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Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
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CHAPTER 16

1Co 16:1-24. Directions as to the Collection for the Judean Christians: Paul's Future Plans: He Commends to Them Timothy, Apollos, &C. Salutations and Conclusions.

1. collection for the saints—at Jerusalem (Ro 15:26) and in Judea (Ac 11:29, 30; 24:17; compare 2Co 8:4; 9:1, 12). He says "saints" rather than "the poor," to remind the Corinthians that in giving, it is to the Lord's people, their own brethren in the faith. Towards the close of the national existence of the Jews, Judea and Jerusalem were harassed with various troubles, which in part affected the Jewish Christians. The community of goods which existed among them for a time gave temporary relief but tended ultimately to impoverish all by paralyzing individual exertion (Ac 2:44), and hence was soon discontinued. A beautiful fruit of grace it was, that he who had by persecutions robbed many of their all (Ac 26:10), should become the foremost in exertions for their relief.

as I have given—rather, "gave order," namely, during my journey through Galatia, that mentioned in Ac 18:23. The churches of Galatia and Phrygia were the last which Paul visited before writing this Epistle. He was now at Ephesus, and came thither immediately from visiting them (Ac 18:23; 19:1). That he had not been silent in Galatia on contributions for the poor, appears from the hint let fall in his Epistle to that church (Ga 2:10): an undesigned coincidence and mark of genuineness [Paley, Horæ Paulinæ]. He proposes the Galatians as an example to the Corinthians, the Corinthians to the Macedonians, the Corinthians and Macedonians to the Romans (Ro 15:26, 27; 2Co 9:2). There is great force in example.

2. first day of … week—already kept sacred by Christians as the day of the Lord's resurrection, the beginning day both of the physical and of the new spiritual creations: it gradually superseded the Jewish sabbath on the seventh day (Ps 118:22-24; Joh 20:19, 26; Ac 20:7; Re 1:10). So the beginning of the year was changed from autumn to spring when Israel was brought out of Egypt. Three annual feasts, all typical of Christian truths, were directed to be kept on the first day of the week: the feast of the wave offering of the first sheaf, answering to the Lord's resurrection; Pentecost, or the feast of weeks, typical of the fruits of the resurrection in the Christian Church (Le 23:11, 15, 16, 36); the feast of tabernacles at harvest, typical of the ingathering of the full number of the elect from one end of heaven to the other. Easter was directed to be kept as a holy sabbath (Ex 12:16). The Christian Sabbath commemorates the respective works of the Three Persons of the Triune God—creation, redemption (the resurrection), and sanctification (on Pentecost the Holy Ghost being poured out). Jesus came to fulfil the Spirit of the Law, not to cancel it, or to lower its standard. The primary object of the sabbath is holiness, not merely rest: "Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day." Compare Ge 2:3, "God blessed and sanctified it, because … in it He had rested," &c. The word "Remember" implies that it was in existence before the giving of the law from Sinai, and refers to its institution in Paradise (compare Ex 16:22, 23, 26, 30). "Six days shalt thou labor": the spirit of the command is fulfilled whether the six days' labor be on the last six days or on the first. A perpetual sabbath would doubtless be the highest Christian ideal; but living in a world of business where the Christian ideal is not yet realized, if a law of definite times was necessary in Paradise, it is still more so now.

every one of yon—even those in limited circumstances.

lay by him—though there be not a weekly public collection, each is privately to set apart a definite proportion of his weekly income for the Lord's cause and charity.

in store—abundantly: the earnest of a better store laid up for the giver (1Ti 6:19).

as God hath prospered him—literally, "whatsoever he may be prospered in," or "may by prosperity have acquired" [Alford], (Mt 25:15-29; 2Co 8:12).

that there be no gatherings when I come—that they may not then have to be made, when your and my time ought to be employed m more directly spiritual things. When men give once for all, not so much is given. But when each lays by something every Lord's day, more is collected than one would have given at once [Bengel].

3. approve by your letters—rather translate, "Whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I send with letters": namely, letters to several persons at Jerusalem, which would be their credentials. There could be no need of letters from them before Paul's coming, if the persons recommended were not to be sent off before it. Literally, "by letters"; an abbreviated expression for "I will send, recommending them by letters" [Grotius]. If English Version be retained, the sense will be, "When I come, I will send those whom by your letters, then to be given them, ye shall approve." But the antithesis (opposition or contrast) to Paul himself (1Co 16:4) favors Grotius' view. So "by" means with (Ro 2:27); and the Greek for "by" is translated, with (2Co 2:4).

liberality—literally, gracious or free gift (2Co 8:4).

4. meet—"worth while." If your collections be large enough to be worth an apostle's journey (a stimulus to their liberality), I will accompany them myself instead of giving them letters credential (1Co 16:3; compare Ac 20:1-4).

with me—to guard against all possible suspicion of evil (2Co 8:4, 19-21).

5-7. His first intention had been (2Co 1:15, 16) to pass through them (Corinth) to Macedonia, and again return to them from Macedonia, and so to Judea; this he had announced in the lost epistle (1Co 5:9); now having laid aside this intention (for which he was charged with levity, 2Co 1:17, &c., whereas it was through lenity, 2Co 1:23; 2:1), he announces his second plan of "not seeing them now by the way," but "passing through Macedonia" first on his way to them, and then "tarrying a while," and even "abiding and wintering with them."

for I do pass—as much as to say, "This is what I at last resolve upon" (not as the erroneous subscription of the Epistle represents it, as if he was THEN at Philippi, on his way through Macedonia); implying that there had been some previous communication upon the subject of the journey, and also that there had been some indecisiveness in the apostle's plan [Paley]. In accordance with his second plan, we find him in Macedonia when Second Corinthians was written (2Co 2:13; 8:1; 9:2, 4), and on his way to Corinth (2Co 12:14; 13:1; compare Ac 20:1, 2). "Pass through" is opposed to "abide" (1Co 16:6). He was not yet in Macedonia (as 1Co 16:8 shows), but at Ephesus; but he was thinking of passing through it (not abiding as he purposed to do at Corinth).

6. He did "abide and even winter" for the three WINTER months in Greece (Corinth), Ac 20:3, 6; from which passage it seems that Paul probably left Corinth about a month before the "days of unleavened bread" or the Passover (so as to allow time to touch at Thessalonica and Berea, from which cities two of his companions were; as we read he did at Philippi); so that thus the three months at Corinth would be December, January, and February [Birks, Horæ Apostolicæ].

ye—emphatical in the Greek.

whithersoever I go—He purposed to go to Judea (2Co 1:16) from Corinth, but his plans were not positively fixed as yet (see on 1Co 16:4; compare Ac 19:21).

7. I will not see you now by the way—literally, "I do not wish to see you this time in passing"; that is, to pay you now what would have to be a merely passing visit as I did in the second visit (2Co 12:14). In contrast to "a while," that is, some time, as the Greek might better be translated.

but—The oldest manuscripts read "for."

8. at Ephesus—whence Paul writes this Epistle. Compare 1Co 16:19, "Asia," wherein Ephesus was.

until Pentecost—He seems to have stayed as he here purposes: for just when the tumult which drove him away broke out, he was already intending to leave Ephesus (Ac 19:21, 22). Combined with 1Co 5:7, 8, this verse fixes the date of this Epistle to a few weeks before Pentecost, and very soon after the Passover.

9. door—(2Co 2:12). An opening for the extension of the Gospel. Wise men are on the watch for, and avail themselves of, opportunities. So "door of hope," Ho 2:15. "Door of faith," Ac 14:27. "An open door," Re 3:8. "A door of utterance," Col 4:3. "Great," that is, extensive. "Effectual," that is, requiring great labors [Estius]; or opportune for effecting great results [Beza].

many adversaries—who would block up the way and prevent us from entering the open door. Not here false teachers, but open adversaries: both Jews and heathen. After Paul, by his now long-continued labors at Ephesus, had produced effects which threatened the interests of those whose gains were derived from idolatry, "many adversaries" arose (Ac 19:9-23). Where great good is, there evil is sure to start up as its antagonist.

10. Now—rather, "But." Therefore Timothy was not the bearer of the Epistle; for it would not then be said, "IF Timothy come." He must therefore have been sent by Paul from Ephesus before this Epistle was written, to accord with 1Co 4:17-19; and yet the passage here implies that Paul did not expect him to arrive at Corinth till after the letter was received. He tells them how to treat him "if" he should arrive. Ac 19:21, 22 clears up the difficulty: Timothy, when sent from Ephesus, where this Epistle was written, did not proceed direct to Corinth, but went first to Macedonia; thus though sent before the letter, he might not reach Corinth till after it was received in that city. The undesigned coincidence between the Epistle and the history, and the clearing up of the meaning of the former (which does not mention the journey to Macedonia at all) by the latter, is a sure mark of genuineness [Paley, Horæ Paulinæ]. It is not certain that Timothy actually reached Corinth; for in Ac 19:22 only Macedonia is mentioned; but it does not follow that though Macedonia was the immediate object of his mission, Corinth was not the ultimate object. The "IF Timothy come," implies uncertainty. 2Co 1:1 represents him with Paul in Macedonia; and 2Co 12:18, speaking of Titus and others sent to Corinth, does not mention Timothy, which it would have probably done, had one so closely connected with the apostle as Timothy was, stayed as his delegate at Corinth. The mission of Titus then took place, when it became uncertain whether Timothy could go forward from Macedonia to Corinth, Paul being anxious for immediate tidings of the state of the Corinthian Church. Alford argues that if so, Paul's adversaries would have charged him with fickleness in this case also (2Co 1:17), as in the case of his own change of purpose. But Titus was sent directly to Corinth, so as to arrive there before Timothy could by the route through Macedonia. Titus' presence would thus make amends for the disappointment as to the intended visit of Timothy and would disarm adversaries of a charge in this respect (2Co 7:6, 7).

without fear—Referring perhaps to a nervous timidity in Timothy's character (1Ti 3:15; 5:22, 24). His youth would add to this feeling, as well as his country, Lystra, likely to be despised in refined Corinth.

11. despise—This charge is not given concerning any other of the many messengers whom Paul sent. 1Ti 4:12 accounts for it (compare Ps 119:141). He was a young man, younger probably than those usually employed in the Christian missions; whence Paul apprehending lest he should, on that account, be exposed to contempt, cautions him, "Let no man despise thy youth" [Paley, Horæ Paulinæ].

conduct—set him on his way with every mark of respect, and with whatever he needs (Tit 3:13).

in peace—(Ac 15:33; Heb 11:31). "Peace" is the salutation of kindness and respect in the East; and so it stands for every blessing. Perhaps here there is too a contrast between "peace" and the "contentions" prevalent at Corinth (1Co 1:11).

I look for him—He and Titus were appointed to meet Paul in Troas, whither the apostle purposed proceeding from Ephesus (2Co 2:12, 13). Paul thus claims their respect for Timothy as one whom he felt so necessary to himself as "look for" to him [Theophylact].

with the brethren—Others besides Erastus accompanied Timothy to Macedonia (compare 1Co 16:12; Ac 19:22).

12. Apollos, I greatly desired … to come unto you—He says this lest they should suspect that he from jealousy prevented Apollos' coming to them; perhaps they had expressly requested Apollos to be sent to them. Apollos was not at Ephesus when Paul wrote (compare 1Co 16:19, and 1Co 1:1). Probably Apollos' unwillingness to go to Corinth at this time was because, being aware of the undue admiration of his rhetorical style which led astray many at Corinth, he did not wish to sanction it (1Co 1:12; 3:4). Paul's noble freedom from all selfish jealousy led him to urge Apollos to go; and, on the other hand, Apollos, having heard of the abuse of his name at Corinth to party purposes, perseveringly refused to go. Paul, of course, could not state in his letter particularly these reasons in the existing state of division prevalent there. He calls Apollos "brother" to mark the unity that was between the two.

with the brethren—who bear this letter (1Co 16:17). (See 1Co 16:24, subscription added to the Epistle). Conybeare thinks Titus was one of the bearers of this first letter (2Co 8:6, 16-24; 12:18). Alford thinks "the brethren" here may be the same as in 1Co 16:11.

convenient time—Apollos did return to Corinth when their divisions were moderated [Jerome], and so it was a more seasonable time.

13. He shows that they ought to make their hopes of salvation to depend not on Apollos or any other teacher; that it rests with themselves. "Watch ye": for ye are slumbering. "Stand": for ye are like men tottering. "Quit you like men; be strong": for ye are effeminate (1Co 16:14). "Let all your things be done with charity" (1Co 8:1; 13:1): not with strifes as at present [Chrysostom]. "In the faith" which was assailed by some (1Co 15:1, 2, 12-17).

15. first-fruits of Achaia—the first Achæan converts (compare Ro 16:5). The image is from the first-fruits offered to the Lord (Le 23:10; compare 1Co 15:20). The members of this family had been baptized by Paul himself (1Co 1:16).

addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints—Translate, "Set themselves, (that is, voluntarily) to minister unto the saints" (compare 2Co 8:4).

16. That ye—Translate, "That ye also," namely, in your turn … in return for their self-devotion [Alford].

helpeth with—them.

laboureth—by himself.

17. Fortunatus … Achaicus—probably of Stephanas' household.

that … lacking on your part—So far as you were unable yourselves to "refresh my spirit," in that you are absent from me, "they have supplied" by coming to me from you, and so supplying the means of intercourse between you and me. They seem to have carried this letter back; see the subscription below: hence the exhortations, 1Co 16:16, 18, as though they would be at Corinth when the Epistle arrived.

18. refreshed my spirit and yours—"yours" will be refreshed on receiving this letter, by knowing that "my spirit is refreshed" by their having come to me from you; and (perhaps) by the good report they gave of many of you (1Co 1:4-8); my refreshment of spirit redounds to yours, as being my disciples (2Co 7:13; compare Zec 6:8).

acknowledge—render them due acknowledgments by a kind reception of them: 1Th 5:12, "know" them in their true worth and treat them accordingly.

19. Asia—not all Asia Minor, but Lydian Asia only, of which Ephesus was the capital.

much—with especial affection.

Aquila … Priscilla—(Compare Ac 18:2; Ro 16:3, 4). Originally driven out of Italy by Claudius, they had come to Corinth (whence their salutation of the Corinthians is appropriate here), and then had removed with Paul from Corinth to Ephesus (Ac 18:2, 18, 19, 26); here, as at Rome subsequently, they set up a Church (or assembly of believers) at their house (Ro 16:3, 5). A pattern to Christian husbands and wives. Their Christian self-devoting love appears wherever they were (Ro 16:3, 4). Even the gifted Apollos, so highly admired at Corinth, owed much of his knowledge to them (Ac 18:24-26). In 1Co 16:20, "All the brethren" (that is, the whole Church) seem to be distinguished from "the church that is in their house," which was but a partial and private assembly out of the general Church at Corinth. Neander thinks Ro 16:23 refers to "the whole Church" meeting at the house of Gaius (compare Col 4:15). "Synagogue" implies an assembly in general, without reference to the character or motives of its members. "Church," like the Hebrew Kahal, implies an assembly legally convened; as, for instance, the Jews met as a body politic to receive the law (hence Stephen calls it "the Church in the wilderness," Ac 7:38), and having a legal bond of union. Christ's followers when dispersed from one another cease to be a congregation (synagogue), but still are a Church, having the common bond of union to the same Head by the same faith and hope [Vitringa, Synagogue and Temple]. From this we may explain Paul's entering "into every house and haling men and women": he would in searching for Christians go to their several "houses"' of prayer.

in the Lord—They pray for all blessings on you from the Lord, the source of every good [Grotius]. Alford explains, "in a Christian manner," as mindful of your common Lord. "In the Lord" seems to me to refer to their union together in Christ, their prayers for one another's good being in virtue of that union.

20. holy kiss—the token of the mutual love of Christians, especially at the Lord's Supper (compare Ro 16:16; 1Th 5:26), "in which all the dissensions of the Corinthians would be swallowed up" [Bengel].

21. salutation … with mine own hand—He therefore dictated all the rest of the Epistle.

22. A solemn closing warning added in his own hand as in Eph 6:24; Col 4:18.

the Lord—who ought to be "loved" above Paul, Apollos, and all other teachers. Love to one another is to be in connection with love to Him above all. Ignatius [Epistle to the Romans, 7] writes of Christ, "My love, has been crucified" (compare So 2:7).

Jesus Christ—omitted in the oldest manuscripts.

let him be Anathemaaccursed with that curse which the Jews who call Jesus "accursed" (1Co 12:3) are bringing righteously on their own heads [Bengel]. So far from "saluting" him, I bid him be accursed.

MaranathaSyriac for, "the Lord cometh." A motto or watchword to urge them to preparedness for the Lord's coming; as in Php 4:5, "The Lord is at hand."

23. The grace, &c.—This is the salutation meant in 1Co 16:21; and from which unbelievers (1Co 16:22; compare 2Jo 10:11) are excluded [Bengel].

24. My love, &c.—After having administered some severe rebukes, he closes with expressions of "love": his very rebukes were prompted by love, and therefore are altogether in harmony with the profession of love here made: it was love in Christ Jesus, and therefore embraced "all" who loved Him.

The subscription represents the Epistle as written from Philippi. 1Co 16:8 shows it was written at Ephesus. Bengel conjectures that perhaps, however, it was sent from Philippi (1Co 16:5), because the deputies of the Corinthians had accompanied Paul thither. From Ephesus there was a road to Corinth above Philippi.

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