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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 16

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

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1 Corinthians 16:1-4 Paul directeth the Corinthians how to proceed in their collections for the relief of the brethren at Jerusalem.

1 Corinthians 16:5-9 He mentioneth his design of visiting them,

1 Corinthians 16:10-12 and commendeth Timothy, who was coming to them.

1 Corinthians 16:13-18 After some seasonable admonitions,

1 Corinthians 16:19-24 he closeth the Epistle with divers salutations.

Verse 1

The business of relieving the poor members of the church, is a moral duty, a sacrifice with which God is well pleased, Philippians 4:18; our faith must work by this love. The apostle, in several Epistles, was very solicitous about this; he mentioneth it, Romans 15:26; Galatians 2:10, as well as in this Epistle. Besides that our Saviour had foretold, that the state of the church would be such, that they should have the poor always with them; Agabus, Acts 11:28, had prophesied of a famine, which (some think) raged at this time; and besides, the persecution at Jerusalem had scattered the brethren abroad, and being out of their country and employments, they could not but be at a loss for a livelihood, and so need the charitable contribution of other churches under better circumstances, as they were at this time in Greece. The churches of Galatia and Macedonia had been very liberal this way; and the apostle, by their example, quickens the churches both at Rome and Corinth, Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 8:4. As to this he had (as he saith) given order to the churches of Galatia, which, it is thought, he did in his journey through Galatia, Acts 16:6; and he ordereth the church at Corinth to follow that order, which followeth.

Verse 2

From hence both divers of the ancients, and very many late divines, argue for the change of the sabbath from the seventh day of the week to the first. It is plain from hence, that the gospel churches were wont to assemble upon that day; nor do we read in Scripture of any assembly of Christians for religious worship on any other day. On this day the apostle orders collections for the poor saints to be made, accordingly as God had prospered any in their employments; he directeth that they should every one lay by him something, not doing what he did with any ostentation, but having it ready when it should be called for: this he calls a treasuring (so it is in the Greek); monies laid by for charitable uses are treasures, both with respect to those for whom they are laid up, and also for ourselves; for he that giveth to the poor, layeth up for himself treasures in heaven. He would have no gatherings when he came, either to avoid the scandal of his being chargeable to them, or that he would have no delay, but when he came it might be in a readiness to be presently sent away.

Verse 3

The word here translated liberality, is the same which signifieth grace; their charity is called by that name, either because it flowed from their free love towards their poor brethren, (though living at a great distance from them), or because their sense of the free love and grace of God to them, was that which moved them to that charitable act, 2 Corinthians 8:9.

Verses 4-5

To encourage them to the more free and liberal contribution, he promiseth them himself to go along with those that carried it, if it were thought meet. Whether Paul, according to this promise, did go to Corinth, some question, because of what we read, 2 Corinthians 1:15,2 Corinthians 1:16. But others think, that he speaketh there of another journey, which he intended thither; and that he did go in a fulfilling of this promise, because we read, Acts 20:1-38, that he went into Greece, and spent there a considerable time; during which it is very probable that he did not omit to visit the church of Corinth.

Verse 6

He did stay in Greece three months, Acts 20:3, but it is believed some things hindered him, that he did not winter at Corinth. It was the custom for some members of the gospel churches, to accompany the apostles some part of their way when they went from them to any other places, in token of their kindness and respect to them, Acts 15:3; Acts 17:15; Acts 20:38.

Verse 7

I will not see you in my passage into Macedonia, for then I shall have no time to stay long with you; and I hope to gain a time when I shall stay longer with you; but all this must be understood with submission to God’s will, who can hinder, and order my journeys, and determine my purposes, as he pleaseth. James teaches us, when we declare our resolutions to go to this or that place, to add:

If the Lord will; and our apostle observeth that rule, Romans 1:10.

Verse 8

He altered this resolution afterward, for, Acts 20:16, he hasted, if it were possible, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. Pentecost was a Jewish feast, and not named here as a feast then celebrated by Christians, but as a known period of time; for the Jews computing time from their festivals, Christians who lived amongst them, and had some of them been converted from their religion, computed also their time from the Jewish festivals.

Verse 9

For God hath opened to me at Ephesus a great opportunity to preach the gospel, which I have reason to hope will also be effectual for the conversion of many souls. What this door of hope was, whether God had let him know there were many souls in that place prepared for receiving the gospel; or that some eminent persons for authority or learning, whom many were like to follow, were there already converted; or that he looked upon that famous city as like to be a place where many might be converted; is not told us.

And (saith the apostle)

there are many adversaries, ( as it will appear to those that read Acts 19:1-41 and Acts 20:1-38), therefore there was need of the presence of the apostle himself, whose authority might better stop their months, than the more inferior pastors could. What would have aftrighted others from going or staying there, this great apostle mentions as an argument to cause him to make haste to go thither, and to tarry there for some time.

Verse 10

He had told them, 1 Corinthians 4:17, that he had sent Timothy unto them, whom he there calleth his beloved son, and faithful in the Lord. Here he bespeaketh his welcome and security. It is probable he had it in commission from Paul to visit divers other churches in his journey to them, and therefore he speaketh of his coming as uncertain, but chargeth them, that if he did come, they would take care of him, that he might not be exposed to danger or trouble from any party amongst them.

For he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do; for (saith he) he is a minister of the gospel, and engaged in the same work of the Lord that I am.

Verse 11

Let no man therefore despise him; either because he is a very young man, 1 Timothy 4:12, or upon any other account.

But conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me; but when he cometh away, show him the respect you use to show me, conduct him in his way.

For I look for him with the brethren; for I have need of his help here, in carrying on the business of the gospel; and therefore I, with the brethren here, expect him; or, I expect him with the rest of the brethren, who are in like manner employed abroad in carrying about the gospel.

Verse 12

Apollos (as may be seen, Acts 18:27) was known to them, and had been a preacher amongst them, and was grateful to many of them; he was an eloquent man, mighty in the Scriptures, instructed in the way of the Lord, and fervent in the spirit, Acts 18:24-28; he was one of those from whom some of this church denominated themselves, 1 Corinthians 3:4. For these reasons Paul would have persuaded him to go and visit this church, (which some think that he had left, because of those contentions and divisions which were amongst them), but he had no mind to go at that time; though it is said, that he afterwards did return again to them, when Paul, by his Epistle, had quieted those divisions, and allayed their heats.

Verse 13

Watch ye: watching, in its usual acceptation, signifieth a forbearing of sleep; and that in order to some end. Sin is set out under the notion of sleep, Ephesians 5:14; so that spiritual watching signifies a diligent abstaining from sin, and from whatsoever may be to us a temptation to sin against God, in order to the perfecting of holiness, and the obtaining life and immortality.

Stand fast in the faith; be steady in the profession of the truth, and holding close to the doctrine of faith.

Quit you like men, be strong; you are as soldiers fighting against the world, the flesh, and the devil; do not behave yourselves like children, whom the least opposition will terrify and throw down; but like men, with a spiritual courage and fortitude, becoming such who have so good a Captain, and so good a cause.

Verse 14

Charity (as hath been before discoursed) is a term comprehensive both of love to God, and to our neighbour; the failure of this in their divisions and contentions, and satisfying their own judgments and humours, without regard to the consciences of others, and having no regard to the profit of others, is that which the apostle, in this Epistle, had once and again blamed in the members of this church; in the conclusion of his Epistle, he therefore again recommends to them the getting and exercising of this habit.

Verse 15

Of this Stephanas we read before, 1 Corinthians 1:16; his family was one of those few families which Paul baptized: he is here called

the first-fruits of Achaia, because (as it should seem) he was one of the first of all those who in that courtry received the gospel. He further saith of him, that he had given up himself

to the ministry of the saints, either in preaching the gospel, or (which is more probable) in the proper employment of a deacon, in relieving such amongst the saints (whether of that or other churches) as were in want.

Verse 16

He adviseth them to reverence him, and all such as were helpers and labourers of that nature, and wrought with the apostles in the work of the gospel.

Verses 17-18

It should seem that this church had sent these three persons to Paul at this time (as most think) at Ephesus, to acquaint him with the state of their churches; these men supplied the want of that whole church’s coming, or they made a report to the apostle of the Corinthians more fully than they had done in their letters. He adds, that they had refreshed his spirit, not with bringing him any money, (for the apostle hath told us, 1 Corinthians 9:15, that he gloried in this, that he had preached the gospel to them freely, without being any charge to them), but by their visit, and the conference that he had had with them about the state of that church. The apostle addeth, that they had refreshed their spirits also; intimating, that their joy was his, and that what was a refreshing to him, ought also to be so to them; he therefore recommendeth these men, and such as they were, to be reverenced and respected by this church.

Verse 19

He meaneth the Lesser Asia, in which was Ephesus; from whence it is more probable (according to the Arabic and Syriac opinion) that this Epistle was written, than from Philippi (according to the copy followed by our translaters). And that which further adds to that probability is, that the apostle mentioneth the salutations of

Aquila and Priscilla, as persons that were at that time with him; now, that they lived at Ephesus, or at least went thither with Paul, and tarried there, appeareth from Acts 18:19; their saluting the church of Corinth

in the Lord, signifies their wishing them all spiritual blessings in and from Christ. But what is meant by

the church in their house, which joined with Paul in this salutation, is not so plain: we read the like, Colossians 4:15, of the church in Nymphas’s house; and in Philemon’s house, Philemon 1:2; and the same again of this Aquila and Priscilla, Romans 16:5. Some think that it signifieth no more, than that their whole families had received the Christian faith; others think, that divers other Christians sojourned with them; others, that the church was wont to meet in some room in their house: but the last is not probable, either that in those times the church kept their meetings in any one stated place, or that Christians then had such spacious houses as could afford a room large enough for the whole church to meet in.

Verse 20

This proveth no more, than that as it is in use with us to salute one another with a kiss when we meet; so it was in use in those times and countries to do the like, in token of love and friendship. It is called the kiss of charity, 1 Peter 5:14. The apostle requireth, that in these salutations they should have chaste and holy thoughts. This seemeth to be all meant by the

holy kiss, mentioned Romans 16:16; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26, and here.

Verse 21

These words are judged to signify to us, that though the former part of the Epistle was written out of Paul’s copy by some others, yet the three last verses were written by him with his own hand.

Verse 22

If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ: love is an affection of the heart, but discernible by overt acts: the meaning is: If any man, by any notorious acts, declareth that he loveth not the Lord Jesus, whether he be a hypocrite, owning the name of Christ, but living in a contempt of and disobedience to his commandments; or an apostate, who showeth his want of love to Christ by denying him in an hour of danger and persecution, or an open enemy and persecutor of Christ and his gospel.

Let him be Anathema Maran-atha; let him be accursed, let him be looked upon as a detestable and abominable person. Some tell us, that the Jews having three excommunications, this word signifieth their highest degree, by which the person was given up to the judgment and vengeance of God; but others say, there is no such term to be found among them, and that the term Maran-atha signifies no more than: The Lord is come. Let the Jews and other vain persons say what they will, the Lord is come; and if any love him not, let him be looked on as a detestable person.

Verse 23

That is: The Lord Jesus favour you, and bless you with all spiritual blessings: this is the apostle’s ordinary salutation, Romans 16:24.

Verse 24

As I love you, so I desire to be again beloved of you in Christ sincerely. Or, I love you all in Christ, and for Christ’s sake; or, I wish that my love may abide in and with you.

The first (epistle) to the Corinthians was written from Philippi by Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus, and Timotheus.

These words are no part of Scripture; and (as was said before) it is much more probable, that this Epistle was written from Ephesus than from Philippi, though it might be sent by these, or some of these, men named.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 16". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/1-corinthians-16.html. 1685.
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