Read 1 Corinthians 16
The Collection for the Lord’s People
1 Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
5 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
10 When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. 11 No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
12 Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.
15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, 16 to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. 17 I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.
19 The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 20 All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.
22 If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
At first glance, 1 Corinthians 16 seems to be Paul’s last minute instructions on several business matters: how to prepare a special collection for the persecuted Christians in Jerusalem; Paul’s plans to visit them; an update on his work in Ephesus; his sending of Timothy prior to Paul’s visit and how Timothy should be welcomed; and Paul’s final declarations of love for them.
But look closely at verses 13 and 14:
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love.
We are given five quick commands we would be wise to consider and apply:
The original audience would have recognized Paul’s commands as military language. He never shied away from reminding them the cost and sacrifice required to follow Jesus; but what’s surprising is in verse 9, he writes, “a great door has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” Paul views enemies as potential disciples and opposition as opportunity. It is easy to let our guard down, but we know that we have an enemy that prowls around like a roaring lion just looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). We have to remain diligent, even when everything in us wants to go into cruise control.
It is no surprise he reminds the Corinthians in his conclusion to be ready for opposition. Be alert, and be looking for it. When opposition comes, be steadfast, immovable, relentless in faith. Have courage. Be brave. Be gritty. Be strong. Be tough. Be unoffendable. And, always lead with love.
When opposition and trials come our way, let’s be people who withstand it with courage and power. Let’s stay the course. Run our race. Leverage all we have for the sake of others. Let’s be people who are known by our love. That is how an unbelieving world may be compelled to believe.
What have you learned about the character and attitude of Paul as you finish his letter to the Corinthians?
Take a quick assessment of current situations in your life. Where do you need to apply more readiness? Steadfastness? Courage? Strength? Love?
What is one thing you will do today to apply what you have learned?
Did You Know?
Most ancient letters were very brief, and a large number of them solely addressed business matters. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians resembles ancient philosophers’ letters of the age. However, Paul strategically and intelligently writes with logic and reason as well, addressing spiritual, philosophical, and practical matters.