I Corinthians 16
1 Now concerning the collection for the saints” - “the saints” are here the poor Christians
need for their charity, for at
the rich and poor as there is in
(James 2:5), must have often been in deep distress. Not many years before this time, in the
famine of Claudius, (Acts 11:27-30), Queen Helena of Adiabene had kept the paupers of
Churches show their gratitude to the mother Church. In Galatians 2:10, Paul had promised
the apostles at
this collection (II Corinthians chps. 8-9; Romans 15:26; Acts 24:17). The enthusiastic
communism of the earliest Christian society in
experience proves, an impossible experiment under the conditions which regulate all
human life, and it may have aggravated the chronic distress – “as I have given order
to the churches of
a visit three years before this time (Acts 18), or by letter. It appears from
II Corinthians 8:10 that Paul had already asked for the contributions of the Corinthians.
To the Corinthians he proposes the example of the Galatians; to the Macedonians the example
of the Corinthians; to the Romans that of the Macedonians and Corinthians. Great is the
power of example – “even so do ye.” The aorist implies that they should do it at once.
2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God
hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” - rather, that, when I
come, there may then be no collections. When he came he did not wish his attention to be
absorbed in serving tables. 3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by
your letters” - The letters would be letters of introduction or commendation (Acts 18:27;
16:1; II Corinthians 3:1) to the apostles at
your liberality unto
voluntary affection. 4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.” Paul
would not take this money himself. His “religious” enemies were many, bitter, and
unscrupulous, and he would give them no possibility of a handle against him. He makes
such arrangements as should place him above suspicion (II Corinthians 8:20). It turned
out that the subscription was an adequate one, and Paul accompanied the Corinthian
delegates (Romans 15:25; Acts 20:4). The thought that
they might visit
see some of the twelve would act as an incentive to the Corinthians. 5 Now I will come
unto you, when I shall pass through
from II Corinthians 1:15-16, that it had been Paul’s intention to sail from
again for a longer stay at
(ch. 5:9), announced to them this intention, he changed his plan because, in the present
disgraceful state of disorganization into which the Church had fallen, he felt that he could
not visit them without being compelled to exercise a severity which, he hoped, might be
obviated by writing to them and delaying his intended visit. Nothing but his usual delicacy
and desire to spare them prevented him from stating all this more fully (II Corinthians 1:23;
2:1). Mistaking the kindness of his purpose, the Corinthians accused him of levity. He
defends himself from this charge in the Second Epistle, and he carried out the plan
which he here announces (II Corinthians 2:13; 8:1; 9:2, 4; 12:14; 13:1). 6 And it may be
that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey” –
It was the custom in ancient days to accompany a departing guest for a short distance
(Romans 15:24; Acts 15:3; 17:15) – “whithersoever I go.” Paul well knew that some
uncertainty must attach to his plans. As it was, he had to change his plan at the last
moment. He had meant to sail from
he was obliged to go overland round by
you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.”
Christians made a rule of adding these phrases in sign of dependence upon God
(II Corinthians 4:19; Acts 18:1; James 4:15; Hebrews 6:3). [From my youth, it
has been often my practice to either preface a statement or append to it the words
“if all goes well” – my private and feeble attempt of acknowledging “ye ought to say,
If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this or that” -James 4:14-16” – CY – 2010]
The text tells us that Paul had made a plan to visit the Corinthians, to “tarry a while” with
them, and to spend the winter with them, after
he had passed through
permit.” The great truth implied in this expression of Paul’s is that God is in the history
of individual man. “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will
love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” – (John 14:23)
He is not merely in the great material universe, in angelic hierarchies, in human empires,
communities, Churches, families, but in the individual man himself. God is not too absorbed
in the vast for this, not too great for this. Paul believed that God was interested in him
personally, and that He arranged for him personally. There is something sublime, bracing,
and ennobling in the thought that God knows me, cares for me, arranges for me.
There is an acquiescence implied here. “If the Lord permit.” This means, “I have no will
of my own.” As if he had said personally, “Consulting merely my own will, I should like to
winter with you, my Corinthian friends, but I subordinate my will to the will of my God. I feel
myself in His hands, and am ready to act in everything according to His arrangements.”
8 But I
will tarry at
frustrated by the riot stirred up by the silversmiths (Acts 19:23-41). But, in any case, he
already preparing to leave (ibid. vs. 21-22). 9 For a great door and effectual is opened
unto me” - A wide and promising opportunity for winning souls to God. The metaphor of
“a door,” perhaps suggested by our Lord himself, was common among Christians
(II Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3; Acts 14:27; Revelation 3:8) - “and there are
many adversaries.” (Acts 19:1, 8-9,19-20). 10 Now if Timotheus come” - Paul had
already sent on Timothy (II Corinthians 4:17), with
Erastus (Acts 19:22), to go to
directions when he postponed his own visit. In the uncertainties of ancient travelling, be could
not be certain whether his counter order would reach Timothy or not. It appears to have done
so, for nothing is said of any visit of Timothy to
may be with you without fear” - Timothy must at this time have been very young
(I Timothy 4:12). As a mere substitute for Paul’s personal visit, he would be unacceptable.
In every allusion to him we find traces of a somewhat timid and sensitive disposition
(ibid. 5:21-23; II Timothy 1:6-8). He may well, therefore, have shrunk from the thought
of meeting the haughty sophisters
and disputatious partisans of
the work of the Lord, as I also do.” “As a son with the father, he hath served with me
in the gospel” (Philippians 2:22). Paul felt for Timothy a deeper personal tenderness than
for any of his other friends, and the companionship of this gentle and devoted youth was one
of the chief comforts of his missionary labor. 11 Let no man therefore despise him: but
conduct him forth in peace that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the
brethren.” There was a reason for adding this. The Corinthians would see that any unkindness
or contempt shown towards Timothy would at once be reported to Paul. Who “the brethren”
are is not mentioned, for in Acts 19:22 we are only told that Timothy was accompanied by
Erastus. One of these brethren must have been Titus (II Corinthians 2:13; 7:6-7), and there
were two others. 12 As touching our brother Apollos” - It seems clear from this that the
Corinthians, in their letter, had requested that this eloquent and favorite teacher might be sent
to them – “I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren” - rather, I besought
him much. There
refused their request; that he would not send Apollos to them out of jealousy of Apollos’s
superior oratory, and of the party which assumed his name. Paul anticipated this sneer. His
nature was much too noble to feel the least jealousy. Both he and Apollos here show
themselves in the purest light – “but his will was not at all to come at this time” –
Apollos had decided not to come at present, obviously because his name had been abused
for purposes of party faction (ch. 3:5). This was all the more noble on his part because he
seems to have been a special friend of Titus (Titus 3:13). Paul would gladly have sent his two
ablest and most energetic disciples to this distracted Church – “but he will come when he
shall have convenient time.” rather, when a good opportunity offers itself to him.
Apollos ever revisited
in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” - The brief impetuous imperatives show a
sudden burst of emotion as he draws to a close. The next clause seems like an after thought.
Watchfulness (I Thessalonians 5:6; I Peter. 5:8; Revelation 3:2; 16:15), steadfastness
(Philippians 1:27), and strength (Ephesians 6:10; Colossians 1:11; II Timothy 2:1), and
love (ch. 13.; I Peter 4:8) were frequent subjects of Christian exhortation. The verb
ajndri>zesfe - andrizesthe – “act manly” - which expresses Christian manliness
(“Play the men!”) occurs here only. It is found in the LXX. of Joshua 1:6. The Corinthians
needed all these exhortations, for they were, in Christian matters, drowsy, unstable,
effeminate, and factious. 14 Let all your things be done with charity.” - Let all that
ye do be done in love. 15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas”
This paragraph seems to have been written lest the Corinthians should be angry with
Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus — who, perhaps, were slaves of the household of
Chloe — for having carried to Paul their ill report (ch. 1:11) - “that it is the first-fruits
of Achaia” - For which reason Paul had baptized Stephanas and his house (ibid. v.16).
In Romans 16:5 Epaenetus is called “the firstfruits of Achaia,” but there the reading
ought to be, of
themselves – from ta>ssw, — tas’-so; a prolonged form of a primary verb (which
latter appears only in certain tenses); to arrange in an orderly manner, i.e. assign or
dispose (to a certain position or lot): — addict, appoint, determine, ordain, set.
“to the ministry of the saints). 16 That ye submit yourselves unto such” - Slaves
though they may be in earthly rank, recognize their Christian authority as good men and
women (see Ephesians 5:21; I Timothy 5:17). The verb used for “submit yourselves,” or, “
set yourselves under,” is the same root word in the previous verse (uJpota>ssw, —
hoop-ot-as’-so; from uJpo> - hoop-o’ – under; beneath - (ta>ssw); [as above reference
in v. 15] to subordinate; reflexive to obey: — be under obedience (obedient), put under,
subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.
“and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboreth. 17 I am glad of the coming” –
rather at the presence of - “of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which
was lacking on your part they have supplied.” This sounds like a reproach in the
Authorized Version, but is quite the reverse. It should be rendered, the void caused by
your absence. The same word occurs in II Corinthians 8:13-14; 9:12; 11:9. The
nearest parallel to the usage here is Philippians 2:30. 18 For they have refreshed
my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.”
Salutations and Autograph Conclusion (vs. 19-24)
19 The churches of
Lord” - This admirable Christian husband and wife had no small share in founding the
Churches both of
time with them. (For all that is known of them. see Acts 18:1-2, 26; Romans 16:3-5.)
“with the church that is in their house.” The time for large common churches for
public worship had not yet arrived, Hence, when the Christian community numbered
more than could meet in one place, the congregations were held in separate houses
(Romans 16:4,15; Acts 2:46; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2). 20 All the brethren
greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.” The kiss of peace is
mentioned in Romans 16:16; II Corinthians 13:12; I Peter 5:14. It was a sign of the
reconciliation of all dissensions. But the abuse of the practice and the hideous heathen
calumnies which it helped to perpetuate, led to its abolition. 21 The salutation of me
Paul with mine own hand.” Every one of Paul’s Epistles, except that to the Galatians
(Galatians 6:11), seems to have been written by an amanuensis. The blaze of light in the
vision on the road to
permanent ophthalmia as his “thorn in the flesh;” (II Corinthians 12:7) and this would
naturally disincline him to the physical labor of writing. When he did write, his letters seem
to have been large and straggling (Galatians 6:11), But this was an age in which
documents were frequently falsified by designing persons, and this seems to have happened
to Paul after he had written his very first extant letter. After warning the Thessalonians not
to be frightened “by epistle as from us” (II Thessalonians 2:2), he adds, at the close of
the letter, that henceforth he intends to authenticate every letter by an autograph
salutation (ibid. 3:17; Colossians 4:18; Romans 16:22). To this bad and dangerous
practice of forgery is due the energetic appeal of Revelation 22:18-19 – “For I testify
unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man
shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written
in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this
prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy
city, and from the things which are written in this book.” 22 If any man love not
the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema (ajna>qema) — an-ath’-em-ah; meaning
“accursed” or “to curse” – “Maranatha” - mara<n ajqa>, — mar’-an ath’-ah; of Chaldian
origin (meaning our Lord has come); maranatha, i.e. an exclamation of the approaching
divine judgment: — Maran-atha. It seems to be an appeal to the judgment of Christ, and
may possibly have been an allusion to Malachi 4:6, the words with which the Old Testament
ends (see also Jude 1:14-15). 24 “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
This is a gnorisma, or “badge of confidence,” which, in one or other of its forms, is
found at the end of all Paul’s Epistles. Here it is the same as in I Thessalonians 5:28.
“With you all” is added in II Thessalonians 3:18; Romans 16:24; Philippians 4:23.
In Galatians and Philemon we have “with your spirit.” In the pastoral Epistles and
Colossians, “Peace be with you.” In Ephesians 6:24 it is confined to those “who love
the Lord Jesus in sincerity.” “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love
of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
(Corinthians 13:14). There alone we have the full “apostolic benediction.”
24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” Added as a last proof that, if he
has written in severity, he has also written in love.
Christian Philanthropy (vs. 1-4)
Immediately after the apostle had passed through the discussion on the doctrine of the
resurrection of the dead, he says, “Now concerning the collection.” Practical benevolence
is doctrine demonstrated, exemplified, and reduced to utility; and is the blossom turning into
No one was exempted, however poor; the widow’s mite was acceptable. (Mark 12:
41-44. If no coin, then give service.
the week with deeds of practical benevolence.
principle to rule the amount. Were this principle acted upon, some of the men who
subscribe their ten thousand dollars, and who are lauded the world over as
philanthropists, would be found to be churls after all, and those who subscribed their
few shillings would appear as princes in the domain of practical charity. But, alas!
how men reverse this principle! The more they have the less they give.
ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto
distributed. How sadly is this duty frequently neglected! How much money given
for charitable purposes is dishonestly used and misappropriated every year!
Christian Soldiers (v. 13)
bearing witness to the grace of God, an opportunity for faithful and diligent service.
But this is not all. Who can, in any station of life, sincerely endeavor to live as a
Christian, without finding out that life is a campaign, a scene of discipline, of conflict?
Surely the language of the New Testament in which we are addressed as soldiers
of the cross, is not mere poetry, the utterance of imagination!
SPIRITUAL. As the apostle, expresses it elsewhere, “We wrestle not with flesh
and blood, but with principalities and powers,” (Ephesians 6:12). Whether at
is bent upon doing the will of God must needs make up his mind to face the adversary.
The devil walks about “as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” -
(I Peter 5:8) Thankfully, “we are not ignorant of his devices” – (II Corinthians 2:11)
Many are the forms assumed by the foe of souls, many his devices, great his craft and
power. In his temptation, our Divine Lord and Leader, the Captain of our salvation,
Himself faced the enemy, and withstood his repeated and various assaults.
THE SOLDIER LIKE VIRTUES OF COURAGE AND ENDURANCE.
ü Watchfulness; lest the soldier be surprised at his post, and fall a victim to
his foe. What stress our Lord and His apostles have laid upon this attitude
of vigilance! If we know ourselves, our weakness, our liability to sin; if we
know the resources of our enemies — we shall feel the necessity of
watching, lest we enter into temptation.
ü Steadfastness in the faith; lest we be tossed to and fro by our indecision
and vacillation. Persecution and prosperity are alike in this, that they
expose us to this danger. We have to abide in the faith. He that “endureth
to the end” shall be saved. (Matthew 24:13) Lack of steadfastness:
Ø hinders our spiritual growth;
Ø mars our usefulness;
Ø imperils our salvation;
Ø is a stumbling block to others;
Ø a great offence to Christ;
Ø spoils our spiritual joys.
ü Manliness is, no doubt, in contrast to the spirit of effeminacy and sloth.
“Quit you like men!” is the ringing battle cry of one whose own life
illustrated the precept. Christians should be robust. They are not always to
be children in the faith. They need a manly temper:
Ø to contend with difficulties;
Ø to bear up under opposition;
Ø to endure temporary defeat.
Christians should be bold and fearless. Every Christian should be a
courageous Christian. The service in which we are engaged is grand
beyond conception — the issues how momentous! “Quit you like men!”
ü Strength is needed in such a combat, in which only “the weapons of
warfare which are not carnal are mighty through God to the pulling
down of the strongholds. (II Corinthians 10:4) Does it seem strange that
we are commanded to be strong? Some will say we can only be what we
are, and it is worse than futile to say to a weak man, “Be strong.” But Paul
said, “When I am weak then am I strong.” (II Corinthians 12:10) When
we are bidden to be strong, then we often feel most our weakness; but then
we go to
the Strong for
strength. “The Lion
of the tribe of
(Revelation 5:5) can give to us a lion-like might. As to means: if we would
be strong we must:
Ø abound in prayer
Ø and in work — using all the strength we have;
Ø avoid evil influences — not be more than duty calls us in
pestilential worldly atmospheres; Remember though, Jesus
prayed “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the
world, but that thou shouldest keep them from evil” – (John 17:15)
Ø seek solid knowledge of things Divine;
Ø strive against sin.
ü Love should rule all our thoughts, purposes, words, and acts. We are
nothing if we are without love (ch. 13.). This is the key to the preceding
exhortations. If we have a real living love towards God and man,
it will become easy to live in watchfulness; we shall not want to relinquish
our faith; our Christian manliness will rapidly develop; and we shall be
strong, for we shall be like God. “God is love.” Love is salt; it will
preserve from corruption our whole spiritual life. We may regard love as a
sentiment. It is one of the most powerful practical principles of our being.
Human love can effect great things. And Divine love is the motive which
God Himself has appointed for the renewal and salvation of our humanity.
And this same emotion becomes in Christian society an elevating, purifying,
regulating, and transforming power. It is thus that it is regarded in the text.
Ø THE MODEL OF THE LIFE OF LOVE IS TO BE FOUND IN
THE LIFE OF CHRIST. Love gleamed from His countenance,
spoke in His tones, flowed from His presence, wrought by His
hands. And love led Him to His cross.
Ø THE AUTHORITY FOR THE LIFE OF LOVE IS TO BE
FOUND IN THE WORDS OF CHRIST. Again and again did
the Savior enjoin upon His disciples the virtue of brotherly love.
It was His new commandment. (John 13:34-35) “A new
commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another;
as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By
this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye
also love one another.” It was His test of discipleship.
Love to God and love to man constituted, according to Him,
the sum of obedience, righteousness, religion.
Ø THE UNIVERSAL APPLICATION OF THIS PRINCIPLE.
It is too common to regard Christian charity as a grace to be
displayed in certain relations and upon certain occasions. But this
is not the New Testament idea. Love is to govern the whole life,
and is to permeate the Christian society. There is no limitation
in the language of the text: “ Let all that ye do be done in love!”
It is a lofty motive, a far-reaching principle. The precept is doubtless
one not easy of application so general. Yet nothing less than its
universal adoption and prevalence can satisfy the Lord of the
Ø THE ADVANTAGES ACCRUING TO THE CHURCH FROM
THE ADOPTION OF THIS PRINCIPLE. How different is the
selfish principle adopted by the unchristian world, is at once apparent.
This is a new, an antagonistic principle, yet, in its proper influence, the
principle which is to pacify strife, to harmonize conflicting interests, to
breathe new life into human society. “All ye are brethren”
(Matthew 23:8) was the Master’s explicit declaration concerning the
members of His Church. “See how these Christians love one
another!” was the exclamation of a surprised and admiring world.
Ø THE IMPRESSION PRODUCED UPON THE WORLD BY
THE PRACTICAL EMBODIMENT OF THIS PRINCIPLE.
The world is doubtless impressed by the novelty, the beauty, the
celestial dignity, of Christian doctrine. Yet the expression of that
doctrine in the life of brotherly love is more effective; and the
realization of Christ’s idea, the fulfillment of Christ’s law, will do
more than all preaching to convince the world of the Divine mission
of the Christ. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore
love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10)
THIS HOLY WAR. This great truth is always, when not expressed, in the
background, when admonitions to vigilance and courage are addressed to Christians.
It is not to be supposed that in our own strength we can comply with requirements
so stringent and conduct a warfare so perilous. But “if God be for us, who can be
against us?” (Romans 8:31) The warfare is not ours, but God’s, and His are the
weapons and His the might, even as His is the glory of the victory.
Christianity’s Demands (vs. 13-14)
“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith,” etc. Here are certain demands which Christianity makes
on ALL MEN:
duty of those who are stationed to guard a camp or to observe the motions of an
enemy. There were
many evils, as we have seen, in the
dissensions, heresies, unchastity, intemperance, etc. Hence the necessity of
watchfulness. But where do not evils abound? Hosts surround us all, hence,
“Watch ye.” “Watch and pray,” says Christ. (Mark 13:35-37)
wavering, “tossed about by every wind of doctrine.” (Ephesians 4:14)
Strike the roots of your faith deep into the soil of eternal realities. Firmness is no
more obstinacy than the stony rock is to the deep-rooted oak.
well equipped, manly. Be an ideal man; you can be nothing higher than this, nothing
greater. There are great philosophers, great poets, great statesmen, great orators,
great warriors, who are small men, if men at all, leagues away from the ideal.
A great functionary is often a very small man. “Quit you like men.” Be heroes
in the strife.
Man’s life consists of many acts, many “things done.” Activity is at once the law
and the necessity of his nature. He only really lives as he acts; inactivity is death.
But whilst the acts of men are numerous and varied, the animating and controlling
spirit should be one, and that spirit is love.
Crime and Punishment (vs. 21-22)
“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha”.
These words contain two things:
We make three remarks on this state of mind in relation to Christ.
ü It is unreasonable. There is everything in Him to call out the highest
love. There are three kinds of love to which we are susceptible, and which
are incumbent on us — gratitude, esteem, and benevolence. Gratitude
requires a manifestation of kindness; esteem requires moral excellence;
benevolence requires a purpose for the common good. Christ manifests
ALL THESE, and therefore deserves our highest love.
ü It is ascertainable. We can soon ascertain whether we love Christ or
not. There are infallible criteria. For example, the chief object of love will
Ø the engrossing subject of thought;
Ø the attractive theme of conversation;
Ø the source of the greatest delight in pleasing;
Ø the most transformative power of character; and
Ø the most identified with our conscious life.
ü It is deplorable. This love is the only true regulative power of the soul.
Where this is not, all the powers of our nature are misemployed, and.
all is confusion.
These words intimate two things concerning the punishment.
ü Its nature. “Let him be Anathema.” The word expresses some terrible
amount of suffering. It is one of Paul’s strong words to express a terrible
evil. Excommunication from all that is pure and good and happy is
undoubtedly involved. The soul cut off from Christ, its Centre, Root,
Fountain, Life, is utterly destroyed.
ü Its certainty. “Maran-atha,” which means, “The Lord will come.”
This word is probably introduced by Paul in order to convey the certainty
of the destruction of those who “love not the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul
had written the other part of this letter by an amanuensis, but to write these
terrible words he takes up the pen himself. “The salutation of me Paul
with mine own hand.” He felt the utmost recoil of heart for those who
“love not the Lord Jesus Christ,” and had the most overwhelming idea
of the misery to which such will be exposed. Men are accursed, not
merely because they hate Christ, rebel against His authority, and
profane His ordinances, but because THEY DO NOT LOVE HIM!
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