About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Chapters 16

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    ch. 16:1-5     ch. 16:5-19    ch. 16:19-44


The Collection For God’s People (ch. 16:1-4)


We have now come to the final chapter of this letter to the Corinthian church.  In this chapter Paul deals with a practical matter of giving, a couple of requests, and a final greeting.

Because of great persecution the Christians in Jerusalem were under much pressure and were very poor.  Part of what Paul was doing as he was traveling from church to church was raising funds to take back to these poor saints.  Therefore Paul suggests to the Corinthians, as he also told the Galatians, (ch.16:1) that each family should set aside some money and the church should  collect this money “the first day of every week”  (ch. 16:2)  Paul did not tell these people how much money to give.  He only told them that it should be in accordance “with their income”. 

Paul does not use the word tithe in these verses.  This is not a tithe.  It is my personal opinion that Paul does not believe in tithing as seen in the Old Testament.  This collection that Paul will receive is not for himself.  It is for the poor Christians in Jerusalem.  He suggests collecting it on the first day of the week for convenience sake. 

Some use this verse to prove tithing as a New Testament principle, but as I have said, there is no hint of tithing in this verse.  This is a special collection of money for a specific purpose. 

Once the money was collected, then Paul would write a special “letter of introduction” and give it to the men that they approved to take this money to Jerusalem.  It is obvious that these men would need such a letter since those in Jerusalem would not know them.  Paul wanted the Jerusalem Christians to understand that these men with this money were trustworthy.

Notice that Paul left the choice of men to deliver this money up to the church.  He did not choose the men. . He also says, “if it seems advisable to me, I will go also…”  (ch. 16:4)   Paul was not quite sure that he would be able to go to Jerusalem with these men, although he would eventually  get there.

One thing to note about the giving of money in the early church, and that is, most of the money went to people, that is the poor, as in this case, and to people like Peter and Paul and preached  the gospel.  This isn't the case in our day.  Most of the money Christians give to churches go to the building and the organizational structure, and I think that is not right, especially when the poor in these churches go without.


Personal Requests (ch. 16:5 - 18)


Paul tells his readers that after he goes through Macedonia that he would try to visit with them and possibly even spend the winter with the church.   One reason why he would stop to visit is for these people to help him on his “journey, wherever he might go”. 

In verse 7 Paul says that he just didn’t want to make a passing visit.  He wanted to spend quality time with them, most likely to work through all of the issues that he has talked about in his letter. 

It appears that he was writing this letter from Ephesus since he says that he wants to stay there because there is “an effective door of work”.  Paul will take any opportunity to preach and teach the gospel, and if there is an “effective door”, he would want to stay as long as he could.  Yet along with this effective door was “many who opposed” him. (ch. 16:9)  Opposition seemed to always follow Paul wherever he went, yet as long as the door stayed open, the opposition would not turn him away.

In verse 10 Paul mentions Timothy to his readers, who he considered a son in the Lord.  Paul had a special place in his heart for Timothy.  He tells the Corinthians to make sure that Timothy has nothing to fear, and to make things easy for him, since he is doing the work of the Lord. 

Paul is sending Timothy to Corinth for some reason.  After Timothy fulfilled  his mission, he would return to Paul at Ephesus with some other brothers.  

Even though there were divisions in the church over the leadership of Peter, Apollos and Paul, you can see in verse 12 that this did not effect Paul’s relationship with Apollos.  Paul urged Apollos quite strongly to go to Corinth with certain brothers, but Apollos refused.  He felt that he should go later.  You see a couple of things here.  One thing you see is that Apollos had his own apostolic ministry and that he did not submit to Paul’s request blindly. 

Another thing you see is that both Timothy and Apollos, as well as Paul traveled “with the brothers”. It was a team of men working in the service of the Lord.

Verse 13 is an encouragement to Paul’s readers to be strong, firm in faith and of courage.  Paul has said a lot to these people that was hard for them to take.  Even though his letter was full of corrections, he did not want to beat them down.  If you read 2 Corinthians you will see that this letter did have a major effect on many of its intended readers.  It caused many to be full of sorrow and to change their ways.

Paul mentions the household of Stephanas in verse 15.  They were the first converts in Achaia.  Paul tells the Corinthians to “submit” to them and to others who work hard like them.  I don’t believe when Paul uses the word “submit” that he is telling his readers to simply fall at these men’s feet and do as they want.  Apollos did not do that with Paul as we just saw.  So we should be careful how we interpret the word submit.  It has been misused from time to time.

I believe Paul is telling the church to work with these men of God the best they can.  Support them and help them out.  Make their job easy.

Stephanas, along with others were a great help to Paul. He appreciated all the things they did for him. They “refreshed” Paul’s spirit.  They filled that which was lacking from the Corinthians.  I am not sure that you can interpret this as being a material or monetary lacking.  I think that it could have been more of a lacking in spiritual terms, maybe in the area of fellowship and moral support.  Because of all the problems in Corinth , Paul most likely did not really feel a lot of moral support from these people, which 2 Corinthians makes clear.  So Stephanas and the brothers filled this lacking.  


Final Greetings (ch. 16:19 - 24)


Paul closes with some general greetings by saying, “all of the churches in Asia greet you .. “.  (ch. 16:19)  He specifically mentions Aquila and Pricilla and the church that met at their home.  Churches often met together in the homes of their leaders since they did not have special buildings like we do today.

Paul most likely dictated this letter to someone else who actually wrote it by hand, except for this greeting that Paul says he wrote himself.  This was often the case with Paul’s letters.

Paul uses some strong language in verse 22. He says “a curse be on those who do not love the Lord”.  Obviously those who do not believed are in one sense cursed.  Paul may be speaking to those in the church, like the man who was sleeping with his father’s wife.  Those who claimed faith yet did not demonstrate it.

Paul closes this letter with these words, words that are similar to every other letter that he closes with.  “The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.  My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.  Amen.”  Paul's life was based on the grace of our Lord Jesus.  From the day he met Jesus in Acts 9 to the day he died, and then beyond, it was all about grace for Paul.  The same should be for us as well.



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