1 Corinthians 16
Let’s take an offering
Donations for Jerusalem1Now let me tell you about the collection we’re taking for God’s people. I want you to do the same thing I told the churches of Galatia. 2On the first day of the week I want each of you to set aside some money, as you’re able. Save it for me so that when I come I won’t have to collect an offering. 3When I get there, I’ll send your offering to Jerusalem. I’ll let you choose who should take the gift. I’ll write letters of recommendations for each of them. 4If it seems like a good idea for me to go with them, I’ll be happy to do that.
5You’ll have to wait a bit for me to get there. I’m going to be coming by way of Macedonia. 6Once I get there, I might decide to stay with you for a while. I might even spend the winter, so you can send me on my way to wherever I go next. 7I’d rather not come right away. That’s because if I did, I’d have to make it a short visit. I would rather come later, so I can spend more time with you, if that’s okay with the Lord. 8I plan on staying in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9I’ve got a ministry opportunity here that’s too good to pass up, in spite of the opposition I’m facing.
Don’t diss Timothy10Now if Timothy comes to see you during his travels, don’t give him a hard time. He’s doing the Lord’s work, just like I am. 11Do not diss him. I want you to help him continue his trip in peace. He and several brothers, fellow believers, are coming to see me. I’ve been expecting them.
12Now about our brother Apollos, I tried hard to get him to go with the other believers who are coming to see you. But he had no intention of going yet. He plans to come when he gets the chance.
Keep the faith13Don’t let your guard down. Keep the faith, stay brave, and grow strong. 14Show your love in everything you do. 15
Stephanas and his family were our first converts there in Achaia. You know that. They devoted themselves to helping God’s people. So I’m pleading with you, dear family. 16Please accept them as leaders in the church. In fact, embrace the leadership of everyone who shows the kind of selfless devotion that Stephanus has shown you. 17I’m so glad Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus came to see me. They did something for me that you weren’t able to do. 18They gave my spirit a lift, just as I’m sure they do for you. Show them some appreciation for this.
Now for personal greetings19Churches here in the Roman province of Asia want me to send you their hello. Aquila and Priscilla, along with the church that meets in their house, want me to send you a special greeting in the name of the Lord. 20All the believers here say hello to you. When you meet fellow believers, greet them with a respectful kiss.
21I’m sending my hello and signing it, Paul.  22If anyone there doesn’t love the Lord, curses on them. Come, Lord.
23May the kindness of our leader Jesus be with you. 24I love all of you devoted to Christ Jesus.
Galatia was a Roman province in what is now central Turkey.
Macedonia was a Roman province in what is now northern Greece and the Republic of Macedonia. Thessalonica was about 300 miles (480 km) north of Corinth, by land, and about 400 miles (645 km) mainly by sea. The trip by land, at 20 miles a day, may have taken around 15 days. By sea, sailing at about 4-5 knots, it could have taken about four days.
Pentecost is a springtime harvest festival also known as “Festival of Weeks” because Jews celebrate it several weeks after Passover, about 50 days later. Christians commemorate Pentecost because it was during this festival in Jerusalem that the Holy Spirit arrived and filled the followers of Jesus (Acts 2:4).
Stephanas may have been one of three couriers, along with Fortunatus and Achaicus (16:17), who brought a letter to Paul from Corinth. The letter apparently included questions that Paul answered in his response, which became 1 Corinthians.
Achaia was a Roman province in what is now southern Greece. Corinth and Athens were both in that province.
Asia was an important region in what is now Western Turkey, along the coast. Ephesus was perhaps the most important city in that area.
Paul worked with this couple as tentmakers in Corinth (Acts 18:2-3). They later traveled with him to Ephesus (Acts 18:18). In his letters, Paul addresses Priscilla by her formal name: Prisca (Romans 16:3; 2 Timothy 4:19). “Priscilla” was a nickname used in Acts 18. Since the book of Acts was probably written decades after Paul wrote the letter to Corinth, “Priscilla” is likely the name people best remembered her by.
The Greek word is often translated “holy.” Many Bible experts say this kiss was a greeting unique to Christians, as an expression of unity in spite of differences in race, gender, or social status. This kiss was not intended to be sexually arousing, though church leaders occasionally felt compelled to warn against taking the kiss too far, such as going back for a second helping. A scholar known as Clement of Alexandria (about AD 150-215) warned Christians not to give someone a “shameless” kiss.
Paul apparently used a hired secretary or a scribe to help him with this letter. Many letters were written this way in Bible times, when most folks couldn’t read or write very well, if at all.
This doesn’t sound especially kind. Some Bible scholars say Paul may have been thinking about certain people there in the Corinth church who were stirring up trouble and getting people mad at each other.
Paul wrote this in Aramaic, a Middle Eastern language Jews picked up hundreds of years earlier, during exile in what is now Iraq. The term can be taken any one of several ways: “Come, Lord,” “Our Lord has come,” “Our Lord is here.” It might also mean all of those at once: “The Lord has come, his Spirit is here with us, and our Lord is coming again.”
Like most good pastors, Paul takes an offering. He’s collecting it for believers in Jerusalem who are apparently going through a hard time. Paul doesn’t ask the people to give a tithe of 10 percent. He asks them to set aside some money every week “as you’re able” (16:2). Some church denominations refer to passages like this to argue that they should not be collecting a tithe. They argue that tithing was one of the ancient Jewish laws—like circumcision and eating only kosher food—that Jesus made obsolete (Ephesians 2:15). What do you think about that?
Paul doesn’t just collect an offering for believers in Jerusalem. He makes sure the people giving the money will play an important role in distributing it. “I’ll let you choose who should take the gift….If it seems like a good idea for me to go with them, I’ll be happy to do that” (16:3-4). Why do you think Paul did that? And why do you think it might have been a good idea?
What do you read into Paul’s letter, if anything, when he says, “I might even spend the winter, so you can send me on my way to wherever I go next” (16:6)?
Paul says something odd to the Corinthian people about Timothy. “Don’t give him a hard time. He’s doing the Lord’s work, just like I am. Do not diss him. I want you to help him continue his trip in peace” (16:10-11). What on earth do you think is going on here?
Paul wraps up his letter with the line that sounds all too much like, “If you don’t love Jesus, to hell with you.” The quote is a tad more refined, but the intent still feels uncomfortably strong: “If anyone there doesn’t love the Lord, curses on them” (16:22). We can only guess what he was talking about and why he said something like this. If you had to guess, what would you say is going on? To prime the pump, here are a few suggestions.
- Paul was having a bad day, and he didn’t have a dog to kick.
- Paul was thinking about some people there in the Corinth church who were stirring up trouble.
- Paul was thinking about Jews who continued to oppose his work and harass the people in his churches.
- Paul loved everyone “devoted to Christ Jesus” (16:24), but as for everyone else, not so much.
LIFE APPLICATION. What are some of the reasons people diss ministers today, whether the reasons are justified or not?