1 Corinthians 16 Study Notes


16:1-4 Now about indicates that Paul is responding to a question, expressed to him in a previous letter (see 7:1 and note), about how to organize the collection for the Jerusalem church (2Co 8-9). The Corinthians had pleaded for the opportunity to contribute to the collection (2Co 8:4). Each person was to set . . . aside funds regularly for the collection, based on his ability to give. All the funds were eventually to be collected and sent in care of designated couriers. Paul personally would go with the couriers if it seemed advisable and the circumstances permitted.

16:5-9 Paul planned to go through Macedonia to Corinth (on his third missionary journey) and possibly to spend the winter at Corinth. He then expected the Corinthians to provide supplies for his journey when he left them. In the meantime, he intended to stay in Ephesus until May (the Jewish feast of Pentecost) because of the favorable response to the gospel in that city.

16:10-11 Paul gave instructions on how the Corinthian believers should receive Timothy. The word if (Gk ean) here is equivalent to “whenever.” Paul was certain Timothy was going to Corinth. Send him on his way in peace is idiomatic for “supply him with all he needs for the journey.”

16:12 Apollos, whose vital role in growing the Corinthian church Paul readily acknowledged (see 3:5-6 and note), was most likely unwilling to come now because of gospel duties elsewhere.

16:13-14 Believers must be alert about competing traditions of worldly wisdom and stand firm as one body in the faith. “Faith” here refers to the content of the gospel—Christ’s death and resurrection (15:1-5,14). Love confirms our submission to the Lord’s authority and to one another.

16:15-16 Paul exhorted the Corinthians to submit to the household of Stephanas (1:16). The term firstfruits is an honorific title referring to their early reception of the gospel in Achaia.

16:17-18 Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus visited Paul and made up for the Corinthians’ absence (lit “these filled up your lack”). Noting their high character and gifts for ministry, Paul instructed the believers at Corinth to recognize them.

16:20 In the context of Paul’s letters (Rm 16:16; 2Co 13:12; 1Th 5:26) and the early church, the holy kiss was a sign of mutual fellowship within the family of believers.

16:21 Paul concluded the letter in his own handwriting, verifying its authenticity and authority (Gl 6:11; Col 4:18; 2Th 3:16-18; Phm 19). By custom Paul spoke his correspondence aloud to a secretary (an amanuensis) who recorded his words on parchment or papyri (Rm 16:22). The signed autographic conclusion probably included 1Co 16:21-24.

16:22 The call for judgment on those who were disloyal to the Lord was an uncommon way to end a letter. The Aramaic Marana tha can be variously translated. The imperative “Our Lord, come!” seems best.

16:23-24 The letter ends with Paul’s formulaic “grace greeting,” followed by a personal touch (My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus) that is unique to this letter.