“Doctrinal to Practical” – 1 Corinthians 16
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As Paul's first letter to the Corinthians comes to a close, he leaves the high doctrinal mountain of the resurrection, and returns to the practical considerations of the Church.
This chapter may seem impractical to the Church today, but in fact, it is very practical and addresses three areas of stewardship:
1. Money (Vs. 1-4)
2. Opportunities (Vs. 5-9)
3. People (Vs. 10-20)
Money and opportunity for ministry are useless without people.
These are the greatest resources the Church has today and should not be wasted.
And right in the middle is one of the greatest two verse sermons ever given:
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.
(1 Cor. 16:13-14)
"...the collection for the saints..."
* The saints were the Church in Jerusalem - "The Mother Church," who were exceedingly poor (famine, persecution).
"...as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also."
* Paul had a burden for the Jerusalem church:
- He was their chief persecutor (Acts 8:1, 3).
- He was a Jew (Phil. 3:3-6).
- He had promised the church he would help them.
They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do. (Gal. 2:10)
- Paul also desired reconciliation between Jewish and Gentile believers. (Rms. 9:1-5, 15:5-10, 25-27, 1 Cor. 12:25-27).
"On the first day of the week..."
* The early church met on Sundays to worship.
- Christ rose on Sunday (Mk. 16:2), Feast of “First Fruits.”
- The Holy Spirit was given on Sunday, the first day of Pentecost.
- The seventh day Sabbath was part of the "old covenant" for the Jews. It is not reaffirmed in the New Testament as are all of the rest of the “Ten Commandments.”
- It symbolized giving of your first, best part (Gen. 4:3-5).
"...the firstfruits of your harvest..."
The "seventh day" speaks to creation, the "first day" speaks to our redemption.
"...each one of you..."
* Every believer in the church was to contribute to a "collection for the saints."
"...as he may prosper..."
* Those who had less were to give less. A smaller portion of their resources.
* Those who had more - contributed more.
2 Corinthians 8:1-4, 13-15, 9:6-7
"...no collections when I come..."
* Paul didn't want them pressured to give in his presence.
"No passing the plate!"
Let us remember:
- Giving is an act of worship, spiritual sacrifices to the Lord (Phil. 4:18).
- Giving should be regular, systematic.
* Regular giving eases the burden on the church to care for the needy and all receive the "blessing."
"It is more blessed to give than to receive."
- Giving is personal and individual.
* The Apostle expected "each one of you" to give, and receive the blessing.
* Anyone who has an income is privileged to share and help the needy.
- Giving is proportionate.
* Those who have more should give more.
* Paul mentioned no specific "portion" or percentage.
* The Jewish believers were accustomed to the tithe (10%), a good place to begin.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
(2 Cor. 8:9)
"...whomever you approve...will...bear your gift to Jerusalem."
* Paul did not want to give any opportunity for enemies to accuse him of theft, and ruin his witness.
"...if it is fitting..."
* If practical.
"...when I pass through Macedonia..."
* Macedonia (Greece) was north of Achaia (Corinth).
* Paul was in Ephesus while writing this epistle.
* "When" - Paul, like all good leaders, makes plans for his future ministry.
"...and it may be that I will remain..."
* But Paul knows that his plans can be changed by God (Acts 16:6-11).
"...or even spend the winter..."
* Travel was difficult in winter, by ship or land.
“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken.”
"...if the Lord permits..."
* The biggest "if."
"But I will tarry in Ephesus..."
* Paul is sure of this part of his plan.
* "Ephesus" - The economic center of the Roman province of Asia Minor. A great base of operations to share the Gospel. Paul spent 3 years at Ephesus with great results.
"...so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the Word of the Lord. Both Jews and Greeks..."
"For a great and effective door has opened to me..."
* The opportunity to preach the Gospel, teach the Word, and minister was great in Ephesus.
* God had: "...opened the door of faith to the Gentiles." (Acts 14:27)
And Paul was determined to walk through it.
"...and there are many adversaries."
* "Adversaries" - Opposition (Acts 19:9)
Wherever there is great opportunity for the Gospel to advance.
There will always be great opposition by "the adversary" (Rev. 12:9).
If you're not being "hindered" in your Christian walk or ministry, it's doubtful that Satan is very concerned about you!
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
(2 Tim. 3:12)
So, rejoice in adversity, remain steadfast, and God will supply a mighty victory and much fruit!
"And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do."
* Paul is vouching for Timothy in light of all the itinerant "false teachers" that came to the early churches.
"Therefore, let no one despise him..."
* Timothy was a young man.
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
(1 Tim. 4:12)
"...concerning our brother Apollos..."
* Paul and Apollos were "brothers" in the work (1 Cor. 1:12) in spite of the Corinthian's sectarianism over their ministries.
1 Corinthians 3:4-6
* Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. (Matt. 24:42)
"...stand fast in the faith, be brave..."
* Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel... (Phil. 1:27)
* ...that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man... (Eph. 3:16)
...Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (Eph. 6:10)
"Let all that you do be done with love."
* And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins." (1 Pet. 4:8)
"Be alert, stand strong in faith, act like men, be strong. Do all in love."
(1 Cor. 16:13-14 LRV)
"...the household of Stephanas...the firstfruits of Achaia..."
* Stephanas and his family were the first to be saved and baptized in Corinth. (I Cor. 1:16)
"...they have devoted themselves to...ministry..."
* The fruit of their salvation was service and discipleship to their fellow saints.
"...submit to...everyone who...labors with us."
* Paul expects the Corinthians to recognize the authority of their elders in the faith.
Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the Word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
"...for what was lacking on your part they supplied."
* Paul worked for his keep while he ministered to the Corinthians, accepting no pay. (Acts 18:3, 1 Cor. 9:11-15)
* When he fell short, the churches in Macedonia provided (2 Cor. 11:8-9).
"...the churches of Asia..."
* Acts 19:10
* The seven churches in Revelation: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.
"...Aquila and Priscilla greet you..."
* The first co-laborers with Paul in Corinth, Jews from Rome. (Acts 18:1-3)
"...with the church that is in their house..."
* They had planted a church in their home. It would grow into the mega-church that the Apollos the preacher, Apostle Paul, then Timothy and, eventually, the Apostle John would pastor.
"...a holy kiss..."
* A common greeting for family and close friends, a light kiss on the lips.
"...with my own hand..."
* It was usual for Paul to dictate his letters to a scribe, and then write the close, "salutation," in his own handwriting.
* By this, he showed his affection for the letter's receivers.
"If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed..."
* Paul is not being harsh, just stating the fact; anyone who does not respond to Christ's love and sacrifice for us by loving Him and making Him Lord is accursed.
"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (Jn. 3:18)
* "Accursed" - Anathema (Gk.) self-destruction.
The opposite of being accursed is grace.
Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
"O Lord, come!"
* Maranatha (Aramaic), or "Our Lord has come!"
And Paul's final salutation:
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you."
* This is Paul's desire for the Corinthians.
"My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen."
* This is Paul's love for the Corinthians.
Is this our desire and love for one another?
It's Christ's desire and command:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (Jn. 13:34-35)
Amen! Come quickly Lord Jesus!