1 Corinthians Chapter 16: Jerusalem Brethren in Need, Timothy, Apollos

Jan 4th, 2010 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Corinthians, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Corinthians Chapter 16: Jerusalem Brethren in Need, Timothy, Apollos

1 Cor. 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

1 Cor. 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

1 Cor. 16:3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

1 Cor. 16:4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.

Paul had been collecting money from the different churches in Galatia, a region in Turkey, for the brethren in Jerusalem and Judea, who were having a difficult time primarily from a severe famine. The brethren were impoverished because the famine had lasted a while. To alleviate the suffering and meet the necessities, Paul gave instructions to the Corinthians for a special collection. It was better that money be put anonymously in a common box in advance of his arrival so that when he got there, he would not have to go to each individual in the ecclesia to ask for donations. The money would be added to that received from the churches in Galatia.

In other words, this collection was not the normal weekly giving but an unusual circumstance. Paul’s advice was for each of the Corinthians to lay money “in store” in a common collection box on the first day of the week (Sunday) according to ability (“as God hath prospered him”).

Paul might not arrive for several weeks, so the money would accumulate and be given to him upon his arrival. One reason for this anonymous method was not to embarrass those who had less money and/or meager circumstances.

Instead of the brethren procrastinating, it was better for them to save a small amount every week over several weeks than to think they could give a large amount of money at the end. Perhaps by that time, there would not be as much money to give. Also, the implication is that a common box was preferable to having several collections.

“And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.” Paul advised the Corinthian church to select several honest and dependable individuals to take the money to Jerusalem. He did not take it upon himself to bring the money but was asking them to handle the matter.

“And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.” In addition, Paul suggested that he would not mind accompanying the committee to Jerusalem, for he would be glad to have companionship.

Incidentally, down through the Gospel Age, the good news has been preached mostly to the poor—not only to the poor in spirit but also to common, ordinary people who had to work from sunrise to sunset to earn enough money to provide necessities for themselves and their families. However, the circumstance of the brethren in the Jerusalem area was extraordinary, and Paul, feeling their dire need keenly, was making this particular collection. While the brethren in Corinth were far more prosperous than those in Judea, he had to prod them to be generous. The brethren with less means in Macedonia, Philippi, and Thessalonica were more generous than those in Corinth.

Today the nominal churches do a lot of solicitation for donations. The people are exhorted to give, yet many church leaders ride around in expensive cars and live in luxurious homes. It is obvious in such cases that money is being siphoned off for personal use. Usually those who need the money the most get the least in the final analysis.

1 Cor. 16:5 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.

1 Cor. 16:6 And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.

Paul purposed to go through Macedonia in northern Greece, and then he would like to abide with the Corinthians for the winter before going back to Jerusalem. However, he was unable to follow through and spend the winter in Corinth. After a delay, Paul did eventually return to Corinth for a second visit. As will be seen in the second epistle, some found fault with him, saying he had not kept his word. In their hypercritical attitude, they did not make allowance for the difficulties of the journey. It is true that Jesus said, “Let your communication be, Yea, yea; [or] Nay, nay,” but that would be barring an emergency (Matt. 5:37).

1 Cor. 16:7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.

1 Cor. 16:8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.

1 Cor. 16:9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

“I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. But I will [first] tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.” Paul planned to be with the brethren at Ephesus until Pentecost because “a great door [of opportunity] and effectual” had opened to him. He disputed daily in the school of Tyrannus, which was like a debating society, for “the space of two [additional] years” (Acts 19:1,9,10). Not only were the debates exhausting, taking his energy and strength, but “many adversaries” were at the meetings and in his private life. Nevertheless, good results came in that some recognized Paul had the truth and followed him. The debates resulted in an increase in the class. Because the results were productive, Paul stayed in Ephesus for 3 1/2 years.

Paul wrote this epistle from Ephesus. A confirmation is that he sent greetings from the brethren who arrived safely, to his joy, and were there with him: Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (verse 17). Priscilla and Aquila were also in Ephesus (verse 19).

1 Cor. 16:10 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.

1 Cor. 16:11 Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.

Q: What were the circumstances with Timothy that Paul had to caution the brethren not to “despise” him? 1 Timothy 4:12 is a cross reference: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

A: The Phillips translation helps: “If Timothy comes to you, put him at his ease. He is as genuine a worker for the Lord as I am, and there is therefore no reason to look down on him.

Send him on his way in peace.” Paul left Timothy behind in Ephesus when he went on to Galatia and Macedonia. Timothy was assisting churches Paul had established. Paul thought highly of Timothy, even likening him to his own son (1 Tim. 1:2). He wanted the brethren to cordially receive Timothy—to accept and respect him and put him at ease. Although Timothy was quite young, being in his late 20s or early 30s, and had not been consecrated as long as some of the older brethren, he knew a great deal, was a real genuine worker, and was zealous like Paul. Therefore, he was not to be considered a new convert.

When Jesus died, the apostles were looked up to, not only because they were set as apostles but because they had spent the most time with him and could relate the details of his ministry.

Eventually, only the Apostle John was left, and all the churches looked to him in a special sense because he was the sole survivor. In connection with the ministry, Timothy was picked up along the way. The tendency of the brethren was to respect the old-timers. This tendency was proper in the case of the apostles, and even with others, all things being equal, but all things were not equal for two reasons. (1) Just because one had been consecrated longer did not mean he was well established in the truth. (2) Only the apostles were infallible in their teaching. When Timothy came along at a later date as the emissary of Paul, the brethren were apt to dismiss him as a newcomer and to regard more highly the older teachers, who were elders, yet Timothy was more knowledgeable in the Scriptures and more zealous in his works. In summation, Paul was trying to assure the brethren that even though Timothy was a relatively recent convert, they were not to consider him that way. Incidentally, feeling coldness from the brethren can affect an individual. Even the Holy Spirit does not seem to function as well.

“He [Timothy] worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.” That was a good endorsement, especially coming from the Apostle Paul. Timothy received disrespect to a certain extent from the Corinthians, even though Paul said, “Let no man therefore despise him.” When Timothy went to Corinth, his ministry was not as well received as that of Titus. The brethren there did not think too highly of Timothy, probably because he was so humble, yet Paul spoke fondly of him and said that God had given him a remarkable insight into truth.

“Conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.” Paul looked for Timothy to return to him with a report of what was happening in Corinth, and other brethren would probably accompany him on the same boat. Paul expected that Timothy would bring back news of the brotherhood in Corinth.

1 Cor. 16:12 As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.

Paul had tried to persuade Apollos to go back to Corinth, but it was not convenient for him to return until later. The account does not state what the hindrance was with Apollos. Earlier in this epistle, Paul wrote that he had planted and Apollos had watered (1 Cor. 3:6). Paul thought highly of Apollos, even though they differed doctrinally for a while. Apollos had brought many to Christ, he was zealous and courageous, and he was willing to be instructed. Even prior to his enlightenment on the subject of baptism, he was commended as being full of faith in the Spirit and mighty in the Scriptures (Acts 18:24,25). Paul properly weighed matters.

Although one may differ in a doctrine, he may be better in some respects than the person who is criticizing him. The principle is to be careful with regard to the nature of the doctrine that is being incorrectly espoused.

1 Cor. 16:13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

1 Cor. 16:14 Let all your things be done with charity.

The Diaglott is good for verse 13: “Watch you! Stand firm in the faith! Be manly! Be strong.” The Revised Standard reads, “Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong!” The thought of being manly is to be brave or courageous; that is, the Corinthians were to be courageous and mature in understanding like men. (The Old English “quit” means just the opposite today.) Then Paul added, “Let all that you do be done in love” (RSV).

1 Cor. 16:15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

1 Cor. 16:16 That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.

This Stephanas was not the Stephen of Acts 6:8–7:60. Stephen’s martyrdom occurred before the conversion of Cornelius in AD 36 (Acts 10). Therefore, Stephen was martyred only two to three years after Pentecost. Of course he may have been a disciple during Jesus’ ministry, but he died three years or less after Pentecost. The name Stephen, or Stephanas, means “crown.”

Q: What is the thought of Stephanas being “the firstfruits of Achaia”?

A: Achaia was a province in Greece, and Stephanas was the first Christian convert in that area. The household of Stephanas had “addicted [devoted—see Diaglott] themselves to the ministry of the saints.” In other words, they practiced faithful service; they devoted their lives to the ministry of the saints.

1 Cor. 16:17 I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.

1 Cor. 16:18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.

Verses 17 and 18, which are not a rebuke, are superior in the Revised Standard Version. “I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence; for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such men.” In the absence of the Corinthian brethren, whom Paul wished to be with, Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus furnished him with fellowship. Paul was glad for their company.

Comment: The word “coming” in verse 17 is the Greek parousia, meaning personal presence, for the three were actually there with Paul. Jesus’ “coming” (parousia) is also a personal presence.

Reply: Yes, verse 17 is talking about their recent arrival in Ephesus. Stephanas was originally from Achaia. Corinth, too, was in Achaia. It is interesting that Paul had companionship on some of his long journeys of a month or more.

Comment: Those who accompanied Paul had the benefit of his teaching. They, in turn, could go back to their home areas and help to establish the brethren in truth.

Reply: Their zeal and sacrifice resulted in a blessing. Not only did they have to take time off to travel, but they risked their lives, had expenses as travelers, and had to make arrangements for the care of their families until their return.

Why did Paul say, “Therefore acknowledge ye them that are such”? Even though Christians are adults, many times they have to be reminded as children. Paul was saying in effect, “When I am gone, remember the zeal of these three individuals for the Lord and for the truth.” Sober, mature, thinking Christians do not normally need such advice because they observe the zeal themselves. Brethren should analyze and reflect on the nature of the service and ministry of others. By his comment, Paul was thinking of the future of the Church, as well as the present.

Comment: Big talkers often put themselves forward, while doers are in the background, unobserved.

Reply: Yes, and these three individuals could have been absent for a year or two. Meanwhile, others led the meetings at home and developed and cemented a fellowship, relationship, and/or kinship. When the three each returned to his respective home area, it may have taken valuable time before they were recognized again. The brethren in the home ecclesias should have reflected on what these three were accomplishing in their absence and immediately received them back with esteem. After having the blessing of Paul’s intimate fellowship and counsel, they would return being more knowledgeable than the leaders who stayed at home.

Comment: Since the Apostle Paul himself was being impugned, those accompanying him would also be disparaged if he did not correct the situation.

Comment: Verse 18, “For they have refreshed my spirit and yours,” is how brethren should affect one another. We are to build one another up in the most holy faith and refresh each other’s spirit, as happened with Paul in the company of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus.

1 Cor. 16:19 The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

The “churches of Asia” were primarily the seven churches of Revelation: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. There were also ecclesias at Colosse, Lystra, Iconium, etc.

Comment: Meetings and studies were held in the “home” of Priscilla and Aquila. They did not need a church building!

Reply: Yes, and they were tent makers like Paul, who was probably a guest in their home at times. Incidentally, back in those days, people realized that fortunes could come and then go suddenly through robbery, misfortune, or decree. Therefore, for reasons of prudence, the wealthy nobility learned a trade as a safeguard against such a disaster. Coming from a wealthy family, Paul was trained as a tent maker prior to his consecration.

The question might arise, How could Paul see to make tents after his eyesight was impaired from his glimpse of the risen Lord? He was able to be a tent maker, even with poor eyesight, because the sewing was done with large needles.

1 Cor. 16:20 All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.

The brethren were to greet one another with a “holy kiss.” This meant that brother “kissed” brother on the cheek, and sister “kissed” sister as a sign of affection. The kiss would not be holy if the sexes were mixed. The handshake is our equivalent today in this country. The holy kiss is still used in certain places in Europe.

On rare occasions, a kiss on the cheek could be given between the sexes. For example, if one we love very much as a brother or sister in Christ has been absent for a long time (such as the Apostle Paul back there), even a sister might emotionally cry and embrace him, and the embrace would be proper. However, Paul’s advice with regard to the holy kiss was to be the regular practice of everyone at daily and weekly meetings. Knowing the weaknesses of the flesh, he was not advising a mixing of the sexes on a regular basis with the holy kiss.  Unfortunately, some greet each other a little too promiscuously.

Back in Paul’s day, brethren were fighting a common enemy, times were difficult, and being a Christian was unpopular and brought persecution, so special affection and consideration were needed, brother for brother and sister for sister. A little extra warmth and appreciation in greeting were helpful. Instead of the brethren coming just for a study, social fellowship has a place in the service of God, although of course it is inferior to the holier level of communication of thought on the Word. However, both are needed with the proper emphasis on each.

Comment: Some have the practice of holding hands during prayer.

Reply: There are dangers with the ministry of touch, which is popular today, especially with charismatics. We should commune “alone” and concentrate on the prayer, and holding hands interferes with that concentration. On a rare occasion—for instance, when someone is leaving forever—two or more might want to hold hands during prayer and/or give a hug. Another example of an unusual circumstance occurred in the early Church when a brother was leaving on a ministry for many years and perhaps would never return. The group laid their hands on that individual, wanting him to know they were with him in spirit, but to do these things commonly not only is dangerous but also vitiates the significance. For example, using expressions such as “God bless you” too frequently renders the words meaningless after a while. God’s name should not be used commonly. In other words, the holy kiss, conduct during prayers, and verbal expressions should be proportionate to a true evaluation of feeling.

The word “kiss” means to touch gently. In the Hebrew is the thought that the Old and New Testaments “kiss” each other; that is, they complement each other. They are in close harmony and agreement.

1 Cor. 16:21 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.

The bulk of the epistle was recorded by another individual, but Paul wrote the greeting in his own handwriting. Timothy, Tertius, and Luke usually recorded Paul’s words or dictation. Luke was especially known as Paul’s stenographer or amanuensis.

Comment: Galatians 6:11 indicates that he wrote in large letters because of his poor eyesight.

1 Cor. 16:22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.

“Anathema” means “accursed,” and “Maranatha” signifies “until the Lord comes.” Therefore, Paul was saying, “If any man does not love the Lord, let him be accursed when the Lord comes.” Why did Paul introduce this thought? How would the brethren know if a person did not love the Lord? Saying one should be accursed is strong, for it means he should be cut off. A number of factors were involved, as follows:

1. The brethren were to recognize those who were serving faithfully at home, such as Priscilla and Aquila, as well as those who traveled in their dedication for the Lord, expending money and physical energy. Sincere individuals were to be respected and esteemed. Also, the really valuable teachers should have been recognized.

2. Along another line, Paul had asked the brethren to take up a collection for the poor in Jerusalem. What is done for the brethren is service for the Lord. Those who were reluctant to give or who encouraged others not to give manifested an unloving attitude.

3. Some of the brethren at Corinth considered themselves superior to Paul and found fault with his ministry. Not only did they disregard his place in the church, but they were so high-minded that they placed their judgment and thinking above his.

4. When Paul commanded the Corinthians to excommunicate the fornicator in their midst, the majority followed his advice. To have disregarded the advice would be an evidence of not having principled love.

The point is that a combination of any or all of these attitudes manifested an unloving attitude. If a brother was identified with two or three of these unfavorable attitudes, fellowship was to be cut off. However, he was not to be accursed (“Anathema”) in the sense of going into Second Death. The thought was that one should not feel bad in disfellowshipping such an individual— both for his good and for the good of the one doing the disfellowshipping. Of course such individuals would not actually say, “I do not love Christ.” Rather, their actions proved they did not love the Lord, his Word, his teaching, or his servants. A good Reprint article, No. 4461, entitled “General Convention,” tells about troublemakers in the Pastor’s day who came to conventions and were disruptive. The article advised brethren to courageously disfellowship these individuals and not to encourage their attendance. The Pastor said that all believers in the atonement were welcome to attend except these individuals, for they were undercutting his teaching on certain doctrines. The article states the following with regard to how to treat “wolves.” “All believers in the Atonement by the Precious Blood will be welcomed if they have the Spirit of Christ. But ‘grievous wolves,’ ‘backbiters,’ ‘slanderers’ and ‘contentious’ persons are not invited. Should such attend these [convention sessions] or any meetings of truth people, they should be treated so scripturally as to make them ill at ease and very unhappy at these Love Feasts. Mark the Apostolic delineations and admonitions and be of good courage in obeying the same. Read Jude 10-12 and Romans 16:17 and Philippians 3:17-19.”

Some consider the Greek term “Maranatha” favorably, using it as part of their appellation to indicate that they look forward to the second coming of the Lord. However, since the term follows immediately after “Anathema,” it suggests judgment rather than blessing and thus is condemnatory. “Anathema Maranatha” means that the Lord is coming to deal unfavorably with the individual who does not love him. The two words have to be used together.

The Diaglott incorrectly separates the two terms, indicating a break in thought and thus a favorable connotation. Since the original text contained no punctuation, the break would be proper if the context warranted it, but the context does not seem to justify the separation here.

Comment: Paul spoke strongly in this epistle but ended up with a sweeter tone. Nevertheless, he was saying, “Do not forget what I told you, for enemies are in your midst.”

Reply: Yes, Paul had to be on guard, particularly in Corinth. Some Jews were openly hostile, feeling that Paul was a renegade and a heretic who was undercutting the Jewish religion.

Q: Was Paul especially referring to some of the consecrated who turned back and became unfaithful? They would have loved Jesus at one time.

A: He was referring to both, for there were spies as well. As we get nearer the end of the age, this will be our experience too. Some will come in among the brethren with ulterior motives.

For example, individuals have attended meetings purportedly as interested parties and then written a book or a thesis as enemies of the truth. Meanwhile, brethren have opened their hearts to these individuals.

Comment: At the end of the age, just as in the early Church, grievous wolves will enter from the outside and also arise from within.

Reply: Some have come into the Truth movement and consecrated who apparently believed at one time but were never strong in the truth, and now they oppose it. For instance, they may say that the Pastor was not the faithful and wise servant and that the stars in Revelation are a class. Then one doctrine after another is discarded, such as the presence and the Church’s share in the sin offering, yet they may still attend conventions and be in the midst of the brethren.

When those who have accepted and taught the truth go astray, the matter is serious. We are to be more wary of those who have been in the truth and then go into darkness. By having close fellowship with such, we would be endorsing them in the eyes of others.

We should not solicit or encourage any brethren whose ministry we feel is harmful. Rather, we should treat them like a stranger. Of course we are not to judge destiny, for that will be made manifest when the Kingdom comes either by an individual’s not getting a resurrection at all or by his being in the Great Company.

1 Cor. 16:23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

1 Cor. 16:24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Paul’s particular blessing and affection were to the consecrated, to all those “in Christ Jesus.”

Comment: Paul gave the greeting in a broad sense, for there were problems in the class.

Reply: Yes, a measure of reserve was proper toward some, and excommunication was advised for the fornicator. The beginning of Young’s Analytical Concordance lists a number of verses in Scripture where the word “all” does not mean “all” but is limited.

Q: Would the phrase “in Christ Jesus” be a qualifying factor?

A: Yes, although one should be given the benefit of the doubt unless he openly teaches wrong fundamental doctrine or practices wrong conduct.

(1979, 1997, and 2001 Studies)

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