1 Corinthians Chapter 16 Bible study

 

Offerings for the Poor.

 

1,2. With regard to the collection for the saints, please follow the directions that I gave to the churches of Galatia: On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside some income and save it to the extent that God has blessed you, so that a collection will not have to be made when I come.

 

The Corinthians, like many other churches at that time, had promised financial help for the poor saints of Jerusalem and Judea who were the poorest and most badly affected during the worldwide famine (Acts 14.17). Morris elaborates that although the Jews outside Palestine sent help to their fellow Jews, the Christians would not be given any such help, but were the objects of special hostility and persecution (1 Thess. 2:14). If Christians did not reach out to help their brothers and sisters, no one else would. Sharing what they had was an important part of life in the early church and should still be today (Acts 2:44-45 ; Gal. 2:10).

 

How was this to be done in practice? Paul gives the same guidance he had already given to the Galatians (it should be noted that this advice is not on record in his epistle to the Galatians). They were not to wait till Paul came to take up an offering. There may be several reasons for this. Some may have thought that the money was for Paul's personal use. Others, who made a big show of giving, would want Paul to see how much they gave; whilst still others may have felt pressurized by the setting up of a big occasion in order to ask them for money.

 

Christian giving must never be pressurized, for it is to be done in a spirit of generosity not obligation (2 Cor. 9:7) and is to be regulated by how much one can afford to give (2 Cor. 8:12). It is an act of worship to God, and is not for men's applause (Matt. 6:1-4). Every week, each believer was to set aside however much they could afford and were willing to give, and save it up until Paul came. It is generally accepted that the money was to be saved in one central treasury, like an offering box, each Sunday. This may be inferred by the words "no collections when I arrive".

 

3. Then, when I arrive, I will send those whom you approve with letters of explanation to carry your gift to Jerusalem.

 

Paul would not handle the money himself. It would be proper for representatives of the church at Corinth to oversee the matter, handing over the money to the Jerusalem church, taking with them letters of commendation: these would be from the church and probably from Paul himself, as he was well known to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem.  

 

4. And if it seems advisable that I should go also, they will go with me.

 

In addition to these letters, if it were appropriate, Paul would accompany them personally. Some commentators suppose that Paul means "if the offering is a worth while amount, then I will go with them" but it is more likely that Paul simply meant that he would go if he could find the time and work around his other commitments.

 

Paul's Planned Visit to Corinth.

 

5. But I will come to you after I have gone through Macedonia -- for I will be going through Macedonia.

 

Paul had already made plans to travel through Macedonia and hoped to have time to visit the Corinthians after his journey through the province.

 

6. And perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you can send me on my journey, wherever I go.

 

He had yet to make definite plans for his stay, but his intention was to stay for some time. If events turned out right he might be able to winter there before his return journey (ships did not usually travel in winter).

 

7. For I do not want to see you now in passing, since I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord allows.

 

All this was of course, subject to the Lord's will and direction. Paul knew that his life and future were in God's hands. Paul did not always presume to know God's will, at least not ahead of time. How much better itis to entrust ourselves to God than for Him to entrust His plans to us! As an old hymn says "God holds the key of all unknown, and I am glad. If other hands should hold the key or if he trusted it to me I might be sad."

 

8. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost.

 

One thing was sure. Paul had made plans to stay in Ephesus at least until Pentecost, so that he could continue his God blessed ministry there. This verse, together with 19 indicates that Paul was in Ephesus at the time of writing his first epistle to the Corinthians.

 

9. Because a door of great opportunity stands wide open for me, but there are many opponents.

 

For God was doing many great works in Ephesus through Paul; and many from the region were being converted, despite great opposition from those involved in idol worship and its associated trades (Acts 19:10-12 & 19:18-20).

 

Possible Visits of Timothy and Apollos.

 

10,11. Now if Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear among you, for he is doing the Lord's work, as I am too. So then, let no one treat him with contempt. But send him on his way in peace so that he may come to me. For I am expecting him with the brothers.

 

Timothy had been sent by Paul into Macedonia, accompanied by Erastus (Acts 19:22). It was quite possible that he would visit Corinth on his return journey. Though not as widely respected as Paul, because of his younger years, Paul had the greatest regard for his son in the Gospel. On one occasion, Paul said that he had no one else like him (Philip. 2:20). Because of this, he warned Timothy that he should let no man despise his youth (1 Tim. 4:12). Now he admonishes the church. "See to it" he says "that he may be among you without fear and let none despise him"; that is, make sure he is not opposed or belittled by you, for he is the Lord's servant and about the Lord's business just as Paul was. He had been sent for a specific reason by Paul who, together with his companions, was eagerly awaiting his return. Paul expected nothing less from the Corinthian church than that they should treat Timothy as himself, and give him all he needed to help him on his journey to rejoin the other apostles.

 

12. With regard to our brother Apollos: I strongly encouraged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was simply not his intention to come now. He will come when he has the opportunity.

 

Paul, always concerned that the church should be going on in the Lord, urged his fellow worker Appollos, who had already done much to build up the young church at Corinth, to return there and continue his teaching ministry. However, it has to be said that even in apostolic circles Paul was not "he who must be obeyed". Appollos had a free mind and a free will. He was not in bondage to Paul. He didn't do what Paul told him. He did intend returning to Corinth, but he had other work to attend to first. Paul could not object to this for he himself was staying at Ephesus for the very same reason. Who was right? Each will stand before God and give an account for himself and not another. It is important and interesting to note that the relationship between the two men was not of one in which either lorded it over the other.

 

Stand Firm in the Faith.

 

13. Stay alert, stand firm in the faith, show courage, be strong.

 

Here is Paul's farewell exhortation to the church. They were to be on their guard, for the devil has many schemes for leading people from the truth. They were to resist him by standing firm in the faith, and not being moved away either by false doctrine or opposition. They were to face their trials and hardships bravely like men, not like winging children. They were to be strong in the grace and strength of Christ (2 Tim. 2:1 ; Eph. 6:10).

 

14. Everything you do should be done in love.

 

Love is something worth standing for and holding on to. So let everything you do be covered by love for your brothers and sisiters in Christ.

 

Local Leadership Recognized.

 

15. Now, brothers and sisters, you know about the household of Stephanus, that as the first converts of Achaia, they devoted themselves to ministry for the saints.

 

It was not only Timothy who should be respected. There were others in Corinth -- such as the family of Stephanus -- who had willingly dedicated themselves to caring for and serving the church.  

 

16. I urge you also to submit to people like this, and to everyone who cooperates in the work and labors hard.

 

These people were worthy of respect and obedience, as are all church leaders (Heb. 13:7 & 13:17).

 

A Joyful Visit for Paul.

 

17. I was glad about the arrival of Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus because they have supplied the fellowship with you that I lacked.

 

Stephanus and two others had come to Paul at Ephesus, bringing gifts for his continuing ministry. These men brought great joy to Paul, for until then the Corinthians had not sent help to the apostle in his need.

 

18. For they refreshed my spirit and yours. So then, recognize people like this.

 

Paul's' spirit was refreshed by the genuine love and concern shown for him by these men whose help brought him relief and comfort. In addition, the spirit of the Corinthians was refreshed, in that they had an opportunity to demonstrate their genuine love and faith by their actions. Those who minister to the church in this way should be recognized and honored, for in order to visit Paul they had to leave their own families and businesses and make the dangerous journey to Ephesus.

 

 

Final Greetings & Farewell.

 

19. The churches in the province of Asia send greetings to you. Aquila and Prisca greet you warmly in the Lord, with the church that meets in their house.

 

All the churches sent their greetings, as did Priscilla and Aquila who had once lived in Corinth, but traveled with Paul to Ephesus, where they hosted the young church in their home.

 

20. All the brothers and sisters send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

 

Greetings were sent by all the brothers. God's people were to have genuine love and concern for one another in their hearts, which according to custom was to be communicated by a kiss of greeting. This is called the holy kiss signifying it to be physically pure and morally blameless. It is not the custom today, but the principle abides. Gill says their greetings "should spring from real love and true friendship, and be without hypocrisy, hearty and sincere."

 

21. I, Paul, send this greeting with my own hand.

 

Being absent, Paul could only greet them persoanlly by writing this line in his own hand. The rest of the letter was dictated.

 

22. Let anyone who has no love for the Lord be accursed. Our Lord, come!

 

Those who did not have genuine love for the Lord Jesus are to be excluded from Christian fellowship, and not treated as if they were brothers. They did not share the desire of the believers that the Lord Jesus would come quickly, and indeed they would be lost forever.

 

23. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

 

Paul's usual final greeting is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. All who receive Jesus Christ receive with Him God's wondrous grace.

 

24. My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.

 

Paul was not a remote and aloof individual, nor was he an authority figure to be obeyed. He cared for the church as a father does for his children, and sends his personal and individual love to them all. Whilst those engaged in Christ's work must be sensible and chaste, they are never to be aloof or hands off.

 

1 Corinthians 16 Bible study

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