Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/1 Corinthians/Chapter 16

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version © 1989. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Background InformationEdit

1 Corinthians 16: An OverviewEdit

This chapter is the final chapter in the book of 1 Corinthians. Paul wants to make sure the people understood the message he was giving them in the previous chapters, and he wants to give them some last instructions before he closes his letter. Paul starts this section by talking about the collection of money to be used for God’s work. This collection should not be forced, but it should be willingly given so that those in need can have help. The Corinthians are supposed to put in money whenever they can, since Paul does not want to force the people to give when he gets there. Paul thinks it would be a good idea to have the money all collected and ready to send off to Jerusalem by the time Paul reaches Corinth. At that time, people from the church in Corinth would carry the money to Jerusalem with a letter explaining the gift.

Paul’s journey is going to take him close to Corinth, so he wants to stop and spend a while with the Corinthians. He does not want to drop by for a quick hello, but he wants, Lord willing, to be able to spend a season with the Corinthians so that they would be able to encourage him when he had to leave for his next journey. However, as much as Paul wanted to see the Corinthians as soon as possible, he knew that he had other obligations first. In Ephesus, where he was when he wrote this letter to the Corinthians, a great opportunity for him to minister had just opened up. If Paul left right away, the people in opposition to him would be a great hindrance to the service Paul was doing. Although Paul was unable to go at that time, Timothy was going to be arriving at Corinth soon. Timothy was young, and Paul wanted to make sure the Corinthians encouraged him instead of looking down on him. After Timothy’s visit, he was to return to Paul along with some of the brothers in the church. Paul had been encouraging Apollos, another brother in the Lord, to visit Corinth, but he was not ready at that point.

Paul gives some final directives to the church at Corinth. The family of Stephanas was an example for the other people to follow, because the family of Stephanas was very devoted to doing God’s work. Paul wanted to emphasize that the Corinthians should help in the work of the church and devote themselves to service. Everything they do should be in love. The Corinthians were lacking in some aspects, but men who visited Paul helped supply what was lacking. It was important that the Corinthians acknowledged people who were exemplary in their congregation so that they would be able to act as they did.

All the churches in Asia sent greetings to the church at Corinth. The house church that met at the home of Aquila and Priscilla sent greetings in the Lord to the church that is in Corinth, and Aquila and Priscilla sent their greetings along. In fact, all the brothers and sisters in the Lord sent greetings to the church in Corinth. Paul also gave instructions for how the people at Corinth were to greet each other as brothers and sisters in the Lord. As Paul closes his letter, he signs a greeting with his own hand. He then announces one last blessing on the church in Corinth, and a word of exhortation for the people to love the Lord. Paul wished the grace of the Lord Jesus to be with the Corinthians, then he closes his letter by telling the Corinthians of his love for them in Christ Jesus.

Historical ContextEdit

Letters
  • did everyone in the community send greetings to the recipient of the letter, even if the letter was written by only one person?
  • was it common for scribes to write letters?
Honor
  • how did people show respect to each other?
  • how were individuals or families honored within a community?
Greetings
  • was it customary to greet with a kiss?
  • did everyone greet each other with a holy kiss? men to men? women to women? women to men? did they distinguish?

Letter WritingEdit

All officials, business people, and people who wrote private letters followed a standard format in their letter writing. Most people did not write their letters themselves. People who were in the upper class had secretaries who would write their letters for them. If a regular person wanted a letter written in the correct format, then he or she could go to the market place and find a scribe for hire. After paying a small fee to the scribe, the scribe would write the letter in the standard format for the person who hired him. The writers of the epistles in the New Testament used secretaries to write their letters for them. However, although Paul used a secretary, he often signed his letters with his own hand and added his own postscript. [1] In regards to delivering the letters, Roman officials used a road system with horsemen to send official communication. Wealthy people had their slaves deliver their letters. Other people sent their letters with friends or even with strangers who were going in the right direction. [2]

House ChurchesEdit

The most common form of churches in the New Testament were house churches. The church that meets in the home of Aquila and Priscilla was one of these house churches. The houses that these churches met in were usually private houses closed off from the streets so the believers would remember that they were dedicated to God and not to the outside world. Meeting each Sunday, the believers prayed and sang hymns together, and someone would usually share a message. "These house churches were the basic cells of the growing church, at a time when significant social tensions surrounded the household in Roman society.[3]"

HonorEdit

In Biblical times, if the congregation did not bring in enough money to support the house church, the house church would often have a patron which would supply the money needed for the house church. Stephanas and his household were one of these patrons. These patrons were recognized by the house churces by having honor shown to them. It is a shame not to recognize honor due to a person[4].

Literary ContextEdit

1 Corinthians is in the Letter genre, and it follows the form of most letters written during the first century. 1 Corinthians 16 is the closing of the letter, which consists of four parts:

  1. Practical Matters vv. 1-18
  2. Individual Greetings vv. 19-20
  3. Personal Postscript vv. 21-22
  4. Doxology or Prayer vv. 23-24 [5]

Outline of 1 Corinthians 16Edit

  • Collection for God's people
    • Follow the directions given to Galatia v. 1
      • Set aside money every week v. 2
        • Collections will not need to be taken when Paul comes v. 2
        • Collections will go to Jerusalem v. 3
      • People will take the monetary gift along with letters to Jerusalem v. 3
        • Paul may go along also v. 4
  • Visit to Corinth
    • Paul plans to go to Macedonia v. 5
      • Paul will visit the Corinthians after that v. 5
        • Paul may spend the winter with the Corinthians v. 6
          • Paul wants to spend a long time with them v. 7
        • Paul wants the Corinthians to help him finance his next journey v. 7
    • Paul is currently in Ephesus v. 8
      • Paul will remain there until Pentecost v. 8
        • A door for ministry has opened up for Paul v. 9
          • Many people oppose Paul v. 9
    • Timothy may go visit the Corinthians v. 10
      • Timothy is doing the work of the Lord v. 10
        • See that Timothy has nothing to be afraid of v. 10
        • Do not discourage Timothy v. 11
      • Paul is doing the work of the Lord v. 10
        • The Corinthians should send Timothy to Paul in peace v. 11
          • Paul is expecting other brothers to come v. 11
        • Paul is expecting Timothy to come to him v. 11
  • Instructions
    • Paul encouraged Apollos to visit the Corinthians v. 12
      • Apollos is unable to visit the Corinthians presently v. 12
        • Other brothers are going to visit the Corinthians now v. 12
      • Apollos will visit the Corinthians when he is able v. 12
    • You should:
      • Keep alert v. 13
      • Stand strong in your faith v. 13
      • Be courageous v. 13
      • Be strong v. 13
      • Do everything in love v. 14
    • Remember the household of Stephanas v. 15
      • They were the first converts in Achaia v. 15
      • They devote themselves to the service of the saints v. 15
        • Put yourselves at the service of these people and people like them v. 16
      • Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus came to Paul v. 17
        • They made up for the absence of the Corinthians v. 17
          • They refreshed Paul’s spirit v. 18
          • They refreshed the Corinthian’s spirit v. 18
    • Recognize and honor these people v. 18
  • Greetings and Blessings
    • Greetings from:
      • The churches of Asia v. 19
      • Aquila and Priscilla (warmly, in the Lord, they greet you)v. 19
        • The church that meets at their house v. 19
      • All the brothers and sisters v. 20
    • Greet one another with a holy kiss v. 20
    • Paul handwrites a greeting v. 21
      • People who do not love the Lord are cursed v. 22
        • Paul invites the Lord to come v. 22
      • The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you v. 23
      • Paul’s love is sent to all of you in Christ Jesus v. 24

Textual VariantsEdit

There are textual variants in vv. 2, 3, 4, 5-6, 7, 12, 15, 17, 19, 22, 23, and 24. These variants are not ones that affect the meaning of the message, or of the individual verses, but they simply provide alternate ways of phrasing things. [6]

Words that Require ConsiderationEdit

verse 12: brother, Apollos, strongly urged, visit, willing, opportunity
verse 13: alert, stand firm, faith, courageous, strong
verse 14: love
verse 15: members, household of Stephanas, converts, Achaia, devoted, service of the saints
verse 16: put yourselves at the service, such people, works, toils
verse 17: rejoice, coming, Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus, made up, absence
verse 18: refreshed, spirit, recognition
verse 19: churches of Asia, greetings, Aquila, Prisca, church in their house, warmly in the Lord
verse 20: all the brothers and sisters, holy kiss
verse 21: Paul, greeting, own hand
verse 22: accursed, love for the Lord, Our Lord, come
verse 23: grace, Lord Jesus
verse 24: my love, with all of you, Christ, Jesus

Observations and Interpretive Questions on 1 Corinthians 16Edit

  1. Why is there a collection for the saints? (v.1)
  2. What happened to the directions Paul gave to the churches of Galatia? (v.1)
  3. How would the Corinthians have had the directions Paul gave to the churches of Galatia? Or is Paul just telling the Corinthian church that he gave the same directions to the churches of Galatia? (v.1)
  4. Is the first day of every week a Sunday? (v.2)
  5. How much extra would people have earned? (v.2)
  6. Why would Paul not want to take collections when he came? (v.2)
  7. Is Paul planning to arrive in Corinth soon, or is it going to be a while? Will there be enough time for the collection of money to grow large before Paul arrives? (v.2)
  8. Why would Paul send letters with the people who are taking the gift to Jerusalem? (v.3)
  9. Why will they be taking the gift to Jerusalem? (v.3)
  10. Does Paul want to go with them to take the gift to Jerusalem? (v.3)
  11. Why would they accompany Paul, and not Paul accompany them? Is it because Paul knows those in Jerusalem better than they would? (v.4)
  12. What is the location of Macedonia to Corinth? (v.5)
  13. Why would Paul visit the Corinthians after passing through Macedonia? (v.5)
  14. Are the winters harsh? Would Paul not want to travel during the winter? (v.6)
  15. Does Paul expect the churches that he visits to help pay his way to visit the next churches? (v.6)
  16. Does Paul know where he will be going after he visits Corinth? (v.6)
  17. How long does the winter last? (v.6)
  18. Has Paul ever visited the church in Corinth before? (v.7)
  19. How much time would Paul want to spend with the church in Corinth? (v.7)
  20. Would Paul know for certain that the Lord permitted him to spend time with the church in Corinth? (v.7)
  21. Is Paul in Ephesus when he writes this letter to the Corinthians? (v.8)
  22. Why would Paul stay in Ephesus until Pentecost? Does he want to celebrate Pentecost with the Ephesians? (v.8)
  23. What kind of work was Paul doing in Ephesus? (v.9)
  24. What sort of work is effective work? (v.9)
  25. Would the many adversaries prevent Paul from going on his travels? (v.9)
  26. Why would Timothy have anything to fear among the Corinthians? (v.10)
  27. Is Timothy following Paul’s example? (v.10)
  28. Where is Timothy currently (at the writing of this letter)?
  29. Why would anyone despise Timothy? (v.11)
  30. Why would Timothy go to Corinth if the Corinthians were just going to send him on his way? Or would they send him on his way after he was there for a bit? (v.11)
  31. Why is Apollos not willing to visit the Corinthians? Is he avoiding them, or is he busy in other places? (v.12)
  32. Where is Apollos located? (v.12)
  33. Why does Paul give instructions for keeping alert, standing firm in the faith, being courageous, and being strong? Where the Corinthians having problems remembering to do these things? (v.13)
  34. How does one do everything in love? (v.14)
  35. What is the location of Achaia in relation to Corinth? (v.15)
  36. Does everyone know who Stephanas is? (v.15)
  37. What exactly does it mean for people to devote themselves to the service of the saints? (v.)15
  38. How were the Corinthians to put themselves at the service of people like those in the household of Stephanas? Does that mean they were supposed to follow their example? (v.16)
  39. When did Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaius go visit Paul? (v.17)
  40. Where do Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaius live that they were able to go visit Paul? (v.17)
  41. Why was the Corinthians’ absence with Paul a problem? (v.17)
  42. How would Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaius made up for the absence of the Corinthians? (v.17)
  43. How would Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaius have refreshed Paul’s spirit? (v.18)
  44. Why would Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaius have refreshed Paul’s spirit as well as the spirit of the Corinthians? (v.18)
  45. What kind of recognition are the Corinthians supposed to give to such people? (v.18)
  46. Does ‘such people’ refer to people who refresh others’ spirits, or to people who devote themselves to the service of the saints? (v.18)
  47. How many churches are in Asia? (v.19)
  48. Would the churches in Asia know the people in the church in Corinth? (v.19)
  49. Do Aquila and Priscilla know the church in Corinth? (v.19)
  50. How big are house churches? (v.19)
  51. Are these people and churches all sending greetings to the church in Corinth because they are their brothers and sisters in Christ? Or do they actually know them personally? (v.19)
  52. What does it mean when one greets another warmly in the Lord? (v.19)
  53. Is it common for everyone to send greetings whenever a letter is sent to someone else? (vv. 19-20)
  54. Was it customary in those days to greet people with a kiss? (v.20)
  55. Is a holy kiss a kiss on the cheek? What is the cultural custom? (v.20)
  56. Would men and women greet each other with holy kisses? (v.20)
  57. Who would Paul have had write the letter? (v.21)
  58. Was Paul able to write letters himself? (v.21)
  59. Were there rough drafts of letters before Paul actually sent the final copy? Or did they only have one letter?
  60. If anyone does not have love for the Lord, does that mean he or she is not a Christian, and thus is cursed because he or she would be going to hell? (v.22)
  61. Why does the curse mean, “come, Lord”? (v.22)
  62. What exactly is the grace of the Lord Jesus? (v.23)
  63. How could the grace of the Lord Jesus be with the Corinthians? (v.23)
  64. How does Paul send his love to the Corinthians? (v.24)
  65. What does it mean to say to another, ‘my love be with you all in Christ Jesus’? (v.24)

ExplanationEdit

Verse-by-Verse AnalysisEdit

Collection for God's People - vv. 1-4Edit

Verse One Now concerning the collection for the saints: you should follow the directions I gave to the churches of Galatia.

At the first part of this chapter, Paul is responding to a letter that the Corinthians had previously written to him, and since he is responding to their letter, he uses the same language that they had used in their letter to him.[7] The word “collection” only referred to financial contributions that were not taxes, so it could refer to a religious collection. Instead of using a word that may be more familiar when talking about money, Paul continues to use this word in his response to the Corinthians since he did not want the Corinthians to associate this “collection” with taxes at all.[8] Paul references the churches in Galatia to show that the churches in Corinth were not the only churches making this special collection, but churches all over the territory that Paul covered as a missionary were also taking this collection.[9] When Paul tells about the directions he gave to the churches in Galatia, he helps bring cohesion between the believers, since they are all giving towards the same cause. When Paul is talking to the Corinthians about this project, he does not explain exactly what the project is for, which tells us that the Corinthians already knew about this specific project.[10] The concerns of the Corinthians in regards to the collection were mostly logistical ones. This collection was to help the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem who needed help because they did not have any money. Since it was common for Jews to help out other Jews who were in need, it is not unreasonable to think that the Christians should help out other Christians who were in need, since Jews would not give support to Jew-turned-Christians. “Generally, in Greco-Roman society, charity toward strangers was not regarded as a virtuous act or as something to be divinely rewarded. Giving to others displayed one’s personal virtue and social power, not one’s compassion.”[11] Although this was the worldview of the time, Paul was encouraging the Corinthians to give a gift and not expect something for themselves in return. Instead of honoring the Corinthians for the gift, the recipients should give their praise to God.

Verse Two On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come.

The “first day of the week” is significant to remember because that was not the day Jews worshiped on. No one knows when Christians started meeting together and worshiping on Sundays instead of Sabbaths, but it was sometime after Jesus’ resurrection. It was possible that Christians started focusing on Sundays instead of Sabbaths not long after the resurrection, since Sundays were appropriate times to remember Jesus and to partake in the Lord’s Supper. Paul does not need to give clarification as to why the first day of the week is significant; this is something else which he assumes the Corinthians know.[12] Since the church at Corinth met together on Sundays to worship, it was a good time for them to store up the collection they were making. When Paul gave instructions to the Corinthians on how they were to save their money, he does not tell them they must give a specific amount. Each person was to collect their money in private, and “the collection must be done regularly, universally, systematically, proportionately, and freely.”[13] Each person would not always have the same amount of money to give each week; the amount of the gift depended on how much God had blessed them with that week. People were to be generous in their giving. This collection was for everyone in the church to participate in. If everyone, not just a few patrons but also the free artisans, small traders, and slaves helped give money, then the gift would represent the entire church body and not just a few wealthy people in the church.[14] This collection was supposed to help bring about unity between the churches in Corinth and Jerusalem, from one group of believers to another.[15] There are a few reasons why the believers in Corinth were to bring the money to the church each week. For one, there was obviously not yet an “organized system of finance.”[16] Another reason is that Paul did not want to start a fund-raiser when he got to Corinth. The money was not for him, but for the poor. For this reason, Paul wanted the money to be collected before he arrived.[17] If the Corinthians stored up a bit of money every week, then their collection would be much bigger than if they only took a special collection once Paul got there.

Verse Three And when I arrive, I will send any whom you approve with letters to take your gift to Jerusalem.

Paul wants to make sure the Corinthians are aware of his plans to come so that they have plenty of time to store up a sizeable amount of money before he gets there [18]. Paul is anticipating that the Corinthians are going to give a big gift [19], and he wants to make sure that they are prepared to transport it to Jerusalem. This is the only time that Paul actually mentions that the collection will be going to Jerusalem. The members of the church in Corinth are supposed to choose from within their own church people that they want to transport the gift to Jerusalem. “If Corinth raises a substantial sum, its transmission to the Jerusalem recipients must be by those whom the Corinthians themselves fully trust, whose integrity is above suspicion at Corinth [20].” Although Paul is in charge of the collection, he leaves it up to the church in Corinth to decide who will transport the gift. It is crucial that those chosen are trustworthy and do not let anything happen to the gift, but make sure that it arrives in Jerusalem safely. “Personal representation from the Gentile churches makes the gesture of unity concrete. By sending messengers from Gentile churches to Jerusalem, [Paul] devises a strategy whereby Gentile converts from across the world will come face-to-face with Jewish Christian in the mother church. . . . the tangible evidence of the faith of Gentiles and their gratitude represented by the collection probably was intended by Paul to provoke the acceptance of Gentile believers by the Jerusalem saints. He hopes that the gift will alleviate their suffering but also that it will drive home the point that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek[21].” Paul is going to send letters along with those going from Corinth. These letters will introduce the gift and those taking it from Corinth, and will add credibility to the representatives [22].

Verse Four If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.

At this point, Paul does not know whether he will be going to Jerusalem with those from Corinth to take the gift [23]. Paul is not going to decide until later. He could have been waiting to see if the gift was going to be large enough that it would be worth him going along [24]. If Paul were to go along from Jerusalem, he would not be performing his other apostolic duties when he was traveling, so that could be another reason why he did not know if he was going to go. It was not imperative that Paul went along to Jerusalem, but he cared deeply about the relationship between the Gentile and Jewish churches and wanted to make sure things went smoothly between them [25]. “Paul closes his comments on the collection by saying that if he does decide to attend to the delivery of the collection to Jerusalem, those designated representatives will go with him. By this he maintains his own leadership role [26].” Paul will wait and see if it is necessary for him to go to Jerusalem along with those the Corinthian church is sending.

Visit to Corinth - vv. 5-11Edit

Verse Five I will visit you after passing through Macedonia—for I intend to pass through Macedonia—

It is common for Paul to tell the recipients of his letter what his travel plans are[27]. This letter is no exception, for Paul tells the Corinthians that he will come visit them after he goes through Macedonia. When Paul says that he will be passing through Macedonia, it has a different meaning that what we, as Westerners, would think about “passing through” [28]. Paul is talking about visiting the different churches in Macedonia that he in charge over. Although Paul has not visited these churches for several years [29], he will not stay there with them for an extended period of time, but long enough that he will be able to see how they are doing. Macedonia is a Roman province; within this province are the cities of Berea, Philippi, and Thessalonica, where Paul has started churches [30]. Since Paul will be stopping to visit these churches, he will be traveling over land and not by way of the Aegean Sea [31]. Paul is going to Corinth to visit them after he has finished his tour of the churches in Macedonia.

Verse Six and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way, wherever I go.

Paul plans to go to Corinth to visit the church there, and once he gets there he will make Corinth his “base for departure” [32]. The reason why Paul will spend the winter with the Corinthians is because no one can travel in the winter. Winter is certainly not the time for travel, especially travel by sea [33]. “Sea travel essentially shut down in mid-September – not only because of the hazard of storms, but also because overcast skies and longer nights made navigation uncertain [34].” If Paul were going to do some traveling, he would have to do it in the spring, summer, or fall. Once Paul gets to Corinth, if it is near the end of fall, basically there is no chance that he would be able to continue traveling, even if he wanted to. While Paul is in Corinth, he is going to use that time for a visit that is productive for him as a pastor as he is waiting for weather suitable for travel [35]. However, there is another purpose for Paul’s visit. In addition to checking up on the church in Corinth, Paul wants to have the Corinthians help him on his way. Paul did not allow the Corinthians to help him before, but now he is allowing them to have a part in his ministry as a sort of peace offering [36]. Earlier in 1 Corinthians (chapter 9), we can read that Paul did not want the Corinthians to pay him for him being an apostle and showing them the gospel while he was with them, since the gospel is supposed to be given to people without charge. Paul is now asking the Corinthians to help him on his next journey. “The verb “help me on my journey” is a technical one for providing a person with food, money, and traveling companions so as to ensure a safe and successful arrival at his or her destination [37].” As Paul is in Corinth, he will have time to pastor the Corinthian church and time for them to help support him in his ministry. As of yet, Paul does not know where his next destination will be [38], but wherever he is going, he wants the Corinthians to help him get there.

Verse Seven I do not want to see you now just in passing, for I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.

In this verse, Paul expresses why he wants to spend the winter with the Corinthians. In the Greek text, the word gar appears, which is an explanatory word meaning, “for”. Paul continues this verse on from the same idea as the last verse to convey that he really does want to spend time with the Corinthians [39]. A short visit will not suffice, Paul is going to stay with the Corinthians for longer than a passing visit. Paul is both a pastor and a missionary – his sole job is not to just travel around as an evangelist [40], which is why he wants to spend a good length of time with the Corinthian church. From looking at the previous chapters, there appears to be problems among the church in Corinth. Another reason for Paul to stay at Corinth for a long visit is so that he can help work out the problems there [41]. Everything that Paul does it subject to the Lord’s will. If Paul wants to go somewhere but finds out that the Lord wants him to go to a different place, Paul will follow what the Lord says. The phrase, “If the Lord permits” is “fundamentally a Greek phrase [42]”, and not a Jewish phrase. Paul is using words that the church in Corinth would be able to understand.

Verse Eight But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost,

Paul is currently in Ephesus when he is writing this letter. Paul says that he will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost. Pentecost is a Jewish holiday that “technically refers to the “feast of “fifty days’ that followed Passover, [but] it came to be used as a shortened for “the day of Pentecost,” the celebration of the fiftieth day [43].” Somewhat to how people nowadays refer to “Christmas” as the weeks leading up to December 25th is how we may take Paul’s reference to Pentecost [44]. More than likely Paul was not referring to the actual Pentecost feast, but to the season. It could be that Paul is still thinking like a Jew and is assuming that church at Corinth will know what he is talking about [45], but it does not necessarily mean that. Paul could have simply been mentioning Pentecost since it was a time reference for when it was good to travel, since Pentecost happened in mid-spring [46]. “On the other hand, such as casual mention of it in this way may suggest that the church very early saw Christian significance to this feast, probably as a result of the birth of the church on the Day of Pentecost [47].”

Verse Nine for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

We now have an explanation for why Paul is going to remain in Ephesus for a longer time. When Paul says that a door has opened for him, he uses the word door as a metaphor for opportunity [48]. By describing the door as wide open for effective work, Paul is saying that there are “favorable circumstances for preaching the gospel, despite the presence of adversaries [49].” The spread of Christianity always meets with resistance. No matter where Christianity is going, there will be something trying to stop it. The gospel presents a message that is opposite from what many people think, such as saying that the last will be first and the first will be last. Messages like that do not hold well with people in power. Resistance, however, does not hinder the gospel from spreading <Garland 758>. This verse sums up well what Paul’s life as a missionary was like [50]. There were always adversaries, but at the same time, there is a great opportunity for ministry. Paul has been in the midst of fierce opposition before, so this was nothing new to him. One way we can know that the gospel message is true is if it is met with resistance. When pagan people are confronted with the gospel that teaches again their worship of false gods, then they will not like the gospel and will try to destroy it. A situation similar to this could be the cause of the hostility Paul is facing in Ephesus. “Christians may sometimes be called upon to stand and testify in dangerous circumstances, and the place of greatest risk may also be the place of greatest opportunity for proclaiming the gospel [51].”

Verse Ten If Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord just as I am;

Timothy was a young man who was “a missionary associate, fellow worker, and trusted emissary of Paul over an extended period of time [52].” From looking at 1 Corinthians 4:17, we see that Paul has sent Timothy to the Corinthians for the purpose of “reminding them of Paul’s ways.” Paul trusts Timothy. Timothy has been working alongside of Paul for a while. He was “Paul’s regular associate or co-worker [53],” which is why Paul says that Timothy was doing the same work of the Lord that he was doing, and actually Timothy cold have been carrying on the same work that Paul had began [54]. When Paul says, “If Timothy comes,” he is not expressing doubt that Timothy will come, but he is saying that the time of Timothy’s arrival is uncertain [55]. Timothy was actually already on his way to Corinth [56]. Due to how travel worked back then, the length of time it took to go from one place to the next often varied. Paul most likely said it this way since he was unable to predict exactly when Timothy would arrive [57]. Paul does fear how the Corinthians will receive Timothy. There was some tension between Paul and the church in Corinth, and Paul does not want it to spill over onto Timothy. Paul wanted Timothy to have nothing to fear, or to have no reason to be hesitant to going to visit the Corinthians. Since Paul has authority, he can use it to talk to the Corinthians and to help them see that they should welcome and support Timothy [58]. He gives a strong warning to the Corinthians, which shows how concern he is with how they will receive Timothy. In the Corinthian society, people “conventionally expressed their enmity toward others by mistreating their associates [59].” Paul had reason to be concerned, since he did not want anything happening to Timothy. However, since Timothy is involved in the work that Paul was doing, he must have been spiritually mature. “That work, which may include rebuking and admonishing others, must be recognized by [the Corinthians] lest they harm themselves because he speaks God’s word to them [60].” Timothy represents Paul here.

Verse Eleven therefore let no one despise him. Send him on his way in peace, so that he may come to me; for I am expecting him with the brothers.

Paul again mentions that he hopes the Corinthians receive Timothy well. “Let no one despise him” could be another reference to Timothy taking Paul’s place at the moment, but Paul does not want the Corinthians to treat Timothy with contempt if they are feeling contempt toward Paul [61]. “No one should disdain the message [Timothy] brings from Paul or how he interprets what Paul means in this letter [62].” Paul actually asks the Corinthians to treat Timothy in the same way that he himself would like to be treated, as we see in v. 6 [63]. This last instruction for the Corinthians, “send him on his way in peace,” means “to equip Timothy with all the resources he needed for the journey, including some financial outlay [64].” This is very similar to how Paul requests the Corinthians to help him out earlier in this chapter, but it has one thing added. The words “in peace” could “reflect the traditional Jewish shalom, . . . the traditional blessing of “peace” [65].” This sending on in peace does not mean that the Corinthians community will be reconciled to Paul, but we do not know the location of where Timothy will be going when the Corinthians send him back to Paul. He could be going to meet up with Paul in Ephesus, where Paul is at the writing of this letter, or somewhere in Macedonia, where Paul will be traveling soon [66]. Another thing we do not know is who the letter bearer is. It is most likely not Timothy, since Paul (in 1 Cor. 4:17) mentions that he has sent Timothy ahead to Corinth, but some people think that Timothy may have taken the letter to the Corinthians when he went [67]. Paul says that he is expecting Timothy along with the brothers. This could actually say, “along with the brothers and sisters,” but we do not know if Paul is talking about a specific group of people, some of his fellow Christians, or simply friends of his [68]. It is unclear as to whether the brothers are in Corinth and will come back to Paul the same time that Timothy does, or if the brothers are with Paul, and they are anticipating seeing Timothy when he comes [69]. Either way, people will be traveling to meet up with Paul.

Instructions - vv. 12-18Edit

Greetings and Blessings - vv. 19-24Edit

Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 16Edit

Collection for God's PeopleEdit

v.1 Now, about the collection of money to give to God’s people, do the same thing I told the churches in Galatia to do. v.2 Each Sunday, give as much money as you are able to, so that the collection will grow over time and we will not have to take a special collection of money when I come. v.3 When I arrive, I will send men that you choose to take your gift to Jerusalem, and I will send letters introducing them and the gift. v.4 And if it seems good for me to go along also, we will go together.

Visit to CorinthEdit

v.5 I will come to visit you after I go through Macedonia checking up on the churches there - for my travels will take me through Macedonia - v.6 and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the whole winter with you, so that you can help finance my next journey. v.7 I do not want to stop by for a quick, short visit, but I want to remain with you for some time if the Lord allows it. v.8 Right now, I am going to stay in Ephesus until the Pentecost celebration. v.9 For a door for ministry has opened up widely for me, but there are also many here who oppose me. v.10 If Timothy comes, make sure that no one tries to scare him off. Timothy is working for the Lord, just as I am, v.11 therefore, do not despise him. Send him on his way in peace, so that he can return to me along with some brothers from the church.

InstructionsEdit

v.12 Now about our brother Apollos, I urged him to visit you along with the rest of the brothers, but he did not think the time was right for him now. He will come visit later when he has the opportunity. v.13 Be alert, make sure you stand strong in your faith, be courageous, and be strong. v.14 Let everything you do be done out of love. v.15 I urge you, brothers and sisters – you know the family of Stephanas, that they were the first ones who followed Jesus in the province of Achaia, and how they devote themselves to helping God’s people – v.16 submit to such people and people like them who serve with such devotion. v.17 I am glad that Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus have come, since they have given me what I was lacking from you. v.18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore, give recognition to such people.

Greetings and BlessingsEdit

v.19 The churches in Asia send their greetings. Aquila and Priscilla send their greetings, along with the church that meets at their house. v.20 All the brothers and sisters her send their greetings to you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. v.21 I, Paul, am writing you a greeting with my own hand. v.22 If anyone does not accept Jesus, he is separated from God and lost forever. Come, O Lord! v.23 May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. v.24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. [70]

ImplicationsEdit

ReceptionEdit

How have important historic figures in the Church viewed this passage?

Ambrosiaster commented on verse 9 that Paul was staying on in Ephesus because the people there were open to hearing God’s word, and if people were thirsty for God’s grace, then Paul would give it to them. However, wherever people long for God, the devil is hostile to those people and there are many adversaries. [71]

John Chrysostom (347–407) mentioned that Sunday itself was enough reason for people to give an offering (verse 2). They were supposed to meet together to celebrate the Lord’s Day, because that was the day on which they received all the blessings. [72]

Matthew Henry (1662-1714) thought that the church in Corinth was given instructions to for the collection since they had many spiritual gifts and would not want to be shown up by other people or church offering a lot more money than the church in Corinth had, but also that some people should have less of a responsibility than others should. The churches of Galatia are outshining the church in Corinth by their giving, which is why Henry thinks Paul told the Corinth church to start up a collection (verse 2). “The good examples of other Christians and churches should excite in us a holy emulation.” Each person should be cheerful and freely give. [73]

John Wesley (1703-1791) tells us that as we increase how much we give to God, God increases how much he returns to us. Because of this, Wesley encourages people to give to God all that they can. In reference to verse 9, he talks about how there is always opposition whenever Satan’s kingdom is under attack, which is why if Paul’s ministry was effective that there would also be adversaries. [74]

InfluenceEdit

Generosity

A theme of 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 is generosity. God wants us to be generous with what he has given us. If we trust God, then we will give a portion back of what God has supplied us with. Everyone in the church is a part of the church community, and everyone should support each other. Within this section, Paul says that each person is supposed to collect up money. Paul does not say only some people should save money for the collection, but he says “each person.” From this, we can learn that we each have a part to play. It is important that everyone shares in the blessing of helping provide for people in need.

Being generous has benefits. The more we give to God, the more we are trusting God and the more God provides for us. If we give God what we have, then we are telling God that we believe he will take care of us. We show that we belong to the church body as a whole if we participate in the offering that reaches beyond ourselves.

Perseverance

Perseverance is a theme of 1 Corinthians 16:5-11. Paul perseveres with his ministry among the churches in the Roman colonies. He is next going to visit Macedonia, and see how the churches there are doing. He does not abandon the churches after starting them, but he sticks with them and makes sure they are doing okay. He also wants to visit the church in Corinth and help solve the problems there. While Paul is in Ephesus and not in Corinth, he is going to send Timothy to Corinth. He is making sure that the church there has a leader. Paul does not give up on the church in Corinth, even though it is having problems, but he persists in working with it. While Paul is in Ephesus, he had an opportunity for ministry open up to him. At the same time, many people were opposing him. Yet Paul wanted to continue on there in Ephesus since there was so much opportunity to do good.

In the same way, we should learn perseverance. If we are struggling with something, it is not right to just give up on it. We need to stick with it and do our best. God will help us through, and we may come out better than before. Things that come with resistance are probably things that we need to do. Nothing easy ever comes good, so we must persevere.

ReferencesEdit

  1. John E. Stambaugh, David L. Balch, Wayne A. Meeks. The New Testament in its Social Environment pg. 39. Philadelphia, PA: Wesminister Press, 1986
  2. Ibid. Pg 40
  3. Ibid pg 140
  4. Bruce J. Malina. The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminister/John Knox Press, 1993.
  5. Info used is from Dr. Lyons' lecture on "Epistolary Homelitic Literature" 4 February 2009
  6. Information from Thiselton, Anthony C. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Vol. VII. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2000.
  7. David E. Garland. "1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 751.
  8. Anthony Thiselton. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text." New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. 1318.
  9. Hans Conzelmann. "1 Corinthians." Hermenia. Vol. XXXVI. Translated by James W. Leitch. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1975. 295.
  10. Richard B. Hays. "First Corinthians." Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Vol. XXXIV. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997. 284.
  11. David E. Garland. "1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 752.
  12. Anthony Thiselton. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text." New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. 1323.
  13. David E. Garland.”1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 753.
  14. David E. Garland. "1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 754.
  15. J. Paul Sampley. "The First Letter to the Corinthians." The New Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. X. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002. 966.
  16. Hans Conzelmann. "1 Corinthians." Hermenia. Vol. XXXVI. Translated by James W. Leitch. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1975. 296
  17. Richard B. Hays. "First Corinthians." Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Vol. XXXIV. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997. 285.
  18. Richard B. Hays. "First Corinthians." Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Vol. XXXIV. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997. 285.
  19. Gordon D. Fee. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. VII. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1987. 815
  20. Anthony Thiselton. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text." New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. 1324.
  21. David E. Garland. "1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 756.
  22. J. Paul Sampley. "The First Letter to the Corinthians." The New Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. X. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002. 996.
  23. Gordon D. Fee. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. VII. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1987. 815.
  24. Richard B. Hays. "First Corinthians." Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Vol. XXXIV. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997. 285.
  25. Anthony Thiselton. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text." New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. 1326.
  26. J. Paul Sampley. "The First Letter to the Corinthians." The New Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. X. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002. 996.
  27. J. Paul Sampley. "The First Letter to the Corinthians." The New Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. X. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002. 997.
  28. David E. Garland. "1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 757.
  29. Gordon D. Fee. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. VII. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1987. 819.
  30. David E. Garland. "1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 757.
  31. J. Paul Sampley. "The First Letter to the Corinthians." The New Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. X. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002. 997.
  32. Anthony Thiselton. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text." New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. 1328.
  33. Hans Conzelmann. "1 Corinthians." Hermenia. Vol. XXXVI. Translated by James W. Leitch. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1975. 297.
  34. David E. Garland. "1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 757.
  35. Anthony Thiselton. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text." New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. 1329.
  36. Gordon D. Fee. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. VII. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1987. 819.
  37. Ibid. 819
  38. Richard B. Hays. "First Corinthians." Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Vol. XXXIV. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997. 285.
  39. Gordon D. Fee. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. VII. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1987. 829.
  40. Anthony Thiselton. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text." New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. 1329.
  41. David E. Garland. "1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 758.
  42. Hans Conzelmann. "1 Corinthians." Hermenia. Vol. XXXVI. Translated by James W. Leitch. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1975. 297.
  43. Gordon D. Fee. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. VII. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1987. 820.
  44. David E. Garland. "1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 758.
  45. Richard B. Hays. "First Corinthians." Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Vol. XXXIV. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997. 285.
  46. Gordon D. Fee. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. VII. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1987. 820.
  47. Ibid. 820
  48. Anthony Thiselton. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text." New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. 1330.
  49. Richard B. Hays. "First Corinthians." Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Vol. XXXIV. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997. 286.
  50. Gordon D. Fee. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. VII. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1987. 821.
  51. Richard B. Hays. "First Corinthians." Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Vol. XXXIV. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997. 286.
  52. John Gillman. “Timothy.” The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. VII. New York, NY: Doubleday Publishing Company, 1992. 558.
  53. Anthony Thiselton. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text." New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. 1331.
  54. Ibid. 1331.
  55. Gordon D. Fee. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. VII. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1987. 822.
  56. Hans Conzelmann. "1 Corinthians." Hermenia. Vol. XXXVI. Translated by James W. Leitch. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1975. 297.
  57. David E. Garland. "1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 758.
  58. J. Paul Sampley. "The First Letter to the Corinthians." The New Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. X. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002. 998.
  59. David E. Garland. "1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 760.
  60. Ibid. 760.
  61. Gordon D. Fee. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. VII. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1987. 822.
  62. David E. Garland. "1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 761.
  63. Ibid. 822.
  64. John Gillman. “Timothy.” The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. VII. New York, NY: Doubleday Publishing Company, 1992. 559.
  65. Gordon D. Fee. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. VII. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1987. 822.
  66. Ibid.
  67. David E. Garland. "1 Corinthians." Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 761.
  68. Anthony Thiselton. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text." New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. 1331.
  69. Gordon D. Fee. "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. VII. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1987. 822.
  70. Versions consulted: Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament 27th Edition, King James Version, New American Standard Bible, New Revised Standard Version, New International Version, New Living Translation, New Century Version, The Message.
  71. Gerald Bray, ed. “I and II Corinthians.” Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. New Testament Vol. VII. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999. 186.
  72. Gerald Bray, ed. “I and II Corinthians.” Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. New Testament Vol. VII. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999. 185.
  73. Matthew Henry. Classic Bible Commentaries. 2009. BibleClassics.com. 22 April 2009 http://www.ewordtoday.com/comments/1corinthians/mh/1corinthians16.htm
  74. John Wesley. “Notes on the St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.” 2007. Wesley Center Online: Wesley Center for Applied Theology. 1 Corinthians XVII verse 2, verse 8. 22 April 2009. http://wesley.nnu.edu/john_wesley/notes/1Corinthians.htm#Chapter+XVI


Last modified on 16 July 2009, at 12:57