1 Corinthians 16

1 Corinthians 16:1

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also.

(a) The collection for the saints. Paul urged several churches to raise funds for the starving Christians in Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:3, Rom. 15:26).

(b) The saints. Throughout scripture, Christians are consistently referred to sanctified saints. See entry for Acts 26:18.

(c) The churches of Galatia. Galatia was a region in the highlands of Anatolia located in central part of modern-day Turkey.

1 Corinthians 16:2

On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.

(a) He may prosper. We give out of the abundance given to us. The idea that God is a divine slot machine who pays back those who gift first would have been repulsive to Paul (see entry for 2 Cor. 9:8).

(b) No collections. Money was a delicate subject between Paul and the Corinthians. Although he had planted the church, the Corinthians had not supported Paul financially. This led to an uncomfortable conversations and unnecessary drama (see 1 Cor. 9:4-6). Paul had no interest in taking up a special offering when he was in town.

1 Corinthians 16:3

When I arrive, whomever you may approve, I will send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem;

(a) Whomever you may approve. No doubt Paul could be trusted to carry the Corinthian funds to Jerusalem, but since the Corinthians were funny about money he wisely suggested they deliver their own gift.

(b) Your gift to Jerusalem. The saints in Jerusalem were suffering on account of the great famine foretold by Agabus (Acts 11:27-28). According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, many people in Jerusalem died “for want of what was necessary to procure food.” In other words, food was available, but it was prohibitively expensive. In this hour of great need Paul collected money from the Gentile churches to support the starving saints.

1 Corinthians 16:6

and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way wherever I may go.

Send me on my way. Having spent much of chapter 9 asserting and renouncing his right to financial support (1 Cor. 9:14–15), Paul finishes his letter by suggesting the Corinthians could help fund him on future visits (see also Rom. 15:24, 2 Cor. 1:16).

1 Corinthians 16:13

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

Be on the alert. You won’t find a clearer or more repeated instruction in scripture: be alert (Matt. 25:13, Mark 13:33, 37, Luke 21:36, Col. 4:2, 1 Th. 5:6). Some translations say keep watch. The implication is that we should be wakeful regarding Christ’s return. Don’t be fuzzy-headed. Don’t be in a spiritual stupor.

1 Corinthians 16:20

All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

(a) Brethren. In the New Testament, the word brethren typically refers to Christian brothers and sisters (see entry for Heb. 2:11).

(b) A holy kiss. Like the Jews before them (Gen. 27:26, Luke 7:45), the early Christians greeted one another with a kiss of friendship (Acts 20:37). Paul called this greeting a holy kiss (2 Cor. 13:12, 1 Thess. 5:26); Peter called it a kiss of love (1 Pet. 5:14).

1 Corinthians 16:22

If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha.

Maranatha is usually understood to mean, “O Lord, come!” It is an expression of longing similar to the one uttered by Jews at Passover: “Next year in Jerusalem.” Maranatha does not mean, “I expect Jesus to return by September.” It means, “I am looking forward to his coming, and the sooner the better.”

1 Corinthians 16:23

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

Paul ends his letter the same way he starts it, with a gracious salutation (see 1 Cor. 1:3). Everything Paul wrote was bracketed by the grace of Jesus.

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