What does 1 Corinthians 16 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 16:1–4 contains specific instructions to the Corinthians about a collection for poor Christians in Jerusalem. Each person must set aside some money on the first day of each week, meaning Sunday. The amount they give should be a percentage of their income from the following week. Paul does not plan to receive the money himself but to send those selected from Corinth to carry the money to Jerusalem. They may travel with him if they feel it is a good idea.
First Corinthians 16:5–11 describes Paul's plans to come and see the Corinthians in person within the year. First, he will stay in Ephesus to take advantage of an open door to the gospel, intending to leave at Pentecost to visit churches in Macedonia. He hopes to arrive in Corinth in time to spend the winter months with them. In the meantime, Timothy will arrive to represent him and the Lord to them. Paul warns them to put Timothy at ease and to send Timothy and his party back to Paul in peace.
First Corinthians 16:12–18 contains some of Paul's last-minute instructions to the Corinthians at the close of his letter. He tells them Apollos will not be coming to visit them right away. He urges them to be on guard and stand firm in the faith, likely against false teachers. They must be strong but also do everything in love. Finally, Paul tells them to submit and give recognition to people like those of Stephanas's household. These devoted servant-leaders were the first Christians in Corinth and have greatly encouraged him by coming to see him in Ephesus.
First Corinthians 16:19–24 concludes Paul's first letter to the church in Corinth. These are final greetings from the churches in Asia, from their friends Aquila and Prisca, and from believers elsewhere. Paul writes the last lines with his own hand, taking the pen from his scribe. He curses those who do not love the Lord—meaning false teachers—then prays for Christ's return, and prays for the grace of the Lord to be with them. His final words declare his love for all of them in Christ Jesus.
Chapter Summary:
Having finished the main teaching parts of his letter, Paul wraps up with some matters of business. He tells the Corinthians how to gather funds for a special contribution. He describes his travel plans, including his plan to arrive there before winter. He warns them to treat Timothy well and commends a delegation from Corinth that have come to see him. He concludes with greetings from other believers, along with a curse and a blessing. He curses those who do not love the Lord—here apparently meaning false teachers—and prays the grace of the Lord on everyone else.
Chapter Context:
First Corinthians 16 concludes Paul's long letter to the church in Corinth with several business matters. He instructs them on how to prepare a special contribution for needy Christians in Jerusalem. He describes his plan to visit them in person after wrapping up his ministry in Ephesus and stopping by churches in Macedonia. He reveals that Timothy is coming to them more quickly and that Apollos is not. Finally, he commends a delegation from Corinth that has come to see him. His final words in the letter are a declaration of love for all of them.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
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