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No Small Roles

No Small Roles

Words of Faith 4-18-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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1 Corinthians 1

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

[2] To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ--their Lord and ours:

[3] Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

From what authority did Paul write? From what basis would he seek to correct the worries, concerns and issues that were troubling the people he had grown to love so dearly in Corinth. There was no ecclesiastical order or seminary at that time. There was no ordaining committee or missionary agency.

Paul was simply called by God. His mission was to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. Literally, an apostle means a "sent one" or emissary. But there is also the strength of language here that claims for Paul a place alongside the Twelve Apostles. He was an Apostle with a capital A. This was the will of God.

But in the same greeting Paul also included the name of a brother-- Sosthenes. Most scholars agree that Sosthenes had to have been the secretary or "amenuensis" who actually physically wrote down the words that Paul dictated. Paul did not have to include his name. He chose to do so. He was a brother and believer.

Sosthenes may have been the same brother who had been the "synagogue ruler" in Corinth and was beaten in front of the court house (Acts 18:17). Those receiving the letter would have known him well. They also would have remembered that he was the second synagogue leader to convert to the way of Jesus at great cost (Acts 18:8).

Sosthenes must have moved on to Ephesus to help support Paul's ministry there. His faith in Jesus had been costly. A "synagogue ruler" was not a Rabbi, but he was a prominent lay person who would oversee the care of the synagogue building and the organization of the services there. It was a prestigious position holding great honor. He also would have uprooted his family and left his business in Corinth to follow Paul on the next mission. Following Jesus can be costly.

We don't know that Sosthenes contributed anything to the substance of this letter but Paul acknowledged his large contribution in actually penning the words. This must have been an exceedingly spiritual experience because the Holy Spirit was overseeing and guiding every stroke of the pen for this inspired Word from God that was given through Paul. Can you imagine the joy of actually penning the inerrant Word of God for the very first time?

For Paul, the acknowledgement of Sosthenes was one of simple gratitude. He recognized that it takes many different people doing a variety of different tasks to make the Body of Christ complete and whole. This would actually be a critical message for the Corinthian church. From the very from words, we see that Paul recognized his personal indebtedness to those who serve in ways that some might consider menial.

The thought may have already been forming in Paul's mind-- If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? (1 Cor. 12:15-17) Paul did not take his secretary for granted. His name is preserved for all eternity in the very Word of God.

The letter to the Corinthians begins with this simple recognition. God calls us and sends us. Some will have enormous visibility such as Paul. Others will clean the pens at the end of the writing session and then massage some liniment into a cramped hand. Whatever our part, all of what God is doing is important. It is no less significant to be a scribe than it is to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.

What is your part in the plan of God? What is God calling you to be about and to do in the year 2017? It may seem to be a small part that God leads you to, but there really are no small parts in the magnificent plan that He is unfolding.

Father God, I rejoice in knowing the name of Sosthenes and Paul valued him even in what many would consider a small role. I rejoice to know that You have a place for me in Your plan. Show me more and more who it is that You want me to be and what it is that You want for me to do. In Jesus' name.