1 Corinthians 16: Parting Words and Encouragement Towards Steadfastness

(24 verses, 2:55 to read)

LISTEN | READ

What I am about to READ

In this chapter, Paul shows many ways that Christians (including himself and his co-workers – all parties included) can show themselves to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding…” (15:58) All the saints should be strong and loving as they go about their work (vocation), and to submit to those like Stephanas who work together and toil.

MARK

1-4: The Collection for the Saints in Jerusalem

5-9: Paul’s Travel Plans

10-12: Concerning Timothy and Apollos

13-14: Encouragement Towards Steadfastness and the Like

15-18: Recognize Stephanas and Others Like Him

19-24: Greetings, Anathema, Maranatha, Benediction

LEARN

The Collection:

This word “collection” appears only here and in verse 2, but is specifically collections for religious purposes. “On the first day of the week” – again we see that celebration on the first day of the week, coinciding with Christ’s resurrection, had supplanted the literal Sabbath. Note also that it is on the first day of every week. Also note that Paul doesn’t specify what portion of the income – just “a portion.” This is another example of the requirement of the OT passing away (cf. the literal Sabbath) Take a look at II Corinthians 8-9, which is all about this collection.

This collection isn’t intended for the church in general, but the mother church in Jerusalem that had become impoverished for some unknown reason (Rom. 15.25-28). There were a large number of widows (Acts 6:1-6) and they had suffered from famine (Acts 11:27-30). Paul believed that these young churches that had spiritually benefitted from the mother church should help her now that she was suffering physically. Rom. 15.27. He had already directed the Galatian churches (I Cor. 16:1), the fruit of his first missionary journey (Acts 13-14), and now it was time for the Corinthians to follow. Paul then lays out the plan: at the beginning of the week, each home should set aside a portion based on how they had fared the previous week. They should give only what they could spare (Acts 11:29). See II Cor. 8:13-14: “I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need.” In all of this, Paul doesn’t point out a certain group in the congregation such as the wealthy; his message is for all.

Timothy and Apollos:

– Timothy is Paul’s “beloved and faithful child in the Lord” (this sort of language is where we get the tradition of calling pastors “father”) Timothy is involved in the work of the Lord, so the Corinthians should accept him as they would Paul, their “father in the faith.” (4:14-15) Timothy was young (perhaps in his 20s), and had a weak disposition (I Tim. 5; II Tim. 1, etc.). Even years later, Paul would urge him to “let no one despise your youth” (I Tim. 4:12). Corinth had some arrogant members (3:1-3; 4:18; 5:2), and perhaps Paul thought they would seek to “kill the messenger” so tells them not to despise him. 16.11.

– Note that Paul affectionately calls Apollos “the brother.” No jealousy or rivalry seems to exist. Also, Paul doesn’t hesitate to have Apollos join those listed in 16:12.

Be Watchful:

– “Faith” in verse 13 is not only personal faith, but above all “the” faith (1:18; 15:1-4). The false gospels and imposter christs will come (Mt. 24:5, 23; Gal. 1;6-7), but Paul exhorts the Christians to ignore them and remain steadfast.

– “Be strong” and “manly” – these are usually rendered as “strong” and “courageous.” So Joshua and the Israelites were exhorted not to fear the Canaanites, but to fight and conquer the Promised Land (Deut. 3:28; 31:6-7).

– “Let all you do be in love” – the “Manliness” isn’t to be understood as being a jerk. Paul is constantly speaking of Christian harmony and unity (I Cor. 1:9) in the face of divisive arrogance.

Anathama and Maranatha

Anathama – What is most often rendered “accursed” is the well-known “anathema.” Paul may well have in mind Ps. 31:23-24 (see also Rom. 9:3; Gal. 1:8-9). This is quite possibly the practice of closed communion, so that those in the congregation who were not to be at the Lord’s Table would be asked to leave at this point in the service, and the deacons cry out, “The Doors! The Doors!” In this, it could be that Paul is directing the congregation to carry out the preliminary judgement of excommunication for such as these (see 5:1-13 and Rom. 16:17-20; I Cor. 12:3; Gal. 1:8-9; II Thess. 3:14-15). On the other hand, those who love the Lord and have their hope in Him may be strong and manly (courageous), and cry out with Paul “Marana tha!” or “Our Lord, come!” This is another Hebrew word that finds its way into early church usage such as Amen, Halleluia, and Hosanna.

Conclusion

The greeting is in Paul’s own hand. The rest presumably written by Sosthenes (1:1). Not only does this add a personal touch, but also certifies that this letter is from Paul. See II Thess 3:17. Benediction: Until the Lord returns for His final gracious deliverance, the saints here in time live by “the grace of the Lord Jesus” – 16:23. So the epistle ends with grace as it began with grace (1:3).

MEDITATE

We pray:

Dear Father of all mercies, grant that we remain steadfast in the one, true faith until the end that we may see you face to face. Turn the hearts of the enemies of the Gospel, that they might believe. Grant also, dear Father, patience and the grace to bear with all afflictions. Through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/

-Pastor Weslie Odom

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