be ye steadfast, unmoveable; in all the doctrines of the Gospel, and particularly in this of the resurrection of the dead, which he had been labouring throughout the whole chapter:
always abounding in the work of the Lord; going on in it, being more and more in the practice of it; either in the work of the ministry, which some of them were in, to which the Lord had called them, and for which he had fitted and qualified them, and in which his glory was greatly concerned, and therefore called his work; or any other work, even all good works, which the Lord commands, requires, calls his people to, and strengthens them to perform: which when they do they may be said to abound, and to be fruitful in every good work: and for their encouragement it is added,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord; the labour of such who were in the ministry was not in vain, but was by the Lord made useful for the conversion of sinners, and the edification of saints, who would be their joy, and crown of rejoicing another day; and which must be no small encouragement to labour; and labour in any kind of good work has here its usefulness: it is profitable unto men, and though not meritorious of eternal life, yet the good works of the saints will follow them; Christ will not forget their work and labour of love which they have shown to his name and people, but will take notice of them as fruits of his own grace, and bestow his rewards upon them, though not in a way of debt, but of grace; which the doctrine of the resurrection assures of, and encourages to hope for; and so must he a friend to the practice of good works, as the contrary doctrine must be an obstruction to them.
INTRODUCTION TO 1 Corinthians 16
This chapter concludes the epistle, with some directions to the Corinthians concerning a collection for the poor saints; with some intimations of himself, Timothy, and Apollos coming to them, and giving them a visit; with exhortations to watchfulness, constancy, courage, and charity; with recommendations of some persons to them mentioned by name; with divers salutations of them by himself and others; and with his good wishes for them. He urges them to make a collection for the poor saints, from the example of the churches of Galatia, according to his order, 1 Corinthians 16:1. He points out the time when he would have it made, on the first day of the week; and the persons that should contribute to it, every member of the church; and the act of distribution, by laying up in store; and the manner, measure, and rule of doing it, according as they were blessed in Providence with temporal things; and the end of it, that there might be no collections to make when the apostle should come among them, 1 Corinthians 16:2 and this, when made, and being ready at his coming, he proposes to send to Jerusalem, by persons approved of and recommended by them, 1 Corinthians 16:3 and that he would also go along with them, should it be thought fit and proper, 1 Corinthians 16:4. He signifies his resolution of coming and paying them a visit, when he should pass through Macedonia, 1 Corinthians 16:5 when he had some thoughts of tarrying with them for a while, at least throughout the winter season, 1 Corinthians 16:6 in all which he submits to the will of God, 1 Corinthians 16:7. The reason why he could not come as yet was, because he had determined to stay at Ephesus till Pentecost, where he now was, 1 Corinthians 16:8 and what prevailed upon him to stay there was, because there was an opportunity of preaching the Gospel with a prospect of success; and there were many enemies to hinder it all they could, and therefore the apostle's presence seemed necessary, 1 Corinthians 16:9. He intimates, that Timothy would come to them shortly, and exhorts them to take care of him, and carry it respectfully to him; giving this as a reason, because he was engaged in the same work of the Lord he himself was, 1 Corinthians 16:10. He enjoins them, that whilst he should continue with them they would not despise him on account of his youth; and when he should depart from them, to conduct him in peace to him who was in expectation of him, along with other brethren, 1 Corinthians 16:11 and then he excuses Apollos not coming to them at present; and observes, that it was not for want of entreaty in him, but for want of will in Apollos, who notwithstanding would come when a convenient time should offer, 1 Corinthians 16:12. Next follow several exhortations to be upon their watch and guard, to be steadfast in the doctrine, grace, and profession of faith, and to behave themselves like men of a truly Christian spirit and courage, and to do everything in their church state in the exercise of the grace of love, 1 Corinthians 16:13 and then he recommends unto them the family of Stephanas, and exhorts them to have them in respect and reverence, and be subject to such, and particularly that family; partly because they were the firstfruits of his ministry, in those parts; and partly because they had given up themselves to the ministry of the saints, 1 Corinthians 16:15 as also because the coming of Stephanas to him, together with two other persons, named Fortunatus and Achaicus, had made him glad; supplied what was lacking in them; had refreshed his spirit and theirs; and therefore should be took notice of, and respectfully used, 1 Corinthians 16:17. And then follow various salutations, first of the churches of Asia in general, then of Aquila and Priscilla, and the church in their house, 1 Corinthians 16:19. Next of all the brethren at Ephesus, or that were with the apostle, 1 Corinthians 16:20 and last of all of the apostle himself, 1 Corinthians 16:21. And the chapter is closed with several wishes of different sorts, and which respect different persons; those that love not Christ, and live and die so, he wishes they may be accursed at the coming of the Lord, as they will be; and which is mentioned to deter professors of religion from everything that looked like want of love to Christ, whom they professed, 1 Corinthians 16:22 as for others, even as many as loved Christ, and which he hoped of them all, he wishes the grace of Christ might be with them, 1 Corinthians 16:23 and gives his love to them all, without any distinction; and which is to be understood not of a natural, but spiritual affection, it being in Christ, and for his sake, 1 Corinthians 16:24.
As I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. The churches of Galatia were those he wrote an epistle to, which bears their name, and in which he takes notice of the request of the apostles at Jerusalem to him, that he would remember the poor as he travelled through the Gentile countries, and which, no doubt, he mentions, as a hint unto them to collect for them. Galatians 2:10 though the order he here speaks of was doubtless given them when he passed through the region of Galatia, Acts 16:6. This he observes by way of example to the church at Corinth, and to show them, that what he ordered them was no other than what he enjoined other churches, and which they were ready to come into, as these in Galatia, and also in Macedonia; and designs this as a spur unto them, that if the Galatians, who were a more rude and uncultivated people, being now called by grace, were ready to such a good work, they who were a more polite people, and used to civility, humanity, and tenderness, would not be backward to it.
"The alms dish was every day, but the alms chest from evening of the sabbath to the evening of the sabbath,''
It was collected and distributed then, as their commentators say (z).
Let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him. The persons who are to contribute are everyone, of every sex, age, state, and condition, male and female, young and old, servants and masters, the meaner as well as the richer sort; the poor widow threw in her mite into the treasury as well as the rich men: the act of communication or distribution is signified by laying by him in store; for this is not to be understood of separating a part of his substance from the rest, and laying it up "in his own house", as the Syriac version renders it, or the putting it in his pocket in order to give it; though both these acts may be necessary, as preparatory to the work: but it intends the very act itself: for communicating to the poor is laying up in store a good foundation for the time to come; it is a laying up treasure in heaven, and riches there, which will never corrupt: the manner in which this is to be done, and the measure of it, "as God hath prospered him"; according to the success he has in his worldly business, and the increase of his worldly substance, and which is the way to have it enlarged. The Jews have a saying (a),
"if a man observes his provisions to be straitened, let him do alms of them, how much more if they are large.''
The Vulgate Latin version renders, it, "laying up what pleases him well"; and the Arabic version, "what through liberality he pleases, and shall be convenient for him"; for this ought to be a freewill offering, as a matter of bounty and generosity, and not of covetousness, or of force and necessity, but as a man, of himself has purposed in his own heart, and which he does with cheerfulness and freedom.
That there be no gatherings when I come; who had other work, and greater service to do among them; besides, he was desirous of having this collection over and ready when he came, that he might directly send it away to Jerusalem, knowing the pressing necessities of the saints there.
(w) Apolog. 2. p. 98, 99. (x) Apolog. c. 39. (y) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 8. 2. Maimon, Hilch. Mattanot Anayim, c. 9. sect. 6. (z) Maimon. R. Samson & Bartenora in Misn. Peah, c. 8. sect. 7. (a) T. Bab. Gittim, fol. 7. 1.
whomsoever you shall approve by your letters; that is, such persons as this church should approve, and choose, and fix upon as proper persons to go with their collection; which approbation and choice they would signify by letters to the church, and principal men of it in Jerusalem, giving them a character as men of probity and faithfulness:
them will I send. The Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions join the phrase, "by letters", to this clause; according to which reading the sense is, such as the church should choose for this service, the apostle would send with letters of commendation from him, to the elders and church at Jerusalem, recommending them as brethren in the Lord, and to be had in respect, and treated in a Christian manner by them; to which their being messengers from such a church, and having letters from so great an apostle; besides, the business they should come about would entitle them to, which was
to bring your liberality, or "grace",
unto Jerusalem; meaning the money collected for the poor saints there; which he calls grace, because it was owing to the goodness of God, that they were in a capacity to contribute to others, and to the grace of God that they had a heart to do it; and because it was in a free and gracious manner, and in the exercise of grace, of faith in Christ, and love to the saints, that they did it, and with a view to the glory of the grace of God, of which this was a fruit and evidence.
they shall go with me; that is, those brethren whom the church shall approve and send; for he would not go alone, nor propose it, to remove all suspicion of converting any money to his own use.
When I shall pass through Macedonia; hereby fixing the time when he intended to visit them after he had gone through that country, and had received their collections for the saints at Jerusalem, which the churches there so generously made, and pressed him to the ministering of, of which he speaks in his next epistle.
For I do pass through Macedonia; not that he was then passing through Macedonia, or was in it, and so at Philippi, from whence this epistle is said to be written, as the subscription at the end of it expresses, for he was now at Ephesus; see 1 Corinthians 16:8 and from thence was this epistle written; he was not in Macedonia till some time after, see 2 Corinthians 2:12 but the sense is, that he should take his tour through Macedonia; and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "for I shall pass through Macedonia"; and so coming into Greece, he intended to come to Corinth, and stay some time with them.
yea, and winter with you; stay all winter with them, for the space of three months, as we read he did in Greece, Acts 20:1.
That ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go; both by accompanying him in person themselves, in token of honour and respect, and by providing things necessary for his journey; see Acts 15:3.
but I trust to tarry a while with you; the whole winter season:
if the Lord permit; submitting all to the will of God, at whose sovereign disposal he always was, and at whose beck and command he desired to be, and to do nothing, or be any where, but what was agreeable to the will of God.
And effectual is opened to me; not by him, but to him: this door was opened by him who has the key of David, that opens, and no man shuts; and the door of faith being opened by him, it was effectual to the quickening of sinners dead in trespasses and sins, to the enlightening of blind eyes, unstopping of deaf ears, and softening hard hearts; to the turning of souls from the power of Satan to God, to the quickening, comforting, and establishing of saints, and indeed to salvation to all that believe; which is the case when the word comes, not in word only, but in power; then it works effectually in them that believe; and since there was an opportunity of preaching the Gospel with such good effect, the apostle was desirous of making use of it:
and there are many adversaries; as there always are where the Gospel is preached, and especially with success, when sinners are converted, and saints are edified and comforted. The adversary Satan roars, and the posse of devils under him are employed one way or another to obstruct the Gospel if possible; false teachers are raised up to oppose it, and profane men are instigated by him to persecute the preachers and professors of it: so it was at Ephesus, the Jews disputed against it, and spoke evil of it; Demetrius the silversmith, and those of his craft, rose up in a tumultuous manner, crying, great is Diana of the Ephesians, stirring up the people against the apostle, and his companions; all which he had some foreviews of, and found to be true by experience, as may be seen in Acts 19:21 and which, though to another man would have been a reason to have departed, was a reason with him to stay; to bear his testimony to the Gospel, to appear in the defence of it, against the disputers of this world, and to strengthen and establish the minds of weak believers in it, who might have been in some danger through so many adversaries; wherefore he saw and judged that his presence was necessary, and that it was proper for him to stay the time he mentions.
See that he may be with you without fear; should he come to them, the apostle desires they would take care of him, that he might be safe and secure from enemies of every sort, of which there were many at Corinth; who, as they were of a malignant disposition to him, would use a disciple of his ill: and these were not only, or so much, infidels and profane sinners, but false teachers, and the factions under them, and especially they of the circumcision.
For he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do; which is a reason why they should be careful of him, that nobody molest him, and put him into fear; since though he was not in so high an office as the apostle, yet he was called to the same work of the ministry, was engaged in the same service of Christ, and was zealous in promoting the same common cause, interest, and kingdom of the Redeemer, and faithfully preached the same Gospel as the apostle did; and therefore would doubtless meet with the same enemies, and be in the same danger.
But conduct him forth in peace; when he takes his leave, wish him all happiness and prosperity, accompany him some part of the way in his journey, and provide things necessary for him; all which used to be done to such who laboured in the word and doctrine, and were counted worthy of double honour; and such an one Timothy was judged by the apostle to be:
that he may come unto me; at Ephesus, where he now was, in peace and safety, and relate to him the state and condition of the church; their steadfastness in the faith, their care of him, and the respect they had shown him; all which would be grateful to the apostle:
for I look for him with the brethren; that is, either the brethren that were with the apostle were in earnest expectation of him, together with himself; and so the Ethiopic version reads, "for our brethren with me have expected him"; or else that he looked for him along with the brethren, that either went with him, or should come with him from Corinth, being sent by the church.
I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren; who seem to be Timotheus and Erastus, see Acts 19:22. He greatly importuned him to go along with them, knowing how acceptable he would be among them, and hoping he might be of great use to them in composing their differences, and rectifying their disorders.
But his will was not at all to come at this time; or "it was not the will"; that is, of God, as some supply it, for him to come now; or he had no mind himself, nor could he be persuaded; he had reasons to himself why he judged it not proper to come at present: however, for their encouragement it is added,
but he will come when he shall have convenient time; he is not averse to coming, but some things at present hinder him; when he has a suitable opportunity he will make use of it.
Stand fast in the faith: which is proper to those that are watchful; for men asleep cannot well stand. This exhortation may respect either standing in the grace of faith, in opposition to doubting and unbelief, and design a continuance in the exercise of it, notwithstanding all the corruptions of nature, and the various sins and infirmities of life, the frequent temptations of Satan, and the many afflictions and trials in the world, which may occasion diffidence and distrust; for standing in this grace, and in such a constant exercise of it, greatly glorifies God, is what is wellpleasing in his sight; and in this way saints have communion with God, peace and comfort in their souls, and much spiritual joy and pleasure: it is the grace by which they stand, and therefore should stand in it, and by which they overcome the world. Or else it may intend standing in the doctrine of faith, in opposition to a departure from it, or a giving up any part of it, or wavering about it; it becomes saints to be steadfast in it, and abide by it, whoever is against it; let them be ever so many, or ever so wise and learned, and whatever may be said against it, as that it is a novel one, a licentious one, and a set of irrational principles, and whatever is the opposition that is made against it, though bonds and afflictions, reproach and persecution in every shape attend it, yet none of these things should move them from it. Perhaps that particular doctrine of faith, the resurrection of the dead, may be greatly regarded. Moreover, standing in the profession of faith, both of the grace and doctrine of faith, may be intended; for as this is to be made, it is to be held fast, and stood fast in, without wavering, by all true believers, who have great encouragement so to do from the person and grace of Christ, and from the love and faithfulness of God, and the many gracious promises he has made. Wherefore,
quit yourselves like men, be strong; a like phrase is often used by the Septuagint interpreters, as in Deuteronomy 31:6, from whence the apostle seems to have taken it. It answers to the Hebrew word in Isaiah 46:8.
Quit you like men; like men of wisdom and understanding; be not like children for non-proficiency, instability, and weakness; see 1 Corinthians 14:20; act the part of men; believe not every spirit; be not carried and tossed about with every wind of doctrine; search the Scriptures, and try every doctrine by them; and having found what is truth abide by it, and be proficients in it, instructing and establishing yourselves and others. In which sense the Jews use this phrase, saying (b),
"in a place where there are no men, , "study to be a man", or to show thyself a man;''
which one of their commentators (c) explains thus;
"use and accustom thyself to obtain excellent things, and afterwards when there are no wise men to teach, then do thou teach thyself.''
And another (d) after this manner;
""in the place where there is no man" to sit at the head and teach doctrines,''
do thou. Or play the man, as in 2 Samuel 10:12; act like men of valour and courage, stand fast, keep your ground, and contend earnestly for the faith; be valiant for the truth on earth; fight the good fight of faith: it is a good cause believers are engaged in; they have a good Captain and Commander at the head of them; they are provided with good weapons, may be sure of victory, and of having the crown of righteousness, life, and glory: wherefore
be strong; that is, for the faith: so the Targumist on Jeremiah 9:3 renders the phrase, "they are not valiant for the truth, , they are not strong for the faith: be strong"; not in themselves, but in the Lord, and in the power of his might; in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; believe in him, look to him for strength as well as righteousness; trust in his power, whose arm is not shortened; depend on his grace, which is always sufficient; take heart, be of good courage, and fear no enemy; see Joshua 1:6, which seems to be particularly referred to here.
(b) Misn. Pirke Abot, c. sect. 5. Vid. T. Bab Beracot, fol. 63. 1.((c) Maimon. in Misn. ib. (d) Bartenora in Misn. Beracot, fol. 63. 1.
ye know the house of Stephanas; a person of note at Corinth, whom the apostle had baptized, together with his family, 1 Corinthians 1:16. The Vulgate Latin version, and some copies, add, "and of Fortunatus and Achaicus", persons mentioned along with Stephanas, in 1 Corinthians 1:17;
that it is the firstfruits of Achaia: this family was one of the first in the regions of Achaia, of which Corinth was the metropolis, that believed in Christ; these were some of the first instances of conversion, and who received the firstfruits of the Spirit in these parts, and by the grace of God had been enabled to persevere hitherto, and were worthy of respect: the same he says of Epaenetus, in Romans 16:5;
and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints; that is, either to minister to the wants of poor saints, whether out of their own substance, or the churches' stock, being deacons, or to minister to the saints by preaching the Gospel; which good work they desired, willingly gave up themselves to, and cheerfully engaged in, and took the oversight and care of the flock, not by constraint, but willingly; not that they thrust themselves into an office, or came into it in an irregular way, but being called into it in an orderly manner by the church, and invested with it, they applied to the execution of it with great heartiness, diligence, and zeal, and so were very deserving of due respect, as next mentioned.
and to everyone that helpeth with us; in any form, whether by relieving the poor, or by preaching the Gospel:
and laboureth; in the Lord's vineyard, in the word and doctrine, for the good of souls, and the glory of Christ: for such are worthy of double honour, and ought to be valued and esteemed for their works' sake, and submitted to in everything that is according to the rules of the Gospel.
For that which was lacking on your part they have supplied; which is not to be understood of their supplying him with money, in which the Corinthians had been deficient; for as he had never taken anything of them, he was determined he never would; see 2 Corinthians 11:7; but either of their presence which supplied the want of theirs, the apostle had been for some time greatly desirous of; or whereas they had been greatly wanting in sending him an account of the state of the church, and how things stood with them, these brethren greatly supplied that defect, by giving him a very particular account of their church affairs.
and yours; his spirit and theirs, in divine things, being the same; they were of one heart and soul; they had the same love, and were of one accord, and of one mind; so that what was grateful to the one, was so to the other: or his sense is, that when these brethren should return, and acquaint the church how the spirit of the apostle was revived, and refreshed with the narrative they gave him of the affairs of the church, their spirits would be also refreshed too. Dr. Hammond thinks that this phrase is taken out of the Greek translation of Zechariah 6:8, "have quieted my spirit", which the Septuagint interpret by , "they stilled", or "caused my wrath to cease"; and in the same way Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi explain the words; but the apostle's phrase is nearer to the original itself of that text, , "they have stilled", or "caused my spirit to rest"; and is the very same phrase the Syriac version uses here; and which the Chaldee paraphrase renders thus, , "they have done my will"; that which was agreeable and well pleasing to God; and so these brethren by their coming and company, and news they brought, did that which was grateful and satisfactory to the apostle: and the phrase of the spirit of man having rest from another, is often used in the Rabbinical writings, for having satisfaction in them, and approving of them; so they say, (e),
"wnmyh hxwn twyrbh xwrv, that everyone "from whom the spirit of men have rest", the Spirit of God has rest; and everyone from whom the spirit of man has no rest, the Spirit of God has no rest:''
and which their commentators (f) explain thus,
"whoever is beloved below, it is manifest that he is beloved above:''
therefore acknowledge ye them that are such; as these men; know them, have an affection for them, show respect to them, highly esteem of them for their works' sake; see 1 Thessalonians 5:12.
(e) Pirke Abot, c. 3. sect. 10. (f) Jarchi & Bartenora in Pirke Abot, c. 3. sect. 10.
Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord; Aquila was a Jew of Pontus, and Priscilla was his wife, who came from Italy, all Jews being obliged to depart from Rome, by the order of Claudius Caesar. These came to Corinth, where they met with the apostle; and being of the same occupation, stayed and wrought with him; and when he went from thence to Ephesus, accompanied him thither; see Acts 18:3; wherefore having personal knowledge of the members of this church, through their stay with the apostle there, for the space of a year and a half, send their Christian salutations to them, with great affection and respect:
with the church that is in their house: their family consisting of believers, and being kept in such good decorum, and employed daily in singing, praying, expounding, and conferring together about divine things, looked like a little church; and it may be that at certain times the principal members of the church at Ephesus met in their house for religious worship, and to consider and debate about the affairs of the church; and very likely as they were of the same occupation with the apostle, he himself dwelt here; and which might be the more an occasion of the church assembling here at times; and the Vulgate Latin version adds, "with whom also I lodge".
greet ye one another with an holy kiss; See Gill on Romans 16:16.
let him be anathema. The word anathema, answers to the Hebrew and is rendered by it here in the Syriac version; and signifies anything separated and devoted to holy uses; and so it is used by the Septuagint, in Leviticus 27:28, and in the New Testament, Luke 21:5, and which, if alienated to any other purposes, entailed a curse on persons; hence it is often translated "accursed", as Romans 9:3 1 Corinthians 12:3, and here it signifies, that such persons that love not the Lord Jesus, should be rejected by the saints, and separated from their communion; and so the Arabic version renders it, "let him be separated"; that is, from the church; let him be cast out of it, and cut off from it; as, so living and dying without love to Christ, he will be accursed by him at the last day, and will have that awful sentence denounced on him, "go ye cursed". The apostle adds another word, about which there is some difficulty,
maranatha; some make this to be the same with "anathema"; the one being the Syriac, the other the Greek word, as "Abba, Father"; and think that "maranatha" is put for "maharamatha"; others think that it is the same with "maharonatha", which signifies "from wrath to come"; and being joined with the other word, intends an anathematizing or devoting persons to wrath to come: others take it to be the last, and worse sort of excommunication among the Jews; and observe, that the first sort was called "Niddui", which was a separation from company and conversation, to which reference may be had in Luke 6:22; the second sort was called Cherem, to which "anathema" answers, and was a separation, attended with curses and imprecations; and a third sort was called "Shammatha", and is thought to answer to "maranatha", giving the etymology of it, as if it was, , "the name", i.e. "God cometh", as "maranatha" read as two words, signify "our Lord cometh": but this is not the etymology the Jews give of "Shammatha" (g); they ask,
"what is "Shammatha?" says Rab, , "there is death"; and Samuel says, , "desolations shall be";''
but of the other etymology there is no mention made among them; nor is ever the word "maranatha" used by them for excommunication; the sense of which certainly is, "our Lord cometh"; and the Ethiopic version, joining it with the former word, renders the whole thus, "let him be anathema in the coming of our Lord", which seems to be pretty much the sense of the apostle: it is best to consider this word, or rather these two words, "maran atha", "our Lord cometh", as added by the apostle, to put persons in mind of the coming of Christ; either at the destruction of Jerusalem, to take vengeance on the Jews, who did not love, but hated him, and maliciously persecuted him, and his; or of the second coming of Christ to judgment, when all the wicked of the earth shall be accursed by him, and all such that love him not will be bid to depart from him.
(g) T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 17. 1.