Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
Today’s reading is taken from the last chapter of Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. In this passage, Paul provides some teaching concerning offerings and offers final instructions and salutations.
Reading: I Corinthians 16
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
2 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.
This is where we get the tradition of churches collecting tithes and offerings on Sundays. The purpose of this, as Paul lays it out, is so that each man gives as he can out of the early excess that they possess when Paul is not there. Then, when the time comes for Paul to collect the tithes, his presence does not cause men to either give more or less than they have decided in their hearts to give.
According to this model, no church ought to perform special drives to help this cause or that. As each man has decided in his heart to give, that should he give, and the Lord will make it enough.
3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.
4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.
This is particular logistics for this particular collection, and as such has little for us.
5 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.
6 And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.
7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.
Paul, as all apostles and true ministers, desires to spend time with the brethren as often as he might. However, he acknowledges that the desires of the Lord trump any man-made plans, so he expresses merely hope and desire.
8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
The Pentecost, as we know, is the date 50 days after that day in which Christ was crucified and rose from the dead. It is about one week after Jesus ascended into Heaven, and it is the date on which the Holy Spirit came to the apostles and those gathered with them. For more details, consult the book of Acts.
9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.
This is the way of our work. God gives us great opportunities to do his work, but the enemy strives to undermine wherever he might.
10 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.
11 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.
Timothy is Paul’s apprentice and something of a surrogate son. He often struggled in the ministry, because many saw him as a youth instead of as a minister of the Lord. Paul’s letters to Timothy are excellent instruction and should be required reading for all young Christians.
12 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.
Apollo is mentioned in several of Paul’s letters. All we know with certainty is that he was a great minister and preacher who baptised many. And, of course, as he has a Greek name, it makes sense that he was a Greek spreading the gospel to the Greeks and Romans.
I wish we had more information on this apparantly great man of God. Alas, it is not meant to be.
13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
This direction is good for all men of every age. For there are the virtues (literally: the manly things) that are good and right for all men to embrace and demonstrate. Among these things is the courage and strength to defend his people and his faith. Any Christian man who does not present such virtues may be Christian, but is hardly a man.
14 Let all your things be done with charity.
Recall chapter 13, which revolved around the topic of charity (Agape Love). Study it fully, and live in accordance with those principles.
15 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,)
16 That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.
Worship is not something you do for 45 minutes in a church. Worship is service to God. Therefore, go forth and do good deeds which God has prepared in advance for us todo.
17 I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.
18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.
19 The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
20 All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.
The brethren are brethren regardless of location or denomination. It is good that we commune and greet one another as such.
Further, Paul speaks often of the holy kiss. I’m sure many churches have had traditions related to these passages, but fundamentally it is a show of comradery and communion with one another and with the Lord. At bare minimum, we ought to greet one another warmly and in good spirits, as brothers and sisters.
21 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.
22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.
Anathema marantha – “Cursed because the Lord is coming.” As such, we ought to view those who are without Christ with a mixture of pity and gentle disdain – for their teachings may be of some benefit in this world, but they will avail them nothing when Christ comes again.
23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
This is how we ought to bless one another daily. For this reason, I begin and end each of my posts with blessings – that you might be filled with the Spirit and know the love which God has for you, which I seek to reflect.
Let us Pray
Praise be to the Almighty God, the Father who has created and sustains all things. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Father, we thank you for the teachings which you have given us by way of the Apostle Paul. Let his words dwell in us richly, for he was sent in Your name and bore Your message. Teach us how to meditate upon his counsel, and show us what we might learn each day.
Grant us once more the fellowship of Christ, which is given to us by the Holy Spirit. Let us go forth boldly, greeting our brethren as true brothers in Christ, and let us continue to do those good works which you have prepared for us to do.
We ask all these things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who being one person with God, did not think it robbery or wrong to be equal with the Father, but made himself nothing for our sakes, and humbled himself to death on the cross. To Him be all praise and honor from now until eternity.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever,