1 Corinthians 1:4-13
I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;…
Paul uses here two expressions, elsewhere placed in the same close connection (see Romans 12:6; 1 Peter 4:10), "grace" (χάρις) and "gift" — not δῶρον or its cognate words (which might include every natural blessing common to heathen and Christian), but χάρισμα, the spiritual blessing connected with and flowing from God's "grace." Note that —
I. BOTH ARE CHARACTERISTIC OF THE GOSPEL DISPENSATION.
1. True, "grace" is mentioned in the Old Testament, and God is proclaimed to be "gracious," but this rarely. It is in the New Testament that we have complete revelation of this, and first have the frequent phrase "the grace of God."
2. And this because "grace... came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17; Titus 2:11). So in the text. God's fullest, freest favour to a sinful world, made possible by the sacrifice of Christ, made manifest by His life and ministry, and made over to His disciples as an abiding possession in the outpouring of the Spirit.
3. The "gifts" of God are thus —
(1) The heritage of the Christian Church, which is the special sphere of the Holy Spirit's operations (2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:22).
(2) Distributed to believers by Him as being God (chap. 1 Corinthians 12:4, 11).
(3) The outcome of the Divine grace of our Christian calling (Romans 12:6), and argue the possession of that grace (1 Peter 4:10).
II. BOTH ARE TO BE USED BY US.
1. "Grace" looks chiefly to the side of personal sanctification. St. Paul beseeches his converts not to "receive the grace of God in vain" (2 Corinthians 6:1), shows how he himself had been changed from a chief of sinners "by the grace of God" (1 Corinthians 15:10), and thanks God that they had been partakers of the same blessing (text and 1 Corinthians 6:11).
2. "Gifts" look chiefly to the side of Church edification. They are to be used for others (1 Peter 4:10). Some have more, and some less; some have one, and some others. In our text St. Paul mentions two, "utterance" (or perhaps the expounding of "doctrine" — λόγος) and "knowledge" of spiritual things. In chap. 12. he shows how this Church was "enriched" by an abundance (see vers. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28).
3. As every truehearted Christian has received both grace and some spiritual gift or gifts, we should be careful to use both aright.
(1) To profit by all "means of grace."
(2) To essay some work in the Church.
4. The grace and gifts of God may be neglected or misused. Illustrate by the parable of the ten pounds for "grace," and of the ten talents for "gifts."
III. BOTH POINT FORWARD TO THE END SET BEFORE US.
1. Sanctification is in order to that "holiness without which no m an shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14); to that being "like Him," that we may "see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2).
2. Christian work is not an end, but the means to an end, even preparedness for the second coming of Christ.
3. This second advent — and not death — is the one great end set forth in the New Testament as the goal of the Christian's hopes and efforts. So our text.Conclusion: Let this subject lead to —
1. Thankfulness for the grace of God manifest in the progress of His work amongst us.
2. Humility in the recognition of our spiritual gifts as of His grace alone.
3. Earnestness in the fulfilling our obligation of "ministering the same one to another."
4. Singleness of purpose in looking towards the end of God's work in us and by us — the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(T. H. Barnett.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;