The Apostle closeth his Epistle with this Chapter. Several very earnest Admonitions are given, which are followed up with Salutations to the Church.
(1) Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. (2) Upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. (3) And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. (4) And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.
It will not be necessary to offer much observation on what the Apostle recommends in collecting for the poor. Every Church, like Corinth, hath the poor among them, for the Lord hath said, they shall never cease out of the land. And the Lord commands the hand to be opened wide to his poor. And when the Lord gives a wide hand, and a wide heart together, there will need nothing more to enforce collections. Deuteronomy 15:11; Zephaniah 3:12. There is somewhat very sweet and seasonable in the exercise of tenderness and compassion to the Lord's poor, as the Lord's poor every day, but eminently more so on the Lord's day. On that day we give a truce to all worldly cares, and are concerned, or supposed to be concerned only for the one thing needful. Sweet day! which commemorates all in one, the Lord's rest from the works of creation, the resurrection of Jesus, and the first descent of the Holy Ghost, in the open display of his Person at the feast of Pentecost. What day so suited for the heart to be flowing with love to our poorer brethren, as when we celebrate Jehovah's love to us, in his threefold character of Person, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as manifested in creation, redemption, grace, and glory?
(5) Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. (6) And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. (7) For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. (8) But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. (9) For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries. (10) Now if Timothy come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. (11) Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren. (12) As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.
When we read this account of the Apostle, respecting his ministry to Ephesus, and which is recorded (Ac 19), it should seem that Paul had strong views of the Lord blessing his ministry there. It was, indeed, a great door, and an effectual one, which was opened unto him; and, as he foresaw, so he found, many adversaries. Demetrius and the craftsmen greatly opposed him. Perhaps Paul alluded to those transactions, when he compared his conflicts to that of fighting with beasts at Ephesus, 1 Corinthians 15:32. See Acts 19:20. Reader! You and I, yea, the Church of God in all ages, have reason to bless the Lord for Paul's acquaintance with the Ephesians. That blessed Epistle, which, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, he sent to the Church at Ephesus, and which is handed down to us, arose out of Paul's ministry there.
Of Timothy and Apollos, we need not enlarge in observations concerning them. Paul's Epistles to the former of them will engage our notice, when we come to our Poor Man's Commentary on those Scriptures. And the latter hath been already brought before us, in all that is said of him, Ac 18 and 1 Corinthians 1:12, and 1 Corinthians 3:4-6.
(13) Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. (14) Let all your things be done with charity. (15) I beseech you, brethren, ye (know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) (16) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to everyone that helpeth with us, and laboreth. (17) I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. (18) For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.
There is somewhat truly interesting in this short, but striking exhortation of the Apostle. Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Paul doth not simply look to them, or teach them to look to themselves; as if either, or the whole of these Christian graces were of their own procuring, or depended upon their own strength to make effectual. The exhortation is more like the Prophet on the watch-tower, directing them to be on the look-out for the daily, hourly, minutely manifestations of the Lord's grace, to be made perfect in human weakness; that, in a consciousness of their nothingness, they might be made strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, Ephesians 6:10.
I never can say enough to myself, neither to the Reader of this humble work, on the subject of this watchfulness, and the standing fast in the faith, and the like. Steadfastness in faith is not so well understood as its importance demands. We are everlastingly looking for it in ourselves, and in our own attainments; whereas the Scriptures are uniformly teaching us it can be only found in the Lord. That precious child of God, be who he may, can only be said to be stedfast in faith, when counting the state of grace in which he stands, he forms his conclusions, not from what he feels in himself, but from what Christ is. Not from what hath passed in him, but from what hath passed for him, in the council of peace before all worlds, and from Christ's suretyship engagements and fulfillments for his Church and people in time. A child of God may sometimes be enlarged, and sometimes straitened, sometimes in the mount, and sometimes in the valley. But neither of these states becomes the standard to judge by of his interest in Christ. I will be free to confess, that it is comfortable, as it is our privilege, to be always rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, yet, the hope and the glory of God do not depend upon our rejoicing sense of them. Paul meant somewhat more than the mere accommodation of the body, when he said, I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound, Philippians 4:12. It is blessed to be strong and stedfast in the faith, when things are dark and discouraging, and to trust Christ and his promises, when the way to the accomplishment of those promises we cannot see through.
(19) The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. (20) All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with a holy kiss. (21) The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. (22) If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. (23) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (24) My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
It would have been unnecessary to have dwelt upon the salutations with which the Apostle closeth his Epistle; everyone knoweth how very decided a part they form in Christian fellowship and communion. But we have in this paragraph, with which the Apostle takes leave of the Church in this first Epistle, an expression which we meet with in no other part of the word of God, but which Paul delivers in a kind of denunciation which demands our attention. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha. In order for the right apprehension of the words, it should be considered what they mean, and to whom they are applicable.
As to their meaning, it should seem to have been a form made use of by the Jews, when they intended to express somewhat more than ordinarily severe, to say, let him be anathema maranatha, that is, let the Lord determine his punishment, for we cannot, his crime is so great and heavy. The Jews had a word for excommunication, namely, Cherem, which implied a total separation forever from all hopes of recovery, and such as was never used, but to imply the being devoted to eternal wrath. This word corresponded to the expression here used by Paul of anathematizing. And in application to the persons the Apostle had in view, the sense is, that, if any lived and died without being regenerated, and, consequently, not loving Christ, because a state of nature in the carnal mind is enmity against God, he was of necessity in this state, and, as such, is justly exposed to everlasting wrath. And, if Paul used the expression as the Jews used it, then it would follow, that by it, the Apostle left the nature and degree of punishment to the Lord. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha!
But, in reference to modern times, it may not be amiss to ask to whom the words are applicable? There maybe, indeed there must be, multitudes among the unawakened and profane, of whom it may be truly said, they do not at present love the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet such a sentence cannot be passed upon them. What numbers are there of the Lord's own people which are now in nature's darkness, who, therefore, love not the Lord; but yet from belonging to the Lord, when the fulness of the time is come, and God sends forth the Spirit of his Son into their heart, they will cry Abba! Father!
Now, the anathema, maranatha can never belong to them. Neither, if during the time of their unregeneracy, they should grievously afflict, and persecute the Church of God, as Paul himself did, while in a state of unconversion; yet, as in these instances, the Lord is shewing forth all long-suffering, and all the while, though persecuting Christ in his members, they themselves are the unconscious members also of Christ's body; here can be no anathema pronounced against them!
Reader! there is a case, however, of great clearness, in which the faithful cannot err, and you and I may, (and we ought indeed,) try our faith and love to the Lord Jesus by the standard. Supposing we see and know any one person or persons living and dying in an hatred to Christ, and supposing this person is near and dear to us in the ties of nature, while full of malignity, in respect to the doctrines of grace; can we join the Apostle? Can we say of such as Paul did: If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be an anathema maranatha here is the trial of faith and love!
Sweetly the Apostle concludes his Epistle, as we have cause to conclude every day and night, every deed and prayer, ordinance and service; the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Lord Christ Jesus be with all his people. Amen.
READER! let us not take leave of this beautiful, and blessed Epistle of the Apostle, without first praising the Lord the Holy Ghost for so precious a portion of inspired truths, and thanking Him for the services and ministry of it by so faithful a servant.
And, while we both look up to the Great Author of his Holy Word, for his divine teachings to accompany our perusal of the whole contents of it, as often as we are favored with the opportunity, let us, as we pass on from chapter to chapter, be everlastingly on the look-out for Him whom Paul preached, and whom Paul determined to know nothing beside; even Jesus Christ, and him crucified; Jesus Christ, and him glorified; the sent of God, the Lamb of God, the word of God, the power of God, and the wisdom of God, for salvation to everyone that believeth; yea, Jehovah's One, and only One plan of mercy, in the joint love of the Holy Three in One; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to all eternity.
Farewell Paul! for the present! We bless thy Lord, and our Lord, for having counted thee faithful, putting thee into the ministry. May the Lord render thy services yet blessed, as the Lord hath in the ages past, and in the present hour, so on to thousands yet unborn. Oh! may the Lord commission those sweet and sacred Epistles to the edification and establishment of the Church upon earth, as long as time shall remain, until the whole redeemed of the Lon are brought home to join the Church in heaven.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 16". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
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