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1 Corinthians chapter 16

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What does 1 Corinthians chapter 16 mean?

In the final chapter in Paul's long letter to the church in Corinth, he gives instructions about a special collection and shares his upcoming travel plans.

In this season of his ministry, Paul was raising funds for the Christian Jews living in Jerusalem. They were suffering through persecution for their faith in Christ, as well as extreme poverty. Paul was collecting donations from many of the Gentile churches he had helped to establish, including the church in Corinth.

He makes clear that he wants them to have their donation ready when he arrives instead of scrambling to collect something at the last moment. To achieve this, Paul gives instructions that many modern churches still apply to Christian giving. Paul tells the Corinthians to set aside some money on the first day of every week. This money was to be in proportion to how God had prospered that family during the previous week.

For the sake of integrity and transparency, apparently, Paul did not plan to touch the money himself. Instead, he told the church to appoint and accredit some to carry the gift to Jerusalem. They could travel with him if that seemed like a good idea (1 Corinthians 16:1–4).

Next, Paul reveals his plans to return to Corinth to spend time with them before the following winter. He wrote this letter from Ephesus and planned to travel from there to the churches in Macedonia after Pentecost before arriving to spend the winter with them. In the meantime, the door in Ephesus was open to effective ministry, even as many were opposed to the gospel (1 Corinthians 16:5–9).

Paul did plan to send Timothy and some companions to Corinth. He insisted that the Corinthians treat Timothy well and send him back to Paul in peace. Apollos, who was also in Ephesus, had not chosen to return to Corinth with Timothy despite Paul's strong urging that he do so. Perhaps Apollos did not want to contribute to any more division among the Corinthians. Or perhaps he, too, wanted to take advantage of the open door to ministry in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:10–12).

As he does near the end of many of his letters, Paul fires off some quick commands: He tells them to be watchful and to stand firm in the faith, perhaps referring to false teaching that was creeping into their church. He adds that they should be men of courage and be strong: invoking military terms to indicate the intensity with which they should resist false teaching. He adds, though, that everything they do should be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:13–14).

A group from the church in Corinth—Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaius—had come to visit Paul in Ephesus, perhaps bringing with them the letter Paul has been replying to in this letter. Paul commends the household of Stephanas to the Corinthians as the first coverts to faith in Christ in the region of Corinth and devoted servant-leaders. He tells the Corinthians to submit to their leadership (1 Corinthians 16:15–18).

Paul signs off with greetings from the churches in "Asia," which as defined then includes Ephesus. These are also sent from Aquila and Prisca, former members of the church in Corinth, and from all the believers known to Paul. He finishes by taking the pen from his scribe and writing a curse and a blessing in his own hand. He curses anyone with no love for the Lord and prays for the grace of Christ to be with everyone else. He adds an urgent prayer that the Lord would return and declares his love for all of them in Christ (1 Corinthians 16:19–24).
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