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1 Corinthians 16:1-24
Final words are always listened to eagerly among friends. That is the reason we are calling the study for today, a postlude, because they are the things that Paul spoke not only last of all, but also words he spoke after he had spoken many other things.
The chapter before us covers things which naturally would come in as a postscript, or a postlude, to the writing which had gone before. We wish to call attention to the opening verses of the chapter. Our theme is most practical, and has to do with Christian beneficence.
1. In the matter of giving there is one message to all. In 1 Corinthians 16:1 we read, "As I have given order to the Churches of Galatia, even so do ye." We think we might add, "As God gave order to Galatia and Corinth, so also should we follow the same directions."
God does not give one message to the saints of one church, and a different one to the saints of another. Whatever God wrote to the Early Churches, He has written to us.
2. The inner heart-throbs of God's commandment concerning giving. 1 Corinthians 16:2 says, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him." Every word is vital.
(1) "Upon the first day of the week," Stop a moment to consider. The time when the Churches were to bring in their offerings, and to set them aside as unto the Lord, was upon the first day of the week. That was the day of the resurrection; that was the day when Christ appeared unto His disciples; that was the day upon which the Early Churches convened for worship. It is still the day which the churches have set aside as a day of praise, of worship, and of rest.
(2) "Let every one of you." Here is a commandment which has to do not with the Apostles alone; not only with the officers of the church; but with everyone. Each one who is a member of the Household of God, is commanded to bring in their offerings upon the first day of the week.
(3) "As God hath prospered him." There is no committee going around here, to take pledges. The command is simple, "Let every one of you lay by * * as God hath prospered." All we need do is to count up our receipts during the week, and give accordingly. The one who has received little, may give little; the one who has received much, should give much.
(4) Let him lay by him in store. The usual method of churches is to wait until some need arises, and then press an offering. The Spirit said that the money should be laid by week by week, and thus, said God through Paul, "that there be no gatherings when I come."
3. The righteous handling of offerings. 1 Corinthians 16:3 tells us "whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem." Mark you that this liberality, or these moneys, was not to be handled by one individual. The Apostle says "them," not "him," or "her."
I. DOES GOD GIVE LEADERSHIP IN OUR DAILY WALK? (1 Corinthians 16:3-7 )
There are four statements in these verses which we wish to consider.
1. "Whomsoever ye shall approve." Paul was speaking of those who should be sent to carry the "liberality" of the Churches in Corinth to Jerusalem, and he says "whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send."
Here is a mandate from the people; we trust it was also from God. Nevertheless, Paul acquiesced in the appointment of the Church, for Paul said "them will I send."
God often thrusts responsibility such as this upon churches. When He does, the churches should always seek His will. Throughout the Epistles and the Book of Acts, the Churches took the initiative in many things. The Churches were to safeguard the work of the Lord by appointing men "full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom."
2. "If it be meet that I go also," The Apostle Paul was not sure in this instance that he could go with the others; therefore he said, "If it be meet." Sometimes we may not know the will of God as to our steps; then we should say what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 16:4 , and also in 1 Corinthians 16:6 , and in 1 Corinthians 16:7 . under this expression, "it may be * * if the Lord permit." We cannot speak with certainty as to our steps until the Lord Himself has definitely spoken to us.
3. "I will" * * "When I shall" * * "For I do." Now in the fifth verse you find these three statements. 1 Corinthians 16:5 says, "Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia." Here there is not "if the Lord will," or, "permit." Paul now speaks with assurance, with definiteness.
II. THE SPIRIT OF HELPFULNESS (1 Corinthians 16:3-7 )
We continue in the same verses as before, seeking out three other expressions:
1. "To bring your liberality." Now we want to consider for a moment that the Corinthians were sending money to help others who were in need. If one member of the Body of Christ suffers, every member should suffer with him. If in one section of the country there is need, that section where there is plenty should help to bear their brothers' lack.
Not only should they help, but they should help in such a way that the Holy Spirit may call their help "liberality." Freely we have received, we should freely give. Is it not wonderful that we may be used by God to meet the needs of others?
2. "Ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go." Here is an expression you will find in 1 Corinthians 16:6 . The Church at Corinth were not only to send their liberality to their impoverished brethren in Jerusalem, but they were also told by Paul to bring him on his journey.
3. "I trust to tarry a while with you." The Apostle is now bringing the spirit of helpfulness down to himself. First he spoke of their liberality towards the saints in Jerusalem; then he spoke of their helping him on his journey; now, last of all, he speaks of his tarrying with them.
His objective in tarrying was that he might help them, through the preaching of the Word. Paul wanted to be with them, not for what he could get out of them, but for what he might impart to them. This is the real spirit of all true preachers and evangelists.
III. THE OPEN DOOR OF SERVICE (1 Corinthians 16:9-11 )
1. Not every door that opens is of God. We remember how the Prophet Jonah had a door opened to him. He found a ship going to Tarshish; probably he thought, "Here is a wonderful opportunity awaiting me"; but it was only waiting as an open door to the belly of a big fish, and to a great storm. Let us beware of the doors that men open, even though they seem to be, humanly, propitious.
2. The doors which God opens are effectual. In 1 Corinthians 16:9 Paul says, "For a great door and effectual is opened unto me." Thank God, He is able to give real opportunities for effectual service. The child of God, walking in the will of God, will find something definite to do, for every door that God opens is effectual.
If He sends us into a service, He will go before us; if He tells us to talk to an individual about his soul, we will find that He has already been talking to him, in one way or another. The work that drags and is ineffective, is not the work of the Holy Ghost.
3. Doors opened of God may have many adversaries. It was so with Paul. Once he even said, "We would have come unto you, even I Paul, * * but Satan hindered us." Wherever we go in the will of God there will be obstacles thrown before us. It was so in the olden days; it is so now.
4. Open doors which are opened by God suggest that God's children have a definite and Divinely appointed task. In 1 Corinthians 16:10 we read of Timotheus: "He worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do." Something marvelously exhilarating comes to the spirit of a young man or a young woman when they wake up to the fact that they are working the Lord's work.
Timotheus may not have had the preaching ability, or the many gifts which Paul had, but there was one thing where they were equal, for Paul said of Timotheus, "He worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do."
IV. A FOURFOLD CALL TO FIDELITY (1 Corinthians 16:13 )
We now have a verse of Scripture which we need to ponder step by step. Here is the verse: "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."
1. "Watch ye." Perhaps these words are given because the Holy Ghost had just said, in 1 Corinthians 16:9 , "There are many adversaries." If there are adversaries about, then we should be watchful. Christians need to walk carefully, and prayerfully, because enemies are near.
2. "Stand fast in the faith." Here is a call that was needed in that day. We doubt not that it is needed more now. The Word prophesies a departure from the faith, in the last days; and that departure has come; what then? We are to stand fast in the faith.
It is quite fitting that this is thrown in, so soon after 1 Corinthians 16:10 , where Timothy is brought on the scenes.
It was to Timothy that God, through Paul, wrote an Epistle to guide us in our way, amid the wreckage of the last days.
Thus in the days of the apostasy when the many are making shipwreck concerning the faith, we must stand fast in it, and contend earnestly for it.
3. "Quit you like men." In the life of a young Christian there is found no place for shakers and quakers; that is, those who shake and who quake.
In writing to the Hebrews, the Spirit said, "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees." With many adversaries, and many departures from the faith about us, some true believers may feel like compromising and camouflaging; but God cries out "Quit you like men."
Those who are preaching and serving in the armies of the Master, must "quit themselves like men."
4. "Be strong." Not for a moment would we have our young men think that strength is something inherent in us. The strength which we have is an imparted strength. Paul wrote, "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." In all our conquests and overcomings, there is no place for the "I did it." When David rushed out to meet Goliath, he did not say to him, "Today thou shalt know that there is a splendid young man, with a ruddy countenance, who is able to slay a giant." He did say, "This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand * * that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel." Let us pray that we may receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon us.
V. GATHERING IN THE FRUITS (1 Corinthians 16:15-18 )
There is a wonderful expression in the 15th verse, "The house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruit of Achaia."
1. The joy of gathering in the fruit. In the Second Epistle to Timothy, the Christian youth is set forth in a sevenfold figure. He is a son, he is a soldier, he is a wrestler, he is a workman, he is a vessel, he is a servant, he is a husbandman. All of these are very wonderful, but we like to think of the verse, "The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits."
There is no joy that surpasses the joy of seeing the fruit of our labors. In the Epistle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he said, "Ye are our glory and joy." We like to sing, "When the saints are gathered Home." However, when the saints are gathered Home, if this one and that one is gathered because of our own personal word or work, there will be a personal touch of gladness for us.
2. The joy of seeing the first fruits fruitful. The last of 1 Corinthians 16:15 says, "They have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints." That is what the "firstfruits of Achaia" were doing; they had not been saved in order to go to Heaven; they had been saved in order that they might minister to others. This is the way the Gospel spreads.
This one goes to China; that one to Japan; another to Africa or India. In each case a native is saved. That native becomes a minister to another native; and the latter becomes a minister to still another; and thus the fruit keeps on coming in.
1 Corinthians 16:16 says, "That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth." When we find people who are gathering in souls for God, or ministering to saints, to such we should gladly submit ourselves. The laborer and the helper must have the prayers and the support of all the saints.
Paul now, once more, goes back to the matter of money and says: "I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours; therefore acknowledge ye them that are such."
Thus we are not only to submit ourselves to the laborers; but also we are to acknowledge the supporters, who stand behind the laborers, and refresh them.
VI. SALUTATIONS (1 Corinthians 16:19-21 )
There is something very beautiful in the language of the verses now before us. The Christian life is not alien to those heartfelt, sincere greetings, and expressions of love and kindness, which are the fruit of the Spirit.
1. A group of salutations. In writing to the Church at Corinth Paul said, "The Churches of Asia salute you"; then he added, "Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord"; then he still further added that, with these salutations, came the salutations of the Church that is in their house." Are we willing to greet all the brethren of other churches, and of other folds? Do we have a real fellowship with them, and a living love for them? 1 Corinthians 16:14 of our chapter says, "Let all your things be done with charity (love)."
2. Some tender greetings. 1 Corinthians 16:20 says, "All the brethren greet you," then it adds, "Greet ye one another with an holy kiss." The Apostle did not want any Judas kind of kiss; nor did he want a corrupt kind of kiss; he wanted the brethren to greet one another with a holy kiss. He wanted them, in this, to be sincere.
3. "The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand." Paul finally adds his own salutation. He had spoken many strong things to the Church in Corinth. He had many things to correct, many things to reprove, and yet he loved them, and as he closed his message he gave them his own sincere salutation. We can receive their corrections from our leaders a great deal better, when we know that they love us, and when they speak to us in kindness and tenderness of heart.
VII. THE SUPREME CALL TO LOVE (1 Corinthians 16:22-24 )
1. The man who does not love the Lord. Here is an expression that almost startles us. Paul had just been giving salutations and greetings, and speaking of the love of the brethren one to another. He had written, "Let all your things be done with charity (love)." Now Paul, in the Holy Ghost, says, "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha."
He who is foreign to the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, will never have love one to another. Paul goes to the root of this matter. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said to a group of critics and rejecters who had heard Him: "Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life." Then He said, "But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. "
The word "anathema," means "accursed"; the word "Maran-atha," means, "when our Lord cometh." Those who love not the Lord will, therefore, be accursed at the Second Coming of Christ. Remember that "Every one that loveth is bora of God," but he that loveth not hath not known God.
2. The one who loved supremely. 1 Corinthians 16:23 reads, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Grace is a love to the unloveable, that makes the unloveable, lovely. Christ not only loves the sinner, but He lifts the sinner up out of the depths of hell, and into heights of Glory.
Christ does what the next Epistle to the Corinthians records when it says, "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich."
3. A personal love. Paul closes this First Epistle, with the words: "My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen." Paul practiced what he preached. He told them to love; then he said he loved.
May God grant that this same love wherewith God has loved us may be in us, as we love one another. We must love as Paul loved when he said, "My love be with you all."
January 5, 1936, when we had our women's meetings a woman came in with a large parcel on her back. She put it down and I did not take any notice of it. After the women's meeting, we had the big service. When it was finished and most of the people had gone, the woman with the parcel was still sitting on the bench. Then the Bible-woman said, "We must burn the idols now." I looked quite astonished, and asked, "What idols?" Then I heard the story of this woman. She came from the country. One day she heard the Gospel and it found a place in her heart. One day just before Christmas she came with a little bag of rice and asked if she might stay a day or two as she would like to hear more about Jesus. Now the love of Jesus has moved her heart, and so she took down the idols in her home and brought them on her back to burn them here. They are not yet burned, because she is going to bring her husband in to see the burning, and there are some more idols to be brought in from the out-station of Jen-ho-kiai. The Lord is beginning to work there, but the evil one is trying to do his best to hinder it. But the Lord will get the victory. Sister Deibel, Yuki, Yunnan.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 1 Corinthians 16". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany