William Barclay's Daily Study Bible

The Necessity Of Thanksgiving (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)

1:4-9 Always I thank my God for you, for the grace of God which has been given to you in Christ Jesus. I have good reason to do so, because in him you have been enriched in everything, in every form of speech and in every form of knowledge, inasmuch as what we promised you that Christ could do for his people has been proved to be true in you. The result is that there is no spiritual gift in which you lag behind, while you eagerly wait for the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will keep you secure right to the end so that no one will be able to impeach you in the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ. You can rely on God, by whom you were called to share the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

In this passage of thanksgiving three things stand out.

(i) There is the promise which came true. When Paul preached Christianity to the Corinthians he told them that Christ could do certain things for them, and now he proudly claims that all that he pledged that Christ could do has come true. A missionary told one of the ancient Pictish kings, "If you will accept Christ, you will find wonder upon wonder--and every one of them true." In the last analysis we cannot argue a man into Christianity; we can only say to him, "Try it and see what happens," in the certainty that, if he does, the claims we make for it will all come true.

(ii) There is the gift which has been given. Paul here uses a favourite word of his. It is charisma ( Greek #5486 ), which means a gift freely given to a man, a gift which he did not deserve and which he could never by himself have earned. This gift of God, as Paul saw it, comes in two ways.

(a) Salvation is the charisma of God. To enter into a right relationship with God is something which a man could never achieve himself. It is an unearned gift, coming from the sheer generosity of the love of God. (compare Romans 6:23 ).

(b) It gives a man whatever special gifts he may possess and whatever special equipment he may have for life. ( 1 Corinthians 12:4-10 ; 1 Timothy 4:14 ; 1 Peter 4:10 ). If a man has the gift of speech or the gift of healing, if he has the gift of music or of any art, if he has a craftsman's gifts upon his hands, all these are gifts from God. If we fully realized that, it would bring a new atmosphere and character into life. Such skills as we possess are not our own achievement, they are gifts from God, and, therefore, they are held in trust. They are not to be used as we want to use them but as God wants us to use them; not for our profit or prestige but for the glory of God and the good of men.

(iii) There is the ultimate end. In the Old Testament the phrase, The Day of the Lord, keeps recurring. It was the day when the Jews expected God to break directly into history, the day when the old world would be wiped out and the new world born, the day when all men would be judged. The Christians took over this idea, only they took The Day of the Lord in the sense of The Day of the Lord Jesus, and regarded it as the day on which Jesus would come back in all his power and glory.

That indeed would be a day of judgment. Caedmon, the old English poet, drew a picture in one of his poems about the day of judgment. He imagined the Cross set in the midst of the world; and from the Cross there streamed a strange light which had a penetrating X-ray quality about it and stripped the disguises from things and showed them as they were. It is Paul's belief that when the ultimate judgment comes the man who is in Christ can meet even it unafraid because he will be clothed not in his own merits but in the merits of Christ so that none will be able to impeach him.

- William Barclay's Daily Study Bible