The End of the Letter: Commentary on 1 Corinthians 16

The ending of 1 Corinthians was possible to preach on a Sunday, but since the ideas could be categorized as "odds and ends" I felt it better to teach the text through this brief commentary online. The text is italicized while my comments are in brackets. For those who are curious, I develop a commentary like this, for myself, every week as an early step in my sermon preparation.

I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, [this is the central part of modern day Greece and included the cities of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea] for I intend to pass through Macedonia, 6 and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. [Help me on my journey is a reference to financial support] 7 For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, [Ephesus was in modern day Turkey referred to as Asia] 9 for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, [here we see a ministry-based rubric for decision making. How should I decided when to move, when to stay, where to go? It depends on what kind of effective ministry is available to me...] and there are many adversaries. [Actual, legitimate adversaries exist that wish harm to Christians. Those who have a fundamental belief that people are inherently good are often surprised and unprepared when they encounter people who wish them harm.]

10 When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. 11 So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers. [You can despise someone because they are younger than you and exercising authority. You can also despise someone who, by righteous living, exposes your way of life as sinful, chaotic, and disordered. The church is instructed to guard themselves against this attitude ahead of time.]

Final Instructions

12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity. [I don't know why this is.]

13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. [Here the injunction is to men and women that they are to stand firm in the midst of trial, testing, and temptation. They must be on alert. They must act like men. The sense of which is to face bravely and with courage things they might be tempted to ignore, flee, or cower from. Then they are instructed to do everything in love which echoes the central theme of chapters 12-14, cultivating in chapter 13: the love chapter.]

15 Now I urge you, brothers—you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— 16 be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. ["be subject" is almost anti-American but very biblical. they are not to make you subject, you are to voluntarily BE subject] 17 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, 18 for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people. [recognize and honor faithful ministers and ministry helpers, what might this look like for us?]


19 The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, [two of Pauls most loved and respected co-workers in Ephesus] together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. 20 All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. [a culturally specific command to warm greetings that are untainted by evil motives and sin]

21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. [because most, if not all, letters were written by amanuensis, that is, a literary secretary who receives dictation] 22 If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.