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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 16

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

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Verses 1-24



1 Corinthians 16:1-24.

This chapter closes our discussion on 1 Corinthians. There are at least five important lessons to be learned in this last chapter.

The great collection (1 Corinthians 16:1-4). Every Bible student ought to know the history of the series of collections, of which this one is a part. Participating in it are all the churches in Galatia, the churches in Macedonia, and the churches of Achaia, of which Corinth was the capital. It is quite probable that more sections of territory participated in it than these, but these three are specified. It is a collection, taken, not by one church only, nor by the churches of one province only, nor even the churches of one continent only, but Asia united with Europe in one big collection. It is every way a big lesson. The extent of territory covered, the long period of time in which the campaign was prosecuted, the number of churches participating, the great principles underlying their cooperation in one great financial and benevolent enterprise, the number and character of the leaders who engineered its details, the wisdom of the methods employed, not only in the taking of each collection, but in its transportation and final disbursements, the lessons incidentally suggested, the laying down of great fundamental principles susceptible of fair application to other kingdom enterprises, the motives to which appeals were made, the great direct object to be attained, and the mightier reflex influences put in motion – all these, and others not now cited, call upon us to give the lesson deep and sustained attention.

It is not purposed now, however, to do more than prepare for the thorough study requisite, which will come up more appropriately in 2 Corinthians, where we will find, not just four verses, as here) but two whole chapters devoted to the subject. Now the reader is directed to study carefully and in their order the following heads:

1. The poor saints in Jerusalem for whom these collections on two continents were taken.

2. The occasion and necessity for so many and so great collections in their behalf. On this necessity will be found these scriptures having an indirect bearing, to wit: Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:32-37; Acts 5:1-11; Acts 6:1-4. Then it will be found that Acts 11:27-30 has a more direct bearing. And still more direct, Galatians 2:1-10, especially Galatians 2:10, coinciding in time and place with Acts 15:1-6.

3. The absolutely direct scriptures on the history of these collections are: 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8-9; 2 Corinthians 12:17-18; Romans 15:25-28; Acts 24:17. The reader must make his own independent study of all these scriptures; and I would suggest that he read chapter 32 of Farrar’s Life of Paul, and the corresponding part of Conybeare and Howson’s Life and Epistles of Paul. Having carefully made this preliminary study, then he is prepared to answer particularly the following questions and others that may follow:

(1) What was the ground of obligation resting on the Gentile churches to make this contribution?

(2) Who were Paul’s coadjutors ’in engineering it?

(3) What were the rules governing this collection, or what the great motives to which appeals were made?

(4) What the steps taken to guard against misapprehension concerning the handling of money?

(5) What the application of principles involved to other kingdom enterprises?

(6) Finally, what the varied results of the entire campaign?

That is the first great lesson on 1 Corinthians 16.

The second lesson is based upon 1 Corinthians 16:7-9: "For I do not wish to see you now by the way; for I hope to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost; for a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries."

The Corinthians were urging him to visit them, and he assigned reasons why he could not visit them just at that time. He was engaged in a great meeting at Ephesus which had been prolonged for years, and in which all proconsular Asia received the gospel, hence he says, "I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost; for a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries." This is one of the greatest preaching themes in the Bible. The imagination must see the great effectual door wide open) the adversaries trying to shut the door, the Corinthian people trying to call the apostle away from the door, and his purpose to stand there and preach as long as God holds that door open.

Upon that theme one may note: First, what the door is; and second, who it is that opens it. In this connection consider the following passages: Revelation 3:7-8. This tells us who it is that opens the door; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3, which shows what is the door to be opened on the preacher’s part; Acts 14:27; Acts 16:14, which shows the door to be opened on the people’s part. Considering the adversaries who were trying to shut the door, we have recourse to the history of his work at Ephesus as set forth in Acts 19. By reference to that chapter we may find the following to be the list of the obstacles, or adversaries, in Paul’s way at Ephesus:

1. Disciples baptized without authority, that is, by an unlawful administrator (Acts 16:1-7)

2. The opposition of the synagogue (Acts 16:9)

3. The opposition of the evil spirits (Acts 16:11-12)

4. The opposition of exorcists, that is, impostors who claimed to have the power to cast out evil spirits

5. The opposition of evil deeds (Acts 16:19)

6. The opposition of evil literature, or magical books (Acts 16:19)

7. The opposition of evil business (Acts 16:24)

8. The opposition of the craftsman’s ring (Acts 16:25-26)

9. The opposition of the pride and the commercial spirit of the city (Acts 16:27)

10. The opposition of a howling mob (Acts 16:28-29)

Many times in Texas have I preached upon this great theme, showing the doors that are locked and the great door opener, the adversaries who try to shut the door, and the power of the gospel over the adversaries. This is the second great lesson in 1 Corinthians 16.

The third lesson is the deference to be paid to inferior, but worthy brethren (1 Corinthians 16:10-11; 1 Corinthians 16:15-18). It is characteristic of the churches that they want the greatest men to preach to them, and a great man can not be at every place. The apostle is telling them how they must treat Timothy, who is young, timid, and shy. Oftentimes I receive letters from churches saying, "Come yourself; don’t send some of your young theologs to practice on us." Paul is showing that no matter how young one is, how inferior in experience and attainments to others, if, like Stephanas, he is devoting himself to ministering to the saints, and, like Timothy, he is trying to do good, the churches ought to honor such men and feel proud to do it. The world needs a lesson right on that point.

The fourth lesson (1 Corinthians 16:19), shows household-churches, or churches accustomed to meet in the house of a certain wealthy brother. The three other passages are Romans 16:5; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2. A study of these four scriptures shows that in addition to the principal church in a place, as at Rome, Corinth, Colosse, there were smaller churches meeting in private houses. As yet they had no public buildings as we have. Indeed, we have to come down to the second century before we find meeting houses built especially for the purpose, but a small church did meet in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, another in the house of Philemon, and another in the house of Nymphas.

My object in calling attention to these four scriptures ’is to show that they destroy the very prevalent modern contention, which I am sorry to see advocated by some people of the South, that in the days of the apostles every Christian in the city, no matter how large the city and numerous the Christians, was included in the church, and the head preacher was a bishop over the other preachers, who preached to different parts of this one church. Some very distinguished Baptists are now advocating that view in the South. From this error arose later the idea of a metropolitan bishop, and later a diocesan bishop.

The fifth and last lesson of this chapter is found in 1 Corinthians 16:21-22, as follows: "’The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. If any man loveth not the Lord, let him be anathema. Maranatha." As has already been explained, Paul was accustomed to dictate his letters) and with only one exception, the letter to the Galatians, after dictating the letter he would sign it himself. But this touches the words, Anathema, Maranatha. What do they mean?

When I was a schoolboy at Independence, at a session of the Baptist Convention, the pastor of the First Baptist Church at Waco, a fine, portly man, preached a sermon before the State Convention on this text: "If any man loveth not the Lord, let him be Anathema, Maranatha." He had a rich, sonorous voice like that of Spurgeon or Richard Fuller, and as he rolled out the words of this text it seemed like a mighty big text. Assuming a dramatic attitude, he commenced his sermon in exactly these words: "When the flaming sword of divine justice was flashing in the sunbeam of heaven and whistling in, its rapid path to sever the soul of man, Jesus stepped out and bared his own bosom and let the fiery sword be sheathed in his heart; therefore, ’if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, Maranatha.’ " With some preachers the sound of the text is its chief attraction. Anathema is a Greek word meaning "let him be accursed." Maranatha is the kind of Hebrew that the Jews spoke at the time of Christ, that is, the Aramaic, or Syriac. While the first word expressed the curse, the second word tells when the curse will come. Maranatha means "the coming." In plain English, "If any man loveth not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed when Christ shall come." The same idea is found in Matthew 25:41, where the curse is pronounced upon those that did not love Christ: "Depart ye accursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, and these go away unto eternal punishment." Or the words of 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10: "At the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints."


1. What is the first lesson of 1 Corinthians 16, and what is the scripture?

2. What makes this lesson so very important?

3. Where do we find this subject elaborated?

4. Under what three heads is the reader directed to study this collection?

5. What scriptures cited on each of the last two heads, and what books are commended on these scriptures?

6. What six questions constitute a kind of outline for the study of this collection?

7. What is the second lesson, and what the scripture?

8. What were the conditions which occasioned this language of Paul?

9. What points may be noted concerning the door referred to and what the scriptures cited?

10. What were the ten adversaries in Paul’s way at Ephesus?

11. What is the third lesson of this chapter, and what the scripture?

12. How does the author show the need of this great lesson in modern times?

13. What is the fourth lesson and the scripture?

14. What three other passages bearing on the subject, and what modern teaching is to the contrary?

15. What is the fifth lesson and the scripture?

16. What is the meaning of Anathema Maranatha? Illustrate.

17. What other scriptures teach the same thought?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 16". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/1-corinthians-16.html.
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