A collection for the poor at Jerusalem. (1-9) Timothy and Apollos commended. (10-12) Exhortation to watchfulness in faith and love. (13-18) Christian salutations. (19-24)
Verses 1-9 The good examples of other Christians and churches should rouse us. It is good to lay up in store for good uses. Those who are rich in this world, should be rich in good works, 1Ti. 6:17, 1Ti. 6:18 . The diligent hand will not make rich, without the Divine blessing, ( proverbs 10:4 proverbs 10:22 ) . And what more proper to stir us up to charity to the people and children of God, than to look at all we have as his gift? Works of mercy are real fruits of true love to God, and are therefore proper services on his own day. Ministers are doing their proper business, when putting forward, or helping works of charity. The heart of a Christian minister must be towards the people among whom he has laboured long, and with success. All our purposes must be made with submission to the Divine providence, ( James 4:15 ) . Adversaries and opposition do not break the spirits of faithful and successful ministers, but warm their zeal, and inspire them with fresh courage. A faithful minister is more discouraged by the hardness of his hearers' hearts, and the backslidings of professors, than by the enemies' attempts.
Verses 10-12 Timothy came to do the work of the Lord. Therefore to vex his spirit, would be to grieve the Holy Spirit; to despise him, would be to despise Him that sent him. Those who work the work of the Lord, should be treated with tenderness and respect. Faithful ministers will not be jealous of each other. It becomes the ministers of the gospel to show concern for each other's reputation and usefulness.
Verses 13-18 A Christian is always in danger, therefore should ever be on the watch. He should be fixed in the faith of the gospel, and never desert or give it up. By this faith alone he will be able to keep his ground in an hour of temptation. Christians should be careful that charity not only reigns in their hearts, but shines in their lives. There is a great difference between Christian firmness and feverish warmth and transport. The apostle gave particular directions as to some who served the cause of Christ among them. Those who serve the saints, those who desire the honour of the churches, and to remove reproaches from them, are to be thought much of, and loved. They should willingly acknowledge the worth of such, and all who laboured with or helped the apostle.
Verses 19-24 Christianity by no means destroys civility. Religion should promote a courteous and obliging temper towards all. Those give a false idea of religion, and reproach it, who would take encouragement from it to be sour and morose. And Christian salutations are not mere empty compliments; but are real expressions of good-will to others, and commend them to the Divine grace and blessing. Every Christian family should be as a Christian church. Wherever two or three are gathered together in the name of Christ, and he is among them, there is a church. Here is a solemn warning. Many who have Christ's name much in their mouths, have no true love to him in their hearts. None love him in truth, who do not love his laws, and keep his commandments. Many are Christians in name, who do not love Christ Jesus the Lord in sincerity. Such are separated from the people of God, and the favour of God. Those who love not the Lord Jesus Christ, must perish without remedy. Let us not rest in any religious profession where there is not the love of Christ, earnest desires for his salvation, gratitude for his mercies, and obedience to his commandments. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ has in it all that is good, for time and for eternity. To wish that our friends may have this grace with them, is wishing them the utmost good. And this we should wish all our friends and brethren in Christ. We can wish them nothing greater, and we should wish them nothing less. True Christianity makes us wish those whom we love, the blessings of both worlds; this is meant in wishing the grace of Christ to be with them. The apostle had dealt plainly with the Corinthians, and told them of their faults with just severity; but he parts in love, and with a solemn profession of his love to them for Christ's sake. May our love be with all who are in Christ Jesus. Let us try whether all things appear worthless to us, when compared with Christ and his righteousness. Do we allow ourselves in any known sin, or in the neglect of any known duty? By such inquiries, faithfully made, we may judge of the state of our souls.
1 Corinthians 16:1-24 . DIRECTIONS AS TO THE COLLECTION FOR THE JUDEAN CHRISTIANS: PAUL'S FUTURE PLANS: HE COMMENDS TO THEM TIMOTHY, APOLLOS, &C. SALUTATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS.
1. collection for the saints--at Jerusalem ( Romans 15:26 ) and in Judea ( Acts 11:29 Acts 11:30 , 24:17 ; compare 2 Corinthians 8:4 , 2 Corinthians 9:1 2 Corinthians 9:12 ). He says "saints" rather than "the poor," to remind the Corinthians that in giving, it is to the Lord's people, their own brethren in the faith. Towards the close of the national existence of the Jews, Judea and Jerusalem were harassed with various troubles, which in part affected the Jewish Christians. The community of goods which existed among them for a time gave temporary relief but tended ultimately to impoverish all by paralyzing individual exertion ( Acts 2:44 ), and hence was soon discontinued. A beautiful fruit of grace it was, that he who had by persecutions robbed many of their all ( Acts 26:10 ), should become the foremost in exertions for their relief.
as I have given--rather, "gave order," namely, during my journey through Galatia, that mentioned in Acts 18:23 . The churches of Galatia and Phrygia were the last which Paul visited before writing this Epistle. He was now at Ephesus, and came thither immediately from visiting them ( Acts 18:23 , 19:1 ). That he had not been silent in Galatia on contributions for the poor, appears from the hint let fall in his Epistle to that church ( Galatians 2:10 ): an undesigned coincidence and mark of genuineness [PALEY, Horæ Paulinæ]. He proposes the Galatians as an example to the Corinthians, the Corinthians to the Macedonians, the Corinthians and Macedonians to the Romans ( Romans 15:26 Romans 15:27 , 2 Corinthians 9:2 ). There is great force in example.
2. first day of . . . week--already kept sacred by Christians as the day of the Lord's resurrection, the beginning day both of the physical and of the new spiritual creations: it gradually superseded the Jewish sabbath on the seventh day ( Psalms 118:22-24 John 20:19 John 20:26 Acts 20:7 Revelation 1:10 ). So the beginning of the year was changed from autumn to spring when Israel was brought out of Egypt. Three annual feasts, all typical of Christian truths, were directed to be kept on the first day of the week: the feast of the wave offering of the first sheaf, answering to the Lord's resurrection; Pentecost, or the feast of weeks, typical of the fruits of the resurrection in the Christian Church ( Leviticus 23:11 Leviticus 23:15 Leviticus 23:16 Leviticus 23:36 ); the feast of tabernacles at harvest, typical of the ingathering of the full number of the elect from one end of heaven to the other. Easter was directed to be kept as a holy sabbath ( Exodus 12:16 ). The Christian Sabbath commemorates the respective works of the Three Persons of the Triune God--creation, redemption (the resurrection), and sanctification (on Pentecost the Holy Ghost being poured out). Jesus came to fulfil the Spirit of the Law, not to cancel it, or to lower its standard. The primary object of the sabbath is holiness, not merely rest: "Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day." Compare Genesis 2:3 , "God blessed and sanctified it, because . . . in it He had rested," &c. The word "Remember" implies that it was in existence before the giving of the law from Sinai, and refers to its institution in Paradise (compare Exodus 16:22 Exodus 16:23 Exodus 16:26 Exodus 16:30 ). "Six days shalt thou labor": the spirit of the command is fulfilled whether the six days' labor be on the last six days or on the first. A perpetual sabbath would doubtless be the highest Christian ideal; but living in a world of business where the Christian ideal is not yet realized, if a law of definite times was necessary in Paradise, it is still more so now.
every one of yon--even those in limited circumstances.
lay by him--though there be not a weekly public collection, each is privately to set apart a definite proportion of his weekly income for the Lord's cause and charity.
in store--abundantly: the earnest of a better store laid up for the giver ( 1 Timothy 6:19 ).
as God hath prospered him--literally, "whatsoever he may be prospered in," or "may by prosperity have acquired" [ALFORD], ( Matthew 25:15-29 , 2 Corinthians 8:12 ).
that there be no gatherings when I come--that they may not then have to be made, when your and my time ought to be employed m more directly spiritual things. When men give once for all, not so much is given. But when each lays by something every Lord's day, more is collected than one would have given at once [BENGEL].
3. approve by your letters--rather translate, "Whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I send with letters": namely, letters to several persons at Jerusalem, which would be their credentials. There could be no need of letters from them before Paul's coming, if the persons recommended were not to be sent off before it. Literally, "by letters"; an abbreviated expression for "I will send, recommending them by letters" [GROTIUS]. If English Version be retained, the sense will be, "When I come, I will send those whom by your letters, then to be given them, ye shall approve." But the antithesis (opposition or contrast) to Paul himself ( 1 Corinthians 16:4 ) favors GROTIUS' view. So "by" means with ( Romans 2:27 ); and the Greek for "by" is translated, with ( 2 Corinthians 2:4 ).
liberality--literally, gracious or free gift ( 2 Corinthians 8:4 ).
4. meet--"worth while." If your collections be large enough to be worth an apostle's journey (a stimulus to their liberality), I will accompany them myself instead of giving them letters credential ( 1 Corinthians 16:3 ; compare Acts 20:1-4 ).
with me--to guard against all possible suspicion of evil ( 2 Corinthians 8:4 2 Corinthians 8:19-21 ).
5-7. His first intention had been ( 2 Corinthians 1:15 2 Corinthians 1:16 ) to pass through them (Corinth) to Macedonia, and again return to them from Macedonia, and so to Judea; this he had announced in the lost epistle ( 1 Corinthians 5:9 ); now having laid aside this intention (for which he was charged with levity, 2 Corinthians 1:17 , &c., whereas it was through lenity, 2 Corinthians 1:23 , 2:1 ), he announces his second plan of "not seeing them now by the way," but "passing through Macedonia" first on his way to them, and then "tarrying a while," and even "abiding and wintering with them."
for I do pass--as much as to say, "This is what I at last resolve upon" (not as the erroneous subscription of the Epistle represents it, as if he was THEN at Philippi, on his way through Macedonia); implying that there had been some previous communication upon the subject of the journey, and also that there had been some indecisiveness in the apostle's plan [PALEY]. In accordance with his second plan, we find him in Macedonia when Second Corinthians was written ( 2 Corinthians 2:13 , 8:1 , 2 Corinthians 9:2 2 Corinthians 9:4 ), and on his way to Corinth ( 2 Corinthians 12:14 , 13:1 ; compare Acts 20:1 Acts 20:2 ). "Pass through" is opposed to "abide" ( 1 Corinthians 16:6 ). He was not yet in Macedonia (as 1 Corinthians 16:8 shows), but at Ephesus; but he was thinking of passing through it (not abiding as he purposed to do at Corinth).
6. He did "abide and even winter" for the three WINTER months in Greece (Corinth), Acts 20:3 Acts 20:6 ; from which passage it seems that Paul probably left Corinth about a month before the "days of unleavened bread" or the Passover (so as to allow time to touch at Thessalonica and Berea, from which cities two of his companions were; as we read he did at Philippi); so that thus the three months at Corinth would be December, January, and February [BIRKS, Horæ Apostolicæ].
ye--emphatical in the Greek.
whithersoever I go--He purposed to go to Judea ( 2 Corinthians 1:16 ) from Corinth, but his plans were not positively fixed as yet Acts 19:21 ).
7. I will not see you now by the way--literally, "I do not wish to see you this time in passing"; that is, to pay you now what would have to be a merely passing visit as I did in the second visit ( 2 Corinthians 12:14 ). In contrast to "a while," that is, some time, as the Greek might better be translated.
but--The oldest manuscripts read "for."
8. at Ephesus--whence Paul writes this Epistle. Compare 1 Corinthians 16:19 , "Asia," wherein Ephesus was.
until Pentecost--He seems to have stayed as he here purposes: for just when the tumult which drove him away broke out, he was already intending to leave Ephesus ( Acts 19:21 Acts 19:22 ). Combined with 1 Corinthians 5:7 1 Corinthians 5:8 , this verse fixes the date of this Epistle to a few weeks before Pentecost, and very soon after the Passover.
9. door--( 2 Corinthians 2:12 ). An opening for the extension of the Gospel. Wise men are on the watch for, and avail themselves of, opportunities. So "door of hope," Hosea 2:15 . "Door of faith," Acts 14:27 . "An open door," Revelation 3:8 . "A door of utterance," Colossians 4:3 . "Great," that is, extensive. "Effectual," that is, requiring great labors [ESTIUS]; or opportune for effecting great results [BEZA].
many adversaries--who would block up the way and prevent us from entering the open door. Not here false teachers, but open adversaries: both Jews and heathen. After Paul, by his now long-continued labors at Ephesus, had produced effects which threatened the interests of those whose gains were derived from idolatry, "many adversaries" arose ( Acts 19:9-23 ). Where great good is, there evil is sure to start up as its antagonist.
10. Now--rather, "But." Therefore Timothy was not the bearer of the Epistle; for it would not then be said, "IF Timothy come." He must therefore have been sent by Paul from Ephesus before this Epistle was written, to accord with 1 Corinthians 4:17-19 ; and yet the passage here implies that Paul did not expect him to arrive at Corinth till after the letter was received. He tells them how to treat him "if" he should arrive. Acts 19:21 Acts 19:22 clears up the difficulty: Timothy, when sent from Ephesus, where this Epistle was written, did not proceed direct to Corinth, but went first to Macedonia; thus though sent before the letter, he might not reach Corinth till after it was received in that city. The undesigned coincidence between the Epistle and the history, and the clearing up of the meaning of the former (which does not mention the journey to Macedonia at all) by the latter, is a sure mark of genuineness [PALEY, Horæ Paulinæ]. It is not certain that Timothy actually reached Corinth; for in Acts 19:22 only Macedonia is mentioned; but it does not follow that though Macedonia was the immediate object of his mission, Corinth was not the ultimate object. The "IF Timothy come," implies uncertainty. 2 Corinthians 1:1 represents him with Paul in Macedonia; and 2 Corinthians 12:18 , speaking of Titus and others sent to Corinth, does not mention Timothy, which it would have probably done, had one so closely connected with the apostle as Timothy was, stayed as his delegate at Corinth. The mission of Titus then took place, when it became uncertain whether Timothy could go forward from Macedonia to Corinth, Paul being anxious for immediate tidings of the state of the Corinthian Church. ALFORD argues that if so, Paul's adversaries would have charged him with fickleness in this case also ( 2 Corinthians 1:17 ), as in the case of his own change of purpose. But Titus was sent directly to Corinth, so as to arrive there before Timothy could by the route through Macedonia. Titus' presence would thus make amends for the disappointment as to the intended visit of Timothy and would disarm adversaries of a charge in this respect ( 2 Corinthians 7:6 2 Corinthians 7:7 ).
without fear--Referring perhaps to a nervous timidity in Timothy's character ( 1 Timothy 3:15 , 1 Timothy 5:22 1 Timothy 5:24 ). His youth would add to this feeling, as well as his country, Lystra, likely to be despised in refined Corinth.
11. despise--This charge is not given concerning any other of the many messengers whom Paul sent. 1 Timothy 4:12 accounts for it (compare Psalms 119:141 ). He was a young man, younger probably than those usually employed in the Christian missions; whence Paul apprehending lest he should, on that account, be exposed to contempt, cautions him, "Let no man despise thy youth" [PALEY, Horæ Paulinæ].
conduct--set him on his way with every mark of respect, and with whatever he needs ( Titus 3:13 ).
in peace--( Acts 15:33 , Hebrews 11:31 ). "Peace" is the salutation of kindness and respect in the East; and so it stands for every blessing. Perhaps here there is too a contrast between "peace" and the "contentions" prevalent at Corinth ( 1 Corinthians 1:11 ).
I look for him--He and Titus were appointed to meet Paul in Troas, whither the apostle purposed proceeding from Ephesus ( 2 Corinthians 2:12 2 Corinthians 2:13 ). Paul thus claims their respect for Timothy as one whom he felt so necessary to himself as "look for" to him [THEOPHYLACT].
with the brethren--Others besides Erastus accompanied Timothy to Macedonia (compare 1 Corinthians 16:12 , Acts 19:22 ).
12. Apollos, I greatly desired . . . to come unto you--He says this lest they should suspect that he from jealousy prevented Apollos' coming to them; perhaps they had expressly requested Apollos to be sent to them. Apollos was not at Ephesus when Paul wrote (compare 1 Corinthians 16:19 , and 1 Corinthians 1:1 ). Probably Apollos' unwillingness to go to Corinth at this time was because, being aware of the undue admiration of his rhetorical style which led astray many at Corinth, he did not wish to sanction it ( 1 Corinthians 1:12 , 3:4 ). Paul's noble freedom from all selfish jealousy led him to urge Apollos to go; and, on the other hand, Apollos, having heard of the abuse of his name at Corinth to party purposes, perseveringly refused to go. Paul, of course, could not state in his letter particularly these reasons in the existing state of division prevalent there. He calls Apollos "brother" to mark the unity that was between the two.
with the brethren--who bear this letter ( 1 Corinthians 16:17 ). (See 1 Corinthians 16:24 , subscription added to the Epistle). CONYBEARE thinks Titus was one of the bearers of this first letter ( 2 Corinthians 8:6 2 Corinthians 8:16-24 , 12:18 ). ALFORD thinks "the brethren" here may be the same as in 1 Corinthians 16:11 .
convenient time--Apollos did return to Corinth when their divisions were moderated [JEROME], and so it was a more seasonable time.
13. He shows that they ought to make their hopes of salvation to depend not on Apollos or any other teacher; that it rests with themselves. "Watch ye": for ye are slumbering. "Stand": for ye are like men tottering. "Quit you like men; be strong": for ye are effeminate ( 1 Corinthians 16:14 ). "Let all your things be done with charity" ( 1 Corinthians 8:1 , 13:1 ): not with strifes as at present [CHRYSOSTOM]. "In the faith" which was assailed by some ( 1 Corinthians 15:1 1 Corinthians 15:2 1 Corinthians 15:12-17 ).
15. first-fruits of Achaia--the first Achæan converts (compare Romans 16:5 ). The image is from the first-fruits offered to the Lord ( Leviticus 23:10 ; compare 1 Corinthians 15:20 ). The members of this family had been baptized by Paul himself ( 1 Corinthians 1:16 ).
addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints--Translate, "Set themselves, (that is, voluntarily) to minister unto the saints" (compare 2 Corinthians 8:4 ).
16. That ye--Translate, "That ye also," namely, in your turn . . . in return for their self-devotion [ALFORD].
17. Fortunatus . . . Achaicus--probably of Stephanas' household.
that . . . lacking on your part--So far as you were unable yourselves to "refresh my spirit," in that you are absent from me, "they have supplied" by coming to me from you, and so supplying the means of intercourse between you and me. They seem to have carried this letter back; see the subscription below: hence the exhortations, 1 Corinthians 16:16 1 Corinthians 16:18 , as though they would be at Corinth when the Epistle arrived.
18. refreshed my spirit and yours--"yours" will be refreshed on receiving this letter, by knowing that "my spirit is refreshed" by their having come to me from you; and (perhaps) by the good report they gave of many of you ( 1 Corinthians 1:4-8 ); my refreshment of spirit redounds to yours, as being my disciples ( 2 Corinthians 7:13 ; compare Zechariah 6:8 ).
acknowledge--render them due acknowledgments by a kind reception of them: 1 Thessalonians 5:12 , "know" them in their true worth and treat them accordingly.
19. Asia--not all Asia Minor, but Lydian Asia only, of which Ephesus was the capital.
much--with especial affection.
Aquila . . . Priscilla--(Compare Acts 18:2 , Romans 16:3 Romans 16:4 ). Originally driven out of Italy by Claudius, they had come to Corinth (whence their salutation of the Corinthians is appropriate here), and then had removed with Paul from Corinth to Ephesus ( Acts 18:2 Acts 18:18 Acts 18:19 Acts 18:26 ); here, as at Rome subsequently, they set up a Church (or assembly of believers) at their house ( Romans 16:3 Romans 16:5 ). A pattern to Christian husbands and wives. Their Christian self-devoting love appears wherever they were ( Romans 16:3 Romans 16:4 ). Even the gifted Apollos, so highly admired at Corinth, owed much of his. knowledge to them ( Acts 18:24-26 ). In 1 Corinthians 16:20 , "All the brethren" (that is, the whole Church) seem to be distinguished from "the church that is in their house," which was but a partial and private assembly out of the general Church at Corinth. NEANDER thinks Romans 16:23 refers to "the whole Church" meeting at the house of Gaius (compare Colossians 4:15 ). "Synagogue" implies an assembly in general, without reference to the character or motives of its members. "Church," like the Hebrew Kahal, implies an assembly legally convened; as, for instance, the Jews met as a body politic to receive the law (hence Stephen calls it "the Church in the wilderness," Acts 7:38 ), and having a legal bond of union. Christ's followers when dispersed from one another cease to be a congregation (synagogue), but still are a Church, having the common bond of union to the same Head by the same faith and hope [VITRINGA, Synagogue and Temple]. From this we may explain Paul's entering "into every house and haling men and women": he would in searching for Christians go to their several "houses"' of prayer.
in the Lord--They pray for all blessings on you from the Lord, the source of every good [GROTIUS]. ALFORD explains, "in a Christian manner," as mindful of your common Lord. "In the Lord" seems to me to refer to their union together in Christ, their prayers for one another's good being in virtue of that union.
20. holy kiss--the token of the mutual love of Christians, especially at the Lord's Supper (compare Romans 16:16 , 1 Thessalonians 5:26 ), "in which all the dissensions of the Corinthians would be swallowed up" [BENGEL].
21. salutation . . . with mine own hand--He therefore dictated all the rest of the Epistle.
22. A solemn closing warning added in his own hand as in Ephesians 6:24 , Colossians 4:18 .
the Lord--who ought to be "loved" above Paul, Apollos, and all other teachers. Love to one another is to be in connection with love to Him above all. IGNATIUS [Epistle to the Romans, 7] writes of Christ, "My love, has been crucified" (compare Solomon 2:7 ).
Jesus Christ--omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
let him be Anathema--accursed with that curse which the Jews who call Jesus "accursed" ( 1 Corinthians 12:3 ) are bringing righteously on their own heads [BENGEL]. So far from "saluting" him, I bid him be accursed.
Maranatha--Syriac for, "the Lord cometh." A motto or watchword to urge them to preparedness for the Lord's coming; as in Philippians 4:5 , "The Lord is at hand."
23. The grace, &c.--This is the salutation meant in 1 Corinthians 16:21 ; and from which unbelievers ( 1 Corinthians 16:22 ; compare 2 John 1:10:11 ) are excluded [BENGEL].
24. My love, &c.--After having administered some severe rebukes, he closes with expressions of "love": his very rebukes were prompted by love, and therefore are altogether in harmony with the profession of love here made: it was love in Christ Jesus, and therefore embraced "all" who loved Him.
The subscription represents the Epistle as written from Philippi. 1 Corinthians 16:8 shows it was written at Ephesus. BENGEL conjectures that perhaps, however, it was sent from Philippi ( 1 Corinthians 16:5 ), because the deputies of the Corinthians had accompanied Paul thither. From Ephesus there was a road to Corinth above Philippi.