1 Corinthians 16:3
And when I come, whomsoever you shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality to Jerusalem.
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(3) Whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters.—Better, whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I send by letters to bring your gifts to Jerusalem. The Apostle had not made up his mind finally whether he would take the gift himself or send it by messengers, whom he would accredit with letters, to the Church at Jerusalem. He would probably be influenced by the amount collected, and by the urgency, or otherwise, of the needs of those at Jerusalem at the time. The Apostle was, in one sense, the humblest of men; but he valued highly the dignity of his apostolic office, and if but a very small sum were ready for the Church at Jerusalem, he would have felt it to be beneath the dignity of his office, though not of himself, to be the bearer of such an offering. The course finally adopted was that the Apostle went himself, and the selected brethren with him (Acts 21:15).

16:1-9 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 6:17,18. The diligent hand will not make rich, without the Divine blessing, Pr 10:4,22. 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, Jas 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.Whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters - There has been great variety of opinion in regard to the proper construction of this verse. Macknight supposes that the "letters" here referred to were not letters either to or from the apostle, but letters signed and sent by the congregation at Corinth, designating their appointment and their authority. With this interpretation Doddridge coincides; and this is required by the usual pointing of the Greektext, where the comma is inserted after the word letters, as in our translation. But a different interpretation has been proposed by inserting the comma after the word "approve," so that it shall read, "Whom you approve, or designate, them I will send with letters to convey your charity to Jerusalem." This is followed by Griesbach, Locke, Rosenmuller, Bloomfield, Beza, Hammond, Grotius, Whitby, etc. Certainly this accords better with the design of the passage. For it is evident (see 1 Corinthians 16:4) that, though Paul was willing to go, yet he was not expecting to go. If he did not go, what was more natural than that he should offer to give them letters of commendation to his brethren in Judea? Mill has doubted whether this construction is in accordance with Greek usage, but the names above cited are sufficient authority on that subject. The proper construction, therefore, is, that Paul would give them letters to his friends in Jerusalem, and certify their appointment to dispense the charity, and commend the persons sent to the favor and hospitality of the church there. "Your liberality." Margin, "Gift." Your donation; your alms. The Greek word χάριν charin, usually signifies grace, or favor. Here it means an act of grace or favor; kindness; a favor conferred; benefaction: compare 2 Corinthians 8:4, 2 Corinthians 8:6-7, 2 Corinthians 8:19. 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 (1Co 16:4) favors Grotius' view. So "by" means with (Ro 2:27); and the Greek for "by" is translated, with (2Co 2:4).

liberality—literally, gracious or free gift (2Co 8:4).

The word here translated liberality, is the same which signifieth grace; their charity is called by that name, either because it flowed from their free love towards their poor brethren, (though living at a great distance from them), or because their sense of the free love and grace of God to them, was that which moved them to that charitable act, 2 Corinthians 8:9. And when I come,.... To Corinth, as he intended very quickly:

whomsoever you shall approve by your letters; that is, such persons as this church should approve, and choose, and fix upon as proper persons to go with their collection; which approbation and choice they would signify by letters to the church, and principal men of it in Jerusalem, giving them a character as men of probity and faithfulness:

them will I send. The Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions join the phrase, "by letters", to this clause; according to which reading the sense is, such as the church should choose for this service, the apostle would send with letters of commendation from him, to the elders and church at Jerusalem, recommending them as brethren in the Lord, and to be had in respect, and treated in a Christian manner by them; to which their being messengers from such a church, and having letters from so great an apostle; besides, the business they should come about would entitle them to, which was

to bring your liberality, or "grace",

unto Jerusalem; meaning the money collected for the poor saints there; which he calls grace, because it was owing to the goodness of God, that they were in a capacity to contribute to others, and to the grace of God that they had a heart to do it; and because it was in a free and gracious manner, and in the exercise of grace, of faith in Christ, and love to the saints, that they did it, and with a view to the glory of the grace of God, of which this was a fruit and evidence.

And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your {c} letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

(c) Which you will give to them to carry.

1 Corinthians 16:3. Οὓς ἐὰν δοκιμ.] whomsoever you shall consider fit. Paul thus makes the appointment of the persons who were to bring the money dependent upon the choice of his readers; hence Grotius observes: “Vide, quomodo vir tantus nullam suspicioni rimam aperire voluerit.” It is possible, however, that he had never thought of that; for it was quite natural for him, with his fine practical tact, not to anticipate the givers as respects the transmission of their gift.

διʼ ἐπιστολῶν] by means of letters, by my giving them letters along with them to express their mission. Comp. Winer, p. 356 [E. T. 476]. The plural might denote the category (by way of letter), and thus only one letter be meant (Heumann); but there is nothing to compel us to depart from the plural sense, for Paul very reasonably might design to write different letters to several persons at Jerusalem.[104] Διʼ ἐπιστ. is to be connected with what follows (Chrysostom, Theophylact, and the majority of modern expositors), and it is put first, because Paul has already in his mind the other possible alternative, that he himself may make the journey. The majority of the older editors (except Er. Schmid), also Beza, Calvin, Estius, al., connect it with δοκιμ.: “quos Hierosolymitanis per epistolas commendaveritis,” Wetstein. But in that case the ΠΈΜΨΩ would surely be somewhat meaningless! No; the bearers of the collection are to be chosen by the givers; but it is Paul, as the originator and apostolically commissioned steward (Galatians 2:10) of the collection, who sends the mone.

τὴν χάριν ὑμ.] your love gift, beneficium. Comp. 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 8:6-7; 2 Corinthians 8:19. “Gratiosa appellatio,” Bengel; comp. Oecumenius; Xen. Ag. iv. 4 f., Hier. viii. 4; Sir 3:29; Sir 30:6; Sir 29:15; 4Ma 5:8.

[104] We see, too, from this passage how common it was for the apostle, in the course of his work, to indite letters even to individuals. Who knows how many of such writings of his have been lost! The only letter of the kind which we still have (setting aside the pastoral Epistles), that to Philemon, owes its preservation perhaps solely to the circumstance that it was addressed at the same time to the church in the house (Philemon 1:2).1 Corinthians 16:3-4. The Cor[2616] are to choose delegates to bear their bounty, who will travel to Jerus. with P., if this be deemed fit. Acts 20:1-4 shows that in the event a large number of representatives of Gentile Churches voyaged with P., doubtless on this common errand.—διʼ ἐπιστολῶν may qualify either δοκιμάσητε (Bz[2617], Cv[2618], Est., A.V. and R.V. txt., Ed[2619]) or πέμψω (R.V. marg., with Gr[2620] Ff[2621], and most moderns). Being chosen by the Cor[2622], the delegates surely must have credentials from them (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:1, and Acts 15, for such letters passing from Church to Church; also 1 Clem. ad Corinth.). At the same time, as P. is directing the whole business, he will “send” the deputies and introduce them at Jerus. On δοκιμάζω, see note to 1 Corinthians 3:13.—ἐὰν δὲ ἄξιον ᾖ κ.τ.λ., “But if it be worth while that I should journey too, they shall journey with me”—a hint that P. would only take part in presenting the collection if the character of the aid sent made it creditable; otherwise the delegates must go alone; he will not associate himself with a mean charity. The inf[2623] (in gen[2624] case), τοῦ κἀμὲ πορεύεσθαι, depends on ἄξιον—“worthy of my going,” “si dignum fuerit ut et ego earn” (Vg[2625]); it can hardly be softened into “if it be right (seemly on any ground: as in 2 Thessalonians 1:3, where ἄξιον is unqualified) that I should go” (Ed[2626])—as though the Ap. deprecated being obtrusive; he is guarding his self-respect, being scarcely sure of the liberality of the Cor[2627] “Justa estimatio sui non est superbia” (Bg[2628]).

[2616] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[2617] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[2618] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[2619] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[2620] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.


[2622] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[2623] infinitive mood.

[2624] genitive case.

[2625] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[2626] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[2627] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[2628] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.3. whomsoever you shall approve by your letters] The word your is not in the original. The passage may be translated in two ways; (1) as in the text, which follows Tyndale and the Vulgate, and supposes that St Paul would, immediately on his arrival at Corinth, send to Jerusalem those who had been previously nominated by the Corinthian Church, or (2), with Wiclif (I schal sende hem bi epistlis) and Chrysostom, taking ‘by letters,’ with ‘I will send,’ and referring the words to the letters of commendation (Acts 18:27; Romans 16:1; 2 Corinthians 3:1) St Paul intended to give to the bearers of the Corinthian relief fund. It is worthy of notice, (1) that while on matters of grave import St Paul gives authoritative directions to his converts, on matters of lesser consequence he prefers that they should govern themselves, and (2) that as Chrysostom remarks, St Paul is especially anxious not to take charge of the money himself, lest he should be charged with having devoted any of it to his own use. See ch. 1 Corinthians 9:18-19; 2 Corinthians 11:7-9; 2 Corinthians 12:16-18.

liberality] Literally, grace. “He studiously refrains from using the word alms.”—Estius.1 Corinthians 16:3. Οὓς ἂν δοκιμάσητε) whomsoever, when I am present, you shall approve, as faithful.—διʼ ἐπιστολῶν τούτους πέμψω, them will I send with letters) in your name. The antithesis is, Paul himself, 1 Corinthians 16:4 : comp. διὰ, Romans 2:27; 2 Corinthians 2:4.—τὴν χαρίν ὑμῶν, your liberality) a gracious term, and therefore frequently employed.—2 Corinthians 8:4.Verse 3. - Whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send. It is difficult to see why the translators rendered the clause thus, unless they disliked to face the certainty that the apostle must have written many letters which are no longer extant. The true rendering is, Whomsoever ye approve, these I will send with letters. The letters would be letters of introduction or commendation (Acts 18:27; Romans 16:1; 2 Corinthians 3:1) to the apostles at Jerusalem. Your liberality; literally, your grace or favour; i.e. the token of your voluntary affection. Approve by your letters

So A.V. and Rev. Others, however, connect by letters with will I send, making the letters to be Paul's introduction to the church at Jerusalem. The latter is preferable. The givers are to choose the bearers of the collection; Paul, as the originator and apostolic steward of the collection, will send the money.

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