Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 just as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you eagerly await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1Cor1:1-9)
Having introduced himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ in his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul addresses his audience as “the church which is in Corinth”. Of course, there were no church buildings as such in Paul’s time (probably until the third century), so “church” (Greek: ἐκκλησία) in Scripture always refers to a people, never a building. Christians don’t “go to church” – they are the church, for ἐκκλησία literally means, “the called out ones”. People are called out, buildings are constructed and then may be set aside for a sacred purpose. Yet reading on through Paul’s introduction, that is rather like the Christian. Such, he says, were called and reconstructed so as to be “ἁγίοις”, often translated saints or holy ones. Again, ἁγίοις primarily invokes the idea of being set apart, by or for God, for sacred use.
As these descriptions should illustrate and I will continue to demonstrate, the Church is not the totality of people whom God loves and has great plans for; she is “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1Pet2:9). For “Christ gave Himself as a ransom for all; (a fact) to be testified in due time” (1Tim2:6).