Today, let’s start with verses 1-3 (but just the beginning of verse 3; we’ll cover the second half of verse 3 tomorrow).
Paul begins this passage reminding the Corinthians of something he taught them. And not just some obscure or peripheral item, either. He’s not saying to them, “Hey, Corinthians, I know it has been a while since I was with you, and you know, I taught you a lot of detailed theology, so I get why this little detail might have slipped through the cracks . . .” No; what does Paul say? He wants to remind them of the gospel he preached to them. The gospel. The good news. This is not some minor point Paul’s about to reiterate. It’s the heart of his message. You can see that in how he characterizes it at the beginning of verse 3: he delivered to them as of first importance what he also received. Paul is about to launch into the primary, foundational content of his teaching to the Corinthians.
So what is it? What does Paul say is the thing that’s “of first importance” when it comes to the Christian faith? What’s the foundation of his preaching? If we hadn’t already read the passage, what would you have guessed? Would you have guessed it would be some sort of moral command? “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: love your neighbor as yourself.” “Live a holy life.” Or maybe even something like, “Stop getting hung up on all those dos and don’ts and just have a relationship with Jesus.” But of course it’s none of those things, is it? What Paul declares as being “of first importance” isn’t something we do, but something that was already done. The foundation of the gospel is not a series of commands but a series of events. It’s not something that happens to us, but something that already happened.
What do you often put as “first importance” in your life?