From the Word
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge — 6 even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you — 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:3–9, RSV
We have before us the opening words of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, which Paul was moved to write because of unpleasant conditions in the church at Corinth after his departure. Divisions had arisen and sad confusion prevailed in doctrine and life. Hence the apostle was constrained to rebuke their wickedness and correct their infirmities. Because of these wholesome admonitions, the reading and heeding of this epistle is not only profitable but essential, for the devil takes no respite, but whenever the gospel is preached in its purity he mixes with the children of God and sows his tares.
Paul begins very leniently, showing them what they have received through the gospel. His purpose is to arouse their gratitude to God, and to induce them, for his honor and glory, to be harmonious in doctrine and life, avoiding divisions and other offenses. Paul would say: What abundant grace and gifts have been given you of God! They are bestowed, not because of your righteousness, merits and works; nay, all these blessings have been freely given you in Christ and for his sake, through the preaching of the gospel. The gospel is a grace which brings to you all manner of gifts, by him enriching you in everything.
He gives them an example of his own gratitude, thanking God on their behalf, for the purpose of calling forth their especial gratitude when they should consider what they formerly were and what they now had received through the gospel. He would have them beware lest, forgetful of their former misery and present grace, they relapse into their old blindness. We are aware of the great benefits bestowed upon us, but at the same time we see and realize that the devil instigates divisions and scandals. The cause of these evils may be traced to our ingratitude. Where God’s mercies are lightly dismissed from the mind and disregarded, gratitude and regard for God’s Word cannot be the result; satiated, listless Christians go their way fancying that their spiritual conditions always were and always will be as now. The people, therefore, must be awakened to consider their former destitution, the wretchedness in which they were, that they may return thanks to God and recount the superior and wonderful gifts which have enriched them in all things.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 376–77.