Division 4. (1 Cor. 16.)
We close the epistle, as in almost all cases, with some references to present matters. They are quite supplementary to the epistle in its general character.
1. With regard to the collection for the saints, we see how constantly the apostle is in remembrance of what had been urged upon him at Jerusalem, that he should remember the poor. As he had directed the assemblies of Galatia, so also he now directed them. Upon the first day of the week, the Christian's day, each was to put by him in store as God had prospered him, in order that when he came there might be no collections needed to be made. He did not want this to be done evidently under the mere influence of his presence among them. He sought that it should be the expression of their own deliberate purpose, and under the influence, as one may say, of what the first day of the week meant for them all. He would not have, as is plain, mere desultory giving, not mere temporary impulse, but a systematic recognition of the goodness of God and of the need we have of one another. When he came he would send with commendatory letters those whom they would approve, to carry their bounty to Jerusalem; and if it were thought that he himself should go, they should go with him. How little he himself knew all that this would imply for him I But his heart, as we see, never forgot Jerusalem, whether in its joy or sorrow. He was going to them when he went through Macedonia, and thought that he might abide and spend the winter with them, that they might set him forward whithersoever be was going. He would not see them now by the way, but waited for the time when he might hope to remain a while. Their condition evidently would influence him in this respect. He wanted time for the effect of his present letter to be manifest, and to see the work of grace in the revival of spiritual energy amongst them. He tells them of the work in Ephesus which was soon to detain him and which might call back their thoughts to the work which had been in Corinth when in time past he labored there. Is it not another stir for their memories and a calling back to the first love there manifested? A great and effectual door God had opened to him, as we know, and the many adversaries are no disproof of this, but one of the common signs that God was working.
2. He commends Timothy to them. They need not have any fear with regard to him. He did the work of the Lord as Paul himself did. No one was, therefore, to despise him, as, on account of his youth, evidently they might be tempted to, but set him forward in peace, that he might go to the apostle who was waiting for him, — an additional proof of his own esteem for him who fulfilled his name as one who honored God. Next, as to Apollos, we see that the use of his name which had been made in Corinth had in no wise lessened the apostle's confidence in him. He had begged him much to go to them with the brethren. On the other hand, it was not in the mind of Apollos to go then, but he would come when he had opportunity. The motives we can only conjecture, although it is quite possible to do this on account of Apollos' former work amongst them and the parties which existed. We see that he had his own course also, independent of the apostle, who does not in the least exhort him with apostolic authority, but leaves him in freedom to his own responsibility. He bids them all stand fast in the faith, quit themselves like men, be strong; but this strength was to be manifested in loving service. Such was that, no doubt, of the household of Stephanas, which, as the first fruits of Achaia, had taken the lead too in a devotedness of this kind. The saints were to recognize those who ministered to them, and to be subject in love, not only to these, but to every one who could show himself a helper in the work and a true laborer. Stephanas himself, with Fortunatus and Achaicus had come to him, supplying what he says had been lacking upon their part. This does not refer to more than spiritual refreshment, as we see from 2 Cor. 11:10.
3. We have now the return greetings of the saints with whom he is, among whom Aquila and Priscilla have naturally a special place. It was at Corinth that the apostle had first found these, and where, in all probability, they had been brought into the faith of Christ. They now stood in connection with an assembly gathered with them, and which had its meeting-place in their house. This might be both a cheer and an exhortation.
The salutation with his own hand was, as we have seen before, the token in every epistle that Paul wrote. Appended to it here is his solemn pronunciation of judgment from the Lord at His coming upon every one who did not love the Lord. That is the force of Anathema Maranatha. It is evident how serious the condition was at Corinth, which impelled him to such words as these. He adds as customarily: "The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you" and "my love be with you all in Christ Jesus."