1 Corinthians 16
Pulpit Commentary
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
Verses 1-18. - Directions and arrangements. Verse 1. - Now concerning the collection for the saints. "The saints" are here the poor Christians at Jerusalem (Romans 15:26). The subject weighed much on St. Paul's mind. First, there was real need for their charity, for at Jerusalem there was as sharp a contrast between the lots of the rich and poor as there is in London, and the "poor saints," being the poorest of the poor (James 2:5), must have often been in deep distress. Not many years before this time, in the famine of Claudius, (Acts 11:27-30), Queen Helena of Adiabene had kept the paupers of Jerusalem alive by importing cargoes of dried grapes and figs. Besides the periodical famines, the political troubles of Judaea had recently increased the general distress. Secondly, the tender heart of St. Paul was keenly alive to this distress. Thirdly, it was the only way in which the Gentile Churches could show their gratitude to the mother Church. Lastly, the Apostle St. Paul had solemnly promised the apostles at Jerusalem that he would remember the poor (Galatians 2:10). Hence he frequently alludes to this collection (2 Corinthians 8, 9 Romans 15:26; Acts 24:17, etc.). The enthusiastic communism of the earliest Christian society in Jerusalem had soon ceased, being, as all experience proves, an impossible experiment under the conditions which regulate all human life, and it may have aggravated the chronic distress. As I have given order; rather, as I arranged. To the Churches of Galatia. Not in his extant letter to the Galatians, but either in a visit three years before this time (Acts 18:28), or by letter. It appears from 2 Corinthians 8:10 that St. Paul had already asked for the contributions of the Corinthians. "To the Corinthians he proposes the example of the Galatians; to the Macedonians the example of the Corinthians; to the Romans that of the Macedonians and Corinthians. Great is the power of example" (Bengel). Even so do ye. The aorist implies that they should do it at once.
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
Verse 2. - Upon the first day of the week. This verse can hardly be said to imply any religious observance of the Sunday, which rests rather on Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10; John 20:19, 26. Lay by him in store. The Greek phrase implies that the laying up was done at home, but when the money was accumulated, it was doubtless brought to the assembly and handed over to the presbyters. As God hath prospered him; rather, whatsoever he has been prospered in; i.e. all that his prosperity may permit. That there be no gatherings when I come; rather, that, when I come, there may then be no collections. When he came he did not wish his attention to be absorbed in serving tables.
And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.
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.
And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.
Verse 4. - If it be meet that I go also. Unless the collection were a substantial proof of the generosity of the Gentile Churches, it would be hardly worth while (ἄξιον) for St. Paul to go too. With me. St. Paul would not take this money himself. His "religious" enemies were many, bitter, and unscrupulous, and he would give them no possibility of a handle against him. He makes such arrangements as should place him above suspicion (2 Corinthians 8:20). It turned out that the subscription was an adequate one, and St. Paul accompanied the Corinthian delegates (Romans 15:25; Acts 20:4). The thought that they might visit Jerusalem and see some of the twelve would act as an incentive to the Corinthians.
Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.
Verse 5. - When I shall pass through Macedonia; rather, when 1 have passed through Macedonia. For I do pass through Macedonia; rather, for 1 mean to pass through Macedonia. We learn from 2 Corinthians 1:15, 16, that it had been St. Paul's intention to sail from Ephesus to Corinth, thence, after a brief stay, to proceed to Macedonia, and on his return to come again for a longer stay at Corinth on his way to Judaea. He had in an Epistle, now lost (see 1 Corinthians 5:9), announced to them this intention, he changed his plan because, in the present disgraceful state of disorganization into which the Church had fallen, he felt that he could not visit them without being compelled to exercise a severity which, he hoped, might be obviated by writing to them and delaying his intended visit. Nothing but his usual delicacy and desire to spare them prevented him from stating all this more fully (2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 2:1). Mistaking the kindness of his purpose, the Corinthians accused him of levity. He defends himself from this charge in the Second Epistle, and he carried out the plan which he here announces (2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Corinthians 9:2, 4; 2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1).
And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.
Verse 6. - Yea, and winter with you. This he did (Acts 20:3-6). That ye may bring me on my journey. The "ye" is emphatic. The acceptance of this favour at their hands was a proof of affection. It was the custom in ancient days to accompany a departing guest for a short distance (Romans 15:24; Acts 15:3; Acts 17:15). Whithersoever I go. St. Paul well knew that some uncertainty must attach to his plans. As it was, he had to change his plan at the last moment. He had meant to sail from Corinth, but, owing to a plot to assassinate him, he was obliged to go overland round by Macedonia (Acts 20:3). Ver. 7 - For I will not see you now by the way; rather, I do not wish to pay you a cursory visit now, as I had originally meant to do. If the Lord permit. The Christians made a rule of adding these phrases in sign of dependence upon God (2 Corinthians 4:19; Acts 18:1; James 4:15; Hebrews 6:3).
For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.
But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
Verse 8. - I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. It is possible that this intention was frustrated by the riot stirred up by the silversmiths (Acts 19:23-41). But, in any case, he stayed at Ephesus nearly as long as he intended, for the riot only occurred when he was already preparing to leave (Acts 19:21, 22).
For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.
Verse 9. - A great door and effectual. A wide and promising opportunity for winning souls to God. The metaphor of "a door," perhaps suggested by our Lord himself, was common among Christians (2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3; Acts 14:27; Revelation 3:8). Many adversaries (Acts 19:1, 8, 9, 19, 20).
Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.
Verse 10. - Now if Timotheus come. St. Paul bad already sent on Timothy (2 Corinthians 4:17), with Erastus (Acts 19:22), to go to Corinth by way of Macedonia, and prepare for his visit. But possibly he had countermanded these directions when he postponed his own visit. In the uncertainties of ancient travelling, be could not be certain whether his counter order would reach Timothy or not. It appears to have done so, for nothing is said of any visit of Timothy to Corinth, and St. Paul sent Titus. Without fear. Timothy must at this time have been very young (1 Timothy 4:12). As a mere substitute for St. Paul's personal visit, he would be unacceptable. In every allusion to him we find traces of a somewhat timid and sensitive disposition (1 Timothy 5:21-23; 2 Timothy 1:6-8, etc.). He may well, therefore, have shrunk from the thought of meeting the haughty sophisters and disputatious partisans of Corinth. As I also do. "As a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel" (Philippians 2:22). St. Paul felt for Timothy a deeper personal tenderness than for any of his other friends, and the companionship of this gentle and devoted youth was one of the chief comforts of his missionary labour.
Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.
Verse 11. - Let no man therefore despise him. His youth and modesty seemed to invite a contempt which was only too consonant with the character of the Corinthians. I look for him with the brethren. There was a reason for adding this. The Corinthians would see that any unkindness or contempt shown towards Timothy would at once be reported to St. Paul. Who "the brethren" are is not mentioned, for in Acts 19:22 we are only told that Timothy was accompanied by Erastus. Perhaps St. Paul means with the brethren who conveyed this letter (see ver. 12), and who, as he supposed, would meet with Timothy at Corinth, or fall in with him on their return to meet St. Paul in Macedonia. One of these brethren must have been Titus (2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:6, 7), and there were two others.
As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.
Verse 12. - As touching our brother Apollos; rather, but as touching Apollos, the brother. It seems clear from this that the Corinthians, in their letter, had requested that this eloquent and favourite teacher might be sent to them. I greatly desired him to come unto you; rather, I besought him much. There were at Corinth persons malignant enough to have suggested that Paul had refused their request; that he would not send Apollos to them out of jealousy of Apollos's superior oratory, and of the party which assumed his name. St. Paul anticipated this sneer. His nature was much too noble to feel the least jealousy. Both he and Apollos here show themselves in the purest light. His will; literally, there was not will. The word "will" most frequently means "the will of God," but if that had been the meaning here, the word would have had the article. It is used of human will in 1 Corinthians 7:37; Ephesians 2:3; 2 Peter 1:21. Here it means that Apollos had decided not to come at present, obviously because his name had been abused for purposes of party faction (1 Corinthians 3:5). This was all the more noble on his part because he seems to have been a special friend of Titus (Titus 3:13). St. Paul would gladly have sent his two ablest and most energetic disciples to this distracted Church. When he shall have convenient time; rather, when a good opportunity offers itself to him. Whether Apollos ever revisited Corinth or not we do not know.
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
Verse 13. - Watch, etc. The brief impetuous imperatives show a sudden burst of emotion as he draws to a close. The next clause seems like an after-thought. Watchfulness (1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 3:2; Revelation 16:15), steadfastness (Philippians 1:27), and strength (Ephesians 6:10; Colossians 1:11; 2 Timothy 2:1), and love (1 Corinthians 13; 1 Peter 4:8, etc.) were frequent subjects of Christian exhortation. The verb which expresses Christian manliness ("Play the men!") occurs here only. It is found in the LXX. of Joshua 1:6. They needed, as Chrysostom says, all these exhortations, for they were, in Christian matters, drowsy, unstable, effeminate, and factions.
Let all your things be done with charity.
Verse 14. - Let all your things be done with charity; rather, as in the Revised Version, Let all that ye do be done in love. This is equivalent to the "Above all things, have fervent love among yourselves," of l Peter 4:8.
I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
Verse 15. - Ye know the house of Stephanas. This paragraph seems to have been written lest the Corinthians should be angry with Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus - who, perhaps, were slaves of the household of Chloe - for having carried to St. Paul their ill report (1 Corinthians 1:11). The firstfruits of Achaia. For which reason St. Paul had baptized Stephanas and his house (1 Corinthians 1:16). In Romans 16:5 Epaenetus is called "the firstfruits of Achaia," but there the reading ought to be, of Asia. Have addicted themselves; rather, they set themselves.
That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.
Verse 16. - That ye submit yourselves unto such. Slaves though they may be in earthly rank, recognize their Christian authority as good men and women (see Ephesians 5:21; 1 Timothy 5:17). The verb used for" submit yourselves," or, "set yourselves under," is the same as in the previous verse.
I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.
Verse 17. - Of the coming; rather, at the presence of. They were now with St. Paul in Ephesus. Fortunatus. A Christian of this name also carried the letter of St. Clement to Corinth. That which was lacking on your part. This sounds like a reproach in the Authorized Version, but is quite the reverse. It should be rendered, the void caused by your absence. The same word occurs in 2 Corinthians 8:13, 14; 2 Corinthians 9:12; 2 Corinthians 11:9, etc. The nearest parallel to the usage here is Philippians 2:30.
For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.
Verse 18. - My spirit and yours. They refreshed my spirit by telling me all about you, sad though much of the news was; and yours by this renewal of our mutual intercourse (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:13).
The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
Verses 19-24. - Salutations and autograph conclusion. Verse 19. - The Churches of Asia. Proconsular Asia. There was a constant interchange of voyages between the western coast of Asia and Corinth. Aquila and Priscilla. This admirable Christian husband and wife had no small share in founding the Churches both of Corinth and Ephesus. Being St. Paul's partners in trade, he spent much time with them. (For all that is known of them. see Acts 18:1, 2, 26; Romans 16:3, 5.) Priscilla. Most of the uncials have the shorter form, Prisca. In some manuscripts (D, E, F, G) and versions (e.g. the Vulgate) we find the addition, "with whom also I am lodging." The Church that is in their house. The time for large common churches for public worship had not yet arrived, Hence, when the Christian community numbered more than could meet in one place, the congregations were held in separate houses (Romans 16:4, 15; Acts 2:46; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2).
All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.
Verse 20. - All the brethren. The Ephesian Church in general. With an holy kiss. The kiss of peace is mentioned in Romans 16:16; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Peter 5:14. It was a sign of the reconciliation of all dissensions. But the abuse of the practice and the hideous heathen calumnies which it helped to perpetuate, led to its abolition. In the Roman Church a shadow of it still remains in the custom of the congregation kissing the pax after the priest has kissed it. The custom still continues in the Christos voscress of Easter Day in the Greek Church, when -

" See! the bearded faces kiss each other:
Every Russian Christian loves his brother.
Serf or noble, each today may claim
Friendly kiss in that all friendly Name."
The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.
Verse 21. - With mine own hand. Every one of St. Paul's Epistles, except that to the Galatians (Galatians 6:11), seems to have been written by an amanuensis. The blaze of light in the vision on the road to Damascus seems to have left him with acute and permanent ophthalmia as his "thorn in the flesh;" and this would naturally disincline him to the physical labour of writing. When he did write, his letters seem to have been large and straggling (Galatians 6:11), But this was an age in which documents were frequently falsified by designing persons, and this seems to have happened to St. Paul after he had written his very first extant letter. After warning the Thessalonians not to be frightened "by epistle as from us" (2 Thessalonians 2:2), he adds, at the close of the letter, that henceforth he intends to authenticate every letter by an autograph salutation (2 Thessalonians 3:17; Colossians 4:18; Romans 16:22). To this bad and dangerous practice of forgery is due the energetic appeal of Revelation 22:18, 19. A similar appeal to copyists, couched in the most solemn language, is found in Irenaeus ('Opp.,' 1:821, edit. Stieren), and at the end of Rufinus's prologue to his translation of Origen's 'De Principiis.'
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.
Verse 22. - If any man love not, etc. This sentence (as in Colossians 4:18; Ephesians 6:24) is part of the autograph salutation. The verb here used for "love" (philo) was perhaps suggested by the word for "kiss" (philema). The word generally used for "love of God" is agapae (Ephesians 6:24), which implies less warmth, but deeper reverence. But this passage is full of emotion. Let him be Anathema. The word only occurs elsewhere in 1 Corinthians 12:3; Acts 23:13; Romans 9:3; Galatians 1:8, 9 (comp. Matthew 26:74, "to curse"). It is the equivalent of the Hebrew cherem, a ban (Leviticus 27:29; Joshua 6:17, etc.). I cannot pretend to understand what St. Paul means by it, unless it be "Let personal love to Christ be the essential of Christian fellowship, and let him who has it not be regarded as apart from the Church." Commentators call it "an imprecation," or "malediction," and say that it means "Let him be devoted to God's wrath and judgment." That language is, indeed, very like the language of religious hatred and religious usurpation in all ages, but it is the very antithesis to the general tone of the apostle. If this were the meaning, it would seem to resemble the very spirit which Christ himself severely rebuked as the Elijah spirit, not the Christ spirit. But I do not believe that, even in a passing outburst of strong emotion, St. Paul had any such meaning. For

(1) the Jews used cherem, not only of the severer form of excommunication (shem atha), but even of the milder and by no means severe temporary form (nidui); and

(2) it cannot be more severe than "handing over to Satan" (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20), which was merciful in its purpose. Maran-atha; two words, the Lord cometh; like the Jewish shem atha, "the Name cometh," or, "the Lord comes." It seems to be an appeal to the judgment of Christ, and may possibly have been an allusion to Malachi 4:6, the words with which the Old Testament ends (see Jude 1:14, 15).
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Verse 23. - The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. This is a gnorisma, or "badge of confidence," which, in one or other of its forms, is found at the end of all St. Paul's Epistles. Here it is the same as in 1 Thessalonians 5:28. "With you all" is added in 2 Thessalonians 3:18; Romans 16:24; Philippians 4:23. In Galatians and Philemon we have "with your spirit." In the pastoral Epistles and Colossians, "Peace be with you." In Ephesians 6:24 it is confined to those "who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity." In 2 Corinthians 13:14 alone we have the full "apostolic benediction."
My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Verse 24. - My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Added as a last proof that, if he has written in severity, he has also written in love. Amen. Perhaps genuine, though omitted by B, F, G. The superscription to the Epistle, rightly omitted in the Revised Version, does not possess the smallest authority, and is absolutely erroneous. It contains two positive misstatements, which show with what utter carelessness these superscriptions were written in the later manuscripts. The Epistle was not written from Philippi (a mere mistaken inference from 1 Corinthians 16:5), but from Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8), and was not conveyed by Timotheus.

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