John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
1 Corinthians 16
INTRODUCTION TO 1 CORINTHIANS 16
This chapter concludes the epistle, with some directions to the Corinthians concerning a collection for the poor saints; with some intimations of himself, Timothy, and Apollos coming to them, and giving them a visit; with exhortations to watchfulness, constancy, courage, and charity; with recommendations of some persons to them mentioned by name; with divers salutations of them by himself and others; and with his good wishes for them. He urges them to make a collection for the poor saints, from the example of the churches of Galatia, according to his order, 1 Corinthians 16:1. He points out the time when he would have it made, on the first day of the week; and the persons that should contribute to it, every member of the church; and the act of distribution, by laying up in store; and the manner, measure, and rule of doing it, according as they were blessed in Providence with temporal things; and the end of it, that there might be no collections to make when the apostle should come among them, 1 Corinthians 16:2 and this, when made, and being ready at his coming, he proposes to send to Jerusalem, by persons approved of and recommended by them, 1 Corinthians 16:3 and that he would also go along with them, should it be thought fit and proper, 1 Corinthians 16:4. He signifies his resolution of coming and paying them a visit, when he should pass through Macedonia, 1 Corinthians 16:5 when he had some thoughts of tarrying with them for a while, at least throughout the winter season, 1 Corinthians 16:6 in all which he submits to the will of God, 1 Corinthians 16:7. The reason why he could not come as yet was, because he had determined to stay at Ephesus till Pentecost, where he now was, 1 Corinthians 16:8 and what prevailed upon him to stay there was, because there was an opportunity of preaching the Gospel with a prospect of success; and there were many enemies to hinder it all they could, and therefore the apostle's presence seemed necessary, 1 Corinthians 16:9. He intimates, that Timothy would come to them shortly, and exhorts them to take care of him, and carry it respectfully to him; giving this as a reason, because he was engaged in the same work of the Lord he himself was, 1 Corinthians 16:10. He enjoins them, that whilst he should continue with them they would not despise him on account of his youth; and when he should depart from them, to conduct him in peace to him who was in expectation of him, along with other brethren, 1 Corinthians 16:11 and then he excuses Apollos not coming to them at present; and observes, that it was not for want of entreaty in him, but for want of will in Apollos, who notwithstanding would come when a convenient time should offer, 1 Corinthians 16:12. Next follow several exhortations to be upon their watch and guard, to be steadfast in the doctrine, grace, and profession of faith, and to behave themselves like men of a truly Christian spirit and courage, and to do everything in their church state in the exercise of the grace of love, 1 Corinthians 16:13 and then he recommends unto them the family of Stephanas, and exhorts them to have them in respect and reverence, and be subject to such, and particularly that family; partly because they were the firstfruits of his ministry, in those parts; and partly because they had given up themselves to the ministry of the saints, 1 Corinthians 16:15 as also because the coming of Stephanas to him, together with two other persons, named Fortunatus and Achaicus, had made him glad; supplied what was lacking in them; had refreshed his spirit and theirs; and therefore should be took notice of, and respectfully used, 1 Corinthians 16:17. And then follow various salutations, first of the churches of Asia in general, then of Aquila and Priscilla, and the church in their house, 1 Corinthians 16:19. Next of all the brethren at Ephesus, or that were with the apostle, 1 Corinthians 16:20 and last of all of the apostle himself, 1 Corinthians 16:21. And the chapter is closed with several wishes of different sorts, and which respect different persons; those that love not Christ, and live and die so, he wishes they may be accursed at the coming of the Lord, as they will be; and which is mentioned to deter professors of religion from everything that looked like want of love to Christ, whom they professed, 1 Corinthians 16:22 as for others, even as many as loved Christ, and which he hoped of them all, he wishes the grace of Christ might be with them, 1 Corinthians 16:23 and gives his love to them all, without any distinction; and which is to be understood not of a natural, but spiritual affection, it being in Christ, and for his sake, 1 Corinthians 16:24.
Now concerning the collection for the saints,.... Not at Corinth, but at Jerusalem, as appears from 1 Corinthians 16:3 for the poor saints there, who were reduced to poverty, either through the spoiling of their goods by their persecuting countrymen; or through the selling of their possessions, and putting their substance into one common stock, which was now exhausted, partly by their living upon it, and partly by the expending of it for the enlargement of the interest of Christ, and the spread of his Gospel among the Gentiles; so that it was but fit and reasonable that they should assist them in their necessitous circumstances: wherefore the apostle, after he had gone through the various subjects he thought fit to write upon, relating both to doctrine and practice, proceeds to give some orders, directions, and instructions, concerning this matter.
As I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. The churches of Galatia were those he wrote an epistle to, which bears their name, and in which he takes notice of the request of the apostles at Jerusalem to him, that he would remember the poor as he travelled through the Gentile countries, and which, no doubt, he mentions, as a hint unto them to collect for them. Galatians 2:10 though the order he here speaks of was doubtless given them when he passed through the region of Galatia, Acts 16:6. This he observes by way of example to the church at Corinth, and to show them, that what he ordered them was no other than what he enjoined other churches, and which they were ready to come into, as these in Galatia, and also in Macedonia; and designs this as a spur unto them, that if the Galatians, who were a more rude and uncultivated people, being now called by grace, were ready to such a good work, they who were a more polite people, and used to civility, humanity, and tenderness, would not be backward to it.
Upon the first day of the week,.... In an ancient copy of Beza's, and in some others, it is added, "the Lord's day". Upon some one first day of the week, or more, if there was a necessity for it, until the collection was finished; though the Syriac and Arabic versions render it, "every first day": but this is not the apostle's intention, that a collection should be made every first day, but only on some one day, or as long as it was necessary: for at the close of the verse he gives this reason for it, "that there be no gatherings when I come": whereas, if this collection was to have been every first day, and to have been always continued, it must have been when he was present, as well as when absent; but this was only designed for a certain time, and on a certain account: the reason of his fixing upon the first day of the week was, because on this day the disciples of Christ, and the primitive churches, met together for divine worship, to hear the word, and observe the ordinances of Christ; see John 20:19 and was a very fit reason for such a work, when their hearts were warmed with the presence of God and Christ, with the grace of the Spirit, and the doctrines of the Gospel, and their affections were knit to one another, and to all the saints: and so we find from the accounts of Justin Martyr
"The alms dish was every day, but the alms chest from evening of the sabbath to the evening of the sabbath,'
It was collected and distributed then, as their commentators say
Let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him. The persons who are to contribute are everyone, of every sex, age, state, and condition, male and female, young and old, servants and masters, the meaner as well as the richer sort; the poor widow threw in her mite into the treasury as well as the rich men: the act of communication or distribution is signified by laying by him in store; for this is not to be understood of separating a part of his substance from the rest, and laying it up בביתה, "in his own house", as the Syriac version renders it, or the putting it in his pocket in order to give it; though both these acts may be necessary, as preparatory to the work: but it intends the very act itself: for communicating to the poor is laying up in store a good foundation for the time to come; it is a laying up treasure in heaven, and riches there, which will never corrupt: the manner in which this is to be done, and the measure of it, "as God hath prospered him"; according to the success he has in his worldly business, and the increase of his worldly substance, and which is the way to have it enlarged. The Jews have a saying
"if a man observes his provisions to be straitened, let him do alms of them, how much more if they are large.'
The Vulgate Latin version renders, it, "laying up what pleases him well"; and the Arabic version, "what through liberality he pleases, and shall be convenient for him"; for this ought to be a freewill offering, as a matter of bounty and generosity, and not of covetousness, or of force and necessity, but as a man, of himself has purposed in his own heart, and which he does with cheerfulness and freedom.
That there be no gatherings when I come; who had other work, and greater service to do among them; besides, he was desirous of having this collection over and ready when he came, that he might directly send it away to Jerusalem, knowing the pressing necessities of the saints there.
And when I come,.... To Corinth, as he intended very quickly:
whomsoever you shall approve by your letters; that is, such persons as this church should approve, and choose, and fix upon as proper persons to go with their collection; which approbation and choice they would signify by letters to the church, and principal men of it in Jerusalem, giving them a character as men of probity and faithfulness:
them will I send. The Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions join the phrase, "by letters", to this clause; according to which reading the sense is, such as the church should choose for this service, the apostle would send with letters of commendation from him, to the elders and church at Jerusalem, recommending them as brethren in the Lord, and to be had in respect, and treated in a Christian manner by them; to which their being messengers from such a church, and having letters from so great an apostle; besides, the business they should come about would entitle them to, which was
to bring your liberality, or "grace",
unto Jerusalem; meaning the money collected for the poor saints there; which he calls grace, because it was owing to the goodness of God, that they were in a capacity to contribute to others, and to the grace of God that they had a heart to do it; and because it was in a free and gracious manner, and in the exercise of grace, of faith in Christ, and love to the saints, that they did it, and with a view to the glory of the grace of God, of which this was a fruit and evidence.
And if it be meet that I go also,.... If it should be convenient for me to go, or it should be thought proper and expedient that I should go; or, as the Syriac version renders it, "if this work should be worthy that I should go"; and the Arabic version, "if the thing should be worthy to go with me"; that is, their beneficence; if so large a collection should be made, that it will be worthy of an apostle to go along with it, hereby artfully pressing them to a good collection:
they shall go with me; that is, those brethren whom the church shall approve and send; for he would not go alone, nor propose it, to remove all suspicion of converting any money to his own use.
Now I will come unto you,.... Which he again assures them of, as being his real intention and design; though some had given out that he would not come to them any more, and hoped they should never see him any more; see 1 Corinthians 4:18.
When I shall pass through Macedonia; hereby fixing the time when he intended to visit them after he had gone through that country, and had received their collections for the saints at Jerusalem, which the churches there so generously made, and pressed him to the ministering of, of which he speaks in his next epistle.
For I do pass through Macedonia; not that he was then passing through Macedonia, or was in it, and so at Philippi, from whence this epistle is said to be written, as the subscription at the end of it expresses, for he was now at Ephesus; see 1 Corinthians 16:8 and from thence was this epistle written; he was not in Macedonia till some time after, see 2 Corinthians 2:12 but the sense is, that he should take his tour through Macedonia; and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "for I shall pass through Macedonia"; and so coming into Greece, he intended to come to Corinth, and stay some time with them.
And it may be that I will abide,.... He could not be certain what calls in Providence he might have to some other places, where his presence would be necessary:
yea, and winter with you; stay all winter with them, for the space of three months, as we read he did in Greece, Acts 20:1.
That ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go; both by accompanying him in person themselves, in token of honour and respect, and by providing things necessary for his journey; see Acts 15:3.
For I will not see you now by the way,.... Just to look upon them, and be gone, be like a wayfaring man that tarries but for a night:
but I trust to tarry a while with you; the whole winter season:
if the Lord permit; submitting all to the will of God, at whose sovereign disposal he always was, and at whose beck and command he desired to be, and to do nothing, or be any where, but what was agreeable to the will of God.
But I will tarry at Ephesus till Pentecost. The feast of weeks, or of harvest, which was fifty days from the passover; See Gill on Acts 2:1 which though abrogated at the death of Christ, was observed by the Jews, and is mentioned by the apostle, not as a festival that the Christians were obliged to regard, or did regard, but as pointing out the time he intended to stay at Ephesus: and we elsewhere read, that he was greatly desirous of being at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, Acts 20:16 not to keep it, but because there would then be abundance of people from all parts there, to whom he should have an opportunity of preaching the Gospel.
For a great door,.... Meaning an opportunity of ministering the word at Ephesus, a very populous city, and where he might have hope great good would be done. Some think that by this fair opportunity, or hopeful prospect, he means the populousness of the city; others, the conversion of some great men in it, which had made way for the introduction of Gospel there: but it seems rather to intend the desire that there appeared in many persons here to have the Gospel preached unto them; they flocked unto it; their hearts were opened to attend to it, and great numbers believed; and the apostle found a door of utterance in himself, and a door of entrance in them, which were reasons with him to tarry here.
And effectual is opened to me; not by him, but to him: this door was opened by him who has the key of David, that opens, and no man shuts; and the door of faith being opened by him, it was effectual to the quickening of sinners dead in trespasses and sins, to the enlightening of blind eyes, unstopping of deaf ears, and softening hard hearts; to the turning of souls from the power of Satan to God, to the quickening, comforting, and establishing of saints, and indeed to salvation to all that believe; which is the case when the word comes, not in word only, but in power; then it works effectually in them that believe; and since there was an opportunity of preaching the Gospel with such good effect, the apostle was desirous of making use of it:
and there are many adversaries; as there always are where the Gospel is preached, and especially with success, when sinners are converted, and saints are edified and comforted. The adversary Satan roars, and the posse of devils under him are employed one way or another to obstruct the Gospel if possible; false teachers are raised up to oppose it, and profane men are instigated by him to persecute the preachers and professors of it: so it was at Ephesus, the Jews disputed against it, and spoke evil of it; Demetrius the silversmith, and those of his craft, rose up in a tumultuous manner, crying, great is Diana of the Ephesians, stirring up the people against the apostle, and his companions; all which he had some foreviews of, and found to be true by experience, as may be seen in Acts 19:21 and which, though to another man would have been a reason to have departed, was a reason with him to stay; to bear his testimony to the Gospel, to appear in the defence of it, against the disputers of this world, and to strengthen and establish the minds of weak believers in it, who might have been in some danger through so many adversaries; wherefore he saw and judged that his presence was necessary, and that it was proper for him to stay the time he mentions.
Now if Timotheus come,.... The apostle had sent him already, as appears from 1 Corinthians 4:17 and he was now gone from him; but whether he might not be prevented by unforeseen incidents in his journey, he could not say; and therefore speaks cautiously of his coming; from whence it is evident, that this epistle was not sent by Timothy, as the subscription to it suggests.
See that he may be with you without fear; should he come to them, the apostle desires they would take care of him, that he might be safe and secure from enemies of every sort, of which there were many at Corinth; who, as they were of a malignant disposition to him, would use a disciple of his ill: and these were not only, or so much, infidels and profane sinners, but false teachers, and the factions under them, and especially they of the circumcision.
For he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do; which is a reason why they should be careful of him, that nobody molest him, and put him into fear; since though he was not in so high an office as the apostle, yet he was called to the same work of the ministry, was engaged in the same service of Christ, and was zealous in promoting the same common cause, interest, and kingdom of the Redeemer, and faithfully preached the same Gospel as the apostle did; and therefore would doubtless meet with the same enemies, and be in the same danger.
Let no man therefore despise him,.... On account of his youth; see 1 Timothy 4:12, or neglect to take care of him, which would be to despise him, since he was employed in such an honourable work, equally as the apostle himself: hence it is manifest, that as the lives of Gospel ministers ought to be defended and secured by those to whom they minister, their persons ought to be treated with esteem and respect.
But conduct him forth in peace; when he takes his leave, wish him all happiness and prosperity, accompany him some part of the way in his journey, and provide things necessary for him; all which used to be done to such who laboured in the word and doctrine, and were counted worthy of double honour; and such an one Timothy was judged by the apostle to be:
that he may come unto me; at Ephesus, where he now was, in peace and safety, and relate to him the state and condition of the church; their steadfastness in the faith, their care of him, and the respect they had shown him; all which would be grateful to the apostle:
for I look for him with the brethren; that is, either the brethren that were with the apostle were in earnest expectation of him, together with himself; and so the Ethiopic version reads, "for our brethren with me have expected him"; or else that he looked for him along with the brethren, that either went with him, or should come with him from Corinth, being sent by the church.
As touching our brother Apollos,.... Who was a senior man to Timothy, an eloquent preacher, one who had been at Corinth, and was well known to the saints there, and greatly approved by many of them; wherefore the apostle excuses it, that he should send the one, and not the other, and shows that it was no fault of his: for, says he,
I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren; who seem to be Timotheus and Erastus, see Acts 19:22. He greatly importuned him to go along with them, knowing how acceptable he would be among them, and hoping he might be of great use to them in composing their differences, and rectifying their disorders.
But his will was not at all to come at this time; or "it was not the will"; that is, of God, as some supply it, for him to come now; or he had no mind himself, nor could he be persuaded; he had reasons to himself why he judged it not proper to come at present: however, for their encouragement it is added,
but he will come when he shall have convenient time; he is not averse to coming, but some things at present hinder him; when he has a suitable opportunity he will make use of it.
Watch ye,.... The apostle in the mean while, before he closes his epistle, thinks fit to give some proper and pertinent exhortations, which might be of general use to this church; and first exhorts them to watchfulness, not for the coming of Apollos, and a convenient season for that; but over themselves, over their hearts, thoughts, affections, words, actions, and their whole conversations; and over one another, that they go not into bad principles, and evil practices; and also against sin in general, every appearance, and the first motions of it, and particularly unbelief; and against Satan, and his temptations, who is an indefatigable enemy, and whose wiles, devices, and stratagems are many and cunning; and against the world, its charms and snares; and likewise against false teachers, who lie in wait to deceive, and therefore to be guarded against; many of which were among these Corinthians, and made this exhortation very necessary. It became them likewise to watch daily at wisdom's gates, to wait constantly upon God in the word and ordinances, and especially to watch unto prayer, and in it, and after it; to all which it is necessary that they should be awake, and not asleep, to which the wise as well as foolish virgins are subject; that they should be sober, and not be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares of this life; and that they be in their proper station, on their watchtower, keeping a good lookout, and being ready armed, to attack an enemy when descried. Many are the reasons why the saints should be upon their watch and guard; as because they have many eyes upon them; the eyes of the omniscient God are upon them, who sees and takes notice of all their actions; the eyes of angels are upon them, and even in their solemn assemblies; the eyes of saints are upon them, though watching for their good; and the eyes of evil men for their halting; and the eyes of devils are upon them, waiting an opportunity to do them hurt and mischief, if possible. Moreover, unwatchfulness exposes to many evils, temptations, and snares; to which may be added, as an inducement to watchfulness, the uncertainty of Christ's coming either at death, or to judgment.
Stand fast in the faith: which is proper to those that are watchful; for men asleep cannot well stand. This exhortation may respect either standing in the grace of faith, in opposition to doubting and unbelief, and design a continuance in the exercise of it, notwithstanding all the corruptions of nature, and the various sins and infirmities of life, the frequent temptations of Satan, and the many afflictions and trials in the world, which may occasion diffidence and distrust; for standing in this grace, and in such a constant exercise of it, greatly glorifies God, is what is wellpleasing in his sight; and in this way saints have communion with God, peace and comfort in their souls, and much spiritual joy and pleasure: it is the grace by which they stand, and therefore should stand in it, and by which they overcome the world. Or else it may intend standing in the doctrine of faith, in opposition to a departure from it, or a giving up any part of it, or wavering about it; it becomes saints to be steadfast in it, and abide by it, whoever is against it; let them be ever so many, or ever so wise and learned, and whatever may be said against it, as that it is a novel one, a licentious one, and a set of irrational principles, and whatever is the opposition that is made against it, though bonds and afflictions, reproach and persecution in every shape attend it, yet none of these things should move them from it. Perhaps that particular doctrine of faith, the resurrection of the dead, may be greatly regarded. Moreover, standing in the profession of faith, both of the grace and doctrine of faith, may be intended; for as this is to be made, it is to be held fast, and stood fast in, without wavering, by all true believers, who have great encouragement so to do from the person and grace of Christ, and from the love and faithfulness of God, and the many gracious promises he has made. Wherefore,
quit yourselves like men, be strong; a like phrase is often used by the Septuagint interpreters, as in Deuteronomy 31:6, from whence the apostle seems to have taken it. It answers to the Hebrew word התאששו, in Isaiah 46:8.
Quit you like men; like men of wisdom and understanding; be not like children for non-proficiency, instability, and weakness; see 1 Corinthians 14:20; act the part of men; believe not every spirit; be not carried and tossed about with every wind of doctrine; search the Scriptures, and try every doctrine by them; and having found what is truth abide by it, and be proficients in it, instructing and establishing yourselves and others. In which sense the Jews use this phrase, saying
"in a place where there are no men, השתדל להיות איש, "study to be a man", or to show thyself a man;'
which one of their commentators
"use and accustom thyself to obtain excellent things, and afterwards when there are no wise men to teach, then do thou teach thyself.'
""in the place where there is no man" to sit at the head and teach doctrines,'
do thou. Or play the man, as in 2 Samuel 10:12; act like men of valour and courage, stand fast, keep your ground, and contend earnestly for the faith; be valiant for the truth on earth; fight the good fight of faith: it is a good cause believers are engaged in; they have a good Captain and Commander at the head of them; they are provided with good weapons, may be sure of victory, and of having the crown of righteousness, life, and glory: wherefore
be strong; that is, for the faith: so the Targumist on Jeremiah 9:3 renders the phrase, "they are not valiant for the truth, תקיפו לא להימנותא, they are not strong for the faith: be strong"; not in themselves, but in the Lord, and in the power of his might; in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; believe in him, look to him for strength as well as righteousness; trust in his power, whose arm is not shortened; depend on his grace, which is always sufficient; take heart, be of good courage, and fear no enemy; see Joshua 1:6, which seems to be particularly referred to here.
Let all your things be done with charity. Signifying, that the whole of their obedience to Christ, their observation of, and subjection to all his ordinances and commands, should spring from, and be done in love to him; and that the whole of their conduct and behaviour towards one another ought to be with charity, which bears all things, and covers a multitude of sins; and that all their church affairs, their business at church meetings, should be transacted, not with strife and vain glory, but in peace, and with mutual affection, with a concern for the good of each other, and of the whole body, and for the glory of God; for without charity or love, and the exercise of this grace, it signifies little what men either have or do; and such an exhortation was the more necessary to this church, since it was so full of factions, contentions, and divisions.
I beseech you, brethren,.... Entreat or exhort you as brethren in the Lord; this entreaty or exhortation is to submission to fellow helpers and labourers of the ministry, more particularly expressed in the following verse, after the apostle has given a character of the household of Stephanas, who are principally intended, and which contains reasons and arguments why they should be submitted to; and which account stands in the following parenthesis,
ye know the house of Stephanas; a person of note at Corinth, whom the apostle had baptized, together with his family, 1 Corinthians 1:16. The Vulgate Latin version, and some copies, add, "and of Fortunatus and Achaicus", persons mentioned along with Stephanas, in 1 Corinthians 1:17;
that it is the firstfruits of Achaia: this family was one of the first in the regions of Achaia, of which Corinth was the metropolis, that believed in Christ; these were some of the first instances of conversion, and who received the firstfruits of the Spirit in these parts, and by the grace of God had been enabled to persevere hitherto, and were worthy of respect: the same he says of Epaenetus, in Romans 16:5;
and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints; that is, either to minister to the wants of poor saints, whether out of their own substance, or the churches' stock, being deacons, or to minister to the saints by preaching the Gospel; which good work they desired, willingly gave up themselves to, and cheerfully engaged in, and took the oversight and care of the flock, not by constraint, but willingly; not that they thrust themselves into an office, or came into it in an irregular way, but being called into it in an orderly manner by the church, and invested with it, they applied to the execution of it with great heartiness, diligence, and zeal, and so were very deserving of due respect, as next mentioned.
That ye submit yourselves to such,.... To persons of such a character, and in such an office; if in ministering to poor saints, by assisting them, and by putting into their hands; and putting it in their power to discharge their work fully, in which they were so heartily concerned; and if in the work of the ministry of the word, by attending their ministrations, receiving the truths delivered by them with faith and love, so far as they appeared to be agreeably to the word of God; hearkening to their admonitions, counsels and advice, regarding their censures and reproofs by the authority of the church, and in their name, and by subjection to the laws of Christ's house, as put in execution by them, see Hebrews 13:17,
and to everyone that helpeth with us; in any form, whether by relieving the poor, or by preaching the Gospel:
and laboureth; in the Lord's vineyard, in the word and doctrine, for the good of souls, and the glory of Christ: for such are worthy of double honour, and ought to be valued and esteemed for their works' sake, and submitted to in everything that is according to the rules of the Gospel.
I am glad of the coming of Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus,.... Who very probably were those of the household of Chloe, mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:11, who came either of their own accord, or were sent as messengers from the church at Corinth to the apostle; who was glad to see them, one of them being baptized by him, and perhaps all of them converted under his ministry: however, they were believers in Christ, if not ministers of the Gospel, which seems very probable.
For that which was lacking on your part they have supplied; which is not to be understood of their supplying him with money, in which the Corinthians had been deficient; for as he had never taken anything of them, he was determined he never would; see 2 Corinthians 11:7; but either of their presence which supplied the want of theirs, the apostle had been for some time greatly desirous of; or whereas they had been greatly wanting in sending him an account of the state of the church, and how things stood with them, these brethren greatly supplied that defect, by giving him a very particular account of their church affairs.
For they have refreshed my spirit,.... By their coming and presence; the very sight of them gave him joy and pleasure, and more so their Christian discourse and conversation, and especially the account they brought of this church; for though there were many things in it which were very disagreeable, and were the occasion of this epistle, yet there were others related, which were exceedingly pleasing to the apostle, and revived his spirit, which had been greatly depressed by what he might have heard of them from another quarter, and through fear that it was worse with them than it really was; for by these brethren he understood, that there were many in the church that had great grace, and large gifts bestowed on them, so that they came behind none in these things; and were steadfast in the faith of the Gospel, and with rigour opposed the false teachers; and in all things sought the welfare of the church, and the interest of Christ; and this was good news to the apostle, and which exhilarated his spirit: and he adds,
and yours; his spirit and theirs, in divine things, being the same; they were of one heart and soul; they had the same love, and were of one accord, and of one mind; so that what was grateful to the one, was so to the other: or his sense is, that when these brethren should return, and acquaint the church how the spirit of the apostle was revived, and refreshed with the narrative they gave him of the affairs of the church, their spirits would be also refreshed too. Dr. Hammond thinks that this phrase is taken out of the Greek translation of Zechariah 6:8, "have quieted my spirit", which the Septuagint interpret by ανεπαυσαν τον θυμον μου, "they stilled", or "caused my wrath to cease"; and in the same way Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi explain the words; but the apostle's phrase is nearer to the original itself of that text, הניחו את רוחי, "they have stilled", or "caused my spirit to rest"; and is the very same phrase the Syriac version uses here; and which the Chaldee paraphrase renders thus, עבידו ית רעותי, "they have done my will"; that which was agreeable and well pleasing to God; and so these brethren by their coming and company, and news they brought, did that which was grateful and satisfactory to the apostle: and the phrase of the spirit of man having rest from another, is often used in the Rabbinical writings, for having satisfaction in them, and approving of them; so they say,
"wnmyh hxwn twyrbh xwrv, that everyone "from whom the spirit of men have rest", the Spirit of God has rest; and everyone from whom the spirit of man has no rest, the Spirit of God has no rest:'
and which their commentators
"whoever is beloved below, it is manifest that he is beloved above:'
therefore acknowledge ye them that are such; as these men; know them, have an affection for them, show respect to them, highly esteem of them for their works' sake; see 1 Thessalonians 5:12.
The churches of Asia salute you,.... The Syriac version renders it, "all" the churches. This shows, that this epistle was not written from Philippi, as the subscription to it attests, for then he would rather have said; the churches of Macedonia salute you, but at Ephesus, where he now was; see 1 Corinthians 16:8; and this is the more confirmed, by the following salutation of Aquila and Priscilla, who it is plain from Acts 18:18, were with the apostle at Ephesus:
Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord; Aquila was a Jew of Pontus, and Priscilla was his wife, who came from Italy, all Jews being obliged to depart from Rome, by the order of Claudius Caesar. These came to Corinth, where they met with the apostle; and being of the same occupation, stayed and wrought with him; and when he went from thence to Ephesus, accompanied him thither; see Acts 18:3; wherefore having personal knowledge of the members of this church, through their stay with the apostle there, for the space of a year and a half, send their Christian salutations to them, with great affection and respect:
with the church that is in their house: their family consisting of believers, and being kept in such good decorum, and employed daily in singing, praying, expounding, and conferring together about divine things, looked like a little church; and it may be that at certain times the principal members of the church at Ephesus met in their house for religious worship, and to consider and debate about the affairs of the church; and very likely as they were of the same occupation with the apostle, he himself dwelt here; and which might be the more an occasion of the church assembling here at times; and the Vulgate Latin version adds, "with whom also I lodge".
All the brethren greet you,.... Either the brethren, the members of the church at Ephesus; or the apostle's brethren in the ministry, that were along with him, as Sosthenes and others; or the brethren that were come to him from Corinth, namely Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus:
greet ye one another with an holy kiss; See Gill on Romans 16:16.
The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. The apostle had an "amanuensis", that wrote the epistle for him; but to prevent counterfeits, and that the church to whom he wrote might be assured of the genuineness of the epistle, that it was truly his own, he wrote with his own hand his common salutation; see 2 Thessalonians 3:17, and which is not in the following words, but what is expressed in 1 Corinthians 16:23.
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ,.... The Vulgate Latin, and the Syriac and Ethiopic versions, read "our Lord". The apostle here does not so much mean profane and unregenerate sinners, who are destitute of love to Christ, from ignorance of him; nor such who, from the same principle, might persecute him in his members, for such are to be even prayed for, and wished well unto; and oftentimes such are called by grace, and become true and sincere lovers of Christ; and the apostle himself was an instance of it: some think the Jews are intended, who were the mortal enemies of Christ; hated his name and person, his Gospel and interest, and maliciously persecuted the same; they called Jesus accursed, and therefore deserved an anathema to be pronounced on them; it was prophesied of them, that their name should be left for a curse; and it was threatened to them, in case of non-repentance, upon the coming of John the Baptist, in the spirit of Elijah, that the Lord would come and smite their land with a curse; which had its accomplishment in the destruction of Jerusalem; see Isaiah 65:15; others think the Gnostics are intended, one of whose tenets was, that it was lawful not to confess Christ in a time of persecution, in order to save themselves; and such might be truly said not to love our Lord Jesus, and on whom such an anathema as after mentioned might rightly be denounced: though it should seem rather, that some persons in this church, or that infested it, are referred to as the false teachers, and those who sided with them, who made factions and divisions in the church of Christ; allowed themselves in the commission of fornication and incest, and such like impurities; had no regard to the peace of the consciences of weak brethren, but laid stumblingblocks in their way; behaved in a very irreverent manner at the Lord's table, and gave in to very pernicious errors and heresies, particularly denying the resurrection of the dead; and by their many bad principles and practices plainly showed that they did not in deed and in truth love our Lord Jesus: wherefore of every such an one the apostle says,
let him be anathema. The word anathema, answers to the Hebrew חרם, and is rendered by it here in the Syriac version; and signifies anything separated and devoted to holy uses; and so it is used by the Septuagint, in Leviticus 27:28, and in the New Testament, Luke 21:5, and which, if alienated to any other purposes, entailed a curse on persons; hence it is often translated "accursed", as Romans 9:3 1 Corinthians 12:3, and here it signifies, that such persons that love not the Lord Jesus, should be rejected by the saints, and separated from their communion; and so the Arabic version renders it, "let him be separated"; that is, from the church; let him be cast out of it, and cut off from it; as, so living and dying without love to Christ, he will be accursed by him at the last day, and will have that awful sentence denounced on him, "go ye cursed". The apostle adds another word, about which there is some difficulty,
maranatha; some make this to be the same with "anathema"; the one being the Syriac, the other the Greek word, as "Abba, Father"; and think that "maranatha" is put for מחרמתא, "maharamatha"; others think that it is the same with מחרונאתא, "maharonatha", which signifies "from wrath to come"; and being joined with the other word, intends an anathematizing or devoting persons to wrath to come: others take it to be the last, and worse sort of excommunication among the Jews; and observe, that the first sort was called נדוי, "Niddui", which was a separation from company and conversation, to which reference may be had in Luke 6:22; the second sort was called חרם Cherem, to which "anathema" answers, and was a separation, attended with curses and imprecations; and a third sort was called שמתא, "Shammatha", and is thought to answer to "maranatha", giving the etymology of it, as if it was, שם אתא, "the name", i.e. "God cometh", as "maranatha" read as two words, signify "our Lord cometh": but this is not the etymology the Jews give of "Shammatha"
"what is "Shammatha?" says Rab, שם מיתה, "there is death"; and Samuel says, שממה יהיה, "desolations shall be";'
but of the other etymology there is no mention made among them; nor is ever the word "maranatha" used by them for excommunication; the sense of which certainly is, "our Lord cometh"; and the Ethiopic version, joining it with the former word, renders the whole thus, "let him be anathema in the coming of our Lord", which seems to be pretty much the sense of the apostle: it is best to consider this word, or rather these two words, "maran atha", "our Lord cometh", as added by the apostle, to put persons in mind of the coming of Christ; either at the destruction of Jerusalem, to take vengeance on the Jews, who did not love, but hated him, and maliciously persecuted him, and his; or of the second coming of Christ to judgment, when all the wicked of the earth shall be accursed by him, and all such that love him not will be bid to depart from him.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. This is the apostle's salutation in all his epistles, and is a token of the truth and genuineness of them; See Gill on Romans 16:20; and is a wish for a supply of all grace from Christ, and an increase of it in the saints; that they may have the communications of it to them, to quicken, invigorate, and draw forth into exercise the grace they have received, and to enable and assist them in the discharge of every duty.
My love be with you all,.... Meaning either that he desired that he might be loved by them, as they were by him, and might always have a place in their hearts and affections, as they had in his; or that his love, which extended to all of them without exception, to rich and poor, greater or lesser believers, might be always acceptable to them; and which he now commended to them, and saluted them with, from his very heart: and that it might not be thought to be a carnal affection, or on account of any outward things, he adds,
in Christ Jesus; he loved them for Christ's sake, because they were his, had his grace bestowed on them, his image stamped upon them, and his Spirit put within them; and concludes as usual, with an
Amen; both by way of request, and for the sake of confirmation; desiring that so it might be, and believing that so it would be. The following subscription is added, not by the apostle, but by some other hand since. "The first" epistle "to the Corinthians was written from Philippi, by Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus, and Timotheus"; but, as has been already observed, this epistle was not written from Philippi, but from Ephesus, where the apostle now was, as appears from 1 Corinthians 16:8; nor was it sent by Timotheus, for he was sent out before the writing of this epistle, see 1 Corinthians 4:17, and the apostle puts an if upon his coming to them, in 1 Corinthians 16:10, which he would scarcely have done, if he had sent this letter by him; though very probably it was sent by the other three, who came from Corinth, at their return thither.
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