1 Corinthians 16
In this chapter the apostle,
I. Gives directions about some charitable collection to be made in this
church, for the afflicted and impoverished churches in Judea,
1 Corinthians 16:1-4.
II. He talks of paying them a visit,
1 Corinthians 16:5-9.
III. He recommends Timothy to them, and tells them Apollos intended to
come to them,
1 Corinthians 16:10-12.
IV. He presses them to watchfulness, constancy, charity, and to pay a
due regard to all who helped him and his fellow-labourers in their work,
1 Corinthians 16:13-19.
V. After salutations from others, and his own, he closes the epistle
with a solemn admonition to them, and his good wishes for them,
1 Corinthians 16:20-24.
|Contributions for the Poor.
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1 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.
3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your
letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto
4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.
In this chapter Paul closes this long epistle with some particular
matters of less moment; but, as all was written by divine inspiration,
it is all profitable for our instruction. He begins with directing them
about a charitable collection on a particular occasion, the distresses
and poverty of Christians in Judea, which at this time were
extraordinary, partly through the general calamities of that nation and
partly through the particular sufferings to which they were exposed.
Now concerning this observe,
I. How he introduces his direction. It was not a peculiar service which
he required of them; he had given similar orders to the churches of
1 Corinthians 16:1.
He desired them only to conform to the same rules which he had given to
other churches on a similar occasion. He did not desire that others
should be eased and they burdened,
2 Corinthians 8:13.
He also prudently mentions these orders of his to the churches of
Galatia, to excite emulation, and stir them up to be liberal, according
to their circumstances, and the occasion. Those who exceeded most
churches in spiritual gifts, and, as it is probable, in worldly wealth
(see the argument), surely would not suffer themselves to come behind
any in their bounty to their afflicted brethren. Note, The good
examples of other Christians and churches should excite in us a holy
emulation. It is becoming a Christian not to bear to be outdone by a
fellow-christian in any thing virtuous and praise-worthy, provided this
consideration only makes him exert himself, not envy others; and the
more advantages we have above others the more should we endeavour to
exceed them. The church of Corinth should not be outdone in this
service of love by the churches of Galatia, which do not appear to have
been enriched with equal spiritual gifts nor outward ability.
II. The direction itself, concerning which observe,
1. The manner in which the collection was to be made: Every one was
to lay by in store
(1 Corinthians 16:2),
have a treasury, or fund, with himself, for this purpose. The meaning
is that he should lay by as he could spare from time to time, and by
this means make up a sum for this charitable purpose. Note, It is a
good thing to lay up in store for good uses. Those who are rich in this
world should be rich in good works,
1 Timothy 6:17,18.
The best way to be so is to appropriate of their income, and have a
treasury for this purpose, a stock for the poor as well as for
themselves. By this means they will be ready to every good work as the
opportunity offers; and many who labour with their own hands for a
livelihood should so work that they may have to give to him that
Indeed their treasury for good works can never be very large (though,
according to circumstances, it may considerably vary); but the best way
in the world for them to get a treasury for this purpose is to lay by
from time to time, as they can afford. Some of the Greek fathers
rightly observe here that this advice was given for the sake of the
poorer among them. They were to lay by from week to week, and not
bring in to the common treasury, that by this means their contributions
might be easy to themselves, and yet grow into a fund for the relief of
their brethren. "Every little," as the proverb says, "would make a
mickle." Indeed all our charity and benevolence should be free and
cheerful, and for that reason should be made as easy to ourselves as
may be. And what more likely way to make us easy in this matter than
thus to lay by? We may cheerfully give when we know that we can spare,
and that we have been laying by in store that we may.
2. Here is the measure in which they are to lay by: As God hath
prospered them; ti an euodotai, as he has been
prospered, namely, by divine Providence, as God has been pleased to
bless and succeed his labours and business. Note, All our business and
labour are that to us which God is pleased to make them. It is not the
diligent hand that will make rich by itself, without the divine
Our prosperity and success are from God and not from ourselves; and he
is to be owned in all and honoured with all. It is his bounty and
blessing to which we owe all we have; and whatever we have is to be
used, and employed, and improved, for him. His right to ourselves and
all that is ours is to be owned and yielded to him. And what argument
more proper to excite us to charity to the people and children of God
than to consider all we have as his gift, as coming from him? Note,
When God blesses and prospers us, we should be ready to relieve and
comfort his needy servants; when his bounty flows forth upon us, we
should not confine it to ourselves, but let it stream out to others.
The good we receive from him should stir us up to do good to others, to
resemble him in our beneficence; and therefore the more good we receive
from God the more we should do good to others. They were to lay by as
God had blessed them, in that proportion. The more they had, through
God's blessing, gained by their business or labour, their traffic or
work, the more they were to lay by. Note, God expects that our
beneficence to others should hold some proportion to his bounty to us.
All we have is from God; the more he gives (circumstances being
considered), the more he enables us to give, and the more he expects we
should give, that we should give more than others who are less able,
that we should give more than ourselves when we were less able. And, on
the other hand, from him to whom God gives less he expects less. He is
no tyrant nor cruel taskmaster, to exact brick without straw, or expect
men shall do more good than he gives ability. Note, Where there is a
willing mind he accepts according to what a man hath, and not according
to what he hath not
(2 Corinthians 8:12);
but as he prospers and blesses us, and puts us in a capacity to do
good, he expects we should. The greater ability he gives, the more
enlarged should our hearts be, and the more open our hands; but, where
the ability is less, the hands cannot be as open, however willing the
mind and however large the heart; nor does God expect it.
3. Here is the time when this is to be done: The first day of the
week, kata mian sabbaton
the Lord's day, the Christian holiday, when public assemblies were held
and public worship was celebrated, and the Christian institutions and
mysteries (as the ancients called them) were attended upon; then let
every one lay by him. It is a day of holy rest; and the more vacation
the mind has from worldly cares and toils the more disposition has it
to show mercy: and the other duties of the day should stir us up to the
performance of this; works of charity should always accompany works of
piety. True piety towards God will beget kind and friendly dispositions
towards men. This commandment have we from him that he who loveth
God love his brother also,
1 John 4:21.
Works of mercy are the genuine fruits of true love to God, and
therefore are a proper service on his own day. Note, God's day is a
proper season on which to lay up for charitable uses, or lay out in
them, according as he has prospered us; it is paying tribute for the
blessings of the past week, and it is a proper way to procure his
blessing on the work of our hands for the next.
4. We have here the disposal of the collections thus made: the apostle
would have every thing ready against he came, and therefore gave
direction as before: That there be no gatherings when I come,
1 Corinthians 16:2.
But, when he came, as to the disposal of it, he would leave it much to
themselves. The charity was theirs, and it was fit they should dispose
of it in their own way, so it answered its end, and was applied to the
right use. Paul no more pretended to lord it over the purses of his
hearers than over their faith; he would not meddle with their
contributions without their consent.
(1.) He tells them that they should give letters of credence, and send
messengers of their own with their liberality,
1 Corinthians 16:3.
This would be a proper testimony of their respect and brotherly love to
their distressed brethren, to send their gift by members of their own
body, trusty and tenderhearted, who would have compassion on their
suffering brethren, and a Christian concern for them, and not defraud
them. It would argue that they were very hearty in this service, when
they should send some of their own body on so long and hazardous a
journey or voyage, to convey their liberality. Note, We should not
only charitably relieve our poor fellow-christians but do it in such a
way as will best signify our compassion to them and care of them.
(2.) He offers to go with their messengers, if they think proper,
1 Corinthians 16:4.
His business, as an apostle, was not to serve tables, but to give
himself to the word and prayer; yet he was never wanting to set on
foot, or help forward, a work of charity, when an opportunity offered.
He would go to Jerusalem, to carry the contributions of the church at
Corinth to their suffering brethren, rather than they should go without
them, or the charity of the Corinthians fail of a due effect. It was no
hindrance to his preaching work, but a great furtherance to the success
of it, to show such a tender and benign disposition of mind. Note,
Ministers are doing their proper business when they are promoting or
helping in works of charity. Paul stirs up the Corinthians to gather
for the relief of the churches in Judea, and he is ready to go with
their messengers, to convey what is gathered; and he is still in the
way of his duty, in the business of his office.
|Paul Promises to Visit Corinth.
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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.
8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there
are many adversaries.
In this passage the apostle notifies and explains his purpose of
visiting them, concerning which, observe,
1. His purpose: he intended to pass out of Asia, where he now was
1 Corinthians 16:8,19)
and to go through Macedonia into Achaia, where Corinth was, and to stay
some time with them, and perhaps the winter,
1 Corinthians 16:5,6.
He had long laboured in this church, and done much good among them, and
had his heart set upon doing much more (if God saw fit), and therefore
he had it in his thoughts to see them, and stay with them. Note, The
heart of a truly Christian minister must be much towards that people
among whom he has long laboured, and with remarkable success. No wonder
that Paul was willing to see Corinth and stay with them as long as the
other duties of his office would permit. Though some among this people
despised him, and made a faction against him, doubtless there were many
who loved him tenderly, and paid him all the respect due to an apostle
and their spiritual father. And is it any wonder that he should be
willing to visit them, and stay with them? And as to the rest, who now
manifested great disrespect, he might hope to reduce them to a better
temper, and thereby rectify what was out of order in the church, by
staying among them for some time. It is plain that he hoped for some
good effect, because he says he intended to stay, that they might
bring him on his journey whithersoever he went
(1 Corinthians 16:6);
not that they might accompany him a little way on the road, but
expedite and furnish him for his journey, help and encourage him to it,
and provide him for it. He is to be understood of being brought
forward in his journey after a godly sort (as it is expressed,
3 John 6),
so that nothing might be wanting to him, as he himself speaks,
His stay among them, he hoped, would cure their factious humour, and
reconcile them to himself and their duty. Note, It was a just reason
for an apostle to make his abode in a place that he had a prospect of
2. His excuse for not seeing them now, because it would be only by
(1 Corinthians 16:7),
en parodo--in transitu--en passant: it would
only be a transient visit. He would not see them because he could
not stay with them. Such a visit would give neither him nor them any
satisfaction or advantage; it would rather raise the appetite than
regale it, rather heighten their desires of being together than satisfy
them. He loved them so much that he longed for an opportunity to stay
with them, take up his abode among them for some length of time. This
would be more pleasing to himself, and more serviceable to them, than a
cursory visit in his way; and therefore he would not see them now, but
another time, when he could tarry longer.
3. We have the limitation of this purpose: I trust to tarry awhile
with you, if the Lord permit,
1 Corinthians 16:7.
Though the apostles wrote under inspiration, they did not know thereby
how God would dispose of them. Paul had a purpose of coming to
Corinth, and staying there, and hoped to do good thereby. This was not
a purpose proceeding from any extraordinary motion or impulse of the
Spirit of God; it was not the effect of inspiration; for had it been
such he could not have spoken of it in this manner. A purpose formed
thus in him must have been the purpose of God, signified to him by his
Spirit; and could he say he would come to Corinth upon this view only,
if God permit, that is, that he would execute God's own purpose
concerning himself, with God's permission? It is to be understood then
of a common purpose, formed in his own spirit. And concerning all our
purposes it is fit we should say, "We will execute them if the Lord
permit." Note, All our purposes must be made with submission to the
divine providence. We should say, If the Lord will, we shall live,
and do this and that,
It is not in us to effect our own designs, without the divine leave. It
is by God's power and permission, and under his direction, that we must
do every thing. Heathens have concurred in acknowledging this concern
of Providence in all our actions and concerns; surely we should readily
own it, and frequently and seriously attend to it.
4. We have his purpose expressed of staying at Ephesus for the present.
He says he would stay there till pentecost,
1 Corinthians 16:8.
It is very probable that at the time of writing this epistle he was in
Ephesus, from this passage, compared with
1 Corinthians 16:19,
where he says, The churches of Asia salute you. A proper
salutation from Ephesus, but hardly so proper had he been at Philippi,
as the subscription to this epistle in our common copies has it.
"The churches of Macedonia salute you" had been much more
properly inserted in the close of a letter from Philippi, than the
5. We have the reason given for his staying at Ephesus for the present:
Because a great door, and effectual, was opened to him, and there
were many adversaries,
1 Corinthians 16:9.
A great door and effectual was opened to him; many were prepared to
receive the gospel at Ephesus, and God gave him great success among
them; he had brought over many to Christ, and he had great hope of
bringing over many more. For this reason he determined to stay awhile
at Ephesus. Note, Success, and a fair prospect of more, was a just
reason to determine an apostle to stay and labour in a particular
place. And there were many adversaries, because a great door, and an
effectual, was opened. Note, Great success in the work of the gospel
commonly creates many enemies. The devil opposes those most, and makes
them most trouble, who most heartily and successfully set themselves to
destroy his kingdom. There were many adversaries; and therefore the
apostle determined to stay. Some think he alludes in this passage to
the custom of the Roman Circus, and the doors of it, at which the
charioteers were to enter, as their antagonists did at the opposite
doors. True courage is whetted by opposition; and it is no wonder that
the Christian courage of the apostle should be animated by the zeal of
his adversaries. They were bent to ruin him, and prevent the effect of
his ministry at Ephesus; and should he at this time desert his station,
and disgrace his character and doctrine? No, the opposition of
adversaries only animated his zeal. He was in nothing daunted by his
adversaries; but the more they raged and opposed the more he exerted
himself. Should such a man as he flee? Note, Adversaries and opposition
do not break the spirits of faithful and successful ministers, but only
enkindle their zeal, and inspire them with fresh courage. Indeed, to
labour in vain is heartless and discouraging. This damps the spirits,
and breaks the heart. But success will give life and vigour to a
minister, though enemies rage, and blaspheme, and persecute. It is not
the opposition of enemies, but the hardness and obstinacy of his
hearers, and the backslidings and revolt of professors, that damp a
faithful minister, and break his heart.
|The Apostle Recommends Timothy; General Directions.
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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
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
In this passage,
I. He recommends Timothy to them, in several particulars. As,
1. He bids them take care that he should be among them without
1 Corinthians 16:10.
Timothy was sent by the apostle to correct the abuses which had crept
in among them; and not only to direct, but to blame, and censure, and
reprove, those who were culpable. They were all in factions, and no
doubt the mutual strife and hatred ran very high among them. There were
some very rich, as it is probable; and many very proud, upon account
both of their outward wealth and spiritual gifts. Proud spirits cannot
easily bear reproof. It was reasonable therefore to think young Timothy
might be roughly used; hence the apostle warns them against using him
ill. Not but that he was prepared for the worst; but, whatever his
firmness and prudence might be, it was their duty to behave themselves
well towards him, and not discourage and dishearten him in his Lord's
work. They should not fly out into resentment at his reproof. Note,
Christians should bear faithful reproofs from their ministers, and not
terrify and discourage them from doing their duty.
2. He warns them against despising him,
1 Corinthians 16:11.
He was but a young man, and alone, as Ecumenius observes. He had no one
to back him, and his own youthful face and years commanded but little
reverence; and therefore the great pretenders to wisdom among them
might be apt to entertain contemptuous thoughts of him. "Now," says the
apostle, "guard against this." Not that he distrusted Timothy; he knew
that Timothy would do nothing to bring contempt on his character,
nothing to make his youth despicable. But pride was a reigning sin
among the Corinthians, and such a caution was but too necessary. Note,
Christians should be very careful not to pour contempt on any, but
especially on ministers, the faithful ministers of Christ. These,
whether young or old, are to be had in high esteem for their works
3. He tells them they should give him all due encouragement, use him
well while he was with them; and, as an evidence of this, they should
send him away in friendship, and well prepared for his journey back
again to Paul. This, as I have before observed, is the meaning of
bringing him on his journey in peace,
1 Corinthians 16:11.
Note, Faithful ministers are not only to be well received by a people
among whom they may for a season minister, but are to be sent away with
II. He assigns the reasons why they should behave thus towards Timothy.
1. Because he was employed in the same work as Paul, and acted in it by
the same authority,
1 Corinthians 16:10.
He did not come on Paul's errand among them, nor to do his work, but
the work of the Lord. Though he was not an apostle, he was assistant to
one, and was sent upon this very business by a divine commission. And
therefore to vex his spirit would be to grieve the Holy Spirit; to
despise him would be to despise him that sent him, not Paul, but Paul's
Lord and theirs. Note, Those who work the work of the Lord should be
neither terrified nor despised, but treated with all tenderness and
respect. Such are all the faithful ministers of the word, though not
all in the same rank and degree. Pastors and teachers, as well as
apostles and evangelists, while they are doing their duty, are to be
treated with honour and respect.
2. Another reason is implied; as they were to esteem him for his
work's sake, so also for Paul's sake, who had sent him to Corinth; not
of his own errand indeed, but to work the work of the Lord: Conduct
him forth in peace, that he may come to me, for I look for him with the
(1 Corinthians 16:11);
or I with the brethren look for him (the original will bear
either), ekdechomai gar auton meta ton adelphon--"I am
expecting his return, and his report concerning you; and shall judge by
your conduct towards him what your regard and respect for me will be.
Look to it that you send him back with no evil report." Paul might
expect from the Corinthians, that a messenger from him, upon such an
errand, should be regarded, and well treated. His services and success
among them, his authority with them as an apostle, would challenge this
at their hands. They would hardly dare to send back Timothy with a
report that would grieve or provoke the apostle. "I and the brethren
expect his return, wait for the report he is to make; and therefore do
not use him ill, but respect him, regard his message, and let him
return in peace."
III. He informs them of Apollos's purpose to see them.
1. He himself had greatly desired him to come to them,
1 Corinthians 16:12.
Though one party among them had declared for Apollos against Paul (if
that passage is to be understood literally, vide
1 Corinthians 4:6),
yet Paul did not hinder Apollos from going to Corinth in his own
absence, nay, he pressed him to go thither. He had no suspicions of
Apollos, as if he would lessen Paul's interest and respect among them,
to the advancement of his own. Note, Faithful ministers are not apt to
entertain jealousies of each other, nor suspect of such selfish
designs. True charity and brotherly love think no evil. And where
should these reign, if not in the breasts of the ministers of Christ?
2. Apollos could not be prevailed on for the present to come, but would
at a more convenient season. Perhaps their feuds and factions might
render the present season improper. He would not go to be set at the
head of a party and countenance the dividing and contentious humour.
When this had subsided, through Paul's epistle to them and Timothy's
ministry among them, he might conclude a visit would be more proper.
Apostles did not vie with each other, but consulted each other's
comfort and usefulness. Paul intimates his great regard to the church
of Corinth, when they had used him ill, by entreating Apollos to go to
them; and Apollos shows his respect to Paul, and his concern to keep up
his character and authority, by declining the journey till the
Corinthians were in better temper. Note, It is very becoming the
ministers of the gospel to have and manifest a concern for each other's
reputation and usefulness.
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13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be
14 Let all your things be done with charity.
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.
17 I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and
Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have
18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore
acknowledge ye them that are such.
In this passage the apostle gives,
I. Some general advices; as,
1. That they should watch
(1 Corinthians 16:13),
be wakeful and upon their guard. A Christian is always in danger, and
therefore should ever be on the watch; but the danger is greater at
some times and under some circumstances. The Corinthians were in
manifest danger upon many accounts: their feuds ran high, the
irregularities among them were very great, there were deceivers got
among them, who endeavoured to corrupt their faith in the most
important articles, those without which the practice of virtue and
piety could never subsist. And surely in such dangerous circumstances
it was their concern to watch. Note, If a Christian would be secure, he
must be on his guard; and the more his danger the greater vigilance is
needful for his security.
2. He advises them to stand fast in the faith, to keep their
ground, adhere to the revelation of God, and not give it up for the
wisdom of the world, nor suffer it to be corrupted by it--stand for the
faith of the gospel, and maintain it even to death; and stand in it, so
as to abide in the profession of it, and feel and yield to its
influence. Note, A Christian should be fixed in the faith of the
gospel, and never desert nor renounce it. It is by this faith alone
that he will be able to keep his ground in an hour of temptation; it is
by faith that we stand
(2 Corinthians 1:24);
it is by this that we must overcome the world
(1 John 5:4),
both when it fawns and when it frowns, when it tempts and when it
terrifies. We must stand therefore in the faith of the gospel, if we
would maintain our integrity.
3. He advises them to act like men, and be strong: "Act the manly,
firm, and resolved part: behave strenuously, in opposition to the bad
men who would divide and corrupt you, those who would split you into
factions or seduce you from the faith: be not terrified nor inveigled
by them; but show yourselves men in Christ, by your steadiness, by your
sound judgment and firm resolution." Note, Christians should be manly
and firm in all their contests with their enemies, in defending their
faith, and maintaining their integrity. They should, in an especial
manner, be so in those points of faith that lie at the foundation of
sound and practical religion, such as were attacked among the
Corinthians: these must be maintained with solid judgment and strong
4. He advises them to do every thing in charity,
1 Corinthians 16:14.
Our zeal and constancy must be consistent with charity. When the
apostle would have us play the man for our faith or religion, he puts
in a caution against playing the devil for it. We may defend our faith,
but we must, at the same time, maintain our innocence, and not devour
and destroy, and think with ourselves that the wrath of man will work
the righteousness of God,
Note, Christians should be careful that charity not only reign in their
hearts, but shine out in their lives, nay, in their most manly defences
of the faith of the gospel. There is a great difference between
constancy and cruelty, between Christian firmness and feverish wrath
and transport. Christianity never appears to so much advantage as when
the charity of Christians is most conspicuous when they can bear with
their mistaken brethren, and oppose the open enemies of their holy
faith in love, when every thing is done in charity, when they behave
towards one another, and towards all men, with a spirit of meekness and
II. Some particular directions how they should behave towards some that
had been eminently serviceable to the cause of Christ among them.
1. He gives us their character
(1.) The household of Stephanas is mentioned by him, and their
character is, that they were the first-fruits of Achaia, the first
converts to Christianity in that region of Greece in which Corinth was.
Note, It is an honourable character to any man to be early a Christian,
betimes in Christ. But they had moreover addicted themselves to the
ministry of the saints, to serve the saints. They have disposed and
devoted themselves--etaxan heautous, to serve the
saints, to do service to the saints. It is not meant of the ministry of
the word properly, but of serving them in other respects, supplying
their wants, helping and assisting them upon all occasions, both in
their temporal and spiritual concerns. The family of Stephanas seems to
have been a family of rank and importance in those parts, and yet they
willingly offered themselves to this service. Note, It is an honour to
persons of the highest rank to devote themselves to the service of the
saints. I do not mean to change ranks, and become proper servants to
the inferiors, but freely and voluntarily to help them, and do good to
them in all their concerns.
(2.) He mentions Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus, as coming to
him from the church of Corinth. The account he gives of them is that
they supplied the deficiencies of the church towards him, and by so
doing refreshed his spirit and theirs,
1 Corinthians 16:17,18.
They gave him a more perfect account of the state of the church by word
of mouth than he could acquire by their letter, and by that means much
quieted his mind, and upon their return from him would quiet the minds
of the Corinthians. Report had made their cause much worse than it was
in fact, and their letters had not explained it sufficiently to give
the apostle satisfaction; but he had been made more easy by converse
with them. It was a very good office they did, by truly stating facts,
and removing the ill opinion Paul had received by common fame. They
came to him with a truly Christian intention, to set the apostle right,
and give him as favourable sentiments of the church as they could, as
peace-makers. Note, It is a great refreshment to the spirit of a
faithful minister to hear better of a people by wise and good men of
their own body than by common report, to find himself misinformed
concerning them, that matters are not so bad as they had been
represented. It is a grief to him to hear ill of those he loves; it
gladdens his heart to hear the report thereof is false. And the greater
value he has for those who give him this information, and the more he
can depend upon their veracity, the greater is his joy.
2. Upon this account of the men, he directs how they should behave
towards them; and,
(1.) He would have them acknowledged
(1 Corinthians 16:11),
that is, owned and respected. They deserve it for their good offices.
Those who serve the saints, those who consult the honour and good
esteem of the churches, and are concerned to wipe off reproaches from
them, and take off from the ill opinion fame had propagated, are to be
valued, and esteemed, and loved. Those who discover so good a spirit
cannot easily be over-valued.
(2.) He advises that they should submit themselves to such, and to
all who helped with the apostles, and laboured,
1 Corinthians 16:16.
This is not to be understood of subjection to proper superiors, but of
a voluntary acknowledgment of their worth. They were persons to whom
they owed peculiar respect, and whom they should have in veneration.
Note, It is a venerable character which those bear who serve the saints
and labour hard to help the success of the gospel, who countenance and
encourage the faithful ministers of Christ, and endeavour to promote
their usefulness. Such should be had in honourable esteem.
|Commendations and Salutations.
||A. D. 57.|
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
21 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.
22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be
23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. <<The
first epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi by
Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus and Timotheus.>>
The apostle closes his epistle,
I. With salutations to the church of Corinth, first from those of Asia,
from Priscilla and Aquila (who seem to have been at this
time inhabitants of Ephesus, vid.
with the church in their house
(1 Corinthians 16:19),
and from all the brethren
(1 Corinthians 16:20)
at Ephesus, where, it is highly probable at least, he then was. All
these saluted the church at Corinth, by Paul. Note, Christianity does
by no means destroy civility and good manners. Paul could find room in
an epistle treating of very important matters to send the salutations
of friends. Religion should promote a courteous and obliging temper
towards all. Those misrepresent and reproach it who would take any
encouragement from it to be sour and morose. Some of these salute
them much in the Lord. Note, Christian salutations are not empty
compliments; they carry in them real expressions of good-will, and are
attended with hearty recommendations to the divine grace and blessing.
Those who salute in the Lord wish their brethren all good from the
Lord, and breathe out their good wishes in fervent prayers. We read
also of a church in a private family,
1 Corinthians 16:19.
It is very probable that the family itself is called the church in
their house. Note, Every Christian family should in some respects
be a Christian church. In some cases (as, for instance, were they cast
away on a foreign shore, where there are no other Christians), they
should be a church themselves, if large enough, and live in the use of
all ordinances; but in common cases they should live under the
direction of Christian rules, and daily offer up Christian worship.
Wherever two or three are gathered together, and Christ is among them,
there is a church. To these salutations he subjoins,
1. An advice, that they should greet one another with a holy
(1 Corinthians 16:20),
or with sincere good-will, a tacit reproof of their feuds and factions.
When the churches of Asia, and the Christian brethren so remote, did so
heartily salute them in the Lord, and own and love them as brethren,
and expressed so much good-will to them, it would be a shame for them
not to own and love one another as brethren. Note, The love of the
brethren should be a powerful incentive to mutual love. When the other
churches of Christ love us all, we are very culpable if we do not love
2. He subjoins his own salutation: The salutation of me Paul with my
1 Corinthians 16:21.
His amanuensis, it is reasonable to think, wrote the rest of his
epistle from his mouth, but at the close it was fit that himself should
sign it, that they might know it to be genuine; and therefore it is
(2 Thessalonians 3:17),
Which is my token in every epistle, the mark of its being
genuine; so he wrote in every epistle which he did not wholly pen, as
he did that to the Galatians,
Note, Those churches to whom apostolical letters were sent were duly
certified of their being authentic and divine. Nor would Paul be behind
the rest of the brethren in respect to the Corinthians; and therefore,
after he has given their salutations, he adds his own.
II. With a very solemn warning to them: If any man love not the Lord
Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, Maran-atha,
1 Corinthians 16:22.
We sometimes need words of threatening, that we may fear. Blessed is
he, says the wise man, who feareth always. Holy fear is a
very good friend both to holy faith and holy living. An how much reason
have all Christians to fear falling under this doom! If any man love
not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, Maran-atha. Here
1. The person described, who is liable to this doom: He that loveth
not the Lord Jesus Christ. A meiosis, as some think;
he who blasphemes Christ disowns his doctrine, slights and contemns his
institutions, or, through pride of human knowledge and learning,
despises his revelations. It stands here as a warning to the
Corinthians and a rebuke of their criminal behaviour. It is an
admonition to them not to be led away from the simplicity of the
gospel, or those principles of it which were the great motives to
purity of life, by pretenders to science, by the wisdom of the world,
which would call their religion folly, and its most important doctrines
absurd and ridiculous. Those men had a spite at Christ; and, if the
Corinthians give ear to their seducing speeches, they were in danger of
apostatizing from him. Against this he gives them here a very solemn
caution. "Do not give into such conduct, if you would escape the
severest vengeance." Note, Professed Christians will, by contempt of
Christ, and revolt from him, bring upon themselves the most dreadful
destruction. Some understand the words as they lie, in their plain and
obvious meaning, for such as are without holy and sincere affection for
the Lord Jesus Christ. Many who have his name much in their mouths have
no true love to him in their hearts, will not have him to rule over
no, not though they have very towering hopes of being saved by him. And
none love him in truth who do not love his laws and keep his
commandments. Note, There are many Christians in name who do not love
Christ Jesus the Lord in sincerity. But can any thing be more criminal
or provoking? What, not love the most glorious lover in the world! Him
who loved us, and gave himself for us, who shed his blood for us, to
testify his love to us, and that after heinous wrong and provocation!
What had we a power of loving for, if we are unmoved with such love as
this, and without affection to such a Saviour? But,
2. We have here the doom of the person described: "Let him be
Anathema, Maran-atha, lie under the heaviest and most dreadful
curse. Let him be separated from the people of God, from the favour of
God, and delivered up to his final, irrevocable, and inexorable
vengeance" Maran-atha is a Syriac phrase, and signifies The
Lord cometh. That very Lord whom they do not love, to whom they are
inwardly and really disaffected whatever outward profession they make,
is coming to execute judgment. And to be exposed to his wrath, to be
divided to his left hand, to be condemned by him, how dreadful! If he
will destroy, who can save? Those who fall under his condemning
sentence must perish, and that for ever. Note, Those who love not the
Lord Jesus Christ must perish without remedy. The wrath of God
abides on every one who believes not on the Son,
And true faith in Christ will evermore be productive of sincere love to
him. Those who love him not cannot be believers in him.
III. With his good wishes for them and expressions of good-will to
1. With his good wishes: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with
1 Corinthians 16:23.
As much as if he had said, "Though I warn you against falling under his
displeasure, I heartily wish you an interest in his dearest love and
his eternal favour." The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ comprehends in
it all that is good, for time or eternity. To wish 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 more, and we should wish them nothing less. We should heartily
pray that they may value, and seek, and obtain, and secure, the grace
and good-will of their Lord and Judge. Note, The most solemn warnings
are the result of the tenderest affection and the greatest good-will.
We may tell our brethren and friends with great plainness and pathos
that, if they love not the Lord Jesus Christ, they must perish, while
we heartily wish the grace of Christ may be with them. Nay, we may give
them this warning that they may prize and lay hold of this grace. Note
also, How much true Christianity enlarges our hearts; it makes us wish
those whom we love the blessings of both worlds; for this is implied in
wishing the grace of Christ to be with them. And therefore it is no
wonder that the apostle should close all,
2. With the declaration of his love to them in Christ Jesus: My love
be with you all, in Christ Jesus, Amen,
1 Corinthians 16:24.
He had dealt very plainly with them in this epistle, and told them of
their faults with just severity; but, to show that he was not
transported with passion, he parts with them in love, makes solemn
profession of his love to them, nay, to them all in Christ Jesus, that
is, for Christ's sake. He tells them that his heart was with them, that
he truly loved them; but lest this, after all, should be deemed
flattery and insinuation, he adds that his affection was the result of
his religion, and would be guided by the rules of it. His heart would
be with them, and he would bear them dear affection as long as their
hearts were with Christ, and they bore true affection to his cause and
interest. Note, We should be cordial lovers of all who are in Christ,
and who love him in sincerity. Not but we should love all men, and wish
them well, and do them what good is in our power; but those must
have our dearest affection who are dear to Christ, and lovers of him.
May our love be with all those who are in Christ Jesus! Amen.