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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
1 Corinthians 16

 

 

Verse 1

1. The collection—Bloomfield shows that the Greek word is rather a diminutive of the classic term for collection; and it might be well rendered pickings, savings, that is, from the small income of the contributor.

Saints—Simply the term for Christians. The saintship of the second Jerusalem Church at this time was not very high. Note Acts 8:1.

Order—Direction.

Churches of Galatia—The Epistle to the Galatians was not yet written, and Paul had probably given this direction at his last visit. He mentions it here to indicate that it is to be a general movement of the Pauline Churches.


Verses 1-4

PAUL’S TENTH RESPONSE:—CONCERNING THE COLLECTION FOR THE JERUSALEM POOR, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4.

Why the Jerusalem Christians were chronically poor does not very clearly appear from the explanations of commentators. Why they needed the benefactions referred to in Acts 11:29-30, we have explained in our note on Acts 11:29; but that was now thirty years ago. That they were more oppressed than the Churches of Rome, Philippi, or Corinth, does not appear. We may therefore venture the suggestion that they were not much, if any, poorer than the other Churches. When the cause of a poor people is pleaded, we usually have very moving descriptions of the depth of their poverty; but if any thing of this kind is said in any of the paragraphs on the subject it has escaped our examination. On the contrary, St. Paul is afraid, in Romans 15:31, that his contributions will not be received by the Jerusalem Christians; which indicates that if poor they were also proud and fanatical. On the other hand, we know that it was the Jewish custom throughout the world, recognised by Roman law, to send a poll-tax of a didrachm to Jerusalem. Note Acts 9:2. To Christians, as well as to Jews, Jerusalem was the mother-city. There were the scenes of the atonement and the pentecost. And Paul, in Romans 15:27, gives as the reason why Gentiles should contribute, the fact that they have received “spiritual things” from Jerusalem. Yet Jerusalem-Christianity had concentrated itself into an anti-Gentile narrowness. How noble an effect, then, might it not have for the Pauline Churches to show Jerusalem that they were not partisans against her, by making a unanimous contribution for the benefit of her poorer people! In what disaster the whole generous project resulted when Paul arrived at Jerusalem is told in Acts 21:18-40, where see notes.


Verse 2

2. The first day of the week—Greek, μιαν σαββατων, where the numerical one is for an ordinal first, agreeing with ημερα, day, understood. The other word, in either singular or plural, had come to signify week. This direction, which would for the same reason be extended to all the Pauline Churches, indicates the early adoption by Gentile Christians of a seven-day division of time, peculiar heretofore to the Jews. It was the earliest establishment of the Christian week, with “the Lord’s day” at its head. St. Paul’s objection in his Epistle to the Galatians, that they “observe days,” stands not in the way of his enjoining upon these very Galatians to “observe” this day. St. John (Revelation 1:10) inspiredly recognises this day as a Christian institution, and the question, Dominicum servasti?—Hast thou kept the Lord’s day?—was a test of Christian profession and a qualification for martyrdom. Justin Martyr, whose life covers the forty years of the formation of the New Testament canon, says, “Upon the so-called sun’s day there are meetings of all dwelling in both cities and country.” See note on Acts 20:7. The decalogue requires the keeping one day in seven publicly, organically, religiously; but it does not prescribe which day shall be the observed “seventh.” The Jewish Church held that to be its seventh and sabbath which its sacred tradition was in possession of; the Christian Church, by clear apostolic sanction, first elevated the Lord’s resurrection day to the head of its week, and then gradually disused the Jewish sabbath. If, as may be clearly proved, the decalogue is of perpetual obligation, then Sunday is the Christian decalogue sabbath.

Every one—Do not expect the rich or the liberal alone to contribute. A mite from each is a mass from the whole. It is wonderful how much may be done by a Church where every one gives his something.

Lay by him—So keeping a little savings bank at home, and bringing the whole to the church when the apostle arrives.

Prospered him—The poor giving a little, the richer more in proportion.

No gatherings—If the whole are made at once they will be scanty, and the apostle’s time will be occupied with moneys which he would rather expend on souls.


Verse 3

3. By your letters—The italic your is supplied by the translators, and, probably, incorrectly; for while the selection of the delegates was to be made by the Churches, the letters authenticating them to the Jerusalem Church were to be by Paul. Bloomfield says, this is the construction given by “all the ancient translators and commentators,” and by, perhaps, the best modern ones. The selection was properly to be made by the Churches, and Paul, with due delicacy, proposes this in advance as a guarantee against any selfishness on his own part. The names of the persons who really went are given in Acts 20:4. Paul also went with them, as suggested in next verse. From these epistles commentators correctly infer that letter-writing was frequent, and that it is not at all probable that every letter of St. Paul is in the New Testament. He may have written a letter a week.


Verse 4

4. Meet—Worth the while; of sufficient importance to require my so doing. The journey, their reception at Jerusalem, and the sad results to Paul, are narrated by Luke, Acts 20:3; Acts 21:30. Touching Luke’s saying nothing about the money part of that mission to Jerusalem, see note, Acts 24:17.


Verse 5

PERSONAL MATTERS—CONCLUSION, 1 Corinthians 16:5-24.

a. Paul’s purpose to visit Corinth, 1 Corinthians 16:5-9.

5. Will come… when… through Macedonia—St. Paul’s first purpose (probably announced in a lost epistle sent before this) was to cross the sea strait from Ephesus to Corinth. For changing this purpose, he had to defend himself earnestly in 2 Corinthians 1:23, where see note, against a charge of levity.

I do pass—As he afterwards did, and wrote his second epistle from there. Some early transcriber of this epistle read this phrase: for I am passing through Macedonia, and recorded his blunder in the note at the end, assigning Philippi (in Macedonia) as the place whence it was written.


Verse 6

6. Winter with you—It was now approaching spring; he left Ephesus, went and spent the summer and fall in Macedonia and thereabouts, and really wintered at Corinth, whence he wrote his epistles to Galatia and Rome. Note, Acts 20:1-3.

That ye—The ye is emphatic and honouring. You and no other Church.

Bring me on my journey—Aid in furnishing equipments, and honourably escorting him a part of the way.

Whithersoever—His plan beyond Corinth being unfixed.


Verse 7

7. I will—I purpose; not the auxiliary verb will, but the verb to will.

Now by the way—He intends no flying, passing visit.

Lord permit—See James 4:15.


Verse 8

8. Until Pentecost—Erasmus and other commentators were sorely puzzled with this honourable mention of a Jewish feast to Gentile Christian readers. Of course, however, Gentile Christians were sufficiently associated with Jews in the Church to know the two principal feasts of passover and pentecost. Both had acquired a powerful Christian character from the crucifixion at the former and the gift of tongues at the latter. But in fact Paul mentions pentecost here as a date rather than an institution. So we speak of Christmas and holidays. The present verse conclusively shows that the epistle was written from Ephesus.


Verse 9

9. A great door—Much of Ephesus heretofore closed is now opened to him.

Many adversaries—Requiring his presence to defend and protect the Church. It is very probable that it was this great door now opened that had already awakened the hostile zeal of Demetrius the silversmith, and other adversaries, in behalf of Diana and their “craft.”


Verse 10

b. The visits of Timothy and Apollos, 1 Corinthians 16:10-12.

10. If Timotheus come—As Paul had informed them (1 Corinthians 4:16) that he had sent him, and of the object of his coming. As Luke informs us, (Acts 19:22,) just before writing this present epistle, St. Paul, intending to go to Macedonia and Corinth, sent forward Timothy and Erastus as his pioneers. As the epistle would take the cross route, and Timothy might progress slowly by reason of duties on the way, Paul anticipates his arrival in Corinth, and bespeaks a kindly reception. Yet such might be Timothy’s engagements that he might not go so far as Corinth, and hence the apostle’s if.

Without fear—Literally, see that he may be fearlessly among you. As a young man sent to represent Paul in a great and factious Church, Timothy might have justly felt an intimidation. He may have possessed that personal diffidence which is often found compatible with much strength of character.

As I—A repetition of his commendation in 1 Corinthians 14:17.


Verse 11

11. Despise him—Paul said to Timothy himself, “Let no man despise thy youth,” (1 Timothy 4:12,) as if his youth were the only thing that could be despised.

In peace—As with a parting salaam.

With the brethren— What brethren these were with whom he wished Timothy to come is uncertain. Stanley suggests that the bearers of this epistle were to be a sort of mission to Corinth, with Apollos at their head, but that he declined. “This mission was composed of Titus and two other brethren,” (2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 8:22-23,) whose names are not mentioned. With these brethren, probably, it was that Paul expected Timothy to come.


Verse 12

12. Apollos—This interesting personage was first found by Paul here at Ephesus, (Acts 18:24-28,) whence he went to Corinth. His success and popularity there could not induce him to stay, and he returned and is found here with Paul again at Ephesus. A faction at Corinth called itself by his name.

Will… not… to come—How little these two noble men countenanced the assumption of their names, appears from this passage. Paul, so far from fearing his action or influence at Corinth, beseeches him to visit that city with Titus. Apollos, probably with the same disgust at the factions that drove him thence, for the present declines to go. Jerome says, that when peace was restored he returned to that city, and was made its bishop.


Verse 13-14

c. Paul’s final interjected admonition, 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.

Paul must utter a few more words of rousing admonition before he closes. His words are almost all of military force.

13. Watch—Like a wakeful sentinel when the enemy is near.

Stand fast in the faith—Whether foes assault or deceivers seduce you.

Quit… men—A single word in the Greek—be men; exert your Christian manhood.

Be strong—Strain up your nerve and sinew.

With charity— Rather, in love; a caution against factions, and a reminder of chapter 13.


Verse 15

d. Paul intercedes with Corinthians in behalf of mutual friends, 1 Corinthians 16:15-18.

15. House of Stephanas—Mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:16 as among the few baptized by Paul himself.

Firstfruits—See note on 1 Corinthians 15:23.

Ministry of the saints— Hospitalities and benefactions to poorer Christians, especially to the apostles and preachers.


Verse 16

16. Submit yourselves—Be servants to them as they are servants to Christians.


Verse 17

17. Coming of—The three who brought the letter from the Corinthians and reported to the apostle the true state of his Corinthian Church. Stanley thinks that this Stephanas was a slave in the household of Stephanas, bearing, according to custom, his master’s name.

Lacking on your part— All the service I need which you could not render me they supplied. This seems the natural meaning; but we are unable to say in what the lack consisted. But it very probably means the enjoyment of presence and society. The want of you in my heart they by their presence supplied. They were you in miniature for the time.


Verse 18

18. My spirit and yours—For there is such a sympathy across the AEgean between you and me, that to refresh me refreshes you. You are the stronger for my strength.

Acknowledge—Recognise them as such as I have described them.


Verse 19

e. Salutations; closing autograph, anathema, and benedictions, 1 Corinthians 16:19-24.

19. Churches of Asia—Proconsular Asia, of which Ephesus was the capital. In these were included the “seven Churches” addressed by John in the Apocalypse. It is here interesting to hear for an instant their united voice sent through Paul in greeting to the Church at Corinth. It was probably to this entire circle of Churches that Paul addressed the so-called “Epistle to the Ephesians,” as a common “cyclical letter,” or circular address.

Aquila and Priscilla—See notes on Acts 18:2-3, and Romans 16:3.

Church… in their house—This faithful pair had a house-church at Rome as well as at Ephesus. Romans 16:5.


Verse 20

20. All the brethren—The body of the Ephesian Church sends, from Asia to Europe, to the body of the Corinthian Church, its fraternal Christian greet.

Holy kissRomans 16:16. Justin Martyr says: “At the close of our prayers we salute each other with a kiss.” The “Apostolic Constitutions,” 2:57, says: “Then let the men salute each other, and the women salute each other, with the kiss in the Lord—and after that let the deacon pray for the whole Church.” It was simply the adoption into the Christian ritual of an eastern and Old Testament custom. Stanley says: “On Good Friday it was omitted, in commemoration of the kiss of Judas. Down to the fifth century it was given after baptism, and was afterwards superseded by the (verbal) salutation, ‘Peace be with thee.’ It was technically called η ειρηνη, ‘the peace.’” Grotius says, “He rightly enjoins the kiss of peace on those who were in danger of being rent to pieces by schisms.”


Verse 21

21. Mine own hand—In 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Paul adds, “which is the token in every epistle: so I write.” His autograph was security against forgery. See Romans 16:22; Galatians 6:11; Philippians 19. Very probably the whole close (1 Corinthians 16:21-24) was autographic.


Verse 22

22. If—This awful woe, given by Paul’s own hand, closing with the solemn Aramaic watchword, formed an impressive and memorable sentence for the Corinthian Church.

Anathema—Devoted to destruction; “sacred to perdition.” Note on Romans 9:3, and on Joshua 6:17; Joshua 6:21. This word describes the awful side of human guilt and destiny. It is the anticipation of, and solemn assent to, the dread “Depart, ye cursed,” of the final Judge, at which it becomes us to tremble rather than to cavil.

Maran-atha—That is, the Lord is come. It is the Christian’s reminder as he waits the advent of the judge to execute that anathema. It is a brief motto, in the language spoken by the Incarnate when on earth, (like Abba, in Romans 8:15), a watchword by which Christians could avow themselves and recognise each other.

Stanley says: “The word Maran is the longer form of Mar, the Chaldee (or later Hebrew) word for Lord, and used as such in Daniel 2:47; Daniel 4:19; Daniel 4:24; Daniel 5:23; familiar also as the title of ecclesiastical dignitaries in the Syrian Church. Atha is frequently used in the poetical books of the Old Testament for comes, and so also in the Chaldee.” He adds that the Maronite Jews of Spain were so called because, in expectation of a future Messiah, they were ever uttering the word Maran, Lord, to which the Christians retorted Maran-atha, The Lord is come. This, Paul’s anathema, has a dread sound: not much unlike a discord, in the flowing music of salutations and benedictions. Alas! it is a true representation of the tragic and mournful semi-tone that runs through the anthem of human history and human destiny, commenced by sin and closing in woe.


Verse 23

23. The grace—The reverse side from the anathema.

Lord—The gracious New Testament title of Christ; as Maran is a sterner title from the language of the Old. The later an echo from Sinai; the former from Calvary.


Verse 24

24. My love—Notwithstanding my rebukes.

With… all—Notwithstanding your schisms and partisanships against me.

In Christ Jesus—Who is the unity of us all in spite of the factions that divide you, and the distance that separates us.

Amen—A Hebrew word, now adopted through the New Testament Greek into all the languages of Christendom. Its original Hebrew meaning was firm; hence, faithful, true; and hence, as a responsive or closing formula, so is it, or so be it. Our Lord’s commencing formula, verily, verily, was in the Greek, amen, amen. Our Lord himself, in Revelation 3:14, is called the Amen, the faithful and true Witness. How important the response amen was held to be by the rabbins appears from our note to 1 Corinthians 14:16. The apostle doubtless himself affixed this word to the epistle, and we doubt not that when this epistle was read in the Corinthian Church, the people silenced the murmurs of the factious leaders by re-echoing to the amen of their beloved founder-apostle a response, (in the words of Jerome,) “like the voice of the falling waters or the rolling thunders.” Hence, when the gentle Timothy addressed them in Paul’s great name, so clear was the unanimity, in spite of some few recusants, that Titus was able to report to Paul at Philippi that the Corinthian Church was “Amen, faithful and true.”

Dear reader, when the Lord cometh to the final analysis and judgment of the world, may our record on the page of the Divine Memory declare that we, too, have been “faithful and true.” Such, in closing this book, amid weakness and tears, is our humble prayer. Amen and Amen.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 16:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-corinthians-16.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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