Scripture reading – 1 Corinthians 1-4
Our chronological reading of God’s Word brings us today to Paul’s first letter to the saints in Corinth. In the preceding devotional (Acts 18), you were introduced to the city of Corinth, the capital of Achaia, a Roman province. Corinth was a seaport city on the Mediterranean Sea, and by Paul’s day had eclipsed ancient Athens in commerce, culture, and wickedness.
Paul’s eighteen month-long ministry in Corinth had been fruitful (Acts 18:11), and many Jews and Gentiles had come to believe and accept Christ as Savior. Nevertheless, there was a great opposition to the Gospel, so that Paul had rebuked the Jews saying, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6). Paul had soon after departed from Corinth.
The members of the church in Corinth were far from perfect. Remembering the moral wickedness of that culture, the presence of idolatry, and the universal depravity of man, we understand the spiritual stress on the church from within and without. Not one to shy from his role as an apostle and preacher, Paul’s first letter to the believers in Corinth passionately addressed several issues: 1) The moral failures of believers in the body; 2) A contentious, divisive spirit; 3) Various questions regarding a believer’s liberty (for instance, eating meat offered to idols), marriage and divorce, spiritual gifts, and the resurrection.
I encourage you to read today’s Scripture; however, the balance of today’s devotional will focus on one verse, 1 Corinthians 1:1.
1 Corinthians 1:1 – “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother.”
Who was Sosthenes, and why is the mention of his name noteworthy? To answer that question, we must return to Acts 18:9-17 where he is first mentioned, not as a friend, but as an adversary of Paul (Acts 18:17).
Remember how the Hellenistic Jews in Corinth (being of Greek origin), had been stirred and “made insurrection with one accord against Paul (Acts 18:12). They “brought [Paul] to the judgment seat” where Gallio, the deputy and Roman procurator of Achaia sat in judgment. Gallio, demonstrating his prejudiced toward the Jews, had no tolerance for their religious squabble with Paul (Acts 18:13-15). Humiliated by their dismissal (Acts 18:16), the Greek-Jews turned on Sosthenes, the leader of their insurrection. We read,
Acts 18:17 – “17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.”
It was this same Sosthenes, the leader of the insurrection, who later became a believer and follower of Christ. His salvation had so transformed his life that he became a peer of Paul in the Gospel ministry!
Paul opens his first letter to the church in Corinth with not only a greeting, but with “Sosthenes our brother” (1 Corinthians 1:1). What a wonderful testimony of spiritual transformation! God’s Holy Spirit had so worked in Sosthenes’ life that he became not only Paul’s spiritual brother, but also his fellow-laborer!
Friend, have you known the transformation of a new spiritual nature that begins with sincere salvation?
2 Corinthians 5:17 – “17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith