Paul's greeting takes the form of an ancient Near Eastern blessing: Grace (or "mercy" in Jewish letters) and peace. Normally at this point, the first-century writer would go on to wish his reader(s) good health—much as we say, "Hope all is going well." Paul, instead, specifies the source of good health for the believer—God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. It is this kind of Christian blessing that he invariably uses to round off his opening greeting. God as a source of peace would be a typical Jewish thought. Our Father, however, brings Paul's greeting into the sphere of the familial—the exact way Jesus taught his disciples to address God in prayer. Yet, it is to be noted that while God is our Father, Jesus is not here spoken of as "our brother" but, rather, the Lord.Kyrios is placed first for emphasis. Grace and peace come from the Lord Jesus Christ. The concept of God as Father of the church and Jesus as her Lord captures too key distinctives of the Christian faith.
So Paul in these opening verses seeks to highlight both his apostolic and his family relationship to the Corinthians by calling on the witness of the broader community of Achaian believers and pointing to the filial bonds he and the Corinthians share. By making this most personal of letters "public," Paul holds the Corinthians accountable to the church at large.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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