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1Corinthians 16 (web)

Prepare to Support Christian Work

1. Prepare Support the Poor

16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints,
as I commanded the assemblies of Galatia, you do likewise.
16:2 On the first day of the week, let each one of you save,
as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.
16:3 When I arrive, I will send whoever you approve
with letters to carry your gracious gift to Jerusalem.
16:4 If it is appropriate for me to go also, they will go with me.

16:5 But I will come to you when I have passed through Macedonia,
for I am passing through Macedonia.
16:6 But with you it may be that I will stay, or even winter,
that you may send me on my journey wherever I go.
16:7 For I do not wish to see you now in passing,
but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits.
16:8 But I will stay at Ephesus until Pentecost,
16:9 for a great and effective door has opened to me,
and there are many adversaries.

2. Prepare to Support Christian Workers

16:10 Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without fear,
for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do.
16:11 Therefore let no one despise him.
But set him forward on his journey in peace, that he may come to me;
for I expect him with the brothers.
16:12 Now concerning Apollos, the brother,
I strongly urged him to come to you with the brothers;
and it was not at all his desire to come now;
but he will come when he has an opportunity.
16:13 Watch! Stand firm in the faith! Be courageous! Be strong!
16:14 Let all that you do be done in love.
16:15 Now I beg you, brothers
(you know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia,
and that they have set themselves to minister to the saints),
16:16 that you also be in subjection to such,
and to everyone who helps in the work and labors.
16:17 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus;
for that which was lacking on your part, they supplied.
16:18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours.
Therefore acknowledge those who are like that.
16:19 The assemblies of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you much in the Lord,
together with the assembly that is in their house.
16:20 All the brothers greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
16:21 This greeting is by me, Paul, with my own hand.
16:22 If any man doesn't love the Lord Jesus Christ,
let him be accursed{Greek: anathema.}.
Come, Lord!{Aramaic: Maranatha!}
16:23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
16:24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Discussion Questions

What kinds of charities are available today that you would recommend?
vs 9 How do you measure whether God is opening a door for you to minister effectively?
vs 16 How can you join the work and labor in it today?
vs 17 What do you suppose Paul found in the three men mentioned that was lacking from the Corinthians?
vs 22 What does Paul's curse mean and who does it apply to?


Planned Generosity

1Cor 16:1,2 Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

The first day of the week is Sunday, the Lord's day. It's the day of the week in which the Lord rose from the dead, and as such it's generally the day Christians gather to celebrate that fact. "On the first day of the week we came together to break bread." Acts 20:7 It's the day afther the seventh day of the week, which is the Sabbath, the day of rest ordained under the Law. "After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb" Mt 28:1

Now as for setting aside donations, this is not a "tithe" but an act of generosity. Tithing under the law was not an act of generosity but an obligation and is mention nowhere in the New Testament letters to the churches other than in Hebrews, and even there only analogously. Paul doesn't call for a specific amount or percentage, as he said elsewhere, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give" 2Cor 9:7a But it was generally in keeping with his income. Christians are not under the regulation of "tithing" (tithing is 1/10th by the way), but rather live according to the principle of generosity.

Setting aside a little at a time is a good principle. Pr 13:11b "He who gathers money little by little makes it grow." Likewise with regards to other things in life - exercise, Christian ministry, etc.

A Deliverance Ministry

1Cor 16:3,4 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.

At the time, when it came to charity, the ones taking the greatest risk were not the ones giving the money but rather the messengers who had the task of delivering the money. Traveling with large sums of money through poor countries was risky. But I'm sure the laborers were both delighted to give and to have their faith tested at the same time.

Paul delivered a monetary gift to the saints in Jerusalem a number of time. It was primarily because of their poverty - both because of natural causes and because of the decaying political situation there, the Christians being particuarly targeted.

Early in Paul's ministry he delivered a gift to Jerusalem.

Acts 11:27-30  During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
And at the end of his letter to the saints in Rome he also speaks of planning such a trip.
Rom 15:25-27 I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.
Don't squander donations on the rich. For it detracts from what you could give to poor. "He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich— both come to poverty." Pr 22:16 But each according to his resources should consider what good they should do for others. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Gal 6:10

Spend Time with Christians

1Cor 16:5-7  After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you— for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.

It takes time to have a profound impact on people. In this fast pace, get rich quick society in which we live the idea of seeking quick effortless solutions tends to infiltrate the church. Solid grow comes from the daily discipline of studying and applying the Word, prayer, fellowship and carrying out one's ministry.

Another thing, common in Western society is the attitude of "out-of-sight, out-of-mind". Though Paul was elsewhere, he never really left the churches in his mind. And he made an effort to keep in contact with them. Whereas in many places today, people may leave a church, even pastors, and you'll never hear from them again. Consider your relationships with other Christians to be permanent, regardless of where you end up geographically.

An Open Door, Despite Opposition

1Cor 16:8,9  But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

Some may view this as a contradiction, the idea of reckoning a door to be open inspite of opposition. For some presume a door to be open only if there is no opposition. But in the ministry, an open door is like an open nerve. If there's no reaction, if there's just apathy, it means you haven't hit the nerve. If we examine the Bible we find that God works most effectively when there is opposition present. It's when there is no opposition that we are in danger of becoming complacent.

One reason Paul faced opposition was because of jealously. For example in Thessalonica "the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city." Acts 17:5 Jesus experienced this as well. In Paul conflicted with the idol makers in Ephesus because his ministry impinged on their business.  For they saw him as a threat to their business.

"A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: "Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all.  There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty."  When they heard this, they were furious" Acts 19: 24-28 Elsewhere Paul writes, "Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. " 2Tim 4:14 Greed was likely the primary motivating factor for such hostility in these cases.
The message itself invokes hostility among unbelievers. You may get along well with the non-Christians around you. They may be nice and friendly. But you might be surprised how hostile  some react if you were to tell them the gospel. Even the most pious, the religous elite of Israel ended up in bloodthirsty rage murdering their own Messiah and likewise of the Christians, like Stephen who was murdered, being stone to death by the religious elite of his day.

If you expect to work effectively for the Lord, expect opposition. It comes with the territory.

A Proxy Server

1Cor 16:10,11  If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No one, then, should refuse to accept him. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.

Recall earlier Paul wrote, "Therefore I urge you to imitate me For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church." 1Cor 4:16,17

And as Timothy was Paul's proxy server, all in ministry are proxy servers to Christ. Jesus said, "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me." Mt 10:40  And likewise "‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."" Mt 25:40-42


1Cor 16:12 Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.

1Cor 17:12 We first learn of Apollos in Acts 18:24-28"Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ." And as we saw from 1Cor 1:12"Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ."and 1Co 3:6 "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it" that he had a great part in building the Corinthian church.

Interesting that while Paul and Apollos were reckoned celebrities in the church at Corinth, a status which Paul was trying to discourage in the early chapters of this letter, neither were there in Corinth at this time. It was good that both Paul and Apollos planned to go to Corinth to dispell any notions of one being more important than the other, or that they were in competition. But it was even better to send someone else. For people act one way around celebrities, but perhaps show a more honest face to non-celebrities.

A Fearless Love

1Cor 16:13,14
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith;
be men of courage; be strong.
Do everything in love.

As Christians we must keep alert to the opposition we face from the world, the flesh and the devil, opposition of which is primarily in the realm of ideas. Elsewhere Paul writes, "I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." 2Cor 11:3 Through lack of self-control our flesh can lead us astray into sin. "So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled." 1Th 5:6 In view of the implications of our faith, fears and anxiety can creep in. "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." 1Peter 5:7-9

However, constantly facing opposition one can become too defensive, too self-centered - too concerned for oneself, and develop a hostile attitude towards others. This is yet another temptation to resist. Love conquers all fears. "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear" 1John 4:18a Love keeps one's perspective in balance.

In the history of post-Biblical Christianity, many of the religious elite among Christendom have been so zealous with respect to right doctrine, allegedly "standing firm" in their faith, that they would murder or otherwise persecute fellow Christians who didn't hold to their viewpoint. And in fact in many cases the doctrine they were so zealously defending was unBiblical to begin with.

If zeal is not tempered with love, it's easily misdirected, and its source may be of the world, the flesh or the devil.

Join in the Work

1Cor 16:15-16 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it.

Paul had lilkely led the household of Stephanas to Christ. In fact along with Crispus and Gaius of Corinth, Stephanas is the only other person Paul's remembers baptizing at this point. "Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else." 1Cor 1:15

The household of Stephanas had appointed themselves to the ministry. The word "devoted" here is a greek word tasso which means, "to assign a post to, with a suggestion of duties connected with it, often used of military appointments" (i.e. "For I also am a man placed (tasso) under authority" Luke 7:8 But here tasso is in the active rather than passive voice. Don't wait for someone to appoint you to the ministry. Take initiative and appoint yourself to the ministry. Join in the work.

Now for those who feel they are not prepared for such a venture, your job is to cooperate with such people. Get involved in their ministry. If one's intention is to make disciples, as Jesus has given us the Great Commission in Mt 28:19,20, it means that part of the Christian life is to be a disciple in the making, being subordinate to the disciplemaker, in subjection to their ministry. Not that they are to lord it over them, for such leaders are to be devoted to the service of the saints much as parents are devoted to the well-being of their children. And they themselves may be involved in the service of other people's ministry, such as Paul's as we see here. "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith." Heb 13:7

Cooperation is necessary for effective service in the body of Christ.

A Refreshing Recognition

1Cor 16:17,18  I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.

It's somewhat conjecture as to what was lacking. Might have been material, as Paul had written to the Philippians, "when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only" Php 4:15 And in 1Cor 11:9 "when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed.", likely referring to Philippi, which is in Macedonia, while Corinth was in Achaia. But I doubt that Paul is referring to money here, as he stated a principle of his ministry in 2Cor 12:14, "I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children." As he had never taken anything of them,  he was determined he never would.

Rather, from the phrase "they refreshed my spirit and yours also" I would infer it's the encouragement he received from them, which he hadn't received from the Corinthians. As we've read all the problems in the Corinthian church we can see that Paul would not be particularly encouraged by their state of affairs. Christians refresh one another's spirit by living the Christian life well, in harmony with fellow Christians. "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" Ps 133:1

As for "recognition", what is the point? I mean afterall, mature Christians don't seek recognition. Seeking recognition is for the proud not for the humble. (Pr 25:27; Mt 6:2-4) But recognition can be useful in order to further honorable ministries. Afterall one cannot get involved in the ministry of another if they hadn't heard about it. Or one might be reluctant to get involved in a ministry unless it had been endorsed by others.

A House Church

1Cor 16:19 The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.

Aquila and Priscilla were quite significant figures in the early church. They had instructed Apollos more accurately about Christ at the start of his ministry. (Acts 18:26) Paul first met them in Corinthian where they had been exiled from Rome and they often traveled with Paul.

In Romans he speaks of them as he fellow workers Rom 16:3 "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus."

Aquila and Priscilla had believers meeting at their house. The "church" is not the house. The church is the assembling of the believers. As such it matters not whether such an assembling of the believers is associated with an institution, a building, or even whether or not they give themselves a name. BUT to be a church there must be an assembling of the believers. The Christian life is meant to be lived in fellowship with other believers, cooperating together for the purpose of carrying out God's ministry.

But let not such an assembling cause one to develop a xenophobic contempt for other such assemblies of believers, but rather to greet them warmly, if indeed they are reckoned legitimate churches.

 Signs of Affection

1Cor 16:20,21  All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.

There are different cultural norms with respect to greeting one another. There's the salute, the tipping of the hat, the hand shake, the bow and this holy kiss - whatever serves best to communicate a warm greeting.

As for Paul writing this greeting with his own hand, this was meant also to communicate his personal feelings for them.  It was not usual for Paul to write with his own hand. Most of his epistles were dictated. In fact all but this last part was dictated to Sosthenes. Paul was learned and quite capable of writing. But one can infer that he suffered some affliction that prevented him from writing. It is quite possible that he suffered some eye disease. There was a disease known as ophthalmia known to be in the region at that time, which not only gave the person a repulsive appearance, but rendered him almost totally blind, which may account for his comment in Gal 4:13-15 "As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me." Which also may explain the end of his letter to the Galatians, "See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!" Gal 6:11, reminding them of his affection and dedication to them despite his afflictions.

And what is the application but to "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another" Rom 12:10

Like Jesus?

1Cor 16:22,23  If anyone does not love the Lord— a curse be on him. Come, O Lord! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

Notice the similarity with the last verses in the Bible:

Rev 22:20-21 He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen

And as for this curse, by the way, the word "love" is not agape, it's phileo, which is not so much "love" as it is "like". Secondly the word "curse" is the word "anathema", which likely means here to be eternally condemned, as it is translated in the NIV in  Gal 1:8 "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! (anathema)"

More accurately this says, "If anyone does not like the Lord - let him be eternally condemned." and we might add "at the Lord's coming", in view of verse 23 "Come, O Lord! "

There were those alleged Christians and false teachers who didn't want Christ to return. They didn't really like the Lord. Perhaps they were those who opposed the idea of the resurrection from the dead, of which Paul wrote so much in the previous chapter. Having heard the message and having had ample time to respond in faith, Paul had little sympathy for such people.

Would you like for Jesus to return? Would you like to spend time with Jesus, in view of his teachings concerning sin, righteousness and the judgement to come? Concerning him being Lord and you a subordinate? Jesus asked Peter, "Do you like (phileo) me?" John 21:17 What are the signs that a person likes Jesus but to be involved with his mission. Thus he said to Peter, "Feed my sheep." If we like Jesus, let us show it by preparing for his coming.

Grace and Love

1Cor 16:23,24  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.

While Paul was vehemently opposed to false teachers, as the previous curse portrays, and other places as 1Cor 3:17, let there be no mistake about his attitude towards the Corinthian Christians as immature as they may be. He loved them and desired the best for them. But as is also the case with all of us, God was going to have to be gracious in helping them to mature.

While mercy is more along the ideas of helping those who are in need due to circumstances beyond their control, grace is the idea of helping the undeserving. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Rom 3:23,24 The grace of the Lord be with you.

As for Paul's expression of love for them all, it comes in the context of having sought for their best interest, correcting them concerning sin, instructing them about right living and right attitudes, devoting his time and efforts to their edification. This in contrast to those who would merely use the phrase "I love you" as a vain incantation, a ruse to falsely attain one's allegiance, not having actually labored seeking one's edification.

1Peter 1:22  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the hear

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jan 28,2022