 6
December 16, 2017Next Christmas