First Corinthians 16:1–24 . . .
The Collection for God’s People and Paul’s Personal Requests
Apostle Paul concludes his first letter to the Corinthian church by breaking its last twenty-four verses into three parts: first he deals with several practical matters; then he makes a few personal requests for his Corinthian brothers; finally he gives his closing greetings.
1) The collection for God's people (vv. 1–4, see this passage below) Paul writes concerning the collection of money for the church in Jerusalem. He gives a guideline for giving monetary donations on a regular basis made on the first day of the week (v. 2).
2) Paul's visit (v. 5–9) and personal requests of the Corinthians (vv. 10–12) Apostle Paul plans to visit them again and spend time ministering to them for an extended period. He also deals with the Corinthians' attitude towards Timothy and Apollos. With all the divisions in the church it certainly wasn't easy to minister to this congregation. It's specifically stated that Apollos did not want to return (v. 12) at least until the exhortations in this letter had been received and applied. And one can assume that Timothy probably had similar concerns. Thus, Paul exhorts the Corinthians to properly treat these men who are doing God's work.
3) Paul's closing greetings and benediction (vv. 13–24) From this section we can conclude that the three men mentioned — Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus — probably brought news about his Corinthian brothers that he was eager to receive; possibly the three delivered to him another letter from Corinth.
Finally, Paul concludes by sending his greetings to the saints in Corinth.
Summary of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians
Paul is writing to a very troubled church, a church which exists in the midst of a very corrupt city and culture. In spite of this, Paul has a very confident mood as he addresses the saints at Corinth and around the world of his day (and ours). In spite of the weaknesses and willful sins of these saints, Paul doesn't begin by questioning the reality of their conversion; instead, he affirms present and future benefits.
The Corinthian church had many problems; most of which were the result of selfish pride and their placing so much emphasis on social status. Their divisions, lack of church discipline, lawsuits, abuse of Christian liberty, and over-emphasis of the gift of tongues, all illustrate this root problem. While we've seen that Paul dealt with these problems separately, perhaps the pinnacle of his argument is in chapter 13 where he emphasizes the importance of love. In essence, love of others is incompatible with personal selfish pride; what's more, love of others is to be the fundamental principle that guides all of our actions.
The First Corinthians epistle should cause us to reject the myth of the perfect New Testament church. So often Christians look back to the New Testament times as though the church in those days was nearly perfect. The church was not perfect in New Testament times; neither is it perfect today. The same sins that Paul exposes in 1 and 2 Corinthians are present and evident in evangelical churches today. Paul's words of admonition and correction therefore are just as applicable to us now as they were to the saints of his day.
- Q. 1 After receiving Paul's first letter, how do you think the Corinthians felt about Paul's plan to visit them? How do you think Paul felt about the Corinthians then?
- Q. 2 What should the Corinthians imitate regarding Stephanas and the others (vv. 15–18)?
- Q. 3 As a member of your church or small group, has this first epistle helped you in one or more ways? Challenged you?
1 Corinthians 16:1–24
The Collection for the Lord's People
16 Now about the collection for the Lord's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
5After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
10When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. 11No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
12Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.
13Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14Do everything in love.
15You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord's people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, 16to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. 17I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.
19The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 20All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.
22If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!
23The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
24My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.