While this chapter may not deal with a single subject like the other chapters, there are many lessons of wisdom for us.
A man who properly understands the word of God will dig and search and meditate on every verse in such a chapter.
Outline of Chapter 16:
Collection for poor saints (1-4)
Paul’s traveling plans (5-9)
Instructions regarding ministers (10-12)
Miscellaneous exhortations (13-20)
Closing remarks and benediction (21-24)
16:1 Corinth was to take a collection for the poor saints in Judea with other Gentile churches.
This and the next verses do not establish an ordinary procedure, but rather an extraordinary.
Paul was not instructing the church about the ordinary care of the poor saints at Corinth.
Paul’s order here is not forced giving or taxation, but rather the order on how to collect.
If a church ever has a significant need for extra funds, here is the inspired method to do it.
The ordinary method for collecting general monies of the church is left to each church.
The saints being considered were those in Jerusalem and Judea suffering from many things.
The collection was to be carried by appointed brethren to the church in Jerusalem (16:3).
Paul had responded earlier to a great dearth in Judea foretold by Agabus (Acts 11:27-30).
The Jews captured Paul in Jerusalem when he brought offerings to the Jews (Acts 24:17).
The church in Jerusalem was numerous, often displaced, and severely persecuted; all of which would serve to produce poverty, before even considering the prophesied dearth.
Paul later exhorted the Roman church by the giving of these Corinthians (Rom 15:26).
Paul later declared they had provoked the saints in Macedonia by their zeal (II Cor 9:1-2).
If the more barbarian Galatians could give nobly, then Greek Corinthians could do better!
The Christian religion, following its Lord and great apostle, has great concern for the poor.
Jesus and disciples carried monies from their supporters for the poor (John 12:5; 13:29).
Jesus prophesied that His churches would always have poor to take care of (Mark 14:7).
Paul, like the Lord Jesus Christ, had conscientious care for poor saints (Galatians 2:10).
A great reason to work hard is to have extra for those in need (Eph 4:28; Acts 20:35), for such noble goals and efforts are pleasing to Christ, who became poor for us (II Cor 8:9).
There should be no difference in treatment of poor visitors or rich visitors (James 2:1-6).
However, Paul did not espouse any form of communism, but severely rebuked slothful men.
This is the apostle who ordered lazy men to be starved into obedience (II Thess 3:6-12).
This is the apostle who taught diligent labor as part of sanctification (I Thess 4:11-12).
While the early church shared their wealth, it was for their needs only (Acts 2:41-45).
The rich must be ready and willing to give; they do not have to divest all (I Tim 6:17-19).
16:2 The saints at Corinth were to privately set aside monies for this relief collection on Sunday.
Let Seventh Day Adventists cavil and complain; they are heretical idolaters of Saturn’s Day.
These simple people have been deceived by a neurotic woman named Ellen G. Harmon.
She has convinced them Sunday worship is the mark of the beast and invention of Rome.
All this was shown her by a vision of the fourth commandment highlighted in the ark!
They also are pagan vegetarians by the same ignorance and superstition (Col 2:20-23).
The only mention of the Sabbath by Paul is to condemn its applicability (Col 2:16-17).
The council at Jerusalem dealt with Gentiles, but ignored the Sabbath (Acts 15:22-29).
Jesus showed Himself on the first day of the week and made it the Lord’s day (Rev 1:10).
The disciples of the New Testament churches met on Sunday for worship (Acts 20:7).
Paul only used Saturday to preach to Jews and Gentile proselytes before conversion.
The instruction of this text proves clearly that Sunday was a holy time for the apostles.
Paul included the churches of Galatia in this order, which applied Sunday to all churches.
The method of collection is prescribed, rather than the correctness or necessity of giving.
The funds did not go into the general treasury of the church, lest they be spent in Corinth.
The apostle, by the Spirit’s inspiration, was avoiding the danger of co-mingling funds.
The first day of the week is the Lord’s Day, an opportunity to honor Jesus Christ by gifts.
Each saint at Corinth was to view his financial situation and set aside a gift accordingly.
Giving is to be proportionate to income, such as the tithe does (Prov 3:9-10; II Cor 8:12).
No one is too poor to give, as the example of the widow shows clearly (Matt 12:41-44).
The monies were to be set apart from household expenses on the first day of the week.
The monies were not taken to church, but rather laid by each member in store at home.
They would be collected generally when the apostle Paul arrived to carry them to Judea.
Paul did not want any trouble, any delay, any begrudging, or any squeeze when he came.
This precise collection process would only be applied in this church with a similar need.
However, we learn a few principles of godly giving that are indicated by this apostolic order.
Giving is to be proportionate according to the prosperity God has granted a person.
Giving is to be done systematically with analysis, not as the result of emotion or appeal.
Giving is an act of worship, which is the reason for it being done on the Lord’s Day.
Giving should be governed by prudent rules in the church to keep designations intact.
Giving should be done periodically to avoid difficulty and shortages of giving at once.
Giving to the Lord separates those monies from being used for ordinary expenses.
Giving as a weekly discipline of what you have made is inspired instruction for success.
16:3 The relief gift would be collected in total and sent to Jerusalem when Paul came to Corinth.
Paul sought to make all financial dealings honest in the sight of all men (II Cor 8:18-21).
Letters between churches were to approve or commend (Acts 18:27; Rom 16:1-2; II Cor 3:1).
Financial transactions in a church must be done openly by highly regarded men (Acts 6:1-6).
He had previously stated his intention to visit the church at Corinth again in power (4:19).
16:4 Paul offered to accompany the gift to Jerusalem, if his presence would improve matters.
16:5 Paul informed the church of his desire to visit them after his planned trip to Macedonia.
Paul was at Ephesus at the present time, according to his words a few verses away (16:8,19).
We can read about Paul’s intention to visit Macedonia and Achaia elsewhere (Acts 19:21).
The subscript to this epistle, that it was written from Philippi, in Macedonia, appears wrong.
16:6 Paul suggested the church might assist him in his travels by wintering in Corinth.
This intention by Paul to visit was on his return through Achaia from Macedonia (16:5).
The words “bring me on my journey” apply more to hospitality than financial assistance.
They are used for accompanying travelers part of their journey (Acts 17:15; 20:38; 21:5).
For it does not seem consistent that Paul was now presuming on financial support (9:15).
Though the words may be used to include various aspects of help in traveling, including financial and material support (Acts 15:3; Rom 15:24; II Cor 1:16; III John 1:6-7).
16:7 Paul would not visit them on the way to Macedonia but rather on the way from Macedonia.
Paul’s intentions were to go to Macedonia first and secure enough time to visit for a while.
He did later spend three months in the area, between trips to Macedonia (Acts 20:1-3).
Note the apostle’s great submission to God’s sovereign will (4:19; Acts 18:21; Rom 1:10).
He had learned earlier in his travels to wait upon the Lord for direction (Acts 16:6-10).
It is our wisdom to learn submission to our Sovereign (Pr 19:21; Jer 10:23; Jas 4:13-16).
16:8 Paul intended to stay at Ephesus until Pentecost, about May or June in our calendar.
Paul adjusted his schedule and tried to make it back to Jerusalem by Pentecost (Acts 20:16).
Christians did not observe Pentecost, for it had passed away with the Sabbath (Col 2:16-17).
It was not a sin to observe the day during the time of reformation, but it was not taught.
Paul simply used it as a time reference familiar to all Jews and Gentile proselytes.
16:9 God greatly blessed Paul’s labors in Ephesus, though he also had much opposition.
He labored over two years in Ephesus with special miracles and much fruit (Acts 19:1-20).
But the pagan idolaters did not like the reduced business for their gods (Acts 19:23-41).
It should not surprise us that at times of spiritual prosperity there will be spiritual conflict.
The more religion restricts customs and prosperity of people, the more they will resist.
God showed by His providence in the conversion of sinners where effort ought to be made.
16:10 Paul sent Timothy in advance and sought for him the same respect Paul would receive.
Timothy was a young man and needed a measure of protection from disrespect (I Tim 4:12).
Given the arrogance of some at Corinth, a young man like Timothy would be challenged.
We also know that Timothy was a tender man, whose tears Paul appreciated (II Tim 1:4).
It is not arrogance or presumption for ministers to display authority in Christ (Titus 2:15).
Regardless of a minister’s age or presence, saints should receive him as Christ’s ambassador.
Though a minister represents Christ, he has little power compared to other authorities.
Good churches make it easy to pastor by giving due respect, obedience, and openness.
Though Timothy was a second-generation pastor, he was to be received similarly to Paul.
Church members who want to assist and help their pastor will be transparent about problems.
When visiting a doctor for illness, patients describe symptoms as accurately as possible.
Doctors do not have to solicit the sick to come – sick people come automatically when ill.
Plumbers are called when there is leak, and they are eagerly told the location of the leak.
Optimal car repair requires giving a mechanic an accurate description of symptoms.
Why do members avoid pastors or withhold information, when spiritual health is at risk?
16:11 Each member in the Corinthian church was to treat him well and send him back to Paul.
Each and every member should highly esteem their pastor for his office (I Thess 5:12-13).
It does not matter if it is with your wife or children, despising your pastor is profane sin.
Most ministers did not seek the spotlight: they are simply serving the Lord in His calling.
Godly ministers care little what you think, for they stand before the Lord Himself (4:1-5).
Godly ministers care little what you think; they know the Lord of vengeance is coming.
God hates sedition, especially against His ministers, and such should be censured (Pr 6:19).
Korah and company thought they could speak against Moses, but they were buried alive.
Forty-two children wished they had not made fun of bald Elisha after she bears tore them.
For respect to be fully accomplished, unruly members were to be admonished (I Thess 5:14).
God hates backbiting tongues, and it is the duty of saints to angrily condemn them (Pr 25:23).
16:12 Paul showed love of Corinth by stating his desire for Apollos, who was indisposed, to visit.
Paul’s language connected him with Corinth in referring to Apollos as a mutual brother.
Though Paul could not visit Corinth at the present time, he had sought for Apollos to do so.
Apollos could not visit Corinth at the present time either, but he intended to when possible.
Can any man fault Apollos, if he wished for Paul’s epistle to correct this foolish church?
16:13 Paul begins his miscellaneous exhortations with a militaristic charge to gospel faithfulness.
These words are easily transferred to a general exhorting his troops against a strong enemy.
They match both Philistine and Israelite leaders (I Sam 4:9; II Cor 10:12; I Chr 19:13).
The chapters dedicated to David’s mighty men are good (II Sam 21,23; I Chron 11,20).
When David was dying, he exhorted Solomon to be strong and like a man (I Kings 2:2).
Yet our enemy is much craftier and stronger than mere Philistines or physical giants.
We are not engaged in a flesh and blood war, but rather one for our souls (Eph 6:10-20).
We live in the perilous times of the last days, when this charge truly applies (II Tim 3:1).
A full blessing now and later is dependent on a diligent use of God’s grace (II John 1:8).
“Watch ye” is an exhortation to discerning and careful vigilance against surprise attack.
We are at war with the lusts of the flesh and the temptations of the world (I Peter 2:11).
The devil is a crafty and hungry lion walking about to devour the saints (I Peter 4:7; 5:8).
We must resist even small encroachments on holiness (II Cor 11:1-4; Gal 5:9; Ge 13:12).
Jesus often warned His disciples to watch and be ready (Matt 24:42-51; Luke 12:35-48).
Jesus exhorted His disciples in Gethsemane to watch with Him in prayer (Matt 26:40-41).
And He did not stop exhorting them to watch after His ascension (Rev 3:2-3; 16:15).
The apostolic warning is to wake up and not be sleepy (15:34; Romans 13:11; Eph 5:14).
There is no room in a Christian’s life to relax spiritually and take it easy (I Thess 5:1-11).
Much of our watching should be done in prayer (Matt 26:40-41; Eph 6:18; Col 4:2).
“Stand fast in the faith” is an exhortation to staying fixed in one place without falling back.
To “stand fast” is to be fastened in place in an upright position without falling or sliding.
Paul had just recently exhorted them to be steadfast and unmoveable in service (15:58).
The mark of true Christianity is continuing without moving away from the hope of the gospel (15:1-2; Col 1:23; I Thess 3:8; II Thess 2:15; Jude 1:3).
Churches assemble in order to exhort one another to hold fast (Heb 3:12-13; 10:23-25).
Backsliding, the opposite of standing fast, is horrible (Pr 14:14; Gal 5:1; Phil 1:27; 4:1).
Our great goal is to stand perfect and complete in all the will of God (Colossians 4:12).
We are able to stand in the power of the Lord’s might by using His armor (Eph 6:10-20).
“Quit you like men” is an exhortation to maturity and responsibility in the face of danger.
If you are a man, God gave you abilities and strength that women do not have (I Pet 3:7).
If you are a man, God chose you to be a leader of women, children, and other men.
If you are a man, God chose you to teach a wife and children (I Cor 14:34-35; Eph 6:4).
Philistines and Israelites used such words to exhort soldiers (I Sam 4:9; II Sam 10:12).
God contrasts how men and women react to danger (Jer 6:24; 30:6; 48:41; 49:22,24).
Satan goes after women, because they are the weaker vessel (II Cor 11:3; II Tim 3:6-7).
Paul earlier used an exhortation taken from athletics for men to be strong (9:25-27).
Paul exhorted Timothy to great focus and exertion in his ministerial duties (II Tim 2:2-4).
We have a great hall of faith of those worthies who were men before us (Heb 11:32-34).
“Be strong” is an exhortation to dig deep and use any and all means at hand to resist enemies.
Strength is the opposite of quitting early, being taken easily, or not putting up a stiff fight.
We must apply ourselves with all the ability, attention, and perseverance given by grace.
Since we have no strength, we rely on the Lord (John 15:5; Eph 6:10; II Cor 12:9-10).
God exhorted Joshua to be strong and courageous in his leadership duties (Joshua 1:6-9).
How can we not be strong, with the LORD on our side (Isaiah 35:4; Hag 2:4; Col 1:11)?
As you exert yourself on behalf of God, He will strengthen you even further (Ps 27:14).
The men that know God will do exploits by faith and confidence in Him (Daniel 11:32).
Paul would say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4:13).
16:14 Each activity and endeavor of a Christian saint should be done with charity to others.
Paul had already exalted charity for them thoroughly, but he gave another reminder (13:1-7).
Church discipline was to be practiced with tough love toward public sinners (5:1-5).
In matters of personal conflict, they were to allow themselves to be defrauded (6:7-8).
In marriage, they were to think highly of spouses and kindly of children (7:1-5; 7:36).
They were to practice Christian liberty in a spirit of charity toward others (8:1; 10:33).
The public assemblies were to be used for the benefit of all in attendance (11:20-22,33).
Spiritual gifts were to be used in a way to edify and profit the church (12:22-27,31; 14:1).
The emphasis on love in the New Testament cannot be overstated, if short of compromising.
Throughout Paul’s epistles, love is set forth as the golden chain leading to perfect saints.
It is the singular most important grace proving election and fruit of a true child of God.
The definition of charity is practical love to others, which Paul laid down gloriously (13:4-7).
To the degree you are critical, lazy, selfish, or unmerciful to others, you violate God’s law!
16:15 Paul exhorted Corinth to remember some original members that were addicted to service.
Paul had earlier mentioned this member by name as one he had baptized in Corinth (1:16).
Here was a house, a family with domestics, which had been converted to the gospel of Christ.
This family had a public reputation of being addicted to serving other saints in the gospel.
Addiction to any substance or matter indicates a compulsive desire and need for it.
Would to God that saints could be compulsively obsessed with serving one another!
Whatever could be done in any aspect of the church, this family was forward to do it all!
These members were to be esteemed superior church members, great in the kingdom of God.
16:16 Such dedicated saints were to be assisted in any needs they had while serving the churches.
Not only apostles and ministers, like Timothy, were to be obeyed, but also needed helpers.
If someone in the church is a great helper of the church, you should be willing to help him.
Paul exhorted Rome very specifically about assisting Phoebe in her service (Romans 16:1-2).
16:17 Paul was thankful for three faithful men who had come from Corinth and encouraged him.
These three men had brought questions from Corinth for Paul, which he answered (7:1).
They provided him encouragement, which was not something the church had done (16:18)!
Paul greatly enjoyed the mutual fellowship of like precious faith in the gospel (Rom 1:12).
Paul has made quite clear that he was not interested in any financial remuneration (9:15).
16:18 The visitors had encouraged Paul and were thus worthy of the esteem of the whole church.
These three respected believers had encouraged Paul’s heart by their hearty faith in Christ.
Paul, being very angry with the state of things at Corinth, was calmed by these three men.
Paul, presuming upon their report to the church, knew in advance the refreshment in Corinth.
These three men likely had the same reputation for encouragement in the Corinthian church.
These visitors and others like them that were faithful in Christ were to be publicly esteemed.
16:19 Paul greeted the Corinthians for churches in Asia and for Aquila and Priscilla and friends.
When you read “Asia” in the Bible, it refers to Asia Minor, or that area of Western Turkey.
See Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Colosse, etc.
Aquila and Priscilla were in Corinth when Paul began preaching there (Acts 18:1-3).
Their dear salutation to the Corinthians was in the Lord – by the grace of Jesus Christ.
They had a church in their house somewhere around Ephesus of Asia (Col 4:15; Rom 16:5).
If Paul had been at Philippi (as the subscript), churches of Macedonia would have greeted.
16:20 Paul greeted the church for the brethren in Ephesus and exhorted the church to greetings.
The distinction between this verse and the previous one indicate that Aquila was elsewhere.
There is in Christ Jesus a bond that transcends geography, nationality, or race (Gal 3:28).
This holy affection for one another – a love in each, for each – is true of each local body.
This holy affection for one another – a love in each, for each – is true of all saints.
Paul exhorted the Corinthians to individually greet each other with a holy kiss of affection.
As children of God and saints in His church, we realize “blood is thicker than blood,” in that the blood ties in Jesus Christ are stronger, deeper, and more precious than family. So warm physical expressions of affection and unity should be pleasant, not painful. And it should not surprise us that Peter refers to it as a kiss of charity (I Peter 5:14).
Personal and physical greetings are incompatible with envy, strife, bitterness, division, or enmity, which exalts physical affection as a protective tool against such things; and the apostle was always opposing these sins to magnify the unity and peace of the Spirit.
We hug relatives, close friends, and others in moments of great affection or appreciation; but kissing is quite rare in our society other than for romantic or family purposes.
We find all the kissing exhortations among his salutations, not among the rules of brotherly love (Romans 16:16; I Cor 16:20; II Cor 13:12; I Thess 5:26; I Peter 5:14).
And they are so positioned in his salutations to likely be little more than the “xox” we put at the end of some personal letters with words like, “Give everyone a hug for me.”
Kissing was part of salutations in the New Testament (Mark 14:44), but such salutations were not universal, especially such personal and intimate ones (Luke 7:44-46; Gal 2:9).
We find little difference here from their practice of washing feet, which was done in their culture for the dry and dusty climate and lack of socks and enclosed shoes. And there is further similarity with the anointing of oil, which was also a kindness due to climate that was shown sometimes but not always (Luke 7:46).
Jesus told the disciples to wash one another’s feet (John 13:12-17), but we know this merely illustrated humility and service; the churches did not practice such a rite, or Paul would not have used it as a unique mark of exceptional widows (I Tim 5:10). It is amazing to hear the proponents of feet washing argue adamantly for the one while rejecting the other out of hand, though it has even more Scriptural foundation.
Jesus understood there was no need for feet washing with closed shoes (John 13:10).
We want to do more than shake hands, for a handshake holds the other at a distance, and shaking hands is not considered a very personal or intimate form of greeting or saluting among good friends. You do not greet close family with handshakes.
If we choose the literal and direct sense of this text as a literal and perpetual rule, do men kiss women? (Women kissed Jesus very intimately.) On the hands? On the feet? On the lips? How often? How long? Both morning and evening services? With or without hugging? The reason these questions exist is because it was a social custom, which we have lost and therefore neither understand the method or the limitations.
And how could we keep the designation “holy,” since kissing would be so very unusual to both participants and observers, due to its lack of use in our culture and society?
The right hand of fellowship given to Paul was a public act of authoritative approval (Gal 2:9), not a personal greeting or salutation of personal affection and love, which leads us to separate it from our practice of greeting our new members with affection.
If we lived in a country where kissing was accepted as appropriate greeting by intimate friends, we might well apply this passage differently, with the rules of that culture.
Even in a culture and time where it was accepted, Paul always limited it to a “holy kiss,” which rejected any lascivious kiss (Pr 7:13) or treacherous kiss, like that of Judas.
In another place, brother John exhorts to greeting mutual friends by name (III John 1:14).
We understand the emphasis to be on “greet” and “holy,” with “kiss” being their custom.
Therefore, we will continue to apply this passage with regular hugging between those of the same sex and infrequent hugging of those of the opposite sex, which is the more intimate form of greeting in our society and culture, and far superior to casual greetings.
16:21 Paul signed the epistle with his own hand, indicating the rest had been written by others.
Paul often employed an amanuensis, or secretary, to write the inspired words he dictated.
For the book of Romans, we are told that a man named Tertius wrote it (Romans 16:22).
To prove the genuineness of the epistle and to give it a personal touch, Paul always signed.
His salutatory signature was always the same regarding the grace of Christ (II Thes 3:17-18).
16:22 Due to the sobriety of this epistle in correcting abuses, Paul adds a very severe warning.
Anathema. Accursed. Assigned to judgment. Condemned. Excommunicated. Reprobate.
Maranatha. An Aramaic phrase indicating the coming of the Lord, either past or future.
We understand it to strongly mean being accursed at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The key to the verse is not so much the anathema or curse, but rather love of Jesus Christ.
This is no mere profession of love any more than saying He is lord is by the Spirit (12:3).
This measure of a man is far superior to faith, for even the devils have faith (Jas 2:19).
Love = passionate desire to please = passionate desire to know = desire to get pleasure.
How much are we to love Jesus Christ? With all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, without any competition from any other object (Deut 6:4-5; Matt 6:24; Luke 14:25-26).
Jesus made the point clear, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
Paul was warning in a most severe way against any objecting to his instruction or continuing the horrible abuses that plagued the church at Corinth.
This severe warning was very personal, in that it was directed to “any man” among them.
The church had been told what to do with them, but Paul invoked the Lord (5:1-13).
The Corinthians, or rather some among them, were in love with themselves, not Christ.
16:23 Paul signed his standard salutatory signature that was his token in every epistle.
Having indicated he would sign the epistle, he gave three verses of warning and blessing.
This particular verse contains his specific token indicating his authorship (II Thess 3:17-18).
16:24 Due to the sobriety of this epistle in correcting abuses, Paul adds an affectionate closing.
He trusted that every member in Corinth would know that he loved greatly in Christ Jesus.
It is simple wisdom that we always temper correction and punishment with true affection.
True affection and love can hardly be outside Christ Jesus, for there is no comparable bond.
We may clearly see a number of valuable lessons in this oft-neglected chapter concluding Paul’s first epistle.
Conscientious care of the poor marks true Christianity and apostolic religion (16:1-3; Acts 20:34-35).
Ministers are to be treated with utmost respect as ambassadors of Jesus Christ (16:10-11; I Thes 5:12-13).
True Christianity is a militant religion in its war against the flesh, the world, and Satan (16:13; I Pet 2:11).
Love is the single most important feature of a Christian’s life and conduct in all spheres (16:14; 12:31).
Those who always serve are esteemed by God and should be esteemed by others (16:15; Mark 10:42-45).
Affection between and among the saints of God in one or more churches is apostolic (16:20; John 13:35).
Jesus is a great King, and therefore is worthy of our devoted affection and obedience (16:22; Mal 1:14).
Let us learn to read the word of God carefully, considering its context and intent, looking for our duties.