1 Corinthians 1:1–9 (NKJV)
1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 1:1-3
Paul opens the first letter to the Corinthians with a normal greeting. Paul often begins his letters, and ends many of them as well, with a blessing of grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. He uses his normal salutation, “To the church of God at _____________,” to begin this and many other letters. He also identifies his traveling companion, Sosthenes, who also participates in the letter.
4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.1 Corinthians 1:4-9
Paul then begins to speak of his affection for the Corinthian church, thanking God for them and the fact that they are recipients of the grace of God. He applauds their growth in the faith and in knowledge, and that they operate in a gifted way as they look for the coming of Jesus Christ. He identifies them as called of God. All of this verbiage is setting up the letter in a congenial and warm fashion. What comes immediately following this passage is a bit less congenial, and actually accusatory. While the church at Corinth is strong and called by God, they have some issues. Paul, however, makes sure to open with a salutation that sets the stage for the corrective measures that follow.
He is operating as the statesman of the early church that he truly was. Paul never wanted to just scold. Paul sought to build up even as he also corrected. In life, it is important to find a way to speak the truth in love, and to build up more than one tears down. Christians should find a way to correct that does not destroy. In so doing, we do not lost so much ground. Instead, we only brush away the unnecessary and unprofitable, without destroying the useful tender growth next to it. Correct in love and preserve the valuable. That is the way to true growth.