1 Corinthians is “the gospel chapter.” At least, that’s how I think of it. Paul lays out the gospel: “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [and to others]” (15:3-5). And then, “Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am” (15:8-10).
There is nothing vague or merely symbolic about Christ’s atonement and the gospel. The gospel is historical; Jesus died, was buried, and is alive! Paul, being so great a sinner and persecutor of God’s people, reveled in God’s grace to himself. Paul was forgiven much. How much we have been forgiven!
Forgiveness! 'tis a joyful sound
To malefactors doomed to die;
Publish the bliss the world around;
Ye seraphs, shout it from the sky!
O'er sins unnumbered as the sand,
And like the mountains for their size,
the seas of sovereign grace expand,
The seas of sovereign grace arise. --Thomas Gibbons (18th century)