Thursday of Epiphany 2 – I Corinthians 1:1-9

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon 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.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

It all blew up in his face. He had hatched a plan to deal with this trouble-making preacher, this Saul of Tarsus who called himself Paul now. They would let the Romans do their dirty work. They would accuse him before the governor of the province and all they would have to do would be to sit back and watch the imperial machinery grind him up. The whole synagogue agreed to his plan and elected him leader of the congregation. They needed a new leader after their old one, Crispus, had abandoned them to follow Paul. That really hurt.

But on the big day, when they made their charges against Paul before Gallio the governor, it went horribly wrong. Gallio threw the case out and then expelled the whole delegation from the synagogue out into the street. Humiliated, the congregation turned on their newly elected synagogue rule and beat him up in front of the courthouse. The governor simply shook his head and did nothing.

When it was all done and he was lying bloodied, bruised, and in the dust of Corinth’s foul streets, a shadow fell over him and a familiar voice said, “Come on, Sosthenes, let’s get you out of here and get you cleaned up.” It was not any of his friends from the synagogue. No, it was far worse. His benefactor was Paul, the very man he had tried to kill a moment ago. Paul stood there, holding out his hand to him.

I imagined and made up the third paragraph, but the first two are true. You can read about these events in Acts 18:5-17. But I think the third paragraph happened, or something like it because we have the first verse of this reading in I Corinthians. Did you catch that last part of the verse. Paul says the letter is from two people. Himself and his brother, Sosthenes. He calls Sosthenes, the synagogue ruler who once tried to kill Paul, “our brother.” Paul wrote these words to a congregation in Corinth which was riven by conflict. Did he put his arm around the man who tried to kill him and call him a brother because Jesus can change everything? I think so. I think Paul wanted his Corinthian friends to know that Jesus is our peace (Eph. 2:14) and real reconciliation between enemies is possible (II Cor. 5:16-19). Does your parish know some conflict? Many do. Jesus offers you real peace in Him. It starts with humbly confessing your owns sins, as Paul did. It goes from there to a large-hearted forgiveness and love which is the very fabric of Christian fellowship.

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