Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 16

Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary for Schools and CollegesCambridge Greek Testament Commentary

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Verses 1-99

Ch. 16:1 24. Sundry practical directions. Conclusion

1 . Now concerning the collection for the saints ] i.e. ‘the poor saints (see note on ch. 1:2) at Jerusalem,’ Romans 15:26 . The same subject is mentioned in ch. 8, 9 of the second Epistle. The disorganized state of Judaea at this time, as described in the pages of Josephus, may account for the systematic efforts which were then being made throughout the Gentile Churches for their aid. This collection is mentioned in Romans 15:26 , written after the Apostle’s arrival at Corinth. Another reason for this Gentile liberality is given there. Jerusalem was the source whence all the blessings of the Gospel had flowed. It was fitting that some recompence, however inadequate, should be made. Cf. ch. 9:11. St Paul says here that he had instructed the Galatian Churches to send their contribution, and in Galatians 2:10 we find that it was a special matter of agreement between himself and the other Apostles that he should ‘remember the poor,’ i.e. of the Church at Jerusalem. St Luke does not mention the collection in its proper place in the Acts, but the incidental reference to it in a speech made long after by the Apostle, and recorded in Acts 24:17 , is adduced by Paley in his Horae Paulinae , as a remarkable instance of undesigned agreement between this Epistle and the narrative in the Acts, and as strong evidence of the authenticity of both.

as I have given order ] Rather, as I gave order .

to the churches of Galatia ] Hardly in the visit recorded in Acts 18:23 , for (though (see Paley, Horae Paulinae ) they are the last Churches recorded to have been visited), that visit took place nearly three years previously (Acts 20:31, cf. 19:10, 21, 22), but in some short visit not recorded, or by letter or message. The Corinthians had received their instructions a year before the date of the second Epistle (2 Corinthians 8:10 , 2 Corinthians 9:2 ), and therefore several months before the first was written.

2 . Upon the first day of the week ] Some Greek copies read the word translated ‘week’ in the plural . Hence Tyndale renders, in some saboth daye , and Calvin, more literally, on one of the sabbaths . Wiclif connects these words with the preceding verse. So also do ghe on oo dai of the woke . This verse, Acts 20:7 , and Revelation 1:10 , are the only passages in Scripture which notice the practice instituted from the very first among Christians of observing the day of the Lord’s Resurrection with especial reverence. But though it is clear enough, from the universal consent of Christians, that they were accustomed to meet together for worship on the Lord’s Day, we cannot infer it from this passage. See next note.

lay by him ] i.e. at home (Tyndale, apud se , Vulg.), not in the assembly, as is generally supposed. “He does not say ‘bring it at once,’ lest the giver should be ashamed of the smallness of his contribution; but first lay it up by thyself, and when it is worthy of collecting, then bring it.” Chrysostom. He speaks of a custom in his time of placing a small box by the bed-side into which an offering was to be put whenever prayer was made.

in store ] Literally, treasuring up . The words that follow are governed by this participle, treasuring up whatsoever he hath been prospered with . So Vulg. Keeping that that plesith to him . Wiclif.

as God hath prospered him ] The word God is not in the original. Literally, whatsoever he may be prospered in . The word originally signifies to have a good journey, and is so translated in Romans 1:10 (where, however, it has the same meaning as here). See also 3 John 1:2 . This common feeling between men of different nationalities, and widely separated by distance, was altogether the creation of the gospel, and is being increasingly recognized in our own age. See Robertson.

that there be no gatherings when I come ] The word here translated gatherings is translated collection in v . 1. Wiclif and Tyndale have gathering in both places. The rendering in the text is Tyndale’s. In the original the language is more emphatic, that when I come, the gatherings may not take place then . So Vulg.

3 . whomsoever you shall approve by your letters ] The word your is not in the original. The passage may be translated in two ways; (1) as in the text, which follows Tyndale and the Vulgate, and supposes that St Paul would, immediately on his arrival at Corinth, send to Jerusalem those who had been previously nominated by the Corinthian Church, or (2), with Wiclif ( I schal sende hem bi epistlis ) and Chrysostom, taking ‘by letters,’ with ‘I will send,’ and referring the words to the letters of commendation (Acts 18:27 ; Romans 16:1 ; 2 Corinthians 3:1 ) St Paul intended to give to the bearers of the Corinthian relief fund. It is worthy of notice, (1) that while on matters of grave import St Paul gives authoritative directions to his converts, on matters of lesser consequence he prefers that they should govern themselves, and (2) that as Chrysostom remarks, St Paul is especially anxious not to take charge of the money himself, lest he should be charged with having devoted any of it to his own use. See ch. 9:18, 19; 2 Corinthians 11:7-9 , 2 Corinthians 12:16-18 .

liberality ] Literally, grace . “He studiously refrains from using the word alms.” Estius.

4 . they shall go with me ] Under no circumstances would St Paul take charge of the money himself. It was, moreover, fitting that members of the Corinthian Church should have the pleasure, as well as the credit, of presenting their bounty in person to those who were to be the recipients of it. Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:19 , 2 Corinthians 8:20 .

5 . I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia ] Rather, ‘ when I have passed through Macedonia .’ Here the Apostle announces the change of a purpose previously intimated whether in the lost Epistle, or in some other manner, it is impossible to say of coming first to Corinth, passing on to Macedonia, and returning to Corinth. See 2 Corinthians 1:15 , 2 Corinthians 1:16 . The reason of this change is given in 2 Corinthians 1:23 , 2 Corinthians 1:2 :1, 7:2 Corinthians 1:8-12 , 2 Corinthians 1:12 :20, 2 Corinthians 1:21 , 2 Corinthians 1:13 :2, 2 Corinthians 1:10 . For the imputations which it brought on the Apostle, see 2 Corinthians 1:17 .

for I do pass through Macedonia ] This passage has been translated, for I am passing through Macedonia , a rendering which is shewn to be erroneous by v . 8, in which St Paul announces his intention of remaining at Ephesus for some time longer. But it has led to the incorrect note at the end of the Epistle in our version, which states that the Epistle was written at Philippi. See Introduction.

6 . And it may be that I will abide ] Better, that I shall abide . The Apostle (Acts 20:3 ) was enabled to carry out this half promise.

and winter with you ] The navigation of the Aegaean was dangerous in the winter (Acts 27:9 , Acts 27:12 ).

bring me on my journey ] Literally, send me forward . “The recognized word for helping forward on a journey or a mission.” Stanley. See Acts 15:3 , Acts 15:20 :38, Acts 15:21 :5; Romans 15:24 , &c also v . 11.

7 . For I will not see you now by the way ] See passages cited in note on v . 5, for the reason of this. St Paul feared that he might have to adopt some strong measures against those who resisted his authority, and he was very anxious to remain long enough at Corinth to obliterate every feeling of unkindness which those measures might be calculated to produce.

if the Lord permit ] See James 4:15 , and cf. ch. 4:19, and Hebrews 6:3 .

8 . But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost ] The narrative in the Acts agrees most minutely with this passage. We there find that St Paul had formed his plan of visiting Greece some time before he carried it into effect (Acts 19:21 ); that he sent Timothy to Macedonia, whence it was intended that he should proceed to Corinth (Acts 19:22, cf. v . 10 of this chapter, and ch. 4:7), and that ‘many adversaries’ arose who hindered the Apostle from following him. Cf. v . 9, and Acts 19:23-41 .

9 . For a great door ] The use of door in the sense of opportunity in the N. T. is remarkable. It is a favourite word with St Paul. See 2 Corinthians 2:12 ; Colossians 4:3 . St Luke has adopted it from him, Acts 14:27 . And it is also to be found in the same sense in Revelation 3:8 . This verse also strikingly corroborates the narrative in the Acts. Cf. Acts 19:19 , Acts 19:20 .

and effectual ] i.e. calculated to produce results.

10 . Now if Timotheus come ] See note on 4:17. The question whether Timothy arrived at Corinth before the Apostle, or whether he was detained in Macedonia until St Paul came thither, is one which admits of no certain decision. Dean Alford thinks Timothy arrived there first, and supports his view by the considerations, (1) that his mission is announced in terms too precise to be lightly given up, and (2) that its abandonment would have exposed the Apostle to an additional charge of inconsistency of which we never hear. But, on the other hand, it is remarkable that while we hear a good deal in the second Epistle of Titus’ mission and the report he brought back (ch. 2:13, 7:6, 13, 8:6, 16 18, 12:18), there is not a word said about Timothy’s arrival at Corinth, or of his return to St Paul, although (ch. 1:1) he was with St Paul when that Epistle was written.

see that he may be with you without fear ] Paley and the late Professor Blunt have remarked on the remarkable agreement of this passage with what we elsewhere learn of the character of Timothy. For (1) he was young (1 Timothy 4:12 ), and (2) he seems to have been deficient in courage (1 Timothy 5:21-23 , 2 Timothy 1:6 , 2 Timothy 1:7 , 2 Timothy 1:8 , 2 Timothy 1:2 :1, 2 Timothy 1:3 , 2 Timothy 1:15 , 2 Timothy 1:4 :1, 2 Timothy 1:2 ). If this be the case, there would be special need for this injunction, in the condition in which the Corinthian Church then was. And Timothy must then have been very young indeed. After ten years had passed away, the Apostle could still say, ‘Let no man despise thy youth.

11 . conduct him forth ] This phrase is translated bring on a journey in v . 6. See note there.

with the brethren ] i.e. those who took charge of this Epistle. Cf. passages cited in the first note on v . 10 and 2 Corinthians 8:22 , 2 Corinthians 8:13 , 2 Corinthians 8:9 :3, 2 Corinthians 8:5 . They were no doubt sent straight from Ephesus, and they might either find Timothy there, or he might reach Corinth after them. In either case he was to return with them.

12 . touching our brother Apollos ] See note on ch. 1:12. St Paul was anxious to have put Apollos, as a man of weight in the Corinthian Church, in charge of his letter. But Apollos steadfastly declined to go, fearing that his presence might foment, instead of allaying, the disorders. Titus and Apollos are found in close intercourse with each other and with St Paul many years later in Titus 3:13 .

but his will was not at all to come at this time ] The original is even stronger, but it was not at all his will to come now .

when he shall have convenient time ] i.e. when he shall consider it a suitable time.

13 . quit you like men, be strong ] Rather, be strengthened , implying that the source of strength was not in themselves. “If you think Christianity a feeble, soft thing, ill adapted to call out the manlier features of character, read here.” Robertson.

14 . Let all your things be done with charily ] i.e. let everything you do (literally everything of yours ) be done in love .

15 . the house of Stephanas ] See note on ch. 1:16.

the firstfruits of Achaia ] Not necessarily the very first converts, but among the very first. See Romans 16:5 . ‘Achaia’ is used by St Paul to denote the Peloponnesus, now called the Morea.

to the ministry of the saints ] Rather, to service for the saints . The context would imply that they had not confined themselves to ministering to the temporal necessities of the saints, but had given valuable assistance to St Paul in his spiritual ministrations. See next verse.

16 . that ye submit yourselves ] See Ephesians 5:21 ; 1 Peter 5:5 .

helpeth with us] There is no us in the original. A general assistance in the work of the Church seems to be what is meant by the Apostle. Some would connect it with ‘such,’ and regard it as a direction to be willing to submit to the authority of all who were willing to work with the household of Stephanas.

and laboureth ] The Greek word implies toil , i.e. the exertion which labour entails.

17 . Fortunatus and Achaicus ] Fortunatus is referred to by Clement as the bearer of his Epistle. See Introduction, Ch. iii. Nothing is known of Achaicus.

that which was lacking on your part ] i.e. the void occasioned by your absence , not the pecuniary need of the Apostle as in 2 Corinthians 11:9 (cf. Philippians 2:30 ). For the Apostle there says that it is his boast, of which no man shall deprive him, that he has never cast any of the burden of his maintenance upon the Corinthian Church. See also ch. 9.

18 . For they have refreshed my spirit and yours ] This “is a concise expression of the same consciousness of identity of feelings and interests which expresses itself so strongly in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 .” Stanley. These Corinthians are reinvigorated, through a perfect interchange of sympathy, by the joy that is imparted to St Paul by the presence of one of their number. For the expression itself Stanley refers to 2 Corinthians 7:13 .

acknowledge ] Or, recognize , i.e. as your natural leaders and superiors.

19 . The churches of Asia salute you ] See Introduction, Ch. iii. p. 15.

Aquila and Priscilla ] See Acts 18:2 , Acts 18:18 , Acts 18:26 . From Romans 16:3 (where Priscilla is called Prisca), we find that they returned to Rome as soon as it was safe to return thither. The message of Aquila and Priscilla to the members of the Church which had received them in their necessity, is one of the minute points of agreement which do so much to establish the authenticity of the various books of Scripture.

with the church that is in their house ] Cf. Romans 16:5 . The expression may mean (1) their family, or (2) less probably, the congregation which was accustomed to meet there for worship. Cf. Colossians 4:15 ; Philemon 1:2 .

20 . All the brethren ] i.e. “the whole Ephesian Church.” Alford.

with a holy kiss ] The word holy is added to guard against misconception in an impure age. The spirit in which it was to be given was that which was to regulate the intercourse of Timothy with the other sex. (1 Timothy 5:2 .) The kiss of peace (see Romans 16:16 ; 2 Corinthians 13:12 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:26 ; 1 Peter 5:14 ) once formed a prominent part in the ritual of the Church. It is still retained in the East, where the men and women sit, and salute each other, apart. In the Roman ritual the pax , a small piece of metal or wood, which the priest kissed, and afterwards sent round for the congregation to kiss in turn, was substituted for it In our own Reformed Liturgy it has been abolished.

21 . The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand ] It was the custom of St Paul to employ an amanuensis. See Romans 16:22 . But in order that the Epistle should be recognized as his, it was his custom to add a salutation in his own handwriting, which he wished to be regarded as a token of genuineness. 2 Thessalonians 3:17 . See also Colossians 4:18 and Galatians 6:11 (where it seems to be implied that St Paul wrote the whole of that particular Epistle himself).

22 . If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ ] The word here translated love applies to the intimate and familiar personal affection subsisting between individuals, rather than the wider and more general feeling of love usually enjoined in the N. T. It is the word used when our Lord for the third time asks St Peter the question ‘Lovest thou me?’ (St John 21:17 ). Christians are to cultivate a feeling of personal loyalty and affection for Jesus Christ, such as a soldier feels for his general, or a disciple for his master. And this though they have never seen Him. As the natural precedes the spiritual (ch. 15:46), so the love for Christ as Man must precede, and lead up to, the love for Him as God. See notes on ch. 15:23, 28.

let him be anathema ] The word is derived from two Greek words signifying to set apart, and is equivalent to the Hebrew cherem , which denotes something devoted to destruction for God’s honour’s sake, as the city and spoil at Jericho, Joshua 6:17 . See also Leviticus 27:28 , Leviticus 27:29 .

Maran-atha ] Two Syriac words Maran, atha, signifying either (1) our Lord is come , or (2) our Lord is coming . If the former, the meaning is ‘our Lord is come, beware how you treat Him.’ If the latter, it will be ‘our Lord is coming, and He will judge those who have set Him at nought.’ Cf. Philippians 4:5 ; James 5:8 , James 5:9 . Lightfoot cites Malachi 4:6 , the last words of the last prophet, ‘Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse ’ ( cherem ). It is difficult to account for the Aramaic form of the word, unless we suppose with some that the utterance of the formula in the Apostle’s own language was likely to be more impressive. For this and the foregoing word consult Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible .

24 . My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen ] See note on ch. 4:17. This affectionate commendation of the Corinthians to the favour of Christ, coupled with the assurance of his own unchanging affection, must have sounded very striking in the ears of a community accustomed to Gentile modes of thought. Compare the curt and cold ‘Farewell’ at the end of Claudius Lysias’ letter in Acts 23:30 . Much of the beauty and significance of this conclusion is lost to us by over-familiarity. It is worthy of note that the Epistle begins and ends with Jesus Christ See note on ch. 1:10.

Index I

Achaia, 167

Achaicus, 168

Acro-Corinthus, 8, 97

Aegaean, navigation of dangerous in winter, 165

Agapae, 118

Anaxandrides, 72

Angels, to be judged by men, 64

Aphrodite, worship of. 7, 97

Apollos, 35, 36, 46, 167

Apostolic Constitutions, 63

Aquila, 35, 168

Arbitration, 63

Ariston, 72

Ashtaroth, Astarte, 97

Augustine, 77, 144

Baptism, 36, 66, 95

Barnabas, 87

Bertha, 74

Body, the, temple of the Holy Ghost, 69; unity of, 123 125

Bread, breaking of, 100

Brethren of the Lord, 87, 143

Caesar, 72

Celibacy, its advantages, 71, 72, 77, 78

Christ, Divinity of, 44, 148; the Foundation, 47; our Passover, 60; the Rock, 96; His subordination to the Father, 49, 82, 150; identified with His members, 122; Church, the, His Body, 124; all things under His feet, 149, 150

Christianity, not intended to revolutionize society, 75

Cicero, 72

Clement of Rome, his quotation of this Epistle, 18

Clotilda, 74

Clovis, 74

Corinth, morals of, 5; importance of, 6; luxury of, 7: colonies of, 5; a Roman colony, 6; capture of, by the Romans, 6: seat of the Roman proconsul, 6; Bimaris , 5

Corinthian Church, foundation of, 9; composition of, 11; condition of, 11 13, 35, 44, 52, 53, 55, 57; disorders in, 57, 63, 81, 84, 105, 111, 112, 118, 137; divisions in, 11 13, 35, 111, 137; religious difficulties in, 14, 15

Cup, denial of to the laity, 115

Custom of the Churches, appeal to, 110, 139

Death will be destroyed last, 149

Discipline in the Primitive Church, 57

Dissolution of marriage, 72, 74

Epicureans, 144

Epistle to the Corinthians, date of, 15; whence written, ib.; character of, 16, 17; genuineness of, 18; analysis of, 23 30; incorrect subscription of, in A. V., 15, 165

Epistle, lost, to the Corinthians, 62, 165

Ethelbert, 74

Equality in the life to come, 47

Eucharist, 113

Excommunication, mode of, 58

Fornication, 68, 69

Fortunatus, 168

Gaius, 36

Gallio, 9

Gifts, spiritual, 118

Hair, long, to be worn only by women, 110

Historical Christianity, importance of, 144

History, Jewish, its typical character, 95

Holy Ghost, Divinity of, 121; personality of, 42; proceeding from the Father, 121

Idols, meats offered to, 81 85, 100 103

Ignatius, 152

Institution of Holy Communion, words of, 114

Irenaeus quotes this Epistle, 18; his summary of the faith, 142

Isthmian games, 53, 92, 93

Isthmus, 92, 93

Julia Corinthus, 6

Justin Martyr gives the earliest account of the administration of Holy Communion, 118

Knowing God, 82, 131

Knowledge, value of, 81

Latin Fathers, casuistry of, 102

Law of Moses, humanity of, 88

Lawfulness of actions in themselves, 67

Lawsuits before heathens condemned, 63, 64, 65

Liberty, Christian, 67

Lord’s Supper, object of, 112, 113

Malea, Cape, 5

Manichaeans, 144

Marcellus of Ancyra, 148

Marriage, 72, 76, 79: imparts a sacred character to those who are not Christians, 73; second, 80

Meats, distinction of, 81

Monica, 77

Naassenes, 119

Natural, the, precedes the spiritual, 158

Nero, 93, 94

Olympic games, 92, 93

Onesimus, 76

Ophites, 119

Parents, duty of as regards marriage of children, 79

Paul, St, Apostolic authority of, 12, 31, 85, 86; founder of the Corinthian Church, 54, 86; a Roman citizen, 152; becomes all things to all men, 92; employs an amanuensis, 168; had seen the Lord, 86; institution of Holy Communion revealed to him, 113; his character as revealed in this Epistle, 16, 17; quotes heathen authors, 153

Philo, 35

Platonic doctrine concerning matter, 144

Polycarp, quotes this Epistle, 18

Prisca, Priscilla, 35, 168

Prophets, their inspiration under their own control, 139

Quotations from O. T., 42; from heathen authors, 153

Rebekah, 108

Resurrection, fact of, 20, 142, 145; manner of, 21 23, 154 161; denial of, 144, 145; doctrine of, a hindrance to the reception of Christianity, 144; all not alike in, 156; that of Christ necessarily before ours, 147

Roman citizenship, privileges of, 152

Sabellians, 148

Sacraments, 96

Sacrifices, heathen, 81; Jewish, 89

Saronic Gulf, 8, 93

Searching for leaven, 60

Separation of married persons, 71, 72

Simon Magus, 119

Sosthenes, 11, 31

Spirit, the, opposed to the letter, 54

Stephanas, 36, 167

Stoics, 144

Style of St Paul, 16, 17, 52

Tallith, 106

Tertullian analyses this Epistle, 19

Threshing, 88

Timotheus, 55, 166

Undesigned coincidences, 36, 46, 55, 56, 166, 168

Veiling the head, 106 110

Vestal virgins, 110

Women, position of in heathendom, 105; dress of in the Christian assembly, 107 110; public ministrations of, 107, 139; forbidden to speak in the Church, 140

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 16". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.