Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
‘… and our brother Sosthenes.’
In my Bible they have given this letter a title. Apparently, it’s The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, but what about Sosthenes? His name is right there with Paul’s, at the letter’s beginning. Was he just the scribe, writing whatever Paul dictated? (At the end of the letter Paul announces that the last few words are in his own handwriting.) If so, it’s strange to give Sosthenes such a prominent mention.
Maybe he’s there to provide visible support for Paul, to validate his message. After all, Sosthenes is “one of their own”. He’s someone who knew from painful personal experience the challenges facing followers of Jesus in this bustling Greek city-port (Acts 18:17).
Just imagine being part of that group of Corinthian Christians, listening to the newly arrived letter.
“What do Sosthenes and Paul want to say to us? You know, I’ve never been entirely sure about Paul but if Sosthenes thinks he’s ok …”
“They say we’re the ‘Church of God’ in this place. This local group is God’s Church. We belong to God.”
“They say, we’re ‘sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints.’ Jesus has made / is making us into a holy people.”
“They say, we’re not the only saints. There are ‘saints in every place [who] call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.’ There’s little church and big Church, and we’re a part of all that.”
“Well, we seem to be on the same page there, so let’s hear what else they have to say. Yes, grace and peace to you too, Sosthenes (and to you, Paul), from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Gracious God, I thank you, For my local church which is your Church; For the impact of Jesus Christ upon me and others; For all your saints, past and present, Not forgetting Sosthenes, Paul, and the Corinthian Christians, Amen.
The Rev’d Trevor Jamison, Minister, St Columba’s URC, North Shields
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