1 Corinthians 1:4-9: Thanksgiving
4 Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῇ χάριτι τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ δοθείσῃ ὑμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 5 ὅτι ἐν παντὶ ἐπλουτίσθητε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἐν παντὶ λόγῳ καὶ πάσῃ γνώσει, 6 καθὼς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐβεβαιώθη ἐν ὑμῖν, 7 ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ὑστερεῖσθαι ἐν μηδενὶ χαρίσματι ἀπεκδεχομένους τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ· 8 ὃς καὶ βεβαιώσει ὑμᾶς ἕως τέλους ἀνεγκλήτους ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ [Χριστοῦ]. 9 πιστὸς ὁ θεός, διʼ οὗ ἐκλήθητε εἰς κοινωνίαν τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν.
4 I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God which was given to you in Christ Jesus, 5 because by him you were made rich in everything, in all speech and in all knowledge, 6 since the testimony was of Christ confirmed in, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift while eagerly awaiting the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you until the end, blameless in the day of our Lord. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The participle τῇ δοθείσῃ (to give) modifies τῇ χάριτι (grace).
The three conjunctions ὅτι, καθὼς, and ὥστε introduce two reasons and a purpose for Paul’s thanksgiving. He gives thanks because (ὅτι, causal) the Corinthian believers we were made rich in speech and knowledge, since/because (καθὼς, causal) the testimony of Christ was confirmed/established in them. The purpose of his thanksgiving was that (ὥστε+the in infinitive ὑστερεῖσθαι) they would not be lacking in any gift they may need while waiting anxiously for the return of Christ. The participle ἀπεκδεχομένους (to eagerly wait) may be understood as temporal. The genitive chain τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is probably a subjective genitive referring to the return of Christ. An objective genitive would make no sense in this context because the Corinthian church was not waiting for revelation about the Christ; they were waiting for Christ himself.
The Greek text at 1:9 includes Christ (Χριστοῦ) in the text, although it is included in brackets. I have left it out of my translation due to its omission from P46 and B.
As one reads through First Corinthians he begins to notice rather quickly that Paul is none too pleased with their behavior. There are divisions in the church, sexual immorality, and other problems plaguing the Corinthian believers. But before Paul even begins to address those, he first thanks God for what the Corinthians have in Christ. They have been made rich in the grace of God, which has been given to them by Christ. Further, they lack no gift (χάρισμα), for all that they need they posses in Christ. What is truly amazing is Paul’s confidence in the work of God to keep the Corinthian believers blameless until Christ returns (ἀνεγκλήτους ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ [Χριστοῦ]; cf. Jude 24-25). Paul’s confidence is rooted in this simple truth: God is faithful (πιστὸς ὁ θεός). He is confident that although the church at Corinth is struggling to remove the leaven of sin from their midst, nevertheless God will preserve them and make them holy at the last day.
One thing that I have always noticed about Paul’s prayers is there specific structure and purpose. He patterns his prayers according to the Greco-Roman style, but adds his own style to them as well. I like Gordon Fee’s remarks regarding this: “Paul’s letters follow [the] standard form; however, in his hands even these formal items are touched by the gospel so as to become distinctively Christian.”1 His prayers are personal, passionate, and provocative, always tailor made for his recipients.
Also, the vivid and personal language Paul utilizes make my prayers look like verbal gibberish. Often I just go with the flow, if you know what I mean. I think I need to spend more time with the prayers of Paul. Maybe Peter T. O’Brien’s Introductory Thanksgivings in the Letters of Paul is something for me to pursue.
1 Gordon D. Fee. The First Epistle to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987: 27.