Week 16– Collection for the Jews and an Instruction to Stand Firm
1 Corinthians 16:1-24
By Garrett Pinkerton
Some of the most joyous people to be around are those who like to give. They are the type of people who, like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:18, refresh my spirit. Giving is a wonderful thing we have the privilege to do that, when done in the love of Christ, will remind us of the ultimate gift from God – Jesus’ life on earth. Without God’s love in gifting us salvation through his Son, we would be eternally separated from him. Fortunately for us, we have received faith by grace from God. Because of this, we believers, the body of Christ, are called to model this love in giving. We are called to give to those who serve and equip the body, to those who are less fortunate than ourselves, and to give control of our lives over fully to Christ. Sometimes, I think, “Man, I’m tired of giving. I just want to do something for myself.” I want to do what I want with my time, my money, and my relationships. I have been reminded in 1 Corinthians that all I have is from Christ. If we remember this, and that God has given us the ultimate gift in righteousness through Jesus, we can continually lay aside our selfish desires and give ourselves to God and his plan for those that love him. I hope that by doing this, we can be like those Paul mentions in verse 18 – those that refresh the spirits of others by their love and cheerful giving.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Read 1 Corinthians 16:1-24 together
- What does this passage say about God, who He is, and what He does? (Father, Son, and Spirit)
- What does this passage teach me about me?
- What comfort/promise/challenge can I take away from this passage?
- How will I respond or live differently because of what I’ve read?
Passage Specific Questions
- What are some ways you have seen others in the church sacrificially give to those in need? Are there ways that we can give to show Christ’s love to others?
- Think of one person that, as Paul states in verse 18, refreshes your spirit. What about them refreshes you? How can we recognize the way God uses them for his glory and our good?
- What is the most notable thing that you have learned from the study of 1 Corinthians? How does it apply to your life?
16:1-4 – Paul begins chapter 16 with instructions for giving. The saints in Jerusalem aren’t as fortunate as those in the other churches in the region (Hodge), so Paul has called on those in the Corinthian church, and others, to set aside a portion that they are able to give each week for collection. He has instructed churches before to do the same. The saints he is writing to are to store up something to give each week in their homes. These things are likely taken to a common gathering place, as they have already been collected when Paul arrives.
Paul says he’ll send those who the church designates to take the collection along with a letter to Jerusalem. He sends someone in the church rather than himself so that there is trust and accountability for the portion given by the church. This is important as it maintains integrity in the collection process. If Paul needs to go with that person, he offers to do so. This would likely be due to a larger collection, so that there is more accountability amongst the saints for the collection that is being sent to Jerusalem (Hodge).
16:5-11 – In verses 5-9, Paul notifies the Corinthians of an apparent change of plans (Hodge), as he says he will first pass through Macedonia before coming to them and then stay with them for some time. He desires to stay in Corinth for some time with them so that they can help him along as he journeys—but he is also likely to encourage and preach to the Corinthians as a follow up to his letter (Hodge). Additionally, Paul seems to have changed his plans to stay longer in Ephesus due to a “wide door for effective work.”
I want to point out the fact that Paul has plans for himself but is constantly including the Lord’s will in his plans—and making adjustments to his plans to follow the Lord, as we will see a few verses down. I pray that we would take this same approach to ministry and life, making plans that we believe are honoring to the Lord and considering his Word in all that we do, but being willing to put his will above our own and make changes that glorify the Lord and benefit the kingdom. Paul also notes there are adversaries to the gospel, so he likely wants to remain there to preach the truth of the gospel and expose false teachers (Hodge).
Because he is not yet coming to the Corinthians, Paul sends Timothy ahead of him, instructing them to welcome him and help him along. Timothy is trusted by Paul to carry out God’s calling for him in Corinth and return to Ephesus when his work is completed.
16:12-18 – In verse 12, Paul writes that Apollos won’t come to the Corinthians just yet, and we really aren’t given an explanation for this, except that Paul is just informing the church. However, we do see in Acts 18:24-28 that Apollos is being faithful in the Lord’s work in Ephesus, helping along believers and refuting those who attempt to preach falsely. The next verse instructs the church to “be watchful, stand firm, act like men, be strong” and is followed by the command to “Let all you do be done in love.” These are important for the church to remember. They should watch for corruption that may occur in the church, like the division that has occurred in Corinth or Judaizers trying to add to the gospel. They should stand firm on the Word, or as some members of our body often say, “Let the text be the text.” This should shape all our views on life as a follower of Christ and be the foundation we refer to for all things. Paul instructs the Corinthians to “act like men” who will be courageous and bold in withstanding any trials or persecution. This requires strength, but all of this should be done in love. We should remember how Jesus has forgiven our sin and restored us, and we should live in the freedom that comes from this assurance. It also means living under the authority of the Word and doing these things we are commanded to do to honor Christ and show his love to others.
The household of Stephanas are the first of the converts in the Corinthian church in Achaia, and they have been devoted to serving Christ and the church. Because of this, the church is instructed likewise to serve them and do as they have done.
Finally, in verses 17 and 18, Paul says that he rejoices at the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, saying that they have made up for the Corinthians’ absence. I don’t believe that, based on the tone of the passage, this is meant as a snarky comment towards the Corinthians, but that they simply were not with Paul when writing this letter in Ephesus (Hodge). The three names listed, as members of the Corinthian church, have refreshed Paul’s spirits with their faithfulness, and they stand in the place of the church when they have come to Ephesus. Paul then says to recognize people that refresh you in this way. I love this command from Paul – and I think we really should let people know when they are encouraging to us, thank them for it, and thank the Lord for their impact.
16:19-24 – Here, Paul gives final greetings from himself, the churches in Asia, and Aquila and Prisca. The latter two journeyed with Paul to Ephesus, and formerly lived in Corinth, so I’d assume they were known by the Corinthians (Hodge). Ending the letter, Paul writes with his own hand to authenticate the letter, and ends the letter pleading for God’s judgment to come and sending love in Christ to his fellow believers.
The Main Point
Paul instructs the church at Corinth on a collection that is to be sent to the impoverished in Jerusalem, updates the church on his plans to visit them and his work in Ephesus, and gives final a encouragement to them to remain in Christ as he bids farewell.
A Few Relevant Scriptures
- Romans 15:25-29 – Paul discusses taking aid to Jerusalem and the reason other saints are obligated to give to those in need.
- Acts 18:24-28 – Apollos, while in Ephesus, is being faithful to the Lord teaching truth and refuting false gospels.