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 16:12-24
12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity.
13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.
15 Now I urge you, brothers—you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— 16 be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. 17 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, 18 for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people.
19 The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. 20 All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. 22 If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
This section takes us to the end of the letter. Though it’s primarily closing words, Paul continues to issue some teaching here, also. From The Pulpit Commentaries:
As touching our brother Apollos; rather, but as touching Apollos, the brother. It seems clear from this that the Corinthians, in their letter, had requested that this eloquent and favourite teacher might be sent to them. I greatly desired him to come unto you; rather, I besought him much. There were at Corinth persons malignant enough to have suggested that Paul had refused their request; that he would not send Apollos to them out of jealousy of Apollos’s superior oratory, and of the party which assumed his name. St. Paul anticipated this sneer. His nature was much too noble to feel the least jealousy. Both he and Apollos here show themselves in the purest light. His will; literally, there was not will. The word “will” most frequently means “the will of God,” but if that had been the meaning here, the word would have had the article. It is used of human will in 1 Corinthians 7:37; Ephesians 2:3; 2 Peter 1:21. Here it means that Apollos had decided not to come at present, obviously because his name had been abused for purposes of party faction (1 Corinthians 3:5). This was all the more noble on his part because he seems to have been a special friend of Titus (Titus 3:13). St. Paul would gladly have sent his two ablest and most energetic disciples to this distracted Church. When he shall have convenient time; rather, when a good opportunity offers itself to him. Whether Apollos ever revisited Corinth or not we do not know.
The notes helps us to remember the way that this letter began. The Corinthians had formed factions, some favoring Paul, others Apollos, and perhaps other Simon Peter. Paul throughout the letter encourages them to unify under Christ. The mention of Apollos here is gracious, both toward those who were in the Apollos faction, and as a show of unity between the two of them, also.
By way of reminder, it is widely believed that Apollos authored the New Testament book of Hebrews. From wiki:
Apollos (Greek: Ἀπολλώς) was a 1st-century Alexandrian Jewish Christian mentioned several times in the New Testament. A contemporary and colleague of Paul the Apostle, he played an important role in the early development of the churches of Ephesus and Corinth.
Martin Luther and some modern scholars have proposed Apollos as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, rather than Paul or Barnabas. Both Apollos and Barnabas were Jewish Christians with sufficient intellectual authority. The Pulpit Commentary treats Apollos’ authorship of Hebrews as “generally believed”. Other than this, there are no known surviving texts attributed to Apollos.
Apollos is regarded as a saint by several Christian churches, including the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, which hold a commemoration for him, together with saints Aquila and Priscilla, on 13 February. Apollos is considered one of the 70 apostles and his feast day is December 8 in the Eastern Orthodox church.
Apollos is not to be confused with St. Apollo of Egypt, a monk who died in 395 and whose feast day is January 25. Apollos does not have a feast day of his own in the traditional Roman Martyrology, nor is he reputed to have ever been a monk (as most monks come after St. Anthony the Great).
Continuing on with Ellicott’s Bible Commentary:
(13, 14) Watch ye, stand fast.—These words of stirring exhortation come in here somewhat abruptly. It is possible that they conclude the epistle so far—the Apostle intending to add immediately before sending it, the verses which follow, and which contain messages from, or commendations of their friends who were with him. Living in a profound consciousness of the uncertainty of life, St. Paul might wish not to have such references to friends with him added until the last moment along with his own autograph (see 1 Corinthians 16:21). The Apostle’s mind is full of the hope of beneficial results following from this letter and from the exertions of Titus; yet, after all, everything depends upon the Corinthians themselves. Chrysostom’s Note on these words brings out their meaning well. “Now in saying these things, he seems indeed to advise; but he is reprimanding them as indolent. Wherefore he saith, Watch, as though they slept; stand, as though they were rocking to and fro; quit you like men, as though they were playing the coward; let all your things be done with charity, as though they were in dissensions. And the first caution refers to the deceivers, viz., Watch, stand; the next to those who plot against us, quit you like men; the third to those who make parties and endeavour to distract, let all your things be done with charity, which thing is the bond of perfection, and the root and the fountain of all blessings.”
These verses are Paul’s last direct message before transitioning into conclusion greetings, wherein he mentions specific messages regarding individual people. From The Pulpit Commentaries:
Ye know the house of Stephanas. This paragraph seems to have been written lest the Corinthians should be angry with Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus—who, perhaps, were slaves of the household of Chloe—for having carried to St. Paul their ill report (1 Corinthians 1:11). The firstfruits of Achaia. For which reason St. Paul had baptized Stephanas and his house (1 Corinthians 1:16). In Romans 16:5 Epaenetus is called “the firstfruits of Achaia,” but there the reading ought to be, of Asia. Have addicted themselves; rather, they set themselves.
That ye submit yourselves unto such. Slaves though they may be in earthly rank, recognize their Christian authority as good men and women (see Ephesians 5:21; 1 Timothy 5:17). The verb used for” submit yourselves,” or, “set yourselves under,” is the same as in the previous verse.
Of the coming; rather, at the presence of. They were now with St. Paul in Ephesus. Fortunatus. A Christian of this name also carried the letter of St. Clement to Corinth. That which was lacking on your part. This sounds like a reproach in the Authorized Version, but is quite the reverse. It should be rendered, the void caused by your absence. The same word occurs in 2 Corinthians 8:13, 2 Corinthians 8:14; 2Co 9:12; 2 Corinthians 11:9, etc. The nearest parallel to the usage here is Philippians 2:30.
My spirit and yours. They refreshed my spirit by telling me all about you, sad though much of the news was; and yours by this renewal of our mutual intercourse.
The note above speculates that Paul mentions the people above due to the possibility that the Corinthians might be upset with them as those who gave Paul the bad report of what was happening within the Church in Corinth. If Paul praises them in this way, within the letter, it will be more difficult (because it would require more direct disobedience) for the Corinthians to treat them poorly.
We are reminded in the note that those mentions are slaves. The early Church flourished and grew (to a great extent) through the conversion of slaves. As Roman slaves, early Christians were well-situated to travel broadly in their duties and to share the gospel in the places they went. The terrible circumstances were a tool that were used for spiritual good. From this foundation, Christianity eventually grew to such an extent that it became the official faith of the Roman Empire. From there, it spread around the world. Paul’s words here show us a contrast of worldly station and Christian rank. Though these men are slaves, they are to be afforded dignity and respect within the Church community – even by those who are not slaves.
Continuing on in Ellicott:
(19) The churches of Asia salute you.—This and the following verse are occupied with the salutations from the churches throughout Asia; from the church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla; and finally, from “all the brethren.” Aquila and Priscilla had been the Apostle’s friends at Corinth (Acts 18:1-3), and he now was with them at Ephesus. (See Romans 16:3-5; 2 Timothy 4:19.) Probably by “the church in their house” is meant a group of foreigners then resident in Ephesus, and accustomed to meet there for worship, as distinct from those who had been converted in Ephesus.
(20) An holy kiss.—The kiss was the ordinary form of affectionate greeting in the East. The Church adopted it; and when thus interchanged between those whose bond of friendship was not earthly, but spiritual, it was designated “the holy kiss.” (See Romans 16:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:26.) The practice was given up in the Latin Church in the thirteenth century, but is still used in the Greek Church on certain great occasions, such as Easter Day.
Verse 19 directs us toward more individuals in the early Church. Paul speaks on behalf of “the Churches in Asia” which are primarily modern-day Turkey. For anyone who might desire to imagine a significant schism between Paul and the rest of the Apostles, the acceptance of these churches represents an acceptance of Paul and his ministry more broadly. 2 Peter mentions Paul favorably, while the Book of Revelation directly addresses Churches Paul played a significant role in building – Ephesus in particular.
2 Peter: 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Revelation 1: 4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
Today, the practice of giving a Holy Kiss (also called a Kiss of Peace) is primarily limited to Eastern Christians. For an example of what a Holy Kiss looks like, see below:
Continuing in Ellicott:
(21) The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.—It was the Apostle’s habit to dictate his Epistles, but to add a few words at the end in his own handwriting. (See 2 Thessalonians 3:17.) The concluding verses here are accordingly St. Paul’s autograph. The earlier portions had been written by Sosthenes. (See 1 Corinthians 1:1.)
One of the difficulties today in judging the authorship of a New Testament text, based on style and grammar, is that it was common to have one person write a letter on behalf of another. A well-known example of this occurs with 1 Peter and 2 Peter. The latter of the two letters has more in common, grammatically, with the epistle of Jude, than it does 1 Peter. However, as many scholars believe that Peter and Jude traveled together in their ministry, that does not mean Peter was not the true author of 2 Peter, utilizing another to write the letter. Sometimes we must consider how tradition and a modern grammatical examination might be harmonized.
Paul here is helpful to us today in letting us know overtly that he did not personally write most of the letter. Continuing, now once again in The Pulpit Commentaries:
If any man love not, etc. This sentence (as in Colossians 4:18; Ephesians 6:24) is part of the autograph salutation. The verb here used for “love” (philō) was perhaps suggested by the word for “kiss” (philema). The word generally used for “love of God” is agapē (Ephesians 6:24), which implies less warmth, but deeper reverence. But this passage is full of emotion. Let him be Anathema. The word only occurs elsewhere in Acts 12:3; Acts 23:1-35. Acts 23:14; Romans 9:3; Galatians 1:8, Galatians 1:9 (comp. Matthew 26:74, “to curse”). It is the equivalent of the Hebrew cherem, a ban (Leviticus 27:29; Joshua 6:17, etc.). I cannot pretend to understand what St. Paul means by it, unless it be “Let personal love to Christ be the essential of Christian fellowship, and let him who has it not be regarded as apart from the Church.” Commentators call it “an imprecation,” or “malediction,” and say that it means “Let him be devoted to God’s wrath and judgment.” That language is, indeed, very like the language of religious hatred and religious usurpation in all ages, but it is the very antithesis to the general tone of the apostle. If this were the meaning, it would seem to resemble the very spirit which Christ himself severely rebuked as the Elijah spirit, not the Christ spirit. But I do not believe that, even in a passing outburst of strong emotion, St. Paul had any such meaning. For
(1) the Jews used cherem, not only of the severer form of excommunication (shem atha), but even of the milder and by no means severe temporary form (nidui); and
(2) it cannot be more severe than “handing over to Satan” (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20), which was merciful in its purpose. Maran-atha; two words, the Lord cometh; like the Jewish shem atha, “the Name cometh,” or, “the Lord comes.” It seems to be an appeal to the judgment of Christ, and may possibly have been an allusion to Malachi 4:6, the words with which the Old Testament ends (see Jude 1:14, Jude 1:15).
Given the issues raised by the note, let’s look at a couple of the underlying words, in Greek:
love = φιλέω philéō, fil-eh’-o; from G5384; to be a friend to (fond of (an individual or an object)), i.e. have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while G25 is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety: the two thus stand related very much as G2309 and G1014, or as G2372 and G3563 respectively; the former being chiefly of the heart and the latter of the head); specially, to kiss (as a mark of tenderness):—kiss, love.
This verse is another reminder that though Paul’s letter is about unity, he is clear throughout that the unity is within Christ alone. Differences of many kinds can be unified, however, he does not want the Church to be in unity with those who are not in Christ. He discusses this also in chapter 5 of this same letter.
Continuing in The Pulpit Commentaries to the end of the Letter:
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. This is a gnorisma, or “badge of confidence,” which, in one or other of its forms, is found at the end of all St. Paul’s Epistles. Here it is the same as in 1 Thessalonians 5:28. “With you all” is added in 2 Thessalonians 3:18; Romans 16:24; Philippians 4:23. In Galatians and Philemon we have “with your spirit.” In the pastoral Epistles and Colossians, “Peace be with you.” In Ephesians 6:24 it is confined to those “who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity.” In 2 Corinthians 13:14 alone we have the full “apostolic benediction.”
My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Added as a last proof that, if he has written in severity, he has also written in love. Amen. Perhaps genuine, though omitted by B, F, G.
The superscription to the Epistle, rightly omitted in the Revised Version, does not possess the smallest authority, and is absolutely erroneous. It contains two positive misstatements, which show with what utter carelessness these superscriptions were written in the later manuscripts. The Epistle was not written from Philippi (a mere mistaken inference from 1 Corinthians 16:5), but from Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8), and was not conveyed by Timotheus.
Paul ends this letter, which has frequently been stern and rebuking, with a reminder that this was also written in love. Love is tender, yet love must also sometimes say hard things. It is good to tell the person or persons on the receiving end of “hard things” that you love them.
We have concluded our look at 1 Corinthians. For anyone who followed along, I hope that you learned as much as I did.