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.
This chapter concludes the epistle, with some directions to the Corinthians concerning a collection for the poor saints; with some intimations of himself, Timothy, and Apollos coming to them, and giving them a visit; with exhortations to watchfulness, constancy, courage, and charity; with recommendations of some persons to them mentioned by name; with divers salutations of them by himself and others; and with his good wishes for them. He urges them to make a collection for the poor saints, from the example of the churches of Galatia, according to his order, 1Co 16:1. He points out the time when he would have it made, on the first day of the week; and the persons that should contribute to it, every member of the church; and the act of distribution, by laying up in store; and the manner, measure, and rule of doing it, according as they were blessed in Providence with temporal things; and the end of it, that there might be no collections to make when the apostle should come among them, 1Co 16:2 and this, when made, and being ready at his coming, he proposes to send to Jerusalem, by persons approved of and recommended by them, 1Co 16:3 and that he would also go along with them, should it be thought fit and proper, 1Co 16:4. He signifies his resolution of coming and paying them a visit, when he should pass through Macedonia, 1Co 16:5 when he had some thoughts of tarrying with them for a while, at least throughout the winter season, 1Co 16:6 in all which he submits to the will of God, 1Co 16:7. The reason why he could not come as yet was, because he had determined to stay at Ephesus till Pentecost, where he now was, 1Co 16:8 and what prevailed upon him to stay there was, because there was an opportunity of preaching the Gospel with a prospect of success; and there were many enemies to hinder it all they could, and therefore the apostle's presence seemed necessary, 1Co 16:9. He intimates, that Timothy would come to them shortly, and exhorts them to take care of him, and carry it respectfully to him; giving this as a reason, because he was engaged in the same work of the Lord he himself was, 1Co 16:10. He enjoins them, that whilst he should continue with them they would not despise him on account of his youth; and when he should depart from them, to conduct him in peace to him who was in expectation of him, along with other brethren, 1Co 16:11 and then he excuses Apollos not coming to them at present; and observes, that it was not for want of entreaty in him, but for want of will in Apollos, who notwithstanding would come when a convenient time should offer, 1Co 16:12. Next follow several exhortations to be upon their watch and guard, to be steadfast in the doctrine, grace, and profession of faith, and to behave themselves like men of a truly Christian spirit and courage, and to do everything in their church state in the exercise of the grace of love, 1Co 16:13,14 and then he recommends unto them the family of Stephanas, and exhorts them to have them in respect and reverence, and be subject to such, and particularly that family; partly because they were the firstfruits of his ministry, in those parts; and partly because they had given up themselves to the ministry of the saints, 1Co 16:15,16 as also because the coming of Stephanas to him, together with two other persons, named Fortunatus and Achaicus, had made him glad; supplied what was lacking in them; had refreshed his spirit and theirs; and therefore should be took notice of, and respectfully used, 1Co 16:17,18. And then follow various salutations, first of the churches of Asia in general, then of Aquila and Priscilla, and the church in their house, 1Co 16:19. Next of all the brethren at Ephesus, or that were with the apostle, 1Co 16:20 and last of all of the apostle himself, 1Co 16:21. And the chapter is closed with several wishes of different sorts, and which respect different persons; those that love not Christ, and live and die so, he wishes they may be accursed at the coming of the Lord, as they will be; and which is mentioned to deter professors of religion from everything that looked like want of love to Christ, whom they professed, 1Co 16:22 as for others, even as many as loved Christ, and which he hoped of them all, he wishes the grace of Christ might be with them, 1Co 16:23 and gives his love to them all, without any distinction; and which is to be understood not of a natural, but spiritual affection, it being in Christ, and for his sake, 1Co 16:24.