Monday, June 30, 2014

The Corinthian Church: Sanctified and Set Apart

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours. (1 Corinthians 1:2 ESV)
Paul writes to the church in a specific location, Corinth, but to help them see themselves as part of a larger movement he identifies them with the universal church because of the self centeredness of the church and their propensity toward disunity.   The Corinthian church is identified two ways: as sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints.  The verb sanctified is a passive, demonstrating that God is the agent, the one who has done the sanctifying work.  They are already sanctified; hard to believe as you read the letter!  This verb is used this way most of the time in the New Testament, the church is already sanctified, set apart as holy.  It is our position and our identity.  Then Paul uses a related word, an adjective, translated as holy or saints.  God has set the church apart as his holy and because they are God’s people they should reflect his holiness.  This reminds us of the great calling upon Israel in Exodus 19:5-6 to be a holy nation, showing the continuity between the Old Covenant people of God and the New Covenant people of God, the church being the fulfillment of Israel.  Peter make this more explicit:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV) 

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