In a sermon preached in the 1850’s, Charles Spurgeon said:
It is not always the most gifted church which is in the most healthy state. A church may have many rich, influential, or learned members; many that have the gift of utterance, and understand all [knowledge]; yet that church may be in an unhealthy condition. Such was the case with the church at Corinth.
The church at Corinth had it’s troubles. There were divisions in the church over who was the best apostle to follow—Paul, Peter, or maybe we should follow Jesus. There was one of them that was sleeping with his stepmother. They had issues with how to worship, how to eat the Lord’s Supper, and so on.
If we were to encounter a church with as many problems as the church at Corinth, we might be tempted to throw in the towel. It might be best to start over. But the apostle Paul doesn’t go that direction. He will offer corrections in the letter; he will exhibit what we call “tough love.” But he also demonstrates confidence in the Corinthian church—he’s thankful for them. Listen to what he says:
4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4–9)