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Bible Commentaries

Hamilton Smith's Writings

1 Corinthians 16

Verses 1-24

1 Corinthians 16 .

Having accomplished the main purpose of his Epistle in dealing with the moral laxity, assembly disorder and erroneous teaching, the apostle closes with some practical exhortations as to giving, and information as to his movements and that of other servants of the Lord.

(Vv. 1-4). In the first four verses he speaks of “the collection for the saints”. We may rightly have collections to meet the need of the Lord's gifted servants from whom we receive spiritual help, but there are times when it is also necessary to have collections for the poor of the flock. The special need of the saints at Jerusalem at that time was a case in point. In that city there was a large number of saints who had suffered persecution and there were probably many widows and orphans. From the Epistle to the Hebrews we also learn that they had suffered the spoiling of their goods. From Jerusalem the gospel had gone out to the Gentiles, and as the Gentile converts had received spiritual things, it was only right that they should give of their temporal things. This collection was to proceed regularly, each one laying up in store, according to the way that God had prospered him. As it was their own collection, they were free to appoint their own administrators. The apostle, who was well-known to the saints at Jerusalem, would commend them with letters from himself. If suitable that the apostle should go to Jerusalem, then the delegates from Corinth would accompany him.

(Vv. 5-9). In reference to the collection the apostle had spoken of visiting the Corinthian assembly. He now again refers to this proposed visit, and tells them that for the present he was postponing it. With great grace and wisdom he does not tell them the reason. In the second chapter of his Second Epistle, when he has seen by their repentance the effect of this first letter, he is free to tell them in detail why he could not come to them. Nevertheless, he tells them why he tarried at Ephesus, the city from which he is writing; for there a great door was opened to him that was effectual in blessing, and there were many adversaries. If the Lord opens a door, the devil will surely stir up many adversaries; the apostle's movements were not governed by the adversaries, but by the Lord who kept the door open.

(Vv. 10, 11). Nevertheless, Timothy may visit them and hence the apostle commends him in a way specially suited to the circumstances. Timothy was evidently of a timid disposition, so they were to be careful to act in such a way that he would be with them without fear. Moreover, he was young, but let him not on this account be despised. Could there be a greater commendation than the fact that he not only did the work of the Lord, but he did it in the same spirit as the apostle? He was one who carried out the exhortation already given to the Corinthian assembly, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” ( 1Co_11:1 ).

(V. 12). Though the apostle might not be free at that time to visit Corinth, it did not follow that it would be wrong for another servant of the Lord to visit this assembly. Evidently the apostle judged that Apollos could help the assembly, and so had “begged him much that he would go”. However, Apollos was unwilling, so the apostle, having expressed his desire, leaves the servant of the Lord free to act before his Master.

(Vv. 13, 14). The Corinthian saints were not to be dependent upon the servants of the Lord. Hence, whether the servants come, or refrain from coming, the Corinthian saints are exhorted, first, to be vigilant. An ever active adversary demands constant vigilance. Secondly, they are to stand fast in the faith. The inroads of false teaching can only be met by standing fast in the whole circle of truth. Thirdly, to watch against the adversary and stand fast in the faith demands that they quit themselves like men. Alas, many at Corinth had been acting in a carnal way, proving that spiritually they were but babes when they should have been full-grown. Fourthly, quitting themselves like men would demand that they be strong, and this means, as the apostle says in another epistle, that they are to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” ( 2Ti_2:1 ). Fifthly, spiritual strength expresses itself in love; the apostle therefore adds, “Let all things ye do be done in love” (N.Tn.). Alas, how many things may be done in connection with the assembly of God which may be perfectly right, and yet with a motive that is entirely wrong because love is lacking.

In the case of these saints at Corinth, they had been largely marked by carelessness instead of watchfulness; instead of standing fast in the faith, some were speculating about it and even denying such a fundamental truth as the resurrection; instead of quitting themselves like men, they had fallen into the ways of the world; feebleness had marked them rather than strength and selfishness instead of love. Good for us all to take these exhortations to heart.

(Vv. 15-18). Another important exhortation follows with reference to a class of servants who are very blessedly described as having “devoted themselves to the saints for service”. They were not necessarily men endowed with gifts such as preaching or teaching, which were for the whole church, and might give them a prominent place before others, but they represent a valuable class of servants who locally addict themselves in an orderly way to serving the Lord's people. There is a danger that such should be overlooked in favour of those whose activities bring them more into public. Hence the exhortation is to recognise such and be subject to them as, indeed, to every one joined in the work and labouring. The apostle himself recognises such as having supplied that which was lacking on the part of the Corinthian assembly. The words that follow would seem to indicate that this was not temporal help but spiritual refreshment. This is confirmed by the Second Epistle, from which we learn that the apostle refused all temporal help from this assembly ( 2Co_11:9-10 ).

(Vv. 19, 20). The assemblies in Asia send their salutation. Aquila and Priscilla, whom the apostle had first met at Corinth, send special salutations, together with the assembly that met in their house. Let them acknowledge one another with the kiss that expresses brotherly love; but let this customary method of greeting be in holiness.

(Vv. 21-24). The apostle appends his salutation with his own hand, the sure token that he has dictated the letter ( 2Th_3:17 ). He adds a solemn word of warning, only found in this Epistle, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha”. The meaning of these words is, we are told, “Accursed: our Lord cometh”. It would indicate that the coming of the Lord may reveal the solemn fact that there are some who have taken their place amongst the Lord's people who have never really been touched by His love and therefore have no love for Him, and so prove that they are not the Lord's. The apostle desires that the grace of the Lord may be with these saints, and concludes by assuring them that his love went out to them all. It was not, however, mere human love, but love “in Christ Jesus”. However faithfully he may have written to them, love was the motive; thus he carried out his own exhortation to them, “Let all things ye do be done in love”.

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 16". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/1-corinthians-16.html. 1832.