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1 Corinthians 16:1-18
Directions and arrangements.
1 Corinthians 16:1
Now concerning the collection for the saints. "The saints" are here the poor Christians at Jerusalem (Romans 15:26). The subject weighed much on St. Paul's mind. First, there was real need for their charity, for at Jerusalem there was as sharp a contrast between the lots of the rich and poor as there is in London, and the "poor saints," being the poorest of the poor (James 2:5), must have often been in deep distress. Not many years before this time, in the famine of Claudius, (Acts 11:27-30), Queen Helena of Adiabene had kept the paupers of Jerusalem alive by importing cargoes of dried grapes and figs. Besides the periodical famines, the political troubles of Judaea had recently increased the general distress. Secondly, the tender heart of St. Paul was keenly alive to this distress. Thirdly, it was the only way in which the Gentile Churches could show their gratitude to the mother Church. Lastly, the Apostle St. Paul had solemnly promised the apostles at Jerusalem that he would remember the poor (Galatians 2:10). Hence he frequently alludes to this collection (2 Corinthians 8:1-24, 2 Corinthians 9:1-15 Romans 15:26; Acts 24:17, etc.). The enthusiastic communism of the earliest Christian society in Jerusalem had soon ceased, being, as all experience proves, an impossible experiment under the conditions which regulate all human life, and it may have aggravated the chronic distress. As I have given order; rather, as I arranged. To the Churches of Galatia. Not in his extant letter to the Galatians, but either in a visit three years before this time (Acts 18:28), or by letter. It appears from 2 Corinthians 8:10 that St. Paul had already asked for the contributions of the Corinthians. "To the Corinthians he proposes the example of the Galatians; to the Macedonians the example of the Corinthians; to the Romans that of the Macedonians and Corinthians. Great is the power of example" (Bengel). Even so do ye. The aorist implies that they should do it at once.
1 Corinthians 16:2
Upon the first day of the week. This verse can hardly be said to imply any religious observance of the Sunday, which rests rather on Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10; John 20:19, John 20:26. Lay by him in store. The Greek phrase implies that the laying up was done at home, but when the money was accumulated, it was doubtless brought to the assembly and handed over to the presbyters. As God hath prospered him; rather, whatsoever he has been prospered in; i.e. all that his prosperity may permit. That there be no gatherings when I come; rather, that, when I come, there may then be no collections. When he came he did not wish his attention to be absorbed in serving tables.
1 Corinthians 16:3
Whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send. It is difficult to see why the translators rendered the clause thus, unless they disliked to face the certainty that the apostle must have written many letters which are no longer extant. The true rendering is, Whomsoever ye approve, these I will send with letters. The letters would be letters of introduction or commendation (Acts 18:27; Romans 16:1; 2 Corinthians 3:1) to the apostles at Jerusalem. Your liberality; literally, your grace or favour; i.e. the token of your voluntary affection.
1 Corinthians 16:4
If it be meet that I go also. Unless the collection were a substantial proof of the generosity of the Gentile Churches, it would be hardly worth while (ἆξιον) for St. Paul to go too. With me. St. Paul would not take this money himself. His "religious" enemies were many, bitter, and unscrupulous, and he would give them no possibility of a handle against him. He makes such arrangements as should place him above suspicion (2 Corinthians 8:20). It turned out that the subscription was an adequate one, and St. Paul accompanied the Corinthian delegates (Romans 15:25; Acts 20:4). The thought that they might visit Jerusalem and see some of the twelve would act as an incentive to the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 16:5
When I shall pass through Macedonia; rather, when 1 have passed through Macedonia. For I do pass through Macedonia; rather, for 1 mean to pass through Macedonia. We learn from 2 Corinthians 1:15, 2 Corinthians 1:16, that it had been St. Paul's intention to sail from Ephesus to Corinth, thence, after a brief stay, to proceed to Macedonia, and on his return to come again for a longer stay at Corinth on his way to Judaea. He had in an Epistle, now lost (see 1 Corinthians 5:9), announced to them this intention, he changed his plan because, in the present disgraceful state of disorganization into which the Church had fallen, he felt that he could not visit them without being compelled to exercise a severity which, he hoped, might be obviated by writing to them and delaying his intended visit. Nothing but his usual delicacy and desire to spare them prevented him from stating all this more fully (2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 2:1). Mistaking the kindness of his purpose, the Corinthians accused him of levity. He defends himself from this charge in the Second Epistle, and he carried out the plan which he here announces (2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Corinthians 9:2, 2 Corinthians 9:4; 2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1).
1 Corinthians 16:6
Yea, and winter with you. This he did (Acts 20:3-6). That ye may bring me on my journey. The "ye" is emphatic. The acceptance of this favour at their hands was a proof of affection. It was the custom in ancient days to accompany a departing guest for a short distance (Romans 15:24; Acts 15:3; Acts 17:15). Whithersoever I go. St. Paul well knew that some uncertainty must attach to his plans. As it was, he had to change his plan at the last moment. He had meant to sail from Corinth, but, owing to a plot to assassinate him, he was obliged to go overland round by Macedonia (Acts 20:3).
1 Corinthians 16:7—For I will not see you now by the way; rather, I do not wish to pay you a cursory visit now, as I had originally meant to do. If the Lord permit. The Christians made a rule of adding these phrases in sign of dependence upon God (2Co 4:1-18 :19; Acts 18:1; James 4:15; Hebrews 6:3).
1 Corinthians 16:8
I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. It is possible that this intention was frustrated by the riot stirred up by the silversmiths (Acts 19:23-41). But, in any case, he stayed at Ephesus nearly as long as he intended, for the riot only occurred when he was already preparing to leave (Acts 19:21, Acts 19:22).
1 Corinthians 16:9
A great door and effectual. A wide and promising opportunity for winning souls to God. The metaphor of "a door," perhaps suggested by our Lord himself, was common among Christians (2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3; Acts 14:27; Revelation 3:8). Many adversaries (Acts 19:1, Acts 19:8, Acts 19:9, Acts 19:19, Acts 19:20).
1 Corinthians 16:10
Now if Timotheus come. St. Paul bad already sent on Timothy (2 Corinthians 4:17), with Erastus (Acts 19:22), to go to Corinth by way of Macedonia, and prepare for his visit. But possibly he had countermanded these directions when he postponed his own visit. In the uncertainties of ancient travelling, be could not be certain whether his counter order would reach Timothy or not. It appears to have done so, for nothing is said of any visit of Timothy to Corinth, and St. Paul sent Titus. Without fear. Timothy must at this time have been very young (1 Timothy 4:12). As a mere substitute for St. Paul's personal visit, he would be unacceptable. In every allusion to him we find traces of a somewhat timid and sensitive disposition (1 Timothy 5:21-23; 2 Timothy 1:6-8, etc.). He may well, therefore, have shrunk from the thought of meeting the haughty sophisters and disputatious partisans of Corinth. As I also do. "As a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel" (Philippians 2:22). St. Paul felt for Timothy a deeper personal tenderness than for any of his other friends, and the companionship of this gentle and devoted youth was one of the chief comforts of his missionary labour.
1 Corinthians 16:11
Let no man therefore despise him. His youth and modesty seemed to invite a contempt which was only too consonant with the character of the Corinthians. I look for him with the brethren. There was a reason for adding this. The Corinthians would see that any unkindness or contempt shown towards Timothy would at once be reported to St. Paul. Who "the brethren" are is not mentioned, for in Acts 19:22 we are only told that Timothy was accompanied by Erastus. Perhaps St. Paul means with the brethren who conveyed this letter (see Acts 19:12), and who, as he supposed, would meet with Timothy at Corinth, or fall in with him on their return to meet St. Paul in Macedonia. One of these brethren must have been Titus (2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:6, 2 Corinthians 7:7), and there were two others.
1 Corinthians 16:12
As touching our brother Apollos; rather, but as touching Apollos, the brother. It seems clear from this that the Corinthians, in their letter, had requested that this eloquent and favourite teacher might be sent to them. I greatly desired him to come unto you; rather, I besought him much. There were at Corinth persons malignant enough to have suggested that Paul had refused their request; that he would not send Apollos to them out of jealousy of Apollos's superior oratory, and of the party which assumed his name. St. Paul anticipated this sneer. His nature was much too noble to feel the least jealousy. Both he and Apollos here show themselves in the purest light. His will; literally, there was not will. The word "will" most frequently means "the will of God," but if that had been the meaning here, the word would have had the article. It is used of human will in 1 Corinthians 7:37; Ephesians 2:3; 2 Peter 1:21. Here it means that Apollos had decided not to come at present, obviously because his name had been abused for purposes of party faction (1 Corinthians 3:5). This was all the more noble on his part because he seems to have been a special friend of Titus (Titus 3:13). St. Paul would gladly have sent his two ablest and most energetic disciples to this distracted Church. When he shall have convenient time; rather, when a good opportunity offers itself to him. Whether Apollos ever revisited Corinth or not we do not know.
1 Corinthians 16:13
Watch, etc. The brief impetuous imperatives show a sudden burst of emotion as he draws to a close. The next clause seems like an after-thought. Watchfulness (1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 3:2; Revelation 16:15), steadfastness (Philippians 1:27), and strength (Ephesians 6:10; Colossians 1:11; 2 Timothy 2:1), and love (1Co 13:1-13.; 1 Peter 4:8, etc.) were frequent subjects of Christian exhortation. The verb which expresses Christian manliness ("Play the men!") occurs here only. It is found in the LXX. of Joshua 1:6. They needed, as Chrysostom says, all these exhortations, for they were, in Christian matters, drowsy, unstable, effeminate, and factions.
1 Corinthians 16:14
Let all your things be done with charity; rather, as in the Revised Version, Let all that ye do be done in love. This is equivalent to the "Above all things, have fervent love among yourselves," of l Peter 1 Corinthians 4:8.
1 Corinthians 16:15
Ye know the house of Stephanas. This paragraph seems to have been written lest the Corinthians should be angry with Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus—who, perhaps, were slaves of the household of Chloe—for having carried to St. Paul their ill report (1 Corinthians 1:11). The firstfruits of Achaia. For which reason St. Paul had baptized Stephanas and his house (1 Corinthians 1:16). In Romans 16:5 Epaenetus is called "the firstfruits of Achaia," but there the reading ought to be, of Asia. Have addicted themselves; rather, they set themselves.
1 Corinthians 16:16
That ye submit yourselves unto such. Slaves though they may be in earthly rank, recognize their Christian authority as good men and women (see Ephesians 5:21; 1 Timothy 5:17). The verb used for" submit yourselves," or, "set yourselves under," is the same as in the previous verse.
1 Corinthians 16:17
Of the coming; rather, at the presence of. They were now with St. Paul in Ephesus. Fortunatus. A Christian of this name also carried the letter of St. Clement to Corinth. That which was lacking on your part. This sounds like a reproach in the Authorized Version, but is quite the reverse. It should be rendered, the void caused by your absence. The same word occurs in 2 Corinthians 8:13, 2 Corinthians 8:14; 2Co 9:12; 2 Corinthians 11:9, etc. The nearest parallel to the usage here is Philippians 2:30.
1 Corinthians 16:18
My spirit and yours. They refreshed my spirit by telling me all about you, sad though much of the news was; and yours by this renewal of our mutual intercourse.
1 Corinthians 16:19-24
Salutations and autograph conclusion.
1 Corinthians 16:19
The Churches of Asia. Proconsular Asia. There was a constant interchange of voyages between the western coast of Asia and Corinth. Aquila and Priscilla. This admirable Christian husband and wife had no small share in founding the Churches both of Corinth and Ephesus. Being St. Paul's partners in trade, he spent much time with them. (For all that is known of them. see Acts 18:1, Acts 18:2, Acts 18:26; Romans 16:3, Romans 16:5.) Priscilla. Most of the uncials have the shorter form, Prisca. In some manuscripts (D, E, F, G) and versions (e.g. the Vulgate) we find the addition, "with whom also I am lodging." The Church that is in their house. The time for large common churches for public worship had not yet arrived, Hence, when the Christian community numbered more than could meet in one place, the congregations were held in separate houses (Romans 16:4, Romans 16:15; Acts 2:46; Colossians 4:15; Phmon Colossians 1:2).
1 Corinthians 16:20
All the brethren. The Ephesian Church in general. With an holy kiss. The kiss of peace is mentioned in Romans 16:16; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Peter 5:14. It was a sign of the reconciliation of all dissensions. But the abuse of the practice and the hideous heathen calumnies which it helped to perpetuate, led to its abolition. In the Roman Church a shadow of it still remains in the custom of the congregation kissing the pax after the priest has kissed it. The custom still continues in the Christos voscress of Easter Day in the Greek Church, when—
" See! the bearded faces kiss each other:
Every Russian Christian loves his brother.
Serf or noble, each today may claim
Friendly kiss in that all friendly Name."
1 Corinthians 16:21
With mine own hand. Every one of St. Paul's Epistles, except that to the Galatians (Galatians 6:11), seems to have been written by an amanuensis. The blaze of light in the vision on the road to Damascus seems to have left him with acute and permanent ophthalmia as his "thorn in the flesh;" and this would naturally disincline him to the physical labour of writing. When he did write, his letters seem to have been large and straggling (Galatians 6:11), But this was an age in which documents were frequently falsified by designing persons, and this seems to have happened to St. Paul after he had written his very first extant letter. After warning the Thessalonians not to be frightened "by epistle as from us" (2 Thessalonians 2:2), he adds, at the close of the letter, that henceforth he intends to authenticate every letter by an autograph salutation (2 Thessalonians 3:17; Colossians 4:18; Romans 16:22). To this bad and dangerous practice of forgery is due the energetic appeal of Revelation 22:18, Revelation 22:19. A similar appeal to copyists, couched in the most solemn language, is found in Irenaeus ('Opp.,' 1:821, edit. Stieren), and at the end of Rufinus's prologue to his translation of Origen's 'De Principiis.'
1 Corinthians 16:22
If any man love not, etc. This sentence (as in Colossians 4:18; Ephesians 6:24) is part of the autograph salutation. The verb here used for "love" (philō) was perhaps suggested by the word for "kiss" (philema). The word generally used for "love of God" is agapē (Ephesians 6:24), which implies less warmth, but deeper reverence. But this passage is full of emotion. Let him be Anathema. The word only occurs elsewhere in Acts 12:3; Acts 23:1-35. Acts 23:14; Romans 9:3; Galatians 1:8, Galatians 1:9 (comp. Matthew 26:74, "to curse"). It is the equivalent of the Hebrew cherem, a ban (Leviticus 27:29; Joshua 6:17, etc.). I cannot pretend to understand what St. Paul means by it, unless it be "Let personal love to Christ be the essential of Christian fellowship, and let him who has it not be regarded as apart from the Church." Commentators call it "an imprecation," or "malediction," and say that it means "Let him be devoted to God's wrath and judgment.'' That language is, indeed, very like the language of religious hatred and religious usurpation in all ages, but it is the very antithesis to the general tone of the apostle. If this were the meaning, it would seem to resemble the very spirit which Christ himself severely rebuked as the Elijah spirit, not the Christ spirit. But I do not believe that, even in a passing outburst of strong emotion, St. Paul had any such meaning. For
(1) the Jews used cherem, not only of the severer form of excommunication (shem atha), but even of the milder and by no means severe temporary form (nidui); and
(2) it cannot be more severe than "handing over to Satan" (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20), which was merciful in its purpose. Maran-atha; two words, the Lord cometh; like the Jewish shem atha, "the Name cometh," or, "the Lord comes." It seems to be an appeal to the judgment of Christ, and may possibly have been an allusion to Malachi 4:6, the words with which the Old Testament ends (see Jude 1:14, Jude 1:15).
1 Corinthians 16:23
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. This is a gnorisma, or "badge of confidence," which, in one or other of its forms, is found at the end of all St. Paul's Epistles. Here it is the same as in 1 Thessalonians 5:28. "With you all" is added in 2 Thessalonians 3:18; Romans 16:24; Philippians 4:23. In Galatians and Philemon we have "with your spirit." In the pastoral Epistles and Colossians, "Peace be with you." In Ephesians 6:24 it is confined to those "who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity." In 2 Corinthians 13:14 alone we have the full "apostolic benediction."
1 Corinthians 16:24
My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Added as a last proof that, if he has written in severity, he has also written in love. Amen. Perhaps genuine, though omitted by B, F, G.
The superscription to the Epistle, rightly omitted in the Revised Version, does not possess the smallest authority, and is absolutely erroneous. It contains two positive misstatements, which show with what utter carelessness these superscriptions were written in the later manuscripts. The Epistle was not written from Philippi (a mere mistaken inference from 1 Corinthians 16:5), but from Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8), and was not conveyed by Timotheus.
1 Corinthians 16:1-4
"Now concerning the collection for the saints," etc. At the outset three truths are suggested.
1. That in the highest theological discussion the urgency of practical benevolence should never be overlooked. Immediately after the apostle had passed through the discussion on the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, he says, "Now concerning the collection." Practical benevolence is for many reasons more important than the grandest theological doctrine; it is doctrine demonstrated, exemplified, and reduced to utility; it is the blossom run into fruit.
2. That the grandest institutions are likely to break down in a world of depravity. The young Church at Jerusalem adopted the principle of Christian socialism. As many as were possessors of land or houses sold them, and brought the prices of those sold "and laid them down at the apostles' feet," and distribution was made to every man according as he had need. A magnificent social system this, a system suited to bind all classes and races of men into the unity of a loving brotherhood. But the swelling tide of human depravity soon bears it away; for here we find Paul urging a collection for the poor Christians at Jerusalem, many of whom were shut up m prison, and those of them who were released reduced to abject destitution,—hence the collection. How many magnificent schemes for the world's good are constantly being dashed to pieces by the black billows of popular depravity!
3. That the practical sympathy for human suffering which Christianity generates is a Divine element. Here are Galatia and Corinth drawn in sympathy for one common object, and that object was "suffering saints at Jerusalem." These people lived widely asunder, and were separated by many striking peculiarities, but here they meet together. This is the Divine principle that will one day draw all men together in Christ. Our subject is Christian philanthropy, and here we have—
I. ITS CLAIMS ZEALOUSLY ADVOCATED. "Now concerning the collection." Paul was the advocate, and his advocacy glows with zeal. We find that in this matter he proposes the Galatians as an example to the Corinthians, the Corinthians an example to the Macedonians, and both as an example to the Romans (2 Corinthians 9:2; Romans 15:26). Were it not for the earnest advocacy of Christly men, the probability is that the Divine element of pure and practical social sympathy would become extinct. It is the living ministry of the gospel that keeps it alive, and in this it fulfils the grandest of all missions.
II. ITS OPERATIONS WISELY DIRECTED. Paul directed:
1. That the contributions should be personal. "Let every one of you lay by him in store," No one was exempted, however poor; the widow's mite was acceptable. If no coin, then give service.
2. That the contributions should be systematic. "Upon the first day of the Week." Begin the week with deeds of practical benevolence.
3. That the contributions should be religious. "As God hath prospered him." This was the principle to rule the amount. Were this principle acted upon, some of the men who subscribe their ten thousand pounds, and who are lauded the world over as philanthropists, would be found to be churls after all, and those who subscribed their few shillings would appear as princes in the domain of practical charity. But, alas! how men reverse this principle! The more they have the less they give.
III. ITS CONTRIBUTIONS HONESTLY DISTRIBUTED. "And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me." It is your duty to see that what you have subscribed shall be honestly distributed, and for this purpose, send men as your almoners, and if it seems necessary to secure the honest distribution, I will go with them. How sadly is this duty frequently neglected! How much money given for charitable purposes is dishonestly used and misappropriated every year!
1 Corinthians 16:5-9
God's will the rule, and spiritual usefulness the end of life.
"Now I will come unto you when I shall pass through Macedonia," etc. Two remarks are suggested.
I. GOD'S WILL SHOULD BE THE RULE OF LIFE. "But I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit." The text tells us that Paul had made a plan to visit the Corinthians, to "tarry a while" with them, and to spend the winter with them, after he had passed through Macedonia, and tarrying, at Ephesus until the Pentecost; but see, he rests this plan (no doubt dear to his heart) on the Lord's will—"if the Lord permit."
1. There is a belief implied here. The great truth implied in this expression of Paul's is that God is in the history of individual man. He is not merely in the great material universe, in angelic hierarchies, in human empires, communities, Churches, families, but in the individual man himself. He is not too absorbed in the vast for this, not too great for this. Paul believed that God was interested in him personally, and that he arranged for him personally. There is something sublime, bracing, and ennobling in the thought that God knows me, cares for me, arranges for me.
2. There is an acquiescence implied here. "If the Lord permit." This means, "I have no will of my own." As if he had said personally, "Consulting merely my own will, I should like to winter with you, my Corinthian friends, but I subordinate my will to the will of my God. I feel myself in his hands, and am ready to act in everything according to his arrangements."
II. SPIRITUAL USEFULNESS SHOULD BE THE AIM OF LIFE. "But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries." Three remarks are here suggested.
1. That wherever the gospel signally triumphs, great opposition may be anticipated. Paul was now at Ephesus, where he had laboured for a considerable time, and with such signal success that a deep and widespread opposition was excited, even to passion (see Acts 19:9-20). It has ever been so: wherever there has been a great revival of religion there has been unusual opposition. The latent enmity of the serpent is ever roused by the dissemination of spiritual light. Christ kindled a fire upon the earth.
2. That opposition to the gospel often affords specially favourable opportunities for the labour of the evangelist. "For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries." Religious excitement is ever more favourable to the spread of religion than religious monotony. You stand a better chance of converting an earnest sceptic than a traditional religionist. Excitement opens a "door."
3. That the true evangelist will be stimulated in his labours rather than discouraged by opposition. Instead of quitting Ephesus, where there were so many adversaries, Paul says, "I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost." Little souls are dismayed by difficulties, great souls are roused to action by them. Difficulties awaken their courage, stimulate their activities, and marshal their faculties for battle.
1 Corinthians 16:10-12
Wholesome teaching for the older ministers.
"Now if Timotheus come, see that he maybe with you," etc. Taking these verses as the foundation for an address to the senior ministers of the gospel, we say to them—
1. SHOW A TENDER REGARD FOR THE INTERESTS OF YOUNG MINISTERS. "Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do." Timothy was young in years and in the faith as well; a man, too, perhaps of delicate frame and nervous temperament, and probably not distinguished by any great gift, natural or attained. In Corinth there were men of philosophic fame, brilliant genius, and oratoric force. He would perhaps feel somewhat abashed in the presence of such; hence the considerate counsel which Paul addresses to the Corinthians to treat him kindly, not to "despise him," nor in any way to dispirit him. Alas! it is not an uncommon thing for elder ministers to disparage the younger ones, and often treat them with disrespect, and even rudeness.
II. RISE SUPERIOR TO ALL MINISTERIAL JEALOUSIES. If Paul had been capable of feeling jealousy towards any brother minister, it would have been towards Apollos. He seems to have been a man of distinguished ability and splendid eloquence. Moreover, he was very popular in Corinth, greatly admired and extolled by not a few, perhaps more popular even than Paul himself, the head of one of the factions of the Church against which Paul had been contending. Had he been jealous, Paul would have kept him out of Corinth as long as he could, and have treated him as a rival, instead of which he says, "As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren." Jealousy amongst ministers of the gospel, though a most antichristian sentiment, is not a very uncommon thing; nay, it is rife, and shows itself often in detracting innuendoes and symbolic looks and shrugs.
III. BE NOT DISPLEASED IF INFERIOR BRETHREN ACQUIESCE NOT IS YOUR DESIRES. Both the Christian experience and ministerial ability of Apollos were inferior to that of Paul. Notwithstanding this, he did not comply with Paul's request: nor did Paul seem displeased. "His will was not at all to come at this time: but he will come when he shall have convenient time." If Paul had no authority to enforce his wishes on his brethren, how arrogant it seems for any uninspired minister to attempt it! The only authority which one genuine minister has over another is the authority of superior intelligence, experience, and moral force.
1 Corinthians 16:13, 1 Corinthians 16:14
The demands of Christianity on its adherents.
"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith," etc. Here are certain demands which Christianity makes on all men.
I. A demand for VIGILANCE. "Watch ye." A military metaphor this, derived from the duty of those who are stationed to guard a camp or to observe the motions of an enemy. There were many evils, as we have seen, in the Corinthian Church—dissensions, heresies, inchastities, intemperances, etc. Hence the necessity of watchfulness. But where do not evils abound? Hosts surround us all, hence, "Watch ye." "Watch and pray," says Christ.
II. A demand for STABILITY. "Stand fast in the faith." Do not be vacillating, wavering, "tossed about by every wind of doctrine." Strike the roots of your faith deep into the soil of eternal realities. Firmness is no more obstinacy than the stony rock is the deep-rooted oak.
III. A demand for MANLINESS. "Quit you like men." Be courageous, invincible, well equipped, manly. Be an ideal man; you can be nothing higher than this, nothing greater. There are great philosophers, great poets, great statesmen, great orators, great warriors, who are small men, if men at all, leagues away from the ideal. A great functionary is often a very small man. "Quit you like men." Be heroes in the strife, Here is—
IV. A demand for CHARITY. "Let all your things be done with charity" or love. Man's life consists of many acts, many "things done." Activity is at once the law and the necessity of his nature. He only really lives as he acts; inactivity is death. But whilst the acts of men are numerous and varied, the animating and controlling spirit should be one, and that spirit is love.
1 Corinthians 16:15-18
Our duty to the truly useful.
"I beseech you, brethren," etc. The subject of these verses is our duty to the truly useful, and—
I. FOR THE TRULY USEFUL WE SHOULD CHERISH THE HIGHEST RESPECT. There are three useful persons that Paul mentions here. "Stephanas." He was one of Paul's first converts of Achaia; he and. his house were baptized by Paul, and he and his family were "addicted" to the ministries of love. "Fortunatus and Achaicus" are also mentioned here. To these three personages Paul calls the special attention of the Corinthians, and that because they were useful. They had all ministered to Paul. The latter had supplied to him what the Corinthians had neglected, and they refreshed both his spirit and theirs; hence for this he says, "Acknowledge ye them that are such." The truly useful are the truly honourable. A man is to be honoured, not because of his ancestry, his office, his wealth, but because of what he is morally, and what he does generously in the way of helping the race. The philanthropist is the true prince.
II. WITH THE TRULY USEFUL WE SHOULD HEARTILY COOPERATE. "That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth."
1. Cooperate with useful men.
2. In your cooperation let them take the lead. They have proved themselves worthy of your cooperation.
1 Corinthians 16:19, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 1 Corinthians 16:23, 1 Corinthians 16:24
"The Churches of Asia salute you," etc. On these salutations we cannot do better than transcribe the remarks of F.W. Robertson:—"We make a remark respecting salutations generally. This Epistle has many, but they are not so numerous as in that to the Romans. In both of them individuals are mentioned by name. It was no mere general assurance of attachment he gave them, but one of his personal knowledge and affection.
I. ST. PAUL'S PERSONAL CONSIDERATIONS WERE NOT LOST IS GENERAL PHILANTHROPY. That because he entertained regard for the Churches, and for bodies of men, he did not on this account ignore the individuals composing them. It is common enough to profess great interest and zeal for humanity whilst there is indifference all the time about individual men. It is common enough to be zealous about a cause, about some scheme of social good, and yet to be careless respecting individual welfare. But St. Paul's love was from Christ's own Spirit. It was love to the Church generally, and, besides, it was love to Aquila and Priscilla. And is not this, too, the nature of God's love, who provides for the universe, and yet spends an infinity of care on the fibre of a leaf?
II. THE VALUE OF THE COURTESIES OF LIFE. There are many minds which are indifferent to such things, and fancy themselves above them. It is a profound remark of Prescott's that 'liberty is dependent upon forms.' Did not the solemn, slow change in the English constitution, and our freedom from violent submersions, arise from the almost superstitious way in which precedent has been consulted in the manner of every change? But what is of more importance to remember is, that love is dependent upon forms, courtesy of etiquette guards and protects courtesy of heart. How many hearts have been lost irrecoverably! and how many averted eyes and cold looks have been gained from what seemed perhaps but a trifling negligence of forms!"
1 Corinthians 16:21, 1 Corinthians 16:22
A negative crime and positive punishment.
"If any man love not," etc. The words contain two things.
I. A NEGATIVE CRIME. "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ," etc. We make three remarks on this state of mind in relation to Christ.
1. It is unreasonable. There is everything in him to call out the highest love. There are three kinds of love to which we are susceptible, and which are incumbent on us—gratitude, esteem, and benevolence. The first requires a manifestation of kindness; the second, of moral excellence; the third, a purpose for the common good. Christ manifests all these, and therefore deserves our highest love.
2. It is ascertainable. We can soon ascertain whether we love Christ or not. There are infallible criteria. For example, the chief object of love will always be
(1) the engrossing subject of thought;
(2) the attractive theme of conversation;
(3) the source of the greatest delight in pleasing;
(4) the most transformative power of character; and
(5) the most identified with our conscious life.
3. It is deplorable. This love is the only true regulative power of the soul. Where this is not, all the powers of our nature are misemployed, and. all is confusion.
II. A POSITIVE PUNISHMENT. "Let him be Anathema Maran-atha." These words intimate two things concerning the punishment.
1. Its nature. "Let him be Anathema." The word expresses some terrible amount of suffering. It is one of Paul's strong words to express a terrible evil. Excommunication from all that is pure and good and happy is undoubtedly involved. The soul cut off from Christ, its Centre, Root, Fountain, Life, is utterly destroyed.
2. Its certainty. "Maran-atha," which means, "The Lord will come." This word is probably introduced by Paul in order to convey the certainty of the destruction of those who "love not the Lord Jesus Christ." Paul had written the other part of this letter by an amanuensis, but to write these terrible words he takes up the pen himself. "The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand." He felt the utmost recoil of heart for those who "love not the Lord Jesus Christ," and had the most overwhelming idea of the misery to which such will be exposed. Men are accursed, not merely because they hate Christ, rebel against his authority, and profane his ordinances, but because they do not love him.
HOMILIES BY C. LIPSCOMB
1 Corinthians 16:1-5
Charity; its systematic mode of exercise.
If these Corinthians shared the thoughts and emotions of St. Paul on love, on the uses of gifts, and on the resurrection, they were well prepared to have practical duties urged on their immediate attention. At that time "the collection for the saints" was a very important matter. These saints were poor disciples in Jerusalem, who needed foreign help, the Church in that city being unable, because of impoverishment, to render them adequate assistance. Furthermore, it was important as a means of spiritual discipline. Giving to others, and especially to the household of faith, is an acknowledgment of God in Christ, a testimony to brotherhood, and an active cooperation with providence, the last being a duty we are particularly liable to forget. The religion of providence, the sense of Christ in providence, and the sentiments thereby inspired, is a weak influence in many professing Christians, and it is certainly very desirable that we should have the mind of the Spirit on this subject. Apart from these reasons for "the collection for the saints," the evidential value of the act appears in this, that in about a quarter of a century a Christian community had grown up in the Roman empire, had spread over much of its territory, and had the means and the heart to aid poorer brethren. Nor must we fail to notice that Jerusalem was an object of much interest to Galatia and Corinth. The days of adversity were gathering upon her, but she was Jerusalem, and to no one more of a Jerusalem than to St. Paul. His zeal in her behalf won upon the sympathies of the Gentiles, and they were ready to join him in this work of the Lord. Observe, then, that he enters into no argument to prove the obligation of charity. This is presupposed to exist. The sentiment, too, is alive, the impulse is awake and operative. He makes no doubt of their readiness to cooperate with him. What he wishes to do is to organize the sentiment and impulse. Habits are the safeguards of good inclinations, habits are the most conservative of forces, and habits, after having been made by us, get the mastery and make us. Habits are as necessary for Churches as for individuals, and, therefore, he will have these Corinthians to do this work methodically. "As I have given order to the Churches of Galatia, even so do ye." Notice the apostolic method. It required a fixed time—"the first day of the week," the Lord's day. Would not the day cultivate and hallow the feeling? Are the associations of a given time for a given task unworthy of consideration? The heavens and the earth are obedient to periodicity, the human body is an organism of periodicity, the sabbath is an institution of periodicity, and benevolence cannot be a habit in the best import of the term unless it have stated periods of activity. Therefore, "the first day of the week." It was to be done by "every one." It was to be done individually and privately—"lay by him in store." And, again, it was to be performed with reference to accumulation, set apart, added to, kept in store. Finally, there was to be an examination of their daily business; intelligence was to be exercised, prudence and piety were to go hand in hand, and this was to be done in a religious spirit—"as God hath prospered him." Now, this looks as if St. Paul had given much thought to this matter. It was charity, not as mere charity, nor as a spasmodic impulse, nor as a thing of imposing occasions, but charity organized and habitual, regular as the sabbath, incorporated into the sanctity of the day, a product of the week's review, a commemoration of God's goodness in prospering their business; it was this sort of charity he directed them to practice. They practised many virtues in this one virtue. Too much of benevolent giving involves nothing beyond our sympathies and the wants of others. It is an education of the hand, the purse, the soul. But what of the spirit's higher culture? What of the calling into play the spiritual nature that was going forward to robe itself in a spiritual habiliment at the resurrection? The essence of this lay in the thought of God as prospering the man for the sake of others as well as for his own sake. Business, then, was not simply personal, it was relative also, and charity, no less than utility, entered into it as a component. What, now, is St. Paul's idea of making money? It is acquiring the means of your own support and of contributing to the relief of those in want. It is making wisdom and openness of heart and fraternity of sentiment, while making money. It is making the religion of brotherhood while making money. If the Corinthians would adhere to this plan, there would be no need of collections when he came, as the work would have been done already. Was not this one way of being steady, unmoved, "always abounding in the work of the Lord," and would it not prove by its self action that it was not "in vain in the Lord?" And was it not one way, and a great way, of demonstrating that there was a business in religion as well as a religion in business? Throughout his statement of the matter, you see the apostle's large mindedness. The cheerful giver is portrayed, the man who naturalizes and domesticates charity; nothing is said of tithes and tithing; it is Christianity and Gentile Christianity alone that is in view, and, instead of Jerusalem being a centre of power or metropolitan sovereignty, Corinth and Galatia are sources or bead-springs of blessing to her. What a stride forward this, in the evangelization of the world! We may know that the end draweth nigh, when the money of the world—the stronghold of sin and Satan—is recovered for Christ. St. Paul bad faith in the sentiment of these Corinthians. Disorderly as were some of their practices, shameful indeed, loose as was their Church discipline, erroneous certain of their tenets, yet, despite of all, they had the root of the matter in the willing mind of love, so that when be visited them, he would have nothing more to do than to accredit their messengers and commend them to the Church in Jerusalem. Come to them he would; and, if the collection were liberal, he might deem it advisable to accompany their messengers to Jerusalem. And what a spectacle it suggests at this distance to us, who can recall the old-time enmity between Jew and Gentile, and have the offset in a scene as beautiful as that presented by a delegation from Corinth, bearing its gifts to a suffering and down-trodden people!—L.
1 Corinthians 16:6-18
St. Paul and his purposes; his friends; earnest exhortation.
If the apostle were before us in his Epistles as an inspired man of genius only, whose intellect teemed with great thoughts, and whose heart was absorbed in supplying fervency to those thoughts, his hold upon us would be weakened. The man has nothing about him of the intellectualist. Among the varieties of mind and character that have arisen from time to time in the development of humanity, turn for a moment to the ideal of an apostle, and tell us if the conception of such a person is not something unprecedented, an idea altogether original with Christianity. A new and most marvellous form of a public man—not a representative man, not a typical man, in no sense either the one or the other, since the man antedated the Church and had no continuation in the Church after its opening century. Take your ideals of philosopher, poet, military chieftain, statesman, ruler, and tell us what resemblance these bear to the character St. Paul sustained and the office he filled. Or take the worthiest dignitaries of the Church, and follow the procession as it moves, now in splendour and then in gloom, from the hills of Rome, over the Alps, through the forests of Germany, by the Rhine and the Rhone, over England, Scotland, and America, and see how they compare with him who fought with beasts at Ephesus and died daily. Quite as remarkable as the conception of this ideal was its realization in St. Paul from his conversion to his death. Look at the matter in another connection. What is the final test of greatness viewed in relation to society? Is it not the ease and freedom of access to the common heart of humanity, the magical power to create sympathy and fellowship, the God-like capacity to pass through the shallow feelings of admiration and conventional honour—often more of a tribute to our own vanity than to the worth of others—and to gain entrance to the depths of truthful affection? Beyond doubt, this was St. Paul's greatness. Just from an argument, that must have put an extraordinary pressure even on his great abilities, and which was well calculated, as all intellectual men know, to make him insensible, or at least indifferent, at the moment to the details of life, he is not forgetful of his brethren, but hopes to pass the winter in their midst. "A flying visit" (by the way) will not satisfy his love. But, for the present, he must "tarry at Ephesus." Why he would stay in this city, he states—"a great and effectual door is opened unto me;" the field of usefulness is large and promises vast results. Stay he would, moreover, because "there are many adversaries." Adversaries were the men to convert; if not that, to silence; but, any way, he will not desert a post of duty to gratify his desire to see the Corinthian brethren. If the Lord will permit, he will refresh himself among them, but, for a time, he will face the worshippers of Diana and bear the brunt of persecution. Then he thinks of the young Timotheus. If he visit you according to his expectation, be thoughtful of his youth, be specially considerate of his modesty, and see that his stay among you is "without fear," disturbed by none of your rivalries and factions. Honour him for his work's sake, for "he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do." "Let no man therefore despise him;" on the contrary, "send him on without annoyance, with good understanding, and kindly affection," that he and his travelling companions may come unto me. Again, some of the partisans at Corinth might suspect him of jealousy as to Apollos. The name of the eloquent and holy man had become a watchword of strife. Lest they should do St. Paul this dishonour, he tells them of the affectionate relations between them; nor will he say my brother, but "our brother Apollos," whom he wishes "greatly" to visit the Church at Corinth. But see! One of those sudden changes which originate in the soul, which pass from the soul into the nerves, and from the nerves into the muscles—one of those quick escapes from memory and stored up emotion—occurs, and what an intenser expression settles in the muscles about the eyes, and in the eyes themselves! There is a break in the thought. Two verses intervene before the main idea is resumed. And it could hardly have been otherwise. It is nature to the life; it is St. Paul in the very soul of his temperament. It was scarcely possible for the apostle to mention Apollos without being reminded of the unhappy divisions at Corinth, for we can neither think nor feel except by means of association and suggestion. Each faculty, each sensibility, is an individual centre of these activities. No wonder, then, that there is an abrupt transition, all the more true to the laws of mind because abrupt. "Watch ye." Ah! if there had been Christian watchfulness in the Corinthian Church, what criminations, what reproaches, what humiliations, had been averted! To be a man, one must be apprehensive of the dangers ever lurking in ambush; must have the sentinel spirit and habit, and must exert it every moment. "Stand fast in the faith." Occasional watching will not do; steadfastness must go along with watchfulness, and fortify you against the wiliest assault. "Quit you like men." No manhood can live without courage; be manful. Fighting is your safety, business, profession; fight like men, fight on, fight to the end. "Be strong," or as it is in Ephesians 3:16, "Strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man." But fight how? There are many sorts of fighting—business fighting, professional fighting, legislative fighting, alas! even Church fighting. And there they are, each class of fighters with his particular weapons and his code of warfare. Only in this are they all alike, viz. the fighter gets the help of the animal soul. Beastly fighting he abhors; the fighting which brings hot blood and excited nerves and quick breathing into service, he admires, encourages, and depends upon for victory. Not so is St. Paul's view. "Let all your things be done with charity"—love, and, after his grand discourse on "love," an allusion is enough. To have a gentlemanly intellect in our fighting is a rare thing and a great thing, but to have a loving intellect in fighting for what we believe to be truth is much rarer and infinitely greater. Christian fighting is a very unusual excellence. From this emotional digression, he returns to "the house of Stephanas." This family were "the firstfruits of Achaia." How he likes the figure! St. Paul had baptized this household. They have "addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints." What the precise ministry was, we know not, but we know that it was a kind, beautiful, noble service, fur it was rendered to the "saints." Think of the manifold ministries that Christianity set a going. It is Anno Domini, say, 57. Christianity has in its Churches men of the generation that saw Christ die, that beheld him risen, that witnessed Pentecost. Jerusalem, though approaching her overthrow, still shows the temple where he taught, the spot where he was crucified, and the grave where he was buried. In this short space of time, what numerous workers have entered on careers of beneficence! From the apostles downward through all grades of kind and loving agencies, mark the variety, the diffusion, the heterogeneous civilizations, the unity, the accordant response, the consecration, pervading these Christian ministries. Mark it, we say; for it is a solitary phenomenon, up to this time, in human annals. Mark it, we repeat; for all the antagonistic forces of the world are in league to crush it, and they are reinforced and augmented by Satanic power. Take a single specimen, the household of Stephanas. No information is given as to his social position, no mention made of the sphere or spheres of usefulness filled. Enough to know, it was a "ministry" and a blessed one, since it was "a ministry to the saints." Yet we may picture that Corinthian home in the midst of a mongrel and licentious population, keeping alive the fervour of its love and the purity of its private heart, watching, standing fast in the faith, courageous and strong, and abounding in the work of the Lord. We may be sure that the poor, the sick, the infirm, were duly cared for and helped, and that the home itself was devoted to hospitality. Now, says the apostle, "submit yourselves unto such." There are two kinds of submission—one to authority, the other to influence. We need both. We need law, we need grace. Law and grace are coexisting constituents in modern civilization so far as Christianity has permeated, and, in our times, influence has assumed a very significant relation to government and society. We are governed much more by influence than authority. St. Paul urges that Stephanas and his household be respected and honoured, their wishes consulted, their judgments followed. And not only they, but "every one that helpeth with us and laboureth." Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus had come from Corinth and visited St. Paul at Ephesus, and "they have refreshed my spirit and yours." They had been sent as representatives of the Corinthian Church. The comfort and cheer were mutual; let them be acknowledged (valued, recognized) for these good offices. Wise instruction this; to be influenced by excellence in others, and submit our minds to such a gracious power, is the strongest of all evidences that we are on the path of culture and piety. For it has pleased God, our Father, not only to reveal himself in Jesus our Lord, but he manifests himself also in those who are Christ's. Discipleship is a revelation and an inspiration. All the ministries are of God. They are his presence, his helpfulness, his glory, among the habitations of men. And whether it be the "ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation," or the lowly ministrations that fall in the silent dew and breathe in the hidden violet, they are alike from him who "worketh all in all."—L.
1 Corinthians 16:19-24
The salutations follow: first, from the Churches of Asia; then from Aquila and Priscilla, honoured names in the Churches; again front the Ephesian brethren. Let them renew their fellowship and pledge their love again "with a holy kiss." The work of the amanuensis over, St. Paul adds the salutation from himself with his own hand, "The salutation of me Paul." And the words follow, "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema," let him become accursed; "Maran-atha,' the Lord comes. Between the greeting "of me Paul" and "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you," followed immediately with "my love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen," this utterance of intense feeling occurs. What his tone of mind was, we understand fully from the chapter, which expresses confidence, hope, and brotherly affection. What his emotions were at the instant, we know from the salutation which precedes and the benediction which succeeds the Anathema Maran-atha. The warning is terrible, but it is one of love and tenderness. Had he been less conscious of the obligation to love the Lord Jesus Christ, less sensible of its immeasurable worth to the soul, less aware of the stupendous folly and guilt of rejecting it; or if the profound sense of that love had not been present in the full blaze of his own consciousness;—then, peradventure, words less stern and denunciatory might have been used. As it is, he speaks from the same high level of love to God and man, and the sentence of condemnation has its preface in a greeting and its sequel in a benediction. So closes this wonderful Epistle. Writing under the zenith of his years, if we rate those years by the chronology of his preaching and pen, St. Paul comes before us in its successive pages as one whose temperament, nervous vigour, observation, culture, experience, had been so far coordinated and interblended as to fit him, in an eminent degree, to give birth to this production. Never did a human soul exhibit its individuality more perfectly through all its organs of expression. Those organs are varied in every man. They were singularly diversified in the apostle. He cannot reason long without waking other forces of utterance. Imagination, in its form of relativity rather than its creative quality, is stirred into activity. Most of all, impassioned emotion is quickly evoked. And, in this Epistle, the transitions from one topic to another, and from one aspect of a topic to its contrast, are vivid tokens of his superabundant energy. Much is left without minute elaboration. Hints are given that might be expanded into essays and disquisitions. But he was not writing these; he was writing apostolic letters, and "first and last and midst" he adhered to his plan and method. Judging from his recorded speeches, he is quite as much or more of a speaker when writing than when addressing a multitude. The spirit in him is often impetuous and finds it easy work to loose itself from restraints. Keenly conscious of himself, still more keenly conscious of Divine truth in himself, his personality is as nearly merged in his apostleship as we can conceive possible, and hence it is Paul, the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the pre-eminence in all the manifestations of his genius and character. This Epistle, a manual of Church order, an epitome of cardinal principles adapted to the ever changing externality of Church life, presents many a germ-idea for future development. Not one of his Epistles bears so directly on certain questions of the day. If we study the human body from the Pauline point of view, we shall be rid very soon of those dangerous teachings which some of our physiologists are pressing on popular acceptance. If we follow St. Paul, we shall know more of the human soul than most of our philosophical systems teach us. There are no "wandering mazes" here in which men are "lost," but over every realm he traverses, light gathers as he advances, and the splendour always hangs its noon where the radiance is most wanted. Christ is the Power of God and the Wisdom of God. Christ is therefore his Power and Wisdom, wherever the duties of the apostleship have to be discharged and its sorrows have to be endured. The day has not come for this Epistle to be fully understood and appreciated. Science has many years of apprenticeship to serve before it can reach the plane of thought on which St. Paul stood. And our Christian thinkers have much to learn before culture and piety can open to them the hidden treasures of this Epistle. As true Biblical criticism advances, the profundity of this letter to the Corinthians grows more apparent, and we feel in our day, as was never felt, before the amazing compass of its power. Here are ideas which wait on time and have given as yet scarcely more than a fragment of themselves to our foremost scholars. Here are latent inspirations that will one day astound the world. Nothing that he wrote has a better-grounded assurance of a great future, and when that future shall come, the world will have a far juster sense of its indebtedness to St. Paul as a grand teacher.—L.
HOMILIES BY J.R. THOMSON
1 Corinthians 16:1-4
There are few interests in human life which can be separated from the consideration of money. Money is the first necessity of governments, and it is the sinews of war. In business, in professional life, in industrial pursuits, pecuniary considerations are prominent, perhaps paramount. It is no otherwise in religion; and, however some superfine Christians may object to associating anything so base as money with what is the loftiest of human interests, no way has been found of excluding money matters from the Church of Christ. Indeed, as Christianity claims to affect and to control all that is human, there seems no possibility of excluding anything so important as money from its range.
I. THE PURPOSES TO WHICH CHURCH GIFTS SHOULD BE DEVOTED. The contributions gathered in Achaia, Macedonia, and other places, at the instance of the apostle, were for the poor Christians of Jewish race at Jerusalem. There is no reason to suppose that all the methods and practices of the primitive Churches were unexceptionable. We have to deal with aims, with impulses and principles, not with details of method and administration. And we cannot question that the relief of the poor, and especially of the Christian poor, is a lawful and becoming means of displaying practical brotherly love. Wisdom, discrimination, ought indeed to be exercised, but for the direction and not for the extinction of liberality.
II. THE METHOD IN WHICH CHURCH CONTRIBUTIONS SHOULD BE MADE. From this passage, containing principles of apostolic authority, we learn that such setting apart of our substance to benevolent and ecclesiastical purposes should be:
1. Periodical. Some have, indeed, held that the words of the apostle especially sanction the devotion of money as an observance peculiarly appropriate to the Lord's day. In any case, regularity is enjoined.
2. In proportion to means. There is both common sense and Christian feeling in the apostle's direction as to the measure of liberality. The poor man gives of his poverty, and the rich man of his wealth; whatever is consecrated being regarded as an acknowledgment that all is from God.
3. In preparation and accumulation. To avoid a sudden levy or collection upon the apostle's arrival, he recommends that each shall lay by him in store, so that the product may be ready to hand when the day comes that it is wanted.
III. THE WAY IN WHICH CHURCH GIFTS SHOULD BE APPROPRIATED AND ADMINISTERED. Paul showed his wonted wisdom in the arrangements he suggested.
1. Personal ministration should be employed. Everything, especially everything connected with money, should be open and above board. The givers choose the bearers of the gift.
2. The manner of apportionment should be altogether above any possibility of suspicion. Of such precautions Paul has set us an admirable and excellent example.—T.
1 Corinthians 16:9
The open door and many adversaries.
Ephesus evidently had, as a scene of labour, many attractions for the ardent and fearless spirit of the Apostle Paul. Its vast population, its devotion to idolatry, the excitability of its inhabitants, all rendered it a congenial field for such a worker. And the opposition he encountered and the danger he braved, it is plain from the narrative, made him feel the city all the more to be an honourable and attractive post for a bold and faithful soldier of Jesus Christ.
I. THE OPPORTUNITY OF SERVICE FOR CHRIST REPRESENTED IN THIS FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE. A door offers the means of admittance to a house, and an open door invites approach and entrance. In Scripture a door is often used to express the opportunity to do God's will and advance his cause. So here, the apostle represents by this figurative language the summons which Providence addressed to him to evangelize this great city of Asia Minor. The citizens and visitors were numerous, the idolatry and vice which prevailed were flagrant, human sorrows and difficulties and temptations abounded; so that there was abundant room for evangelistic and pastoral labour. Further, there seems to have been in some quarters a remarkable and gratifying readiness to hear the gospel of Christ.
II. THE HINDRANCES TO SERVICE FOR CHRIST HERE ALLUDED TO.
1. Observe from what quarters it came. The narrative in the Book of the Acts makes it evident that opposition to Christian preaching arose from both Jews and Gentiles. On different grounds sinful men oppose the truth. It always has been so. It was so in the time of our Lord, and the disciple, the servant, must not expect or desire to be above his Master.
2. Observe what forms it took. Slander and secret misrepresentation was one way in which adversaries sought to hinder the truth. And another was open hostility and violence. This we know to have been put in motion at Ephesus against the apostle. The ignorant and impassioned mob was stirred up to oppose the work of Paul; in this sense, at all events, he fought with beasts at Ephesus.
III. THE COMPATIBILITY OF GREAT OPPORTUNITIES AND MANY ADVERSARIES. It is certainly a paradoxical statement. Yet reflection will show that there is no real inconsistency.
1. Hindrances, calumnies, serve to draw attention to any cause, and the gospel is sure to profit by anything which leads men to inquire into it.
2. These obstacles serve to test the quality of the labourers, and to bring out courage and resolution and patience where such qualities are required.
3. They always answer a valuable purpose in testing the sincerity of the converts. Times of persecution are times of testing.
IV. THE ATTRACTION THIS COMBINATION HAD FOR THE APOSTLE.
1. It called forth and employed his many and remarkable powers.
2. It enabled him to realize his fellowship with his Master.
3. It promised great results of spiritual good.
1. Enter in, Christian labourers, at every open door!
2. Be fearless of adversaries!—T.
1 Corinthians 16:13
The word of command to Christian soldiers.
Now and again we meet with passages in the New Testament which remind us that Christianity does not lose sight of the sterner virtues. Certainly our religion has brought the softer and more amiable virtues into honour and prominence; but we should make a mistake did we suppose that for the severer excellences of character it finds no place.
I. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A SCENE OF WARFARE. It is an opportunity for bearing witness to the grace of God, an opportunity for faithful and diligent service. But this is not all. Who can, in any station of life, sincerely endeavor to live as a Christian, without finding out that life is a campaign, a scene of discipline, of conflict? Surely the language of the New Testament in which we are addressed as soldiers of the cross, is not mere poetry, the utterance of imagination!
II. THE FOES WHOM THE CHRISTIAN IS CALLED TO ENCOUNTER ARE SPIRITUAL. As the apostle, expresses it elsewhere, "We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers," etc. Whether at Corinth or at Ephesus, or in modem London, or far away beyond the seas, he who is bent upon doing the will of God must needs make up his mind to face the adversary. Many are the forms assumed by the foe of souls, many his devices, great his craft and power. In his temptation, our Divine Lord and Leader, the Captain of our salvation, himself faced the enemy, and withstood his repeated and various assaults.
III. OUR POSITION OF DANGER CALLS FOR THE EXERCISE OF THE SOLDIER LIKE VIRTUES OF COURAGE AND ENDURANCE.
1. Watchfulness; lest the soldier be surprised at his post, and fall a victim to his foe. What stress our Lord and his apostles have laid upon this attitude of vigilance! If we know ourselves, our weakness, our liability to sin; if we know the resources of our enemies—we shall feel the necessity of watching, lest we enter into temptation.
2. Steadfastness in the faith; lest we be tossed to and fro by our indecision and vacillation. Persecution and prosperity are alike in this, that they expose us to this danger.
3. Manliness is, no doubt, in contrast to the spirit of effeminacy and sloth. "Quit you like men!" is the ringing battle cry of one whose own life illustrated the precept.
4. Strength is needed in such a combat, in which only the weapons of warfare which are not carnal are mighty through God to the pulling down of the strongholds.
IV. DIVINE GRACE ALONE CAN EQUIP AND UPHOLD THE SOLDIERS IN THIS HOLY WAR. This great truth is always, when not expressed, in the background, when admonitions to vigilance and courage are addressed to Christians. It is not to be supposed that in our own strength we can comply with requirements so stringent and conduct a warfare so perilous. But "if God be for us, who can be against us?" The warfare is not ours, but God's, and his are the weapons and his the might, even as his is the glory of the victory.—T.
1 Corinthians 16:14
Love a principle of action.
We may regard love as a sentiment. It is such; and yet its place in the economy of human nature and life is not fully described when thus much is said. For it is one of the most powerful practical principles of our being. Human love can effect great things. And Divine love is the motive which God himself has appointed for the renewal and salvation of our humanity. And this same emotion becomes in Christian society an elevating, purifying, regulating, and transforming power. It is thus that it is regarded in the text.
I. THE MODEL OF THE LIFE OF LOVE IS TO BE FOUND IN THE LIFE OF CHRIST. Who that reads the incomparable story of our Lord's earthly ministry can be insensible to this fact, which distinguishes that ministry from, and raises it above, every other life and work this world has witnessed? Love gleamed from his countenance, spoke in his tones, flowed from his presence, wrought by his hands. And love led him to his cross.
II. THE AUTHORITY FOR THE LIFE OF LOVE IS TO BE FOUND IN THE WORDS OF CHRIST. Again and again did the Saviour enjoin upon his disciples the virtue of brotherly love. It was his new commandment. It was his test of discipleship. Love to God and love to man constituted, according to him, the sum of obedience, righteousness, religion.
III. THE UNIVERSAL APPLICATION OF THIS PRINCIPLE. It is too common to regard Christian charity as a grace to be displayed in certain relations and upon certain occasions. But this is not the New Testament idea. Love is to govern the whole life, and is to permeate the Christian society. There is no limitation in the language of the text: "Let all that ye do be done in love!" It is a lofty motive, a far-reaching principle. The precept is doubtless one not easy of application so general. Yet nothing less than its universal adoption and prevalence can satisfy the Lord of the kingdom.
IV. THE ADVANTAGES ACCRUING TO THE CHURCH FROM THE ADOPTION OF THIS PRINCIPLE. How different is the selfish principle adopted by the unchristian world, is at once apparent. This is a new, an antagonistic principle, yet, in its proper influence, the principle which is to pacify strife, to harmonize conflicting interests, to breathe new life into human society. "All ye are brethren" was the Master's explicit declaration concerning the members of his Church. "See how these Christians love one another!" was the exclamation of a surprised and admiring world.
V. THE IMPRESSION PRODUCED UPON THE WORLD BY THE PRACTICAL EMBODIMENT OF THIS PRINCIPLE. The world is doubtless impressed by the novelty, the beauty, the celestial dignity, of Christian doctrine. Yet the expression of that doctrine in the life of brotherly love is more effective; and the realization of Christ's idea, the fulfilment of Christ's law, will do more than all preaching to convince the world of the Divine mission of the Christ.—T.
1 Corinthians 16:15, 1 Corinthians 16:16
Service and honour.
As the family that had first in Achaia received the gospel, Stephanas and his household were regarded by the apostle with peculiar interest and affection. The manner in which they are introduced in this passage is highly instructive and suggestive.
I. THE VOCATION TO SPIRITUAL MINISTRY.
1. Its first condition is sincere personal adhesion to Christianity. Stephanas and his household were converted, baptized, and well instructed in the Christian faith. It was when their had become penetrated with the Spirit of Christ that they were impelled to holy and devoted service. We cannot expect men and women to become unselfish labourers for the welfare of their fellow men, until they have come under the new and Divine motive and power.
2. Christian ministries are of many and very various kinds. These vary with the capacity and opportunity of the labourers, and the necessities of those whose welfare is sought. Too limited a view of ministry is frequently taken; the fact is, that whatever service men render to their fellow men, for the sake of Christ, is a Christian ministry. Not only the preaching of the gospel, but the instruction of the young, the nursing and healing of the sick, the showing of kindness and hospitality, the supporting with generosity of benevolent undertakings, all fall into this class.
3. Services of such kinds involve both labour and cooperation. His people find a pleasure in offering to Christ, their Lord, that which costs them something. And. they delight to help one another; some leading and others following, but all setting before them the same end, and toiling in the same spirit.
4. Ministering "unto the saints" is an especial form of acceptable service. From the beginning Churches have cared for their widows, and for their poor and aged members. The household of faith has a peculiar claim upon the sympathy and affection and liberal support of the Saviour's friends.
II. THE HONOUR AND SUBJECTION DUE TO THOSE ENGAGED IN SPIRITUAL MINISTRY.
1. They should be treated with especial regard and gratitude. Paul himself honoured the good Stephanas and his like-minded wife and household, and he reminded the Corinthians that a family among themselves so distinguished in the annals of the Church, and so dear to the apostle's heart, should be esteemed highly in love for their work's sake.
2. They had a claim upon such as were in a position to render them help in the good cause. Doubtless it was the case at Corinth, as elsewhere, that the burden was too readily left upon the shoulders of those disposed to bear it. But this ought not to be. "When one man is seen working hard for Christ, his neighbour should put to himself the question, "Can I help my brother, relieve him of some pressure, or render his labour more effective?"
3. Submission is, in many cases, a duty in Christian Churches. There are those whom we should be ready not only to work with but to work under.—T.
1 Corinthians 16:18
The three honoured members of the Christian society at Corinth who came to Ephesus, came officially as a deputation to consult the inspired apostle upon matters of faith and practice. But their visit was not simply official; for all three were personally attached to Paul, and their sentiments of affection were reciprocated by the fervent nature of the apostle of the Gentiles, whose largeness of heart was even more conspicuous than his keenness of intellect. The grateful language in which Paul acknowledges the benefit he had received from intercourse with his visitors, is suggestive of thought regarding the refreshment of spirit which is one happy result of Christian associations.
I. THE NEED ALL SOMETIMES FEEL OF SPIRITUAL REFRESHMENT.
1. Work may be burdensome, and even oppressive, and may weigh down the soul as well as the body.
2. Trials, desertion of friends, disappointment in fellow labourers, etc., may distress the soul and dispose to melancholy.
3. Living much alone and in one's own occupations is wearisome to the spirit; the energies flag; the quality of work suffers; gloom takes possession of the life. These and many other causes render it most desirable that the thirsting, fainting spirit should be reanimated by some suitable influences.
II. THE APPOINTED AGENTS OF SPIRITUAL REFRESHMENT. Letters and books are precious, but in the case before us they are inadequate. Living companionship, the society of those like minded with ourselves, alone can meet the requirements of the case. Not only so; sympathizing friends have a peculiar power of restoring the equilibrium of the soul. Sympathy was what Paul sought and valued. It is hard to do even work for Christ without the smile and word of encouragement which our brethren in the Lord are able to give us.
III. THE MEANS OF SPIRITUAL REFRESHMENT. The presence of Christian friends is much; but their conversation, the opening of their hearts, the inquiry concerning our labours, successes, and failures,—these are all much to be desired. Not only the communication of knowledge and advice from our superiors, but the friendly conversation of our equals, and even the sympathy and heart revelation of those in some respects beneath us, may prove truly recruiting to our energies and restorative to our spirits.
IV. THE RESULTS OF SPIRITUAL REFRESHMENT.
1. Depression gives place to cheerfulness.
2. Weariness gives place to vigour.
3. Sluggishness gives place to vivacity.
4. Despondency gives place to hope.
5. Inefficiency gives place to successful labour.
6. Doubt gives place to living confidence.
In all is seen the operation of that Spirit of grace who does not disdain to work in and through the lowliest of Christ's sincere disciples and friends.—T,
1 Corinthians 16:19, 1 Corinthians 16:20
In St. Paul's Epistles personal messages occur in juxtaposition with doctrinal statements and arguments and moral counsels. Their occurrence makes us feel the true humanity of this method of religious communication; we gain an insight into the heart, not of the apostle alone, but of his fellow labourers and friends. And we cannot but admire the evident power of Christianity to hallow and ennoble, to refine and bless, the relations subsisting among friends.
I. FROM WHOM, AND TO WHOM, ARE THESE GREETINGS?
1. Individuals are named. Of Aquila and Priscilla we know that they were regarded by Paul as his dear friends and trusty fellow labourers. Wherever they went they carried the gospel, they formed a circle of Christian friends, they provided a home for workers and a gathering place for worshippers.
2. Households join in the greetings. This is evidently the case, whether we regard the expression "Church in the house" as applying to the Christian family and their dependents and guests, or to a party wont to assemble in a certain house for mutual edification and common worship.
3. Churches send salutations. The Christian congregations of Asia Minor were linked together in bonds of mutual confidence and affection, and expressed their feelings by the medium of the apostolical letter. This practice authorizes communications between Churches and groups of Churches, as promotive of brotherly love.
II. OF WHAT KIND?
1. They are fraternal. In the salutation those who send the messages are termed brethren. Not as fellow professors of one faith, but as members of one family, did these primitive Christians exchange their greetings and good wishes and prayers.
2. Cordial and affectionate. Salutations are often matters of form, and are then cold and all but meaningless. The holy kiss, which was the custom in those primitive communities, was a sign of the warmth and sincerity of the good feeling which prevailed.
3. Mutual; for they were admonished to greet one another. "All ye," Christ had said, "are brethren;" and we see how true an attempt was made to comply with his commands, and to realize his descriptions.
III. UPON WHAT BASIS? Not upon the basis of mere courtesy, or of common interests or expediency, but upon a specially Christian basis; the greeting was "in the Lord." By this we must understand:
1. In fulfilment of the Lord's command, who had so often and emphatically enjoined the cherishing and manifestation of brotherly love.
2. In imitation of the Lord's conduct, who himself, in all his communications with his friends, had been wont to display that love which he desired to witness among his followers.
3. Under the influence of his Spirit, whose presence and gracious operations make themselves felt by the diffusion of courtesy, good will, and kindness.—T.
1 Corinthians 16:22
The absence of love to Christ.
There are those who, not having known Christ, have had no opportunity of loving him. But of all who have heard and read of Christ, we may say that the one test of their character and their position lies in their feeling with regard to him, with all which that feeling involves. The apostle's warm heart could tolerate no indifference, no neutrality, here. The Lord Jesus must be not only respected, but loved. And not to love him proves that the nature is insensible to all that is good and Divine—involves its own condemnation and curse and misery.
I. THE ABSENCE OF LOVE TO CHRIST. Where there is no love to the Lord Jesus there appears to be:
1. A want of appreciation of his perfect moral character. If Jesus be known by a holy and sympathetic nature, he will appear to such a nature "the chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely." Who can gaze upon the sinless and pure, the just and kind, the meek and patient Jesus, and be unaffected by the spectacle? Only those for whom moral excellence and beauty have no charms.
2. A deep sensibility to his infinite compassion. For it must be borne in mind that the Saviour's disposition and ministry, and especially his sacrifice, have a personal relation to ourselves. It was for us men and our salvation that he lived a life of poverty and contempt, that he deigned to die a death of agony and shame. To withhold the heart's best love from One who endured the cross for us argues a callousness of nature beneath the level of common humanity.
3. A base ingratitude for all he has done and is doing on our behalf. Even those who are indifferent to the Lord Jesus owe him a vast debt for the benefits which, by his mediation, he has conferred upon the human race, and for the forbearance with which they have individually been treated. If ingratitude to earthly friends and benefactors be base, how shall the heinousness be described of ingratitude to the Son of man?
II. THE CURSE AND CONDEMNATION INVOLVED IN INDIFFERENCE TOWARDS CHRIST.
1. We can trace this in the moral degradation which such insensibility occasions. Not to love the worthiest and the best is to debase our nature. Character is largely moulded by love; and they who turn away from the love of Immanuel choose death.
2. The condemnation of conscience is inevitable. Its voice may be stifled for a season, but it will be heard, and that voice must needs utter a censure of no feeble or ambiguous kind. The judge is within, and cannot be escaped; that judge will charge the sinner with hating him who was and is supremely worthy to be loved, and the accusation is self evidencing and brings its curse.
3. The judgment of the Lord may tarry, but it will surely come. The Lord himself is at hand, to deliver those who love him, but to execute a righteous sentence upon the unbelieving, the unloving, the unspiritual.—T.
HOMILIES BY E. HUNDALL
1 Corinthians 16:1-4
Concerning the collection.
I. THE NECESSITY OF GIVING.
1. For maintenance of public worship in our own community. Churches should aim at self support. Assuredly there should be no unwillingness to give where we ourselves reap the advantage. And often the return, being spiritual, infinitely exceeds all that we part with.
2. For various works which have for their object the dissemination of the truth or the relief of the needy. Gospel at home is good, but we must see that the gospel is sent abroad. There are many societies aiming to reach the heathen in this land and in other lands; ready support should be rendered. "Go ye into all the world," etc. (Matthew 28:19). Relief of the destitute is a bounden duty of the Christian. Here we have a beautiful example. The apostle is no doubt referring to the distressed believers in Jerusalem and Judaea (Romans 15:26). The largely Gentile Church is incited to aid the largely Jewish. This will form a new bond, and do the double work of relieving suffering and breaking down prejudice. Our charity should know no limits but the limits of need and ability.
3. For givers individually. Christians who do not give do not grow. The cultivation of charity is the cultivation, not of one grace, but of many. It is usual to plead the needs of others; our personal need of giving is a strong argument. Parting with some ballast prospers our voyage, and, instead of imperilling our safety, increases it. Right giving is great gaining. We cannot be like Christ unless we give. He "gave himself for us."
4. For the Church. That Church which is not a giving Church will not be a prospering Church. A spirit of charity in a religious community exercises a gracious influence upon everything that that community attempts, and is ever prompting fresh efforts. Church charity should be wide. There is such a thing as Church selfishness. A Church may bestow too much thought upon itself. High shutting in walls are not good for gardens.
5. For the glory of God. Giving manifests the power of the Christian faith. It is a very powerful testimony in the eyes of the world. The world is apt to scoff at profession, even at worship; but this practical outcome often startles, and has sometimes staggered, the world. It is a great instrument of conversion. Moreover, every gift should be a direct offering to God. We must see in the hand of the needy the treasury of the Lord. The Master often sits over against that treasury.
II. THE APOSTOLIC SUGGESTIONS.
1. Setting apart each week. This is very convenient for many. It also ensures frequent and regular giving. Further, and what is of far more importance than is generally thought, it facilitates our knowing how much we give. Those who do not know how much they give think they give three times as much as they really do. Perhaps the most certain way to increase our giving would be to keep a strict account of how little we give! Setting apart each week would provide us with a store from which we could draw as necessity arose. We are ready for the collection in the sanctuary when we have first made the collection in the home.
2. On the first day of the week. How appropriate a time! Associated with so many hallowed memories, and pre-eminently with the completion by his resurrection of Christ's great gift to us. His charity should be the inspirer of ours. A beautiful act for a holy day. How could we refuse to give then, or how could we give grudgingly?
3. The amount of gift to be determined by the measure of prosperity. All gifts are not expected to be of the same value. "She hath done what she could" was the Master's gracious expression of approval. Note: Our prosperity is of God. He gives that we may give. If we take all to ourselves, we are robbers, not Christians. And in so far as we do not give what we know he would have us to, we are defrauders of God. He trusts us with so much: let us see that we do not abuse the trust. Stewards are we, not proprietors. Christ's commendation of the widow's two mites is abused by some well to do folks; they always aim to give that amount. Alas! when the chill of adversity comes to many men it kills at once all offerings to the Lord—retrenchment "begins at the house of God"—and when prosperity comes they give but the old sum, which in the altered circumstances is a beggarly and disgraceful offering.
4. All to give. All have received. The widow gave "all her living? None are too poor to give something. Every Christian should be a giving Christian; it is a part of his Christianity. The gift of a Church is specially valuable when it is a gift of all its members. And right giving is such a joy, that when the most destitute part with something for Christ's sake they do not lose now, but gain. When we give we get.
5. Giving is to be voluntary. It is to be giving. The apostle does not propose to make an assessment. The matter is left between the individual and his God. Giving is valuable only as it springs from the heart. Where compulsion (and there are many sorts) begins, there charity ends. The beauty of Christ's offering was that it was voluntary. No man took his life from him; he laid it down of himself.
III. GIFTS SHOULD BE CAREFULLY ADMINISTERED. Charity is greatly checked if suspicion arises that gifts do not reach their intended destination. The apostle uses great care here. He arranges that those who give should elect custodians of their gifts, who might bear the offering to Judaea. The loose way in which some Churches manage their finances tends to lessen liberality. A Church should keep its accounts more carefully than a bank! The administration of a Church's gifts is no mean work. The apostle offers to take part in it, if this shall seem well. Not alone—lest some should take opportunity to slander: ministers cannot be too careful in money matters. But with others he is willing even to journey to Jerusalem.—H.
1 Corinthians 16:5-9
Words to those who travel.
I. WE SHOULD ALWAYS BE ON OUR MASTER'S BUSINESS. This we may be if we are engaged in "secular" affairs. Every part of life is to be consecrated to God. A Christian is a Christian always, and a servant always. Everything may be consecrated. Whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we may do all to the glory of God. Secular engagements become truly sacred if in them
(1) we act justly;
(2) seek to please God;
(3) avoid injury to our fellows;
(4) endeavour to display a Christian spirit.
To do this as we travel, we should
(1) preserve a prayerful frame of mind;
(2) watch vigilantly for temptations.
These are often very numerous and strong when we are away from our usual surroundings, and not amongst those who know us. We should embrace every opportunity of doing good. Not only to men in things temporal, but also in things spiritual. At last it will seem marvellous to some that their "cheerily" and "love" extended only to men's lower needs.
II. OUR MOVEMENTS SHOULD BE ORDERED OF THE LORD.
1. In secular affairs we should seek the mind of the Lord. He who can help us in the great can help us in the small. There is nothing too insignificant to pray over.
2. In sacred affairs we need ever say, "If the Lord permit." "D.V." on a bill amounts to little; we need it engraved on the heart.
3. Those who, evangelizing, pass from place to place will do well to study the conduct of their apostolic prototype.
(1) He did not think a difficult post meant a post to be abandoned as speedily as possible. Some are all for running away. They are ever "seeking rest," but they are ever "finding none." There is no "rest" out of the path of duty.
(2) He was not overwhelmed by a little opposition, nor by much. Many adversaries being there was a reason why he should be there. Where the enemy is strongest, there the loyal soldiery should be strongest.
(3) He read. in an open door the mind of the Lord directing him to remain. He did not read this in
Some communities have attempted to sterotype the mind of the Lord in a three years' pastorate; this looks more like the mind of man than the mind of the Lord. Some divines can only hear certain, "calls" of the Lord: it is to be feared that these "calls" are, after all, nothing more than the echoes of their own voices.—H.
1 Corinthians 16:13, 1 Corinthians 16:14
A fivefold exhortation.
This the Corinthians needed. It fitly comes near the conclusion of the Epistle, summarizing much that has gone before. The Corinthians tended towards false security, reliance upon gifts and teachers; so the apostle says, "Watch ye." They were wavering in adhesion to the gospel which Paul preached; so he says, "Stand fast in the faith." They were but "babes" (1 Corinthians 3:1); so the apostle incites them to seek more of the qualities of manhood: "Quit you like men." They were enfeebled by false doctrine, Church abuses, irregularity of spiritual life; so he says, "Be strong." They were more remarkable for jealousy, rivalry, contempt, pride, than for the pre-eminent Christian grace; so Paul says, "Let all that ye do be done in love." Corinthian perils are our perils. Corinthian failures may be our failures—perhaps are. Let us heed the apostolic exhortation to—
1. Against dangers from without. False teachers, bad examples, unholy influences, Satanic attacks. We who are of the day should be awake.
2. Against danger from within. We often tempt ourselves, often deceive ourselves, often injure ourselves. Our greatest enemy is within, not without. It is the traitor in the camp who does the mischief.
3. For opportunities of usefulness. Our day is short. Soon the final account must be rendered. We have many opportunities, but they never wait for us. We must watch for them, and catch them as they come. Opportunities have no resurrection.
4. For the coming of Christ. The Master himself enjoined this: "What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch" (Mark 13:37).
II. STEADFASTNESS. We have to abide in the faith. He that "endureth to the end" shall be saved. Lack of steadfastness
(1) hinders our spiritual growth;
(2) mars our usefulness;
(3) imperils our salvation;
(4) is a stumbling block to others;
(5) a great offence to Christ;
(6) spoils our spiritual joys.
III. MANLINESS. Christians should be robust. They are not always to be children in the faith. They need a manly temper,
(1) to contend with difficulties;
(2) to bear up under opposition;
(3) to endure temporary defeat.
Christians should be bold and fearless. Every Christian should be a courageous Christian. The service in which we are engaged is grand beyond conception—the issues how momentous! "Quit you like men!"
IV. STRENGTH. Does it seem strange that we are commanded to be strong? Some will say we can only be what we are, and it is worse than futile to say to a weak man, "Be strong." But Paul said, "When I am weak then am I strong." When we are bidden to be strong, then we often feel most our weakness; but then we go to the Strong for strength. The Lion of the tribe of Judah can give to us a lionlike might. As to means: if we would be strong we must
(1) abound in prayer
(2) and in work—using all the strength we have;
(3) avoid evil influences—not be more than duty calls us in pestilential worldly atmospheres;
(4) seek solid knowledge of things Divine;
(5) strive against sin.
V. LOVE. Love should rule all our thoughts, purposes, words, and acts. We are nothing if we are without love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13.). This is the key to the preceding exhortations. If we have a real living love towards God and man, it will become easy to live in watchfulness; we shall not want to relinquish our faith; our Christian manliness will rapidly develop; and we shall be strong, for we shall be like God. "God is love." Love is salt; it will preserve from corruption our whole spiritual life.—H.
1 Corinthians 16:15
Ministering to the saints.
I. A VERY NEEDFUL WORK. Many of God's children are poor children. The saints who presently shall inherit all things, at present often lack the necessaries of life. Not a few of God's choicest servants are afflicted, and need sympathy and aid. Persecution for the faith should be counteracted as far as possible by careful ministration. In early days imprisoned saints were specially cared for by those at liberty. "Remember those who are in bonds." In modern forms of persecution aid is equally needful. Many need to be "taken by the hand." "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).
II. A VERY HONOURABLE AND BEAUTIFUL WORK. Angel like: they are "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14). Christ like: "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister" (Matthew 20:28). At last the Lord will say, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40). Many do not rightly estimate this "high calling." True love for the brethren (a sign of our salvation, 1 John 3:14) will make us diligent in this service.
III. A WORK WHICH CAN BE EXERCISED IN MANY WAYS. Thus suited to the abilities and opportunities of a large number. Many are idle in our Churches because they can find nothing to do. Let them look in this direction. Visiting the sick, condoling with the bereaved, relieving the destitute, cheering the depressed, securing rest for the overworked, guiding the perplexed, encouraging despondent workers (ministers, sabbath school teachers, etc.),—how many might find a suitable sphere in such holy ministries as these!
IV. A WORK WHICH MERITS RECOGNITION ON THE PART OF THE CHURCH. Those who engage actively in such service as this should be:
1. Highly esteemed. It is no slight service which they render. They do much to elevate the tone of the Church; much to preserve it in peace and content; much to stimulate its zeal.
2. Encouraged. The work is trying. Those who seek to encourage others often need very much encouragement themselves.
3. Aided. This is probably what the apostle means by "Submit yourselves unto such." "As they serve you, do you serve them." Above all, no obstacles should be put in their way.
V. A WORK VERY BENEFICIAL TO THOSE WHO ENGAGE IN IT. "They who water others shall themselves be watered." Here when we give we take. We grow rich by bestowing. Christians stagnate because they think of themselves. Saints take so much care of themselves that they become spiritual invalids. We may "sit under" our own ministry with great profit. A sure way of getting to heaven is resolving that some one else shall get there. Labours for others make us blind to our own troubles. If our ears are filled with the cries of the needy, we shall not be able to hear the croakings of sceptics or the evil prognostications of Satan. True ministering to the saints is truest ministry to ourselves.—H.
1 Corinthians 16:22
Those who do not love Christ.
I. THERE ARE SUCH, Alas! how many! Not those who have never heard of him, but those who have heard much of him—those before whom the great revelation of Christ has been spread out. Not those who have been brought up under sceptical influences, but those who have been trained in Christian homes. How many of those to whom Christ has been made known as fully as he can be to any who have not received him, yet do not love him! This is
(3) explicable only upon belief in the extreme virulence of sin.
II. THE HEINOUSNESS OF THEIR SIN. Consider:
1. Christ is altogether lovely and lovable. There is nothing in him to check love, but everything to encourage it.
2. He has never done the slightest evil to any man.
3. He has relinquished heaven for men.
4. He has humbled himself to assume human nature for men.
5. He has lived for men.
6. He has died for men.
7. He is willing to redeem men from all things evil, and to ensure to them all things good.
Not to love such a Being as this is the chief of crimes. No tale of guilt could be sterner. It is a fearful revelation of the "carnal heart," which is enmity against God and Christ, instead of love.
III. THEIR DOOM. They are "anathema"—accursed. Their crime merits completest condemnation. If they can be guilty of this, they can be guilty of anything. Their sentence is "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord;" their home, with "the devil and his angels." Their choice is to be accursed. They choose the curse rather than the blessing which Christ waits to bestow. They choose the curse rather than the One who alone can deliver them from it. They are now accursed; their present condition is this condition, and their future condition will be this unless they "turn to the Lord."
IV. A SOLEMN QUESTION—DO WE LOVE CHRIST?
1. Not—Do we admire him? He is admired even by atheists.
2. Not—Do we abstain from hostility towards him?
3. Not—Do we take his name upon our lips, observe his day, meet with his people?
4. Not even—Do we work for him?
5. But—Has he touched our heart? Do we love him?
Christ is the great test applied to human hearts. The issue reveals condition, character, prospect.—H.
HOMILIES BY R. TUCK
1 Corinthians 16:1, 1 Corinthians 16:2
The law of Christian giving.
It is interesting to note that one of the first and most natural expressions of the Christian spirit was a consideration of the needs of the poorer members of the Church, and a readiness to share what good things were possessed with them. Of this spirit Barnabas is presented to us as offering the highest example (Acts 4:36). His thought and feeling in this matter had very probably influenced his companion St. Paul. We can well understand that the Jewish Christians, dwelling in the holy city, would be placed under great disabilities. Many of them were very poor; their opinions would prevent their obtaining the ordinary charities; perhaps they found it even difficult to secure remunerative labour; and, when times of famine and distress came, they would be the first to suffer. When Christianity was proclaimed freely to the Gentiles, there was this grave danger to face; the separation between Jew and Gentile might be kept up within Christianity, and the conception of one Church—one flock under one Shepherd—might fail to be realized. To correct this tendency, St. Paul sought to keep up the sympathy of the newer Gentile with the older Jewish Church, and guided the expression of such sympathy, letting it take the form of collections and money gifts. In the passage now before us the principles upon which Christian giving should be regulated are indicated. They concern—
I. THE CLAIM OF ALL TO A SHARE IN CHRISTIAN GIFTS. Nothing that a man possesses is his own. Money, talents, position, influence,—all are Divine gifts and trusts; none are sent for the man's sake alone who receives them. He is only made an agent for ministering God's good gifts to others. The whole Church has its claim to share in whatever good things any of its members possesses. It should be impossible to find, among Christians, an unrelieved sufferer, or a helpless, poverty stricken beggar. We must distinguish between charity and the meeting of the family claims of our brethren in the Lord. It is not charity, it is duty, it is faithfulness, that leads us to share what is entrusted to us with those who share m the same salvation, and who have the same "good hope through grace." We do not speak of charity among brothers and sisters of the same family, and the right view of Christian giving is taken only when the Christian Church is regarded as a family.
II. THE NEED FOR PREPARATION BY PREVIOUS STORING. The claims upon us only come at times, but they do come at times in forms quite beyond our meeting, if we have made no preparations. And there is the further danger that when, through circumstances of distress, our feelings are unusually moved, we act from impulse, not from principle. So St. Paul urges that the separation of shares for the needy brethren be made regularly, as a matter of duty; that a proportion of all our acquisitions be regularly set aside and stored up for due occasions, and that so we keep our brethren and their needs constantly in mind.
III. THE TIME MOST SUITABLE FOR SUCH STORING. "First day of the week." The Lord's day. The memorial day of the Lord's resurrection; which, we cannot doubt, had become the Christian day for worship. When minds were directed more especially to Christian privileges and duties, the separations and storings would be more liberally done, and would be made acts of worship. It seems probable that the amounts thus regularly laid by were not stored privately, but made offerings at public worship, and stored by the treasurers.
IV. THE RULE THAT REGULATES THE AMOUNT STORED. Many have argued for a tenth, but it was not in St. Paul's way to fix any limitations upon the free expression of Christian feeling. He does not mean to suggest any proportion by his law, "As God hath prospered him." Really he means, "Let your separation for others be according to your sense of God's goodness to you." And this he suggests because, while the due provision for the poor is of grave importance, it is even more important that our storing and giving should be a means of grace to ourselves, an agency of spiritual culture. Practically it is found that brotherly and generous regard for our needy fellow Christians bears most directly on the efficiency of our own graces and the culture of the true Christian spirit. "The liberal soul is made fat."—R.T.
1 Corinthians 16:3
The relations of Gentile to Jewish Churches.
Apart from the historical interest of this subject, which was one of the chief causes of anxiety to the apostle, it may be studied as illustrating for every age the principles on which older and younger Churches, richer and poorer Churches, can be brought into practical union and fellowship. Then the topic for consideration becomes this—How can the idea of the Christian brotherhood be applied to Churches? As introductory it may be well to show, concerning the duty of brotherliness,
(1) its ground;
(2) its character;
(3) its examples;
(4) its natural forms of expression.
These may be treated in connection with the personal and individual relationships of life, and also in connection with the social and Church relationships. Then in practical detail, varying according to the sentiments and associations of the Christian bodies to which we may belong, we may consider—
I. BROTHERLINESS AS EXPRESSED TO EQUAL CHURCHES. In this case the brotherliness will take such forms as:
1. Fellowship in worship.
2. Mutual aid in enterprise and work.
3. Due watchfulness of each other's honour and spiritual health.
4. Anxious repression of all jealousies of each other's successes.
5. Manifestations of sympathy in times of Church depression or sorrow.
Among equal Churches there is little opportunity for the charity of material help.
II. BROTHERLINESS EXPRESSED TO INFERIOR OR DEPENDENT CHURCHES. Besides those already dealt with, there should be these further expressions.
1. Careful conservation of the rights of the dependent Church.
2. Readiness to give material and moral help, as occasion demands.
3. Avoidance of superior airs or assumptions of authority.
4. Use of all opportunities that may be offered for the manifestation of sympathy.
While it is true that times of calamity find special occasions for brotherliness, it is also true that those in any way dependent on us would not have us wait for the trial times. True Christian brotherhood wants to find utterance for itself every day, and to fill all the ordinary associations of life with its helpful spirit.—R.T.
1 Corinthians 16:9
The mission of our hindrances.
"There are many adversaries." In life we always find that the "open door" and the "many hinderers" go together. Very seldom can we have the one without the other. For the use of the term "doer" as a figure for "opportunity," see Acts 14:27; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3. For the narrative which illustrates the expression here used, see Acts 19:19, Acts 19:20. Of hindrances affecting St. Paul, we may think of
(1) his own frail health;
(2) the difficulties and dangers of travelling;
(3) the wilfulness sometimes shown by his travelling companions;
(4) the sudden and unexpected claims of the Churches altering his plans;
(5) the persistent and watchful opposition of his Jewish enemies; and we may even add
(6) the sometimes strange and trying limitations put by the guiding Spirit, as in Acts 16:6, Acts 16:7.
That which was so evidently true of St. Paul is the common experience of God's servants; and we must accept the conditions, and win virtue out of the very limitations.
I. GOD'S PROVIDENCE IS EVER MAKING OPEN DOORS FOR US. This is true in educational life, and in business life. Every man sooner or later gets his turn and opportunity. But we observe how true it is both of personal Christian life and of Church life. God sets before us open doors, shows us spheres of service which we may occupy. And such we enter upon with great hopes and expectations, assuming that if Providence has so manifestly opened the door, the path within must be straight and plain and easy. This we find is not always true; for—
II. GOD'S PROVIDENCE IS ALSO EVER MAKING HINDRANCES.
1. Often health fails at the moment of opportunity.
2. Sometimes the will to do it fades when the opportunity for doing appears.
3. Events as providential seem to block the path just inside the open door.
4. The work involves labour which seriously taxes energy and faith.
5. Too often we faint and fail, and prove the greatest hinderers of our work. We must fully accept the fact that, here on earth, God has put open doors and hindrances together, that the combination might nurture and develop the noblest qualities in his servants.—R.T.
1 Corinthians 16:14
The limitation of the robuster virtues.
"Let all your things be done with charity." The connection in which this sentence stands suggests the topic. The apostle had been calling the Christians at Corinth to manliness, strong and vigorous action, watchfulness, and firm holding of the faith. He knew well how readily firmness could become stubbornness, and strength roughness. The strong may forget the rights of the weaker brethren, and the manly may fail to realize that full manliness which includes womanly tenderness and gentleness. Therefore, in an all suggestive sentence, he says, "Temper the whole of your relations with charity, heavenly Divine charity," which "hopeth all things, endureth all things, and thinketh no evil." Chrysostom's note on these verses brings out a somewhat different association. It is as follows:—"Now in saying these things, he seems, indeed, to advise; but he is reprimanding them as indolent. Wherefore he saith, Watch, as though they slept; stand, as though they were rocking to and fro; quit you like men, as though they were playing the coward; let all your things be done with charity, as though they were in dissensions. And the first caution refers to the deceivers, viz. watch, stand; the next to those who plot against us, quit you like men; the third to those who make parties and endeavour to distract, let all your things be done with charity, which thing is the bond of perfectness, and the root and fountain of all blessings." In the teaching both of our Lord and of his apostles, the passive and gentle graces were so constantly commended that the enemies of Christianity might easily, and with some show of reason, say that it was a weak, unmanly thing, with yielding and patiently enduring and quietly waiting, as its chief and characteristic virtues. Therefore St. Paul makes so much of his point, that Christianity was the only force that could really and harmoniously culture the full manhood. Only this is true—the supreme grace of Christianity is love, charity, and it must tone and qualify and direct all other graces, all expressions of character in action. Consider—
I. THE TENDENCY OF HUMAN NATURE TO CORRUPT EVERYTHING. All the good things men may possess or attain are in constant peril of running over into extremes and exaggeratiors. Observe two points.
1. A man's strong side becomes inspired by self will, and spoiled.
2. Some sides are unduly cultured by expression, and the whole character is put out of harmony and fair balance. Self reliance, which has a small place in every good character, becomes corrupted into self conceit; and so of other features of character.
II. HOW FAR IS THIS HUMAN NATURE FORCE KEPT IN THE REGENERATE? It might seem that St. Paul's counsel only suited the worldly, and was hardly needed by the Christian. But we have to accept the fact, which both observation and experience attest, that the renewal of the principle on which our life is conducted does not involve an immediate deliverance from the ordinary deteriorating influences which affect men. Christian men's very graces may become so exaggerated as to be really vices. Strong-willed men may "love to have the pre-eminence," and be masterful and inconsiderate. The Christian life in a man ought to hold the evil tendency in strong bonds, but we cannot get free from the evil influence while we dwell in a body and are surrounded by earthly scenes.
III. HOW DOES THE CHRISTIAN SPIRIT AFFECT THIS EVIL? Apply especially to the robuster virtues. Manliness is liable to become masterfulness. Those who can watch come to despise the weak ones who must sleep. The strong try to force the frail to go at their pace, and easily quarrel with them when they cannot. Now, the Christian spirit proposes one effective triumph over all these evils. Tone all your life and relations with charity, which is, as treated in the New Testament, precisely this—consideration for others rather than self. All the evil comes out of thinking of and glorifying self, and the conquest surely comes by thinking of and glorifying others: getting the mind of Christ, who "pleased not himself."—R.T.
1 Corinthians 16:15
The natural right of priority.
"The firstfruits of Achaia." We need not think of the household of Stephanas as being actually the first converts St. Paul made. in the Peloponnesus, as apparently another person is spoken of in the same terms m Romans 16:5 : "Salute my well-beloved Epsenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ." The meaning need only be that the household of Stephanas was among those brought to Christ at St. Paul's first missionary visit. The apostle had an affectionate regard for his first converts in new spheres, as may be illustrated in the case of Lydia at Philippi. The interest we always feel in first things can be illustrated by way of introduction.
1. Firstborn children.
2. First forms of enterprise.
3. Firstfruits of our labour, etc.
Natural feeling gives all first things prominence; and the Old Testament history and religion rested on the recognition of the rights of the firstborn and the interest of first things. They are the key to the life; the strong impress of the character. They are like the first proofs of an engraving; every line is sharply defined in them. They may become the reproach of our weaker after doings, for they show what we did actually attain once, and prove that we could, through life, have done better. It is, however, the hope and promise of first things on which we now propose to dwell.
I. FIRST THINGS ARE DONE WITH INTENSE FEELING. Illustrate from the youth beginning business life; the man entering on a new undertaking; the missionary going forth to his new sphere, etc. Men brace themselves up to deal with new things. They have no experience to tell them what amount of strength the new work will demand, so they are likely to put too much into it. A vague but arousing wonder clings all about new things, and imagination makes them bigger and better than they are. At first we fail to estimate difficulties, qualifications, hindrances; we start out like Israel, and expect to reach our Canaan quickly: so all our hearts go out into our first things. And happily life is full of them, especially early life, and they exert a most gracious influence on us, for they again and again lift us out of ourselves and above ourselves.
II. FIRST THINGS HAVE A NATURAL PRE-EMINENCE. Of this the position and rights of the firstborn sons are but the illustration. First things are felt to have a representative character; they are the natural leaders of all that come after them—the specimens and examples of their sort. In all the spheres of life we give prominence to beginnings. When a servant comes to a new situation, the master or mistress watch the first actions to see "how they will frame." When a convert joins a Church, the pastor give prominence to the first forms in which Church responsibilities are met. Turning their thoughts back to their hopeful "first things," the apostle reproaches his converts thus: "Ye did run well; who did hinder you?"
III. FIRST THINGS HAVE PROMISE FOR THE FOLLOWING THINGS. As firstfruits have for harvest. The harvest need not be worse than the specimen firstfruits, but it may be much better. A man's first work need not be his maximum standard, but it ought to be his minimum standard. A first result may tell of power, and power always holds the promise of what culture can make it. Or, applying the point in relation to our text, one convert made in a new sphere of Christian labour holds the promise of a great ingathering; as we find at first one star in the darkening evening sky, which is the "glorious prospect of millions more."
IV. FIRST THINGS KEEP PROMINENT PLACE IN OUR MEMORY. Illustrate our first school; first steps in business life; first love; first communion; first convert to Christ by our influence; first sickness; first success in life, etc. The most treasured things in our memory are these first things of life; and, as such, their moral mission is
(1) to aid us in the review of life, by fixing attention upon points;
(2) to remind us that the spirit of energy in which we take things up is the spirit in which we should carry them through; and
(3) to show us that we need the Divine help for "patient continuance in well doing," as much as we remember we needed it for our anxious beginnings.—R.T.
1 Corinthians 16:19
The Church in the house.
This expression is used concerning Aquila and Priscilla, who had been the apostle's friends at Corinth (Acts 18:1-3). A similar reference is found in Romans 16:3-5; 2 Timothy 4:19. At the time of St. Paul's writing this Epistle, Aquila and Priscilla were with the apostle at Ephesus, and it is probable that they opened their house or lodging as a place of worship for the Christian foreigners or strangers who happened to be visiting Ephesus. Some, however, think that St. Paul uses the term "Church" as equivalent to that of "family," or household, probably including servants, children, and workpeople connected with their business. The word "Church" appears to have been used with some variety of meaning, the associations of the term only gradually becoming settled into those with which we are familiar. The first suggestion of the word is a gathering or assembly. But this implied some purpose or design for which people met together. It might be a family object, or a political, or a social, or a religious object. Any assembly called for a purpose could be properly spoken of as a "Church." We know that it was applied to the political meetings of the Greeks; and it may also nave been user for me synagogue meetings of the Jews, for these must be the "Church" to which our Lord referred, when he required his disciples to tell their disputes, or injuries from their fellows, to the "Church." We need to be on our guard against forcing words to bear their modern ecclesiastical meanings when we find them employed in the New Testament. The simple historical fact is that persons lent their rooms or their houses for the Christian congregations to worship in, and so the term "Church" is first used for the Christian friends who met for worship in any place. It subsequently became used for
(1) the building in which the friends met; and
(2) for the entire body of persons who thought alike and worshipped alike.
The "Church" became the "body of Christ." In the treatment of this subject we only give suggestive lines along which thought and illustration may run, because the associations of different Christian bodies with the term "Church" now differ so greatly that detailed treatment would involve the introduction of disputable points.
I. THE SIMPLEST CONCEPTION OF A CHURCH. It is a meeting or assembly. As such it can only be applied to an organized body or to a material building by a figurative use of the term. No ideas of size, quantity, or number seem necessary to its realization. Two or three agreeing to meet for worship or work may properly be called a Church.
II. ITS CLOSE ASSOCIATION WITH A HOME. The "Church in the house" is here spoken of. It is interesting to note the historical fact that the Christian assemblies first sanctified homes. They did not need at first to find any architectural expression, or to fix architectural associations, or to use architectural aids. Home life found a sufficient sphere.
III. ITS FUNDAMENTAL FEATURES. Really only this—family religion extended to embrace the family friends. However the growth of the Church may have overshaded its first idea, we must admit that it began with family worship, and developed on the lines of household religious requirements, not presuming at first to affect either the synagogue or the temple demands. This family origin of the Christian Church needs to be more fully studied.
IV. THE LINES OF ITS PROBABLE DEVELOPMENT. These were fixed by
(1) increase of numbers;
(2) growth of wealth, bringing with it artistic sentiment and desires;
(3) securing of freedom from persecution, and admission of citizen rights and liberties;
(4) rise of a distinction between priesthood and laity, and the consequent development of a ritual in which the distinct priesthood could be employed. Impress in what sense the older idea of a "Church in the house" can even now be maintained.—R.T.
1 Corinthians 16:22
The Christian anathema.
"Let him be Anathema Maran-atha." These words have no very evident connection. Anathema means "accursed." Maran-atha appears to mean, "The Lord is at hand." It can only be regarded as an exclamation. On it see the Expository portion of the Commentary. "Anathema is the Greek term representing the Hebrew cherem, or devoted to destruction, and indicates the excommunication practised in the Christian Church. The early Christians exercised discipline on offending members in lesser or greater forms. The greater is called Anathema. They regarded themselves as distinctly warranted in cutting off members from their body by our Lord's words (Matthew 18:17); and in using for such excision the term 'Anathema,' they appealed to Paul's employment of the word in Galatians 1:8. They regarded the anathema as cutting off a man from the way of salvation; so that unless he received the grace of repentance he would certainly perish. The word is uniformly used in the Septuagint Version as the equivalent of cherem; and it seems reasonable to suppose that where it occurs in the New Testament Scriptures it is to be understood in the deeper sense as relating to the spiritual condition, and not merely to exclusion from Church privileges." Modern anathematizing is chiefly illustrated by the acts of the Roman Catholic Church; the sentiment of modern life is unfavourable to the exercise of Church discipline in any of the Protestant communities.
I. THE PARTIES ST. PAUL ADDRESSED. The Church at Corinth; regarded as a company who made profession of love to Christ, and pledged themselves to live in accordance with Christ's will and example. Those who did not love Christ, or failed to realize the Christly spirit and purity, were not merely inconsistent—they were unfaithful and unworthy; they were even exerting a mischievous influence, as do dead flies in pots of ointment.
II. THE CONDITION IN WHICH SOME PROFESSED MEMBERS MIGHT BE POUND. A condition involving hypocrisy, the sin against which our Lord spoke most severely. So impossible of rectifying and correcting, because so often connected with self deception. Show how such a condition can be tested and discovered. The great test is the life, the practical conduct. The man who has lost the ruling motive of the "constraining love of Christ," will soon tone his conduct and relations with mere self pleasing, and there will be first the pleasurable, then the questionable, and only too possibly these will lead on to the immoral, as in the case referred to at Corinth.
III. THE TREATMENT WHICH UNWORTHY MEMBERS SHOULD RECEIVE. Not excision, as a mere act of judgment; this man can have no right to do to his fellows. But excision as a matter of tender regard for the soul of the sinner; and as a discipline designed to effect his restoration. Final removal from Christian fellowship no Christian Church has power to arrange. Temporary removal may be the best and most hopeful means of arousing conscience and securing penitence. St. Paul gives minute directions in 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 2 Thessalonians 3:15, "Note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother" (see also 2 Corinthians 2:5-7).—R.T.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 16". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25