1 Corinthians 16:5-11

Welcome back to my study/review of 1 Corinthians. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.

1 Corinthians 16:5-11

I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

10 When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. 11 So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers.


Paul begins to wrap up his letter. This section includes his immediate plans for travel. There is less that is obvious to pull from these verses, but we will continue on with our commentaries as we study. From The Pulpit Commentaries:

1 Corinthians 16:5

When I shall pass through Macedonia; rather, when 1 have passed through Macedonia. For I do pass through Macedonia; rather, for 1 mean to pass through Macedonia. We learn from 2 Corinthians 1:152 Corinthians 1:16, that it had been St. Paul’s intention to sail from Ephesus to Corinth, thence, after a brief stay, to proceed to Macedonia, and on his return to come again for a longer stay at Corinth on his way to Judaea. He had in an Epistle, now lost (see 1 Corinthians 5:9), announced to them this intention, he changed his plan because, in the present disgraceful state of disorganization into which the Church had fallen, he felt that he could not visit them without being compelled to exercise a severity which, he hoped, might be obviated by writing to them and delaying his intended visit. Nothing but his usual delicacy and desire to spare them prevented him from stating all this more fully (2 Corinthians 1:232 Corinthians 2:1). Mistaking the kindness of his purpose, the Corinthians accused him of levity. He defends himself from this charge in the Second Epistle, and he carried out the plan which he here announces (2 Corinthians 2:132 Corinthians 8:12 Corinthians 9:22 Corinthians 9:42 Corinthians 12:142 Corinthians 13:1).

Looking through Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we are able to ascertain his plans and motives. Here it seems that Paul may have changed his plans so that he could admonish the Corinthians in writing before visiting them face to face. In that way, his visit might be more productive. Continuing on, via Ellicott’s Bible Commentary:

(6) And it may be that I will abide . . .—His former plan had involved but a brief visit to the Church at Corinth, but the arrangement which he now contemplated would permit of a longer stay, and so he adds, with affectionate emphasis, “that you may send me on my journey.” Whither he would go from Corinth he had not yet determined; and, indeed, it was subsequently determined for him by a conspiracy against him, which was fortunately discovered in time (Acts 20:3). He remained three mouths at Corinth, during winter, and, as that brought him to a time of year when a voyage would be safe, he resolved to sail into Syria. The conspiracy of the Jews caused this plan to be abandoned, and a different course, through Troas, &c., adopted. (See Acts 20:6Acts 20:13Acts 20:17.) The phrase “that ye may send me on” implies not merely that Corinth should be the starting-point of his journey to Jerusalem, but that he should set out on that journey with the good wishes and blessing of his Corinthian friends (as in Acts 20:38Acts 21:5).

Paul – by staying longer in Corinth – could both oversee that his advise is acted upon and renew a bond of affection with the local church there. After three months, he could be sent on to his next stop with good wishes.

Returning to the Pulpit Commentaries:

1 Corinthians 16:7For I will not see you now by the way; rather, I do not wish to pay you a cursory visit now, as I had originally meant to do. If the Lord permit. The Christians made a rule of adding these phrases in sign of dependence upon God (2Co 4:1-18 :19; Acts 18:1James 4:15Hebrews 6:3).

1 Corinthians 16:8

I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. It is possible that this intention was frustrated by the riot stirred up by the silversmiths (Acts 19:23-41). But, in any case, he stayed at Ephesus nearly as long as he intended, for the riot only occurred when he was already preparing to leave (Acts 19:21Acts 19:22).

1 Corinthians 16:9

A great door and effectual. A wide and promising opportunity for winning souls to God. The metaphor of “a door,” perhaps suggested by our Lord himself, was common among Christians (2 Corinthians 2:12Colossians 4:3Acts 14:27Revelation 3:8). Many adversaries (Acts 19:1Acts 19:8Acts 19:9Acts 19:19Acts 19:20).

We know a great deal about the details of Paul’s travels both through his own letters, and also through the account of his travels as given by Luke in the book of Acts. We can match up the letters with the account from Acts to present a good and detailed historical account.

The details in all of these accounts, including the route used for the journeying, are among the strongest proofs of the veracity of the account as a 1st century account.

Continuing on to verse 10, from Ellicott:

(10) Now if Timotheus come . . .—Timothy and Erastus had been sent (see 1 Corinthians 4:17) by St. Paul to remind the Corinthians of his former teaching, and to rebuke and check those evils of which rumours had reached the ears of the Apostle. As, however, they would travel through Macedonia, delaying en route at the various churches to prepare them for the visit which St. Paul, according to his then intention, purposed paying them after he had been to Corinth, they possibly might not reach Corinth until after this Epistle, which would be carried thither by a more direct route. The Apostle was evidently anxious to know how Timothy would be received by the Corinthians. He was young in years. He was young also in the faith. He had probably a constitutionally weak and timid nature (see 1 Timothy 3:152 Timothy 1:4), and he was of course officially very subordinate to St. Paul. In a Church, therefore, some of whose members had gone so far as to question, if not actually to repudiate the authority even of the Apostle himself, and to depreciate him as compared with the elder Apostles, there was considerable danger for one like Timothy. By reminding the Corinthians of the work in which Timothy is engaged, and of its identity with his own work, the Apostle anticipates and protests against any insult being offered to Timothy, because of what a great English statesman once called, in reference to himself, “the atrocious crime of being a young man.”

We see present in the 1st century Church the types of human concerns, regarding leadership, that continue to exist today. Young men, or men who are of a timid nature, are not always readily accepted as leaders, or of possessing authority. Paul here vouches for Timothy. It was as true then, as it is now, that you cannot become an experienced leader without beginning as an inexperienced leader. Timothy needed to learn and grow through trial by experience. However, if you are young, it is better (when possible) to be able to lean on the advice and authority of one who is older, who also supports you in your work. We see Paul preparing the Corinthians to accept Timothy in the next verse. From The Pulpit Commentaries:

1 Corinthians 16:11

Let no man therefore despise him. His youth and modesty seemed to invite a contempt which was only too consonant with the character of the Corinthians. I look for him with the brethren. There was a reason for adding this. The Corinthians would see that any unkindness or contempt shown towards Timothy would at once be reported to St. Paul. Who “the brethren” are is not mentioned, for in Acts 19:22 we are only told that Timothy was accompanied by Erastus. Perhaps St. Paul means with the brethren who conveyed this letter (see Acts 19:12), and who, as he supposed, would meet with Timothy at Corinth, or fall in with him on their return to meet St. Paul in Macedonia. One of these brethren must have been Titus (2 Corinthians 2:132 Corinthians 7:62 Corinthians 7:7), and there were two others.

Paul subtly tells the Corinthians that if they mistreat Timothy that he will find out about it. Certainly also he hopes that Timothy will not only be treated well for this reason, but covering the younger man in his own authority aided his work in the ministry.

In the next section, Paul finishes up his letter. Keeping in mind that much of the impetus for this letter was the faction-forming between Corinthians who were in his own camp, and that of Apollos, he brings up Apollos. We’ll cover that in the next section!

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