From:  A Torah Commentary on First  Corinthians 13-16        Return to Home

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.                               © 2011












Chapter 16



We read in the first verse that Paul had already successfully encouraged the congregations in the province of Galatia to begin a collection for the survival needs of the Christians in Palestine.  With that accomplished, he now wished to be assured that the Corinthians would do the same as well.  It could have been to meet the needs of famine or the escalating price of those foodstuffs that were available—pricing it virtually beyond their ability to purchase even minimal amounts.[1]  Even regional economic problems could have crunched the ability of many to afford their survival needs even when supplies were theoretically available. 

Whatever the cause, the result was economic hardship above and beyond the norm.  Hence the need for this special purpose collection—temporary in time and for the benefit of those outside the local congregation.

Having begun the chapter with a plea for a generous contribution, Paul moves on to urge a considerate and respectful reception for his representative, Timothy.  He was a relatively young man and there was the danger his efforts would be dismissed for that reason.  Furthermore, Paul had written some strong words to the Corinthians and there was always the danger that some would use the opportunity to express their annoyance by giving Timothy a difficult time.

Their standard of behavior toward Timothy, toward the contribution for the needy, and toward others in general was to be a manifestation of love (16:14).  Annoyance and embarrassment were not justifications for mistreatment.  Finally (16:15-16), they were to follow the good example of behavior and leadership provided by such as those of the household of Stephanas.  They had available some fine role models.  They needed to learn from them instead of following their baser instincts that had so divided the congregation into factions.                                           






How the Themes Are Developed  


[Page 137]




The Corinthian role in the charitable aid

being gathered

for Jerusalem (16:1-16:4)



            ATP text:  1Now concerning the charitable donation for God’s set apart followers:  As I directed the congregations of Galatia, so you also are to do.  2On the first day of every week, let each of you put something aside and store it all up together--based upon how you prosper--so that contributions need not be made when I come.  3And when I arrive, I will send those whom you select to carry your gift to Jerusalem along with your introductory and accrediting letters.  4If it seems appropriate that I should go also, they will accompany me.”

            Development of the argument:  The Corinthian reader of the epistle could be near despair by the time he or she reached chapter sixteen.  So many things wrong!  So many alterations in practice and attitude are needed!  Yet Paul had already taken their problem of denying the individual resurrection (chapter 15) and ended that discussion on a positive note (15:57-58).  He attempts to encourage that up beat frame of mind in the remainder of the letter as well.  Hence he wraps up his epistle with three major themes-- the contribution for needy believers (16:1-4), their preparing for his return (16:5-12), and short passing words of admonition and praise on a variety of subjects (16:13-24).

            The most immediate thing is something that transcended local factionalism since it did not involve them personally--something all could throw themselves into with full enthusiasm for it was outside the realm of their local controversies.  That was the contribution for the needy Christians in Jerusalem.  “Let each one of you” (16:2); the poor just as well as the rich;[2] the slaves[3] (who might have cash rarely but who were unlikely to be totally bereft of it) just as much as the freemen; the member of each and every faction; even the faction leaders in a display that factionalism could and should be set aside in service of a greater good. 

What differs dramatically in the giving prescribed here--from then contemporary custom in the surrounding polytheistic, class conscious society—is Paul’s insistence upon all members contributing according to their degree of financial gain.  Roman society expected the wealthy to be generous; to expect the financially marginal or poor to dip into their meager income and set aside a proportion represented a major departure from the Gentile norms of the day.[4] 

Especially is this the case when we consider that they did not personally know the individuals they were helping nor did they have any ties of personal acquaintance or physical kinship.  Yet if they were to be regarded as spiritual kin—which is certainly the mind-frame Paul was trying to instill—then they owed a responsibility to them even if the “dollar” amount they could provide was extremely limited.

This wasn’t “giving to be giving,” this was giving for a specific and compelling [Page 138]   purpose:  the temporal and physical needs of their co-believers in the time of their distress.  The locals had no “vested interests” in the matter to hinder enthusiastic participation.  Furthermore, since this collection was not unique to Corinth, this was a reassuring note that the Corinthians were not being singled out for some special obligation.  

            He had already instructed the congregations in Galatia to take up such a collection (16:1), but when and where we do not know.[5]  There is every reason to assume that the procedures he now lays down for the Corinthians were the same that he had provided the Galatians since they are of such a nature that they would have fitted any and all local conditions. 

Hence the Corinthians were to gather the funds together weekly so that the collection process would be completed by the time of Paul’s return (16:2).  Then he would see this one time[6] “gift to Jerusalem” put in the hands of the messengers they had selected (16:3).  Indeed, it was possible (though not certain) that he would accompany them on their journey to Palestine (16:4).[7]    

He presents these requests as if they already knew that a collection should be taken up.  The “now concerning” language in verse 1 may well, in fact, be an indication they had raised questions on the matter because that introductory formula is used in other places in the book with just such an intent.[8]  For unknown reasons they had failed to begin to begin the effort—quite possibly their obsession with inner divisions had kept their minds diverted or the questions they had were used as an excuse for postponement.  Not to mention that the questions might well have become interwoven with their existing disagreements on other matters, making it impossible to carry out any action with general agreement.

Whatever the exact reason, Paul is interested in “lighting a fire” under them and getting them started.  Even so, he clearly believes that there is adequate time to accomplish the goal and his instructions presume a period of at least a few months or more in which to do so.[9]  Perhaps this is implied out of a concern that they would use the “brevity” of time as an excuse to do nothing at all; the “too late to do anything” mentality. 

We certainly seem to have a strong hint that they had delayed matters considerably before this epistle.  When writing the second letter, he refers to the enthusiasm that they had thrown into the effort:  “you began and were desiring to do a year ago” (2 Corinthians 8:10).  On the other hand, “Achaia was ready a year ago,” which seemingly argues that they were ready to wrap up the collection effort and send it at the very time the Corinthians  began it (2 Corinthians 9:2). 

If so, things still managed to work out well in spite of the delay:  “your zeal has stirred up the majority,” he promptly adds in the same verse.  Their enthusiasm and the extra time they had inadvertently given to Achaia had actually worked to promote the Achaian effort to even greater success.     

In light of the inevitable subtle ethnic tension between a Palestinian church that was overwhelmingly Jewish and a church in Greece and Galatia (and other nearby areas) dominantly if not overwhelmingly Gentile, this relief effort would function as a potent indication of good will.  It would be a very practical yet very real “symbol of the unity of the whole church”[10] as congregations in diverse areas contributed to the need of their co-religionists in the Judeo-Christian spiritual heartland of Palestine. 

[Page 139]          Furthermore (as Galatians bears witness) there were even times and places with severe tensions between the two groups.  By generous giving, communities like Corinth would be proving by their actions how much they respected and desired to help those who had been first in the faith.  This could go far in making “traditionalists” less wary of the expansion into the Gentile world.[11]       

Yes, there were differences—even serious ones at times—but underneath them was a sense of jointly participating in a common task for their shared Lord.[12]  If “actions speak louder than words” even in our age, this contribution to the economically distressed and hurting would serve as a very tangible expression of the respect and good will of Christians in other areas.[13]

            From Paul’s personal standpoint there may have a major personal incentive as well.  As a Jewish Christian, Paul would have a natural concern for such individuals even above that for Christians in general.[14]  Some were passionately opposed to him because of his openness to the Gentile “outsiders.”  Paul had described love in detail in chapter 13; in the contribution, love would be shown in action.  And it would show that Paul held no grudge against those he had disagreed with.

            The symbolism of the gift would be a two-way street for the Jewish recipients would be implying something as well.  Indeed “for the Jews to accept the gift would have in that culture signaled that they were accepting the Gentiles as equal partners in the gospel.”[15]  Real world essentials needed to be met and that was the dominant reason for Paul’s intercession with the Gentiles.  On the other hand, he would have been well aware of the symbolic overtones of the contribution—from both the recipients’ and givers’ standpoints.  




Paul himself would eventually come at some point

after Pentecost (16:5-16:9)


ATP text:  5I will visit you after traveling through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, 6and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may assist me on my journey to wherever I go next.  7For I do not want to see you now just briefly; I hope to remain some time with you, if the Lord is agreeable.  8But I will be staying here in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9for a wide door for effective work has opened to me even though there are many adversaries.”

            Development of the argument:  Now Paul shifts to his return.  Having alluded to it in connection with the collection they were to take up (16:3-4), he indicates that it would be after passing through Macedonia (16:5). He might stay at least the winter with them (16:6).  Presumably because he wanted adequate time to get everything accomplished that was on his agenda but also because this was the worse time of the year [Page 140]    for travel.  One simply did not want to be traveling during those months unless they absolutely had to.

The original Roman calendar (dating back c. 753 B.C.) jumped from December to Martius (March) and left 61 winter days unnamed.[16]  About a half century later January (29 days, with two additional added by Julius Caesar) and February (28 days) became the names attached to this period.[17]  Here we have in mind land based “winter” in particular.

            When it came to sea travel, though, the concept (though not the name) took on a much longer period of time.  If land travel was inconvenient, unusually slow, and with dangers one would little encounter the rest of the year, sea travel was even worse.  The Romans labeled it the period of the mare clausum (“the closed Sea”), during which minimal shipping was attempted because of the unpredictable and frequent storms.[18]  This period was an elastic one and might run as long as October to March,[19] depending on the weather patterns in any given year.     

Even when Paul finally reached Corinth, his plans were far from concrete.  Though he wanted a good lengthy stay with them, he recognized that this was uncertain; hence his “if the Lord permits (ATP:  is agreeable)” (16:7).  It is the path of wisdom to plan ahead, but Paul recognized that all plans are tentative; unexpected events may derail them.  (Consider the advice James gave to the merchants of his day:  James 4:13-15.)

            In the short term, he would remain in Ephesus until Pentecost (16:8) because such “a great and effective door (ATP:  a wide door for effective work)” had been opened for his message (16:9).  Not to mention the existence of “many adversaries” (16:9) who needed to be dealt with as well.    

The presence of those “many adversaries” might seem, to others, a reason to leave more quickly than to remain, but he clearly saw nothing overwhelming or intimidating in either their existence or their number.[20]  This seems to force us to conclude that he felt that he could more than adequately handle any problem they presented while utilizing the positive opportunities that had been opened for the gospel’s spread.  (One might make the sermonic point here that great opportunities often, inherently, carry with it great potential difficulties.) 

Even so, all visits are temporary and he also clearly saw that day would come to move on and not all that much in the future.  Future doors would doubtless open again and future adversaries have to be dealt with.  Both the work and the difficulties came with being a faithful apostle.

            The dating of how long Paul would remain where he was—till Pentecost (16:8)—might seem at first glance an odd way to maintain a sense of calendar time.  On the other hand many Christians were from a Jewish heritage[21] and even those who weren’t, by contact with them, would have a rough idea of the time of year involved.  Furthermore, the ancients weren’t as time obsessed as modern western mankind, so an approximation of the hour of day or time of year served most people quite well the bulk of the time.  (Note Paul’s vague reference to “winter” as well; specific enough to convey a general sense of duration but not pinned down, as we would, to a specific calendar date.)






[Page 141]

In the meantime they were to treat Timothy

with courtesy even though he would not

be there with Apollos (16:10-16:12)



            ATP text:  10If Timothy comes, be sure that you give him nothing to be worried about since he is doing the work of the Lord, just as I am.  11For one thing, let no one treat him with contempt.  When he returns, send him on his way with good-will; for I am expecting him with the other comrades.  12As for our comrade Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other spiritual comrades, but it was not at all his desire to come immediately.  However, he will come when he has opportunity.”

            Development of the argument:  Paul clearly anticipated that Timothy would be going to Corinth since much earlier in the epistle, the apostle had mentioned actually sending him ahead (4:17).  With Apollos he did not know when the journey would begin (16:12); with both, he was far from certain when either would actually arrive.  Apollos’ problem was that he flat did not want to go at that time; Timothy’s difficulty is not described.

Perhaps having been dispatched, he was simply out of contact.  Hence Paul was unaware of Timothy’s latest plans while in transit and recognized that the trip might not be completed, at least in the time frame originally anticipated; hence the use of “if” in regard to his assistant’s plans.  The “if,” though, certainly argues that something had happened to delay him.

Health problems?  (1 Timothy 5:23 indicates he had ongoing stomach difficulties.)  Such great success en route that it seemed more appropriate to cultivate the current work[22] than to rush back into what was guaranteed to be a potentially explosive situation?

            Regardless of the reasons for the delay, when he finally arrived, they were still to receive him courteously and with respect (“without fear” existing in Timothy’s mind [“give him nothing to be worried about,” ATP]) (16:10).  Since “he does the work of the Lord, as I also do,” he deserved such a reception (16:10).  It wasn’t on grounds of personal brilliance or brilliant oratory; he was simply a hard worker in the vineyard of the Lord and deserved courtesy and even admiration on that grounds.

Furthermore, he was Paul’s representative and this intervention might head off unpleasantness that might otherwise occur.  Without it being insisted upon, Timothy might, indeed, become an inadvertent target because of his closeness to Paul or simply because he was going to say what needed to be said whether it fitted in with their predispositions or not. 

Because of that fundamental loyalty to his gospel work, no one should “despise him (ATP:  treat him with contempt)” but assist him on his journey to link up with Paul (16:11).  “Send him on his journey in peace” (16:11) carries several connotations.  The most obvious, tying in with what we’ve already mentioned, is “don’t make his life so miserable that he feels like you’ve chased him out of town.”

Traveling without a credit card or the backing of some powerful missionary society or international humanitarian organization (none of these existed back then), he [Page 142]   would have been traveling on the proverbial “shoestring.”  Any financial or logistical assistance they could provide for him would have made his trip immeasurably easier.  And if they didn’t provide what help they could—even if it was very modest—it would have been an implicit slap in the face both to his work in the gospel and to his associate Paul.  You can insult a person almost as much by inaction as by action and Paul surely wanted to protect him against that as well.  

            He then turns to Apollos, who he had been “urg[ing]” to go to the Corinthians.  He was “unwilling” to come immediately, but Paul held up the hope that he would come “when he has a convenient season” (16:12).  The language here is quite strong:  “he was quite unwilling to come” (NKJV); “not at all willing to come now” (Holman);  “it was not at all his desire to come now” (NASB); “he is quite resolved not to do so at present” (Weymouth).  Such language is matched by the text’s equal emphasis on Paul’s repeated insistence that he should go. 

We can understand Paul’s determination to get Apollos there.  He was quite an effective Christian intellectual (Acts 18:24-28) and if there was going to be any danger of an intellectual “head butting” contest, it wasn’t Apollo’s head that was going to be left hurting!  The passionate insistence may also suggest that the Corinthians—or, at least, a significant number of them--very much wanted him to come in particular.[23]  Getting him there would demonstrate Paul’s willingness to accommodate the Corinthians when he could.

One wonders what the unspoken story is behind Apollos’ reluctance.  Did he have genuine commitments he thought more important?  The “he will come when he has a convenient time” [NKJV] and “when he has opportunity” [NASB, RSV] certainly sounds like it was a matter of competing opportunities, with Paul choosing one but Apollos insisting on another.  

Or had the Corinthian divisiveness so annoyed him (cf. the faction of “Apollos” supporters in 1 Corinthians 1) that he wanted no part of them until more time had passed?  It could be there were just too many “smart people”—in their own minds—in the congregation.[24]  Getting such people to act in concert rather than follow their own separate paths can be a trial indeed.  Much like what one U.S. Senate “whip” described as his role in uniting his party in support of a legislative measure:  “It’s like herding a bunch of cats.”  Even genuinely smart people often have an alarming tendency to be smart rather than act smart.
Or yet a different approach.  Just because Paul felt he could return to Corinth and be able to handle the stress and potential conflict accompanying it, did not necessarily imply that others such as Apollos would be able to do the same.  Every human being is different and the pressures one person can handle without difficulty may be devastating to someone else.







All their behavior must manifest spiritual

steadfastness and courage (16:13-14)

[Page 143]

            ATP text:  13Be always on the alert, standing firm in the faith, being courageous, being strong.  14Your every action must manifest love.”

            Development of the argument:  In this section (16:13-24) we encounter short statements of encouragement and praise on a variety of subjects.  First come five characteristics of spiritual maturity, all expressing (in the Greek) on-going, continuing actions.[25]  The first four have military service overtones:

            (1)  “Watch.”  The ATP brings out the ongoing nature of this:  “Be always on the alert.”  In other words, there were potential dangers and these should not be allowed to pass by unnoticed. 

They clearly had not been characterized by this in the past.  Most dangers come from within the church and they had not been alert to them.[26]  Instead, an “anything goes” atmosphere had been tolerated and conduct quietly accepted (encouraged?) which caused them to become engrained and accepted as “normal” behavior.  In part they may have been uninformed, but such extremes as their derogatory attitude toward the “lesser” members and the acceptance of the man with his mother’s wife, argue they had blinded themselves to their impropriety and been oblivious to how morally degrading such was to the character of those directly involved. 

Some surely impacted their personal ethical judgments as well:  “If they can do X, then nothing must be wrong with Y.”  Some of these misjudgments would have been accepted by surrounding society; those like the man with his father’s wife would have been a blot on the collective reputation of the entire congregation, no matter how loose Corinthians standard usually were. 

Paul pleads with them to change in the future.  To pay attention.  To “watch.”  One does not need a churchly Gestapo; one does need spiritual awareness as to applying Biblical principles to everyday life. 

            (2)  “Stand fast in the faith.”  The ATP expresses it in more modern usage, “standing firm in the faith.”  An army digs in and tries to make itself invulnerable to enemy assault.  In a spiritual manner, they, too, should “dig deep,” research the tactics of the enemy, and be ready to deal with them.  A military force may have to pour in additional resources to accomplish this; the “army of the Lord” already has the resources through steadfastness to their commander in chief (Jesus) and to His commands (the scriptures).  (Yes, sermonic style points—but they express well Paul’s underlying attitude, however.)   

            (3)  “Be brave” is the same as “being courageous” (ATP), though the latter may stress it just a tad stronger.  The older “quit you like men” (KJV) or “be men” (Young) comes from the days when men were the warriors—and, generally, still are—and came from the moral responsibility to completely fulfill those obligations to the best of one’s ability:  You were a man chronologically, but were you one in behavior and reliability when the time of testing came?

Even in the “spiritual warfare” of faith there will be occasions when bravery is required:  not every one will be receptive; some will be outright hostile.  Ostracism may be your reward for saying anything, but that doesn’t change where the right and the wrong is.  Sharing knowledge is our responsibility; deciding whether it is, indeed, correct and altering one’s path is their responsibility.

[Page 144]       You don’t have the option of “striking your tent” and crawling into the woodwork.  You simply do what needs to be done—exercising your bravery--counting on the Lord for strength.  The famous World War Two General George Patton worded the literal battlefield equivalent this way, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”[27]     

            (4)  “Be strong” is different from being “brave” or “courageous.”  This speaks to the on-going persistence, dedication, and commitment that is needed in pursuing one’s goals.  Bravery will only occasionally be called for; persistence will never end if we are to be truly successful.  As human beings, we have good days and bad days.  We have days when we are at peace with everyone and there are days when there are sea tumults that make one wonder where the nearest seaport is!  By being “strong” in our commitment to the truth, we will not let either derail us.

All of these were to be motivated solely by love (16:14—also in a Greek form indicating it is to be ongoing;[28] cf. chapter 13).  It was not a case of either/or but of one plus the other.  “Orthodoxy” was fine and good but without love even adherence to the truth was ethically empty; love was also fine and good but without doctrinal soundness it was spiritually inadequate. 

Some types of Pharisees were infamous for their stand for “truth” on all types of obscure matters, but passed by the opportunity to demonstrate “justice and mercy and faith” (Matthew 23:23).  In their own little world of abstract theology they apparently functioned very well, but to demonstrate in real world actions, what the Torah demanded in behavior (not trivia), was something far different.  Then they had to deal with what the 19th century quaintly called “the unwashed heathen,” which provided a convenient label but did nothing constructive to remove their moral failures and weaknesses. 

To the Pharisees, even making the attempt extremely endangered their ritual purity.  It was far easier to denounce them and leave them alone, comforted by one’s own sense of moral superiority and greater knowledge.







They were to imitate the example of the

household of Stephanas in dedication

to helping God’s people (16:15-16)


            ATP text:  15Now, comrades, you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to serving God’s set apart people.  16I urge you to follow their leadership example as well as that of every other fellow worker and laborer.”

            Development of the argument:  The “household of Stephanaus” had been the first converts of Achaia and had “devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (16:15).  They were to respect and follow their example accordingly (16:16). 

[Page 145]         Hence, in the midst of the Corinthian unrest, there was at least one local example that Paul felt confident the Corinthians would generally accept as reflecting Christian idealism and practice.  Building on this recognition, he urges them to do exactly that but not limit themselves to that household/family, but similarly imitate anyone else who was also doing the right thing.  (An implicit blow at their factionalism that could easily have dismissed the example of anyone not in their own clique.) 

It was never “who you are,” but “what you do” that mattered to him.  What virtues that household manifested, they and their own could as well—at least within the limits of the finances and opportunities that came their way.  God never demands the impossible; it is the failure to do the quite possible that lands humankind in so much trouble.

            A young Chinese scholar at Cambridge tries to convey in modern imagery and colloquialism the kind of vital supporting role such folk as this—and his companions Fortunatus and Achaicus who are mentioned in verse 17--play in the life of any church,[29]   


Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus are Heng Tai. They are the bros. When you need help, they are there. When you need a lift to [church], they’ll pick you up in their sports cars. When you are down, they come over with pizza and watch football with you. These are the guys your count on. They are reliable, dependable and faithful.

And Paul says twice--in verses 16 and 18--these guys deserve respect. Such men deserve recognition. Why? Because often we don’t respect them. Often they don’t get recognized. They work tirelessly in the background. They keep serving without any expectation of reward. They are the Backstreet Boys – or, as I like to call them, the Backside Boys.

They are taken for granted. And Paul says they deserve more than that. . . . Paul mentions just these few; these three made a big difference in his life and ministry. They were dependable friends. They were trustworthy friends. They were his brothers in Christ.


            Such individuals may not even hold formal church office but they function in behavior as de facto deacons, doing whatever needs to be done to help individuals and the congregation.  They are often the “glue” that holds together very diverse individuals whose one thing in common may be their faith. 

Humans have a social interaction aspect that can never be met just by the church service alone, but is vitally supplemented as individuals act and gather together beyond the confines of the formal worship.  They thereby become one people rather than just other names on the church membership roll, about whom we know nothing and, sadly, in many cases care less.  Not everyone has that temperament, but enough must have it in order to maintain the cohesion of the group.


            Aside:  We have based these remarks on the assumption that they were simply individuals who took the gospel and its implications importantly rather than being formal church office holders.  A minority of translations take the approach we have suggested:  “follow the example of people like these” (God’s Word); “show deference to such men” (Weymouth).  We have opted in the ATP for “leadership example,” in order to put the [Page 146]   stress on the usefulness of their example rather than the obligation to obey them because of the post they may (or may not) hold. 

Most opt for language implying a formal leadership situation, however.  For example, “submit to such” (Holman, NKJV), “be subject to” (Darby, RSV, Young).  In opening his epistle, Paul conspicuously does not mention elders or deacons being present (1:1-3) and one wonders--as divided as they were--whether it would have been practical to even attempt to install such.  And, if they had been appointed, surely resignations would have followed sooner rather than later. 

Hence it is quite possible that this is a “shot across the bow:”  “When you finally get around to appointing formal leaders these are the kind of men you should select.”  Perhaps even, “these are the individuals you should select for your first choices.”







Paul was pleased at the arrival of those who

came to him from Corinth (16:17-18)



            ATP text:  17I am delighted at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have supplied what was lacking due to your absence:  18For they raised my spirit as well as yours.  Give respect to such men.”

            Development of the argument:   The messengers the Corinthians had sent had arrived (16:17) and had “refreshed my spirit (ATP:  raised my spirit)” (16:18).  They should respect such people for the good work they do (16:18).  As a broad principle, few, if any, were likely to question that.

However--Since they were presumably carrying Paul’s epistle back to Corinth, there was always the danger that they would be blamed for the contents of the letter.  Paul’s words—besides being a well deserved compliment—remind the readers that whatever annoyance they might feel should not be directed at them. 

Note how Paul never comes out and says it—but who can doubt that this is “freight” that the language is intended to convey?  In writing whatever he did, Paul always intended that the reader/listener pay attention not only to what is explicitly said, but also to whatever “subtexts” the normal person would intend if they were writing the letter themselves.  In attempting to end the epistle on a “high note,” explicitness was ruled out; he could only rely on their common sense. 

            What with the divisiveness in the Corinthian congregation this approach is extremely appealing and, in my judgment, has the highest probability.  Paul may also be conveying a second subtext, however:  that they are reliable sources as to my thinking.  They have been with me.  We have discussed these things.  I have explained my reasoning to them.  If there are things in the epistle you don’t understand, feel free to ask them.  That way you can obtain an immediate and almost certainly reliable insight into my intent.[30] 


[Page 147]





Greetings were extended

to the Corinthians from others

in the area besides Paul (16:19-16:21)


            ATP text:  19The congregations of the province of Asia send greetings.  Aquila and Priscilla send you hearty greetings in the Lord—as well as the whole congregation that meets in their residence.  20All the comrades send greetings.  Greet one another with a pure kiss.  22This greeting is written with my own hand—Paul.”
            Development of the argument:   Paul next bestows greetings from the churches of the province of Roman Asia.  Also from Aquila and Priscilla and the congregation that met in their home (16:19).  (Some make it the entire “assembly” of their family and household,[31] i.e., a non-church/assembly use of the term, but this seems far less likely than the normal “church” interpretation of the reference.)  Indeed all the Christians Paul knew, sent their greetings as well (16:20a).

            Verse 19 may, however, be intended to carry the inference that there was both an established congregation in the city as well as a temporary house church of these outsiders.  Writing from Ephesus (16:8), they would be “a group of foreigners then resident in Ephesus” and it would make a certain inherent sense that as temporary residents might choose to worship together in the family’s residence since their stay would not be indefinite.[32] 

There might be language difficulties as well.  Not to mention that the host couple wanted nothing to do with the sometimes outrageous troubles of the established congregation. 

            (Aside:  Priscilla is the full form of her name; the shorter form was Prisca and the usage varies from passage to passage where she is mentioned.)[33]

            In a gesture of good will, they were to “greet one another with a holy (ATP:  pure) kiss” (16:20b).  In the Jewish and Greek cultures of that age, this was widely used to greet both friends and family members.[34]  As members of the same congregation they should count each other as both.  And in this particular congregation it was particularly important--as part of the process of healing the breaches--that their respect for each other be clearly manifested.  

If you wish, call it “another bit of Pauline pressure” aimed at accomplishing that.[35]  Although that element is surely present, there was most likely a very practical imperative for the plea:  one of the first signs of a deeply divided congregation is usually a cold formality in intra-church dealings and conversation, if not outright hostility.  However much in disagreement individuals may be, an act of friendliness is likely to carry more weight than all the “preacher rhetoric” one may hear.

            In those ancient days, a kiss of greeting could involve one on the mouth (intra-family or social equals).[36]  In other cases there was a kiss on the cheek (typically a

[Page 148]   greeting of near equals)[37] or a touching of two people’s cheeks together.[38]  It conveyed the idea of friendliness and, assuming it was done sincerely rather than merely as a matter of empty form, such ideas as cordiality, respect, and affection were conveyed as well.[39]  Indeed the description of it as a “holy kiss” strips it of “any erotic connotation.”[40] 

            In our modern society a handshake might be regarded as the cultural equivalent but there is a “depersonalization” typical in such.  Hence a hug would be far more comparable since it conveys the ideas of familial affection, closeness, and friendship.  Especially if it is a hug and touching of cheeks.

Paul nears the end of his letter with a short salutation written in his own hand (16:21), not merely to protect against forgery but to verify that the message, indeed, had his own authority behind it.  Jeffrey A. D. Weima prefers the latter to the first reason.  In light of the manifest “tensions between Paul and the Corinthians,” he argues that that the primary purpose of the personal signature was “to emphasize the authority of the letter and the need for its contents to be obeyed—as the autographs of Galatians 6:11 and 2 Thessalonians 3:17 also function.”[41] 

In other words he wanted to eliminate even the possibility of the Corinthians arguing that they “weren’t sure” the epistle was actually from him.  He was putting his personal reputation, prestige, and authority fully on the line by this personal implicit endorsement of what had been written.  

Finally, Paul closes this section with a reminder that our relationship to the Lord is really up to us: if we do not “love” Him as we should, we are worthy of being “accursed” (16:22).  Since love of Christ is manifested by obedience to His instructions, the need to obey this epistle is reinforced since Paul is Christ’s messenger and instruction carrier.[42]    







Final admonitions to loyalty and prayer

on their behalf (16:22-16:24)


            ATP text:  22If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be considered accursed.  Our Lord, come!  23The Divine favor of the Lord Jesus be with you.  24My love be with all of you who are in Christ Jesus.  Amen.”

            Development of the argument:  Love is manifested in what one does and not merely in what one claims.  Paul had labored at length on this in chapter 13.  It is hard to imagine that--regardless of the dating of the gospel of John--that they were unaware of Jesus’ teaching on the implication of this theme:  “If you love Me, keep My command-ments” (John 14:15).

            And the relevance as a closing remark above and beyond its demand that they set the right priorities?  Paul had reminded them two chapters earlier, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to [Page 149]   you are the commandments of the Lord” (14:37).  Suddenly the “commandment of the Lord” is no longer some safely distant body of teaching; it is what they themselves have been reading.  A “noble generalization” is now personally and immediately relevant.

They might miss the tie-in on their first reading of the letter, but surely they would grasp it not longer thereafter.  In his own, quietly understated way, his virtual closing words are an implicit reminder of the authority lying behind them.        

            But now is the time for gentle words and encouragement.  And a reminder that their various troubles had not embittered him against them.  In spite of all their faults, Paul prays that Jesus’ “grace” might be with them (16:23). 

Finally, he reassures them that his own “love” was toward them (16:24).  He might correct them.  He might rebuke them.  But it was out of “love” rather than any other motive.  In spite of their profound spiritual warts that he wished to heal.[43]  The unspoken “freight” behind these closing words is surely:  you do the same!       








Invoking of Explicit Old Testament

Quotations to Justify His Teaching:










How Old Testament Concepts Are

Repeatedly Introduced and Woven

 into the Heart of His Argument







            16:1:  Charity for the needy among God’s people.  In regard to the Old Testament, we normally connect the two words “giving” and “tithe” (i.e., one-tenth of earnings).  All monetary and agricultural income was to be given to the temple on this [Page 150]   basis.  To refuse to do so, declares Malachi, was nothing short “of rob[bing] God” (3:8-10).  But this tithe was for the support of the priests and Levites who ran the religious complex (for example 2 Chronicles 31), not for general relief.  That broader social need was met by giving above and beyond the required tenth. 

Most such assistance was normally on a one-to-one basis, as needs appeared and were met.  The Torah was not blind to economic and social realities:  provision for the economically distressed would be an on-going necessity.  “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land’ ” (Deuteronomy 15:11). 

The point is not that poverty can be overlooked or dismissed because of its perpetual existence; rather it is presented as an ongoing reality that has to be dealt with.  Which is something far different.  Social schemes may ameliorate poverty, but won’t cure it.  Even when the most vigorous efforts are made by governments to “help,” some inevitably “fall through the cracks.”  Not to mention that because of their sometimes arbitrary and unrealistic requirements, those who really need help may not qualify while the liars, frauds, and self-indulgent do.        

Paul recognized that one’s resources limited what one could give, but he clearly expected that within those boundaries, the amount was to be generous.  The Proverbist clearly thought similarly, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.  Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you’ ” (3:27-28).   

The generosity theme is also rooted in Deuteronomy.  It is described as including whatever one might have to share from, “You shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress.  From what the Lord has blessed you with, you shall give to him” (Deuteronomy 15:14).  A shepherd “couldn’t get off the hook” by not being a grain grower; the grain grower could not escape responsibility by being a cultivator of grapes.  The shepherd didn’t have grapes to give and the grain grower didn’t have meat from a flock.  But whatever they had--from whatever they grew or sold--that was to be shared.  Note the parallelism between Paul’s “as he may prosper” and Deuteronomy’s “supply him liberally.”  “Liberally,” equals, of course, “generously” (as in God’s Word, TEV).

The Psalmist goes so far as to argue that if one expects to be remembered by God in one’s own time of “trouble,” then one must “consider” the needs of the “poor” (41:1).  The Proverbist stresses that if one expects one’s own blessings to continue, the best means of doing so is (paradoxically enough) to help such people in their time of distress (28:27).

The great cynic who wrote Ecclesiastes was well aware that life brings such cycles of success and need, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.  Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth” (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2). 

            One’s charity affects one’s moral status in God’s sight; ignoring the poor we have personal knowledge of is one sure way of not meeting His standards.  The one whose “righteousness endures forever” is one who “has distributed freely; he has given to the poor (Psalms 112:9, RSV).  Indeed “whoever has pity on the poor” is actually one who “lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given” (Proverbs 19:17).   

            The attitude as well as the act should be well intended.  Note the contrast in

[Page 151]   Proverbs 14:21, “He who despises his neighbor sins; but he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.”  Refusing to give assistance shows you “despise” the individual.    And many still do, never having been on “short rations” nor able to imagine they ever will be.  “So long as you try hard, things will work out.”  And they usually do—but not for everyone nor upon every occasion.  Realism not blind optimism is required.

Note that the assisted person is “his neighbor.”  It’s not talking about what the government chooses to do or not do.  It’s not talking about some international charity taking up funds to help “with the horrible X [fill in the blank] that has happened in Y [again fill in the blank].”  It’s talking about the person you come in contact with in your course of normal life.    

            In addition to helping the needy directly, there was even a provision for giving them the opportunity to self-help themselves.  They would do the work gathering the natural resource, but you would provide unhindered access to the property and be sure that there were leftovers for them to reap, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.  And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:9-10).  

            The results might be modest—Isaiah 17 describes the coming decline of Ephraim and makes a comparison with these “leftovers.”  Yet he notes that, even in that severe a situation, at least some remnants would exist, “ ‘It shall be as when the harvester gathers the grain, and reaps the heads with his arm; it shall be as he who gathers heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim.  Yet gleaning grapes will be left in it, like the shaking of an olive tree, two or three olives at the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in its most fruitful branches,’ says the Lord God of Israel” (17:5-6).  It might not sound like a lot but even such modest amounts could mean the difference between starvation and survival.

            A tri-annual tithe for the poor.  Although we have rightly stressed that the tithe was for the Jewish religious establishment so it could provide for its personnel and operating expenses, the situation was actually a bit more complicated.  Every third year there was to be a special tithe to be shared not only with the Levites / priests but also with the poor and needy.  According to Deuteronomy 26, they were to take the yearly tithe of firstfruits and give it “to the one who is priest in those days” (26:2) and recite a verbal formula reiterating how the Lord had delivered them to the land He had promised (26:3).

            “Then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God” (26:4) and the offerer would repeat the story of how his ancestors had been enslaved and that God had rescued them, bringing them to a prosperous land “flowing with milk and honey” (26:5-9).  Then he was to continue,


26:10 ‘And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.'  Then you shall set it before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God.   11 So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you.  

12 " When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year--the year of tithing--and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the [Page 152]   fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled,   13 then you shall say before the Lord your God:  'I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them.  


Perhaps just as important—at least from the purpose the offering was intended for—was that he had avoided finding an excuse to divert any of the gift from its intended purpose back into his own resources,


14 'I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead.  I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me.   15 Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as You swore to our fathers, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” ’ ”


            In short, you gave to us and we have given to others, following Your example.

            At first reading, this sounds like all individuals brought their special tithe to the temple (or its contemporary substitute), that the Levites took a portion, and then shared the remainder with “the stranger, the fatherless, and the widows.”  Alternatively, the text could mean that what was taken to the Levites was what was left over from what had been distributed already—to those very groups.  In effect, the worshipper would be giving an oath that he had done exactly that.  

This makes greater practical sense because worshippers would come from across the land; getting perishables to Jerusalem and from Jerusalem back out to the needy seems inherently impractical.  Bringing all of the charity tithe to Jerusalem would mean was that either only the Jerusalem poor would be benefited or there would be a massive immigration of the poor at the assigned time of year, endangering their lives by the length of the journey in weakened condition. 

Many would have physical conditions making it utterly unfeasible.  Would that minority who might make it, even dare take the risk?  Hence the poverty tithe would actually be little more than a tithe for the destitute of Jerusalem and precious few beyond there.  That seems inherently improbable.



16:2:  Prosperity as coming from God.  The attribution of financial success to God derives from two facts.  The first is a profound recognition that without His assistance it will ultimately count for nothing.  The second is that He provides opportunities and ability to obtain it in the first place. 

The wandering multitude coming out of Egypt were warned (Deuteronomy 8:11-20) not to forget their obligation to God in future years when they grew prosperous in both possessions and monetary wealth (8:13).  They would be tempted to attribute their gain solely to their own effort (8:17).  Instead, “you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which [Page 153]   He swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (8:18).

            The oft used Psalms 23 actually begins with the affirmation that those who are followers of God “shall not want” (verse 1).  Everything we might “desire,” not necessarily; everything that we might “need,” yes.  Hence, the TEV rendering, “I have everything that I need.”  Note that this occurs because of the relationship between us:  He “is my shepherd.”  He will take care of His side of the relationship, just as we must take care of our own.              

            Paul urged that Christians give to their group charitable contribution “not grudgingly or of necessity” (2 Corinthians 9:7).  Implied is that it gave them pleasure or happiness in being able to assist.  God is presented as having that very mind-frame as well, “Let the Lord be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant” (Psalms 35:27). 

Having an ample supply of finances often carries with it a terrible problem:  such pressure and difficulty that one can’t really enjoy the emotional fruits of one’s success.  Proverbs 10:22 speaks of how God has helped followers to achieve that success but without the emotional burdens that undermine its enjoyment, “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.”

Specific examples connect Divine blessing with temporal well-being.  In Genesis the abundant crop of Isaac is attributed to the fact that “the Lord blessed him” (26:12).  The same is true of the abundance from the flock of Jacob’s father-in-law (Genesis 30:27-30; cf. 33:11).

In Deuteronomy 15, when the freed slave is sent on his way, he is to be provided commensurate with the blessings the owner had received from God:  “You shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress.  From what the Lord has blessed you, you shall give to him” (15:14).  As the Contemporary English Version accurately summarizes the text, “The more the Lord has given you, the more you should give them.”  This ties in neatly the two ideas of prosperity coming from God and the earlier point of giving to help the needy.[44]



16:7:  The conditional nature of all human plans.  Paul speaks here of his intention to “stay a while” in Corinth (“remain some time with you,” ATP), but concedes that this is subject to change.  “If the Lord permits (ATP:  is agreeable),” he quickly adds--indicating that he recognized that his intentions and those of God might not be moving in the same direction.  And if any had to be changed, they would, of course, be his own.

This sense of the “contingency” of all endeavors was recognized in the Old Testament.  Hence we read in Proverbs 19:21, “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel--that will stand.”  That is what never changes; a human will be juggling several (sometimes incompatible) plans/goals at one time or he may shift from one to another.  In contrast, God has a consistent and ongoing plan and will never arbitrarily change it like we would.

As Malachi 3:6 puts it, “For I am the Lord, I do not change. . . .”  Or in direct connection with the “counsel” God gives that is mentioned in the Proverbs text, there are a variety of such passages like Psalms 33:11 (“The counsel of the Lord stands forever”) and Isaiah 40:8 (“The word of our God stands forever”), to give only two.

Although writing specifically of determining one’s moral path (Jeremiah 10:24), [Page 154]   the prophet’s principle of yielding to God’s will would have an obvious parallel to life plans in general as well, “O Lord,  I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (10:23).  In everyday life, everything we hope to do is subject to reversal for reasons beyond our control.  However, on the moral level, it is only God who has the “veto right” over our plans, as we discover that they are not merely ill-advised but outright contrary to His standards. 



            16:8:  The feast of Pentecost.   Pentecost was one of the three annual feasts that all males were obligated to attend (Exodus 23:14-17). It was fifty days after Passover and certain sacrifices were required to be made (Leviticus 23:15-21).  It was known, due to its timing in the agricultural year, as the “Feast of Harvest” (Exodus 23:16) and the “firstfruits” of the new grain crop were offered during it (Numbers 28:26-31).



            16:13:  The admonition to personal steadfastness.  Paul’s admonition to “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (“Be always on the alert, standing firm in the faith, being courageous, being strong,” ATP) is firmly rooted in Old Testament admonitions for God’s people to adopt a similar mind-frame even in times of great challenge and danger.  When Joab observed the strong Syrian battle line facing his forces, he urged his army to, “Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God.  And may the Lord do what is good in His sight” (2 Samuel 10:12). 

Earlier God had implored Joshua that he not be overawed by the size of their enemies in the country they were entering, “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:6).  God adds a few verses later, “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (1:9).

            In the broader context of the need for inner strength even outside a war context, the Psalmist urged the people, “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (31:24).  In other words, if they but tried to be strong under the difficulties of life, then God would provide them additional strength.  Implicit seems to be the idea that if they did nothing they could expect nothing from the Lord either.

            This element of God reinforcing a mind frame / attitude / commitment that we already have is also brought out in Psalms 27:14, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!”  “Wait” seems, to our ears, a rather odd choice of wording and clearly is intended to convey a broader idea--almost certainly, “Wait on the Lord to act.  The timing is the only issue; not the certainty that He will intervene.

            Isaiah also deals with the need to have steadfastness and strength.  God has him relay the message that even if they don’t have them currently, they should change their attitude since they have God’s firm assurance that He will be there to help, “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.  Say to those who are fearful-hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear!  Behold your God will come with vengeance, with the

[Page 155]   recompense of God; He will come and save you.’ ”  Again:  have assurance; the only question is the timing of Divine intervention.

            These attributes related to fortitude must begin within us, however much God will strengthen them.  God has Isaiah urge the people, “Awake, awake!  Put on strength” (Isaiah 51:1).  This revival of will is pictured as a revival of personal dignity and freedom:  “Shake yourself from the dust, arise” (51:2a).  You are no longer powerless; you can escape it.  But then the opposite imagery is invoked, “Sit down, O Jerusalem!  Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion!” (51:2b). 

Rising is the image of shaking off the past and asserting one’s freedom.  Ironically, the sitting down image is required to make the same point:  remove the shackles of slavery on your neck by sitting down so you can do it with the least difficulty.  Freedom is not given to them; it is something they have to have the courage to obtain—confident that if they do their part, God will bless their cause.  



            16:14:  Having all behavior motivated by love.  Reinforcing the well developed theme of love from chapter 13, Paul insists that “all that you do” should be motivated and manifested through love.  “Your every action” (Holman), “everything” (God’s Word); “everything you do” (CEV).  It wouldn’t remove all problems, but at the very least it would minimize the danger of adding more to their list and would be the bedrock to weaken the divisive tensions that plagued them.

            Perhaps the most relevant Old Testament parallel is Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.”  It doesn’t deny that there is sin but it throws a blanket of “love” over it, to “cover” it, i.e., the reactions are dictated by love rather than anger, concern rather than rage.  Doing the opposite—to use a modern image—would be “pouring gasoline on the fire.”  “Covering” it, in contrast, is an effort to “extinguish” it.  

            The Proverbist also notes that love is the behavior of a “friend” or one that counts as a “brother” so close is the tie between you, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).  Perhaps the parallelism intended between “friend” and “brother” is well brought out by the BBE rendering, “A friend is loving at all times, and becomes a brother in times of trouble.”  He is, of course, describing a true friend; “fair weather friends” existed back them just as today (Proverbs 19:7).

            Of course there is no guarantee that the person treated with love will respond with love, much less courtesy or even basic respect, “For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful have opened against me; they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.  They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, and fought against me without a cause.  In return for my love they are my accusers, but I give myself to prayer.  Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love” (Psalms 109:2-5)








[Page 156]

Historical Allusions to the Old Testament:









Problem Texts






            16:1-2:  The place of the collection:  at home or in the assembly?  A great deal of discussion has revolved around the question of where they were to “lay something aside” to help the needy foreign Christians.  The consensus seems to be that it was at home.  It is contended that this is the best reading of the underlying Greek, since a more literal rendering comes up with the wording “place by himself . . . treasuring.”[45]  “‘Hoarding’ or ‘treasuring up,’ also implies that the money was to remain in each individual’s house till the Apostle came for it.”[46] 

            Charles Hodge tore into this line of analysis as reading into the language a whole lot more than it can legitimately be said to contain,[47]


“Let every one at home place, treasuring up what he has to give.”  The words do not mean to lay by at home, but to lay by himself.  The direction is nothing more definite than, let him place by himself, i.e., let him take to himself what he means to give.  What he was to do with it, or where he was to deposit it, is not expressed.  The [Greek] . . . [means] hoarding up, and is perfectly consistent with the assumption that the place of deposit was some common treasury, and not every man’s own house.   


            Furthermore, Paul could have made the point crystal clear, as a home based activity, if he had wished to.  Wayne Jackson reminds us,[48]


The distinctive phrase “at home” is found twice elsewhere in this letter. “If any man is hungry, let him eat at home…” (11:34).  Women were not to disrupt a church service by aggressive interruptions with questions. Instead, they were to wait and “ask their own husbands at home…” (14:35). If the apostle had intended to enjoin a private contribution “at home,” he certainly was capable of expressing that matter clearly.  But the expression is conspicuously absent here.       


Certainly by the time of Chrysostom (c. 349-407 A.D.) the at home approach was a not uncommon interpretation.  Of Paul’s admonition he argues, “He does not say ‘bring [Page 157]   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.”[49]  He speaks of the custom of having a small box at bed side where, when money was available and it was dedicated to God by prayer, it was placed aside until a more presentable amount was available.[50] 

Textually, this is a clear-cut abuse of Paul’s instructions:  Paul does not demand that one wait till one has something “worthy of collecting,” but simply “as he may prosper”—that covers any amount.  His instructions in 2 Corinthians 8:12 stress that the amount is irrelevant, “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.”    

Chrysostom’s rhetoric certainly sounds very much like un-Pauline class snobbery.  It painfully reminds one of the special privileges claimed by the “betters” in the Corinthian assembly, where others went hungry while they feasted (1 Corinthians 11).  In essence it comes down to, “You have to put up with the presence of the poor but at least they could have the courtesy not to insult our sensibilities with their pittance until it is at least a bit more presentable amount.” 

Jesus’ praise of the poor widow whose literal pittance was more than the wealthy gave—because she had so little to give in the first place—also comes to mind (Mark 12:41-44).  The concept of “too little to give” clearly did not preoccupy His mind and there is no textual evidence it did Paul’s either.   

The other approach to the collection is to insist that the Pauline intent was for this gathering to be in the assembly itself.[51] 

The assembly scenario makes the better sense since Paul concludes the verse with the admonition that he desired these weekly collections so “that there be no collections when I come.”  Yet if all they did was storing the collection in their individual homes, then they would still have needed to put it all together in a single, combined collection when he arrived.  And Paul’s desire is to avoid this.  He wants it all done and completed by the time of his return.[52]

Furthermore, why specify a single specific day?  If this was done in the privacy of one’s residence, it could just as easily have been done any day of the week that best reflected the individual’s own personal needs and schedule.[53]  Indeed, psychologically speaking, would one not be far more inclined to set aside what is available at the end of one week (Saturday) rather than the beginning of another (Sunday)?[54] 

            In addition, Sunday was the special day of worship for early Christians as a community (Acts 20:7); barring strong contrary evidence, the most natural connotation of a “giving” on that day would be within the context of the church assembly they attended.[55] The appropriateness of the first day of the week for the contribution as a private act, however, has been argued on the grounds that handling money was considered “work” in Jewish tradition, and hence a violation of the Torah.  Setting it aside on Sunday, however, avoided this problem and possible offense to Jewish believers.[56]  To the extent this argument has validity, it is just as much an argument in favor of a church collection point as a private one; at the most it only argues as to why a particular day was chosen and not its location. 

            The underlying assumption doesn’t make good sense, even if it was embraced:  if moving an object so one could comfortably eat was not considered “work” and if taking the lid off a pot was not considered “work,” one finds it hard to see how setting aside this [Page 158]   money in some special place in one’s home would validly constitute “work” either.  And if it was to be (mis)construed as “work,” then it could still have been done any day except the Sabbath.  There would still be five additional possibilities beyond the first day of the week to choose.  Why limit options to that sole day when it is a purely private action?             

            Others argue that a home collection on that day recognizes that Sunday was already peculiarly “holy” (= special, of unique importance) in a Christian context.[57]  Yet there seems something vary paradoxical in recognizing that “holiness” by giving, but yet not doing the giving in the assembly where all the people met to honor and worship on that day.  Once one concedes the two phenomena that this verse recognizes (1) that Christians met on the first day of the week and (2) that they gave on that day, then it is perplexing to see why the first of two “congregational” acts would be done together while the second was done apart, separately, at home.[58] 

            The only way to avoid this difficulty would seem to be to deny one of these points.  One could repudiate the first one and argue that Christians met on the Sabbath/Saturday.  Yet Acts 20:7 indicates that they had a distinct day of worship however much those of ethnic Jewish ancestry might also join in Sabbath worship with their ethnic kin, both out of spiritual similarity and the desire to gain converts. 

            The second would be to argue that since this was a “special” contribution--for one purpose only, the help of the needy Christians in Jerusalem--that it was being kept separate and apart from any other giving so that it would not be intermingled with any ordinary contribution they took up.  This would still raise the problem of the need to take up a contribution when Paul arrived--when he clearly wanted it done and completed by that point--and the temptation to allow the accumulated home-kept funds to wither away due to more pressing personal financial problems.   
            Getting the committed funds away from one’s personal control reflected a recognition of a basic reality of human nature:  However intense their desire to help, if the “collection” was maintained in the individual homes some (many?) would be tempted to reach into it for their own benefit.  Not out of selfishness but because of those crises that occur in every household over a period of time.  Hence, a purely private setting apart of resources is appealing in theory, but any one who has ever had to live on a tight budget knows full well that so long as the resources are physically available to one, there is a great temptation to reallocate it for the more immediate and pressing need. 

To assert that Paul “trusts” the Corinthians to be able to hold onto their cache[59] does not do away with the inherent impracticality of many actually doing so.  The only practical way to assure that the collection was not depleted by Paul’s arrival was to accumulate it into a common, group treasury where individuals would no longer have access to it for their own use.

            One way to avoid this dilemma would be to contend that the Corinthian church actually existed only in the form of “house churches” and that it was within this smaller context that the contribution was taken up.  Dieter Georgi seems to be moving in this direction when he suggests that the funds were collected “in various private gatherings every Sunday.”[60]  On the other hand he undercuts that interpretive option by noting that “nothing is said about any money being collected during the actual church service,”[61] leaving us with the mystery of what kind of other private gatherings would exist which would be viewed as preferable places to gather the funds.  Whether as all Christians [Page 159]   meeting together, in house churches, or in some other type of gatherings—all these approaches require some type of “collective” treasury of at least part of the congregation and not a theoretical “private/individual” gathering up of funds.     

            Simon J. Kistemaker believes that the funds may have been kept separate, at home, because this was a special purpose contribution—for the needs of coreligionists very far away.  Hence it was segregated from any contribution for local needs so that the funds would not be commingled.[62]  On the other hand, modern congregations (even small ones) are able to budget for a number of purposes and keep them sufficiently separate so that when a given expenditure finally has to be made, the money is going to be there.  Were the early Christians so inefficient or incapable that they had no one who could have done the same for them?     

            Stephan Joubert introduces two arguments against the collection being in the assembly, “This was probably done to avoid competition and envy among rich and poor believers if the collection was taken up during their meetings, or to avoid any maladministration of a communal fund.”[63] 

The problem of dishonesty in Corinth was a very real one (witness Paul’s rebuke of their self-serving lawsuits!) yet if Paul expected them to be able to secure sufficiently qualified “judges” among themselves for their internal disputes, surely he would have said the same about their ability to select individuals to safeguard their collection till he arrived!  The related potential difficulty about the lack of a safe place to keep the funds,[64] is also germane, yet if individual householders were able to find such a place, are we to believe that it was unavailable when the group (acting through one or more of its members) sought such a safe haven?       

            The matter of envy was certainly not going to be avoided by doing the setting aside strictly at home.  Would not the obviously vast difference in funds collected be noticed when the resources were finally collected together upon Paul’s arrival?  Indeed, would not the fact that many months contributions were given at one time make the difference even more embarrassing than if smaller amounts were involved weekly? 

            In my judgment, we are dealing with a pervasive bias against the ability of early Christians to organize themselves as a collectivity in a manner that any polytheistic social organization would have taken for granted.  Although Christian communities were on the legal margins of society, so were many of these other organizations whose “real” purposes so easily stirred the suspicions and concern of governing officials. 

In shedding our modern image of a “church” as a bureaucratic organization requiring vast resources of time, money, and legally prescribed regulations, we should avoid going to the other extreme of assuming an ancient church that was unable to exist in a visible sense at all due to minimal membership or financial resources.  As the Third World should have demonstrated to western minds, a congregation can exist quite satisfactorily on very modest resources.  We suggest we should grant the early Christians a capacity at least of that level.       



            16:2:  The frequency of the contribution.     Although translations often use the wording “on the first day of the week,” it is natural to interpret this just as the ancient Jews did in regard to the command to observe the Sabbath:  observe the Sabbath equates to observe every Sabbath and give “on the first day of the week” means to give every [Page 160]   “first day of the week,” even though in neither case is it explicitly stated.

            Actually the case is even stronger than this.  The Greek wording implies every first day of the week.[65]  Hence those translations that insert the word “every” into the text are quite justified in doing so.  NASB and the RSV so render it.  The TEV and GW puts it into even more contemporary parlance by speaking of “every Sunday,” or in the CEV, “each Sunday.”  Similarly, Weymouth and our ATP speak of “every week.”

            The idea is clearly that of regular giving, whenever the funds are available.  Not a sporadic, occasional gift—but an ongoing one, though it might well differ dramatically in amount from week to week according to one’s available resources.



            16:2:  The proportion to be given in the contribution:  as one has been “prosper[ed].”   There is surely an intended ambiguity in the standard Paul lays down:  he does not demand a flat tithe;[66] his criteria might result in more or less.  John Wesley wisely described it as “all you can,” which sets a high goal but which would result in widely varying proportions.[67] 

In short, the individual’s ability, not an external percentage was the standard.[68]  For the poorer it permitted giving less than a tithe; for the better off it encouraged giving more.[69]  Indeed, by the standard demanded, the amount and percentage might well vary from week to week.[70]

This variability is clearly what Paul intended, as it was to be based upon a personal decision of “do-ability” rather than one imposed by others or a preset percentage, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”  And if it isn’t as much as others give or as much as you yourself wish you could give?  “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have” (2 Corinthians 9:12).

            By doing it this way, he establishes a guideline that would gain the maximum toward his goal without imposing an onerous and unrealistic burden on anyone.  And, simultaneously, minimize any guilt among the givers—so long as they had tried.  Max Goins sums up the present reality and that of back then as well:  For some even 2% is a stretch in giving.  Yet “I've known people who could afford to live off of ten percent of their income and give ninety percent away.”[71]  Paul’s standard encouraged all points in the economic spectrum to generosity.

This is in marked contrast to the Old Testament, where the only basic community wide giving provided for in the Torah was solely for the support of the priestly/Levite class.  (However also consider, in the Old Testament precedents section,“A tri-annual tithe for the poor.”)  One would assume that a contribution of some sort occurred on a synagogue level (once this institution was finally developed)--both for the support of the local institution and for any educational/benevolent needs it saw fit to undertake.  Yet neither the synagogue nor its support was explicitly provided for in the Torah or any provision made for its duties and functions. 

In this case, the communal obligation is made explicit and the standard set--“as [one] may prosper” (16:2), which may be either greater than or lesser than the formal tithe demanded under Judaism.  In some ways this was a more demanding standard than a strict tithe since the percentage could easily go higher. 

            It should be noted that the giving was not considered a “one way street.”  Just as [Page 161]   the Jerusalem Christians currently had a severe problem and needed assistance, the same could / would happen in Corinth as well and assistance would be provided in the reverse direction.  As the apostle reminded them, “For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality” (2 Corinthians 8:13-14). 

Verbally, it is an unwieldy explanation though we can all understand the underlying point:  at some point all must give; at some point all will need assistance.  Weymouth renders it this way, “But that, by equalization of burdens, your superfluity having in the present emergency supplied their deficiency, their superfluity may in turn be a supply for your deficiency later on, so that there may be equalization of burdens.”



16:2:  The purpose of the contribution:  for the benefit of needy believers; a separate contribution for local needs?  This contribution was not for local use; it was for destitute Christians back in Jerusalem.  The closest thing in Judaism to external support for geographic Palestine can be found in the Temple tax.  But that involved a specific frequency (once a year), a specific age (twenty years and up), a specific gender (male), and a specified required amount.[72]  Paul’s contribution differs on all these points, as well as being targeted strictly for the welfare/relief of the needy rather than the maintenance of a religious institution.  Hence it can hardly be regarded as a “Christianized temple tax” although, human nature being what it is, it is far from impossible that some Jerusalemite Christians might well have interpreted it as such in spite of the profound differences.[73]  

            In a very real sense, this was a “special needs” contribution intended to be taken up only until Paul arrived to escort the funds to Jerusalem--or, at the minimum, endorse their messengers, who would go on alone (16:3-4).  By the very nature of the situation, it would not be ongoing after that point.  Continuing it would be like a church continuing a building fund when the facility is paid for.  It would serve no useful purpose.


Local member survival needs were also dealt with by congregations from their funds.  The New Testament clearly refers to local benevolence being provided to its own needy members as well as helping those in other places.  That assistance could be abused and, if they sometimes wanted to overlook it, Paul was quite prepared to set them right.  As he says in 2 Thessalonians 3,


10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this:  If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.   11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.   12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.   13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.   14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.


The normal assumption appears to be that this is congregational welfare.  Whether [Page 162]   it is, probably hinges upon our taking the command in verse 6 to refer to congregational rather than individual decisions:  they are told to “withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us” and Paul cites this particular problem in that context.  It certainly does “sound” like a group making a shared decision of repudiation. 

Less likely, it could be that Paul is describing individuals “mooching” off those willing to do the work and who felt guilty if they did not help.  Either way the same principle applied of rejection, avoidance, non-association, non-endorsement, ostracism--for “withdraw from” surely carries all those overtones. 

It doesn’t necessarily even carry the thought of some kind of formal written condemnation; it really isn’t something you do “to” another; it is a self-protective mechanism of avoiding contamination by removing contact.  (Oddly, the modern church has typically transformed and reduced it into a “motion of censure.”)

In contrast, the case of benevolence in the first part of Acts (2:44-45; 6:1-6), is presented in unquestionably clear cut language as a group / congregational effort.  There the benevolence seems to have gone through two stages.

The first stage was for all their needy:  “as anyone had need” (2:45).  “Three thousand souls” were added to the church on Pentecost (2:41).  A little later we read, “many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand” (4:4), pushing the total number up much higher.  Whether one takes this as in addition to those converted in Acts 2 or as the sum total after those in chapter 4 were added to the group, the figure is still impressive and created pressing immediate needs. 

Those converted in Acts 2 were “devout men, from every nation under heaven” (2:5).  Those from faraway lands (see the list in Acts 2:8-11) would naturally wish to learn as much as they could about Jesus before returning home.  Although some were surely able to handle the extra expense of a prolonged stay without difficulty, the costs of long distance travel were such that many were surely “hurting” if they remained very long.  Hence the need to provide at least food for them while they were grounded in the fundamentals of the new faith before encouraging them homeward bound. 

As this immediate difficulty—and opportunity!—was past, emphasis naturally shifted to the ongoing membership.  At that stage we find that the targeted recipients were “widows” and there was a “daily distribution” toward their needs (6:1).  Judging from Paul’s emphasis on this group (see below) this was, apparently, the center of attention in other congregations as well.

There was only a finite amount of resources any congregation had available.  (Unlike governments it can neither print money nor debase the value of coinage by lowering the percentage of a valuable [such as silver or good] that may be in it.)  Hence it had both a moral and practical obligation to administer its funds to the greatest effect.  The practical result was putting restrictions on who would receive church support.  As Paul spells it out,


3 Honor widows who are really widows.   4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.   5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers [Page 163]   night and day.   6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.   7 And these things command, that they may be blameless.   8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  

9 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man,   10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.  (1 Timothy 5)


This also definitely refers to congregational action for Paul writes a little later in the same chapter, “If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.”


            Special assistance was sent to preachers in other places from a local congregation’s resources.  One could argue that this was exclusively done just by individuals pooling their resources rather than through or from a congregational treasury.  On the other hand, even if we were lacking other evidence, the probability is strongly for the latter.  (1)  The precedent of group collections for a special purpose is explicitly known to exist for foreign humanitarian assistance.  (2)  It was a means for poorer individuals to give “anonymously” as part of the group where the smallness of their individual gifts would not stand out and embarrass them because it was “blended in” with a wider based collection.

            Furthermore it was regarded as an action of the collectivity rather than the individual.  As Paul wrote Philippi, “Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only” (Philippians 4:15).

            Or as he told the Corinthians on the matter of receiving such support, “I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you.  And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied.  And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself” (2 Corinthians 11:8-9).

            In light of such clear cut references to a “church” and “other churches” supplying Paul assistance--as if it were the entity itself and not just selected members from that group--we have to conclude that it was regarded as a congregational action and a congregational (rather than individual) pooling of resources.  


            Did congregations take up a regular contribution for their own internal needs?  Although there is no such direct command or example that, in our judgment, clearly “jumps out” and says “here is where they were instructed to do so,” there are a variety of evidences that have either quietly or emphatically been suggested as providing convincing evidence.  We will begin with the one that is most telling in my personal judgment:


(1)  Congregations often/normally had their own financial needs—both of local benevolence (see above) and those involving other expenses.  It is possible—in at [Page 164]   least some places and for varying amounts of time--that all this was done on a free-will basis, at no expense to the local congregation.  Apparently assuming that this was the “universal” practice of the time, some contend that Paul had to lay down the specific guidelines found in chapter 16 because there was “a lack of organization in the community, no system of finance and no collection at the worship service.”[74]

            In other words they had no precedent to go by.  However, even if they were taking up a contribution, there still would be the need for instruction on how much they should give when it involved helping others in other places.  It is, after all, an unparalleled situation for them.  So this provides no evidence that they (or other places) were not taking up a contribution for any local needs.

            Yes, the (sometimes/temporary) lack of a local contribution seems a perfectly reasonable assumption, but it says more about a perceived local lack of needing a contribution than it does about any ignorance on the subject or unwillingness to do so:  after all, why take one up if all the financial needs of the group are being met by some individual family providing the two essentials—a meeting place and the materials for the Communion?   Indeed, permanently unused money could easily tempt some unscrupulous members to abuse it for personal use (consider 5:7’s implication of financial dishonesty).

On the other hand, are we to believe that they never had anyone who followed Peter’s pattern and received financial support when preaching (9:5-6)?  It was their right to receive such, “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).  In regard to teaching elders (for lack of a better expression), the apostle wrote, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.  For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages’ ” (1 Timothy 5:17-18). 

Of course, there were other believers who had the right to expect help as well.  Are we to believe they never had a problem with members desperately needing financial assistance?  Or the advanced elderly?  It is hard to see how any congregation could long endure without facing one or more of these situations, which would have called for an on-going contribution for one or multiple purposes.

 Paul had clearly insisted upon the right of a preacher to receive financial support from where he labored, though he himself did not exercise that right (9:14-15).  Although this could, at least partly, be met by individuals providing a roof over his head, and food to eat (on a rotating basis?), it is hard to avoid the conclusion that there had to be a significant number of cases where this could most practically be met by a contribution for one or more of these items and any other congregational needs.  This may explain why Paul does not feel the need to defend the idea of a contribution at all:  that would not have been an innovation; only the specific purpose would be. 

They probably had prior knowledge of the custom from their own past practice in such situations—or current practice!--or from that of other congregations.  After all, their congregation might not yet have faced a particular need, but surely they would have known of one that had and how they had responded!                

Other suggested evidences of a regular, non-benevolent contribution include these:


[Page 165]         (2)  There is just as much evidence that Christians only began to meet on Sundays due to 1 Corinthians 16 as there is to believe that this was the the first time they ever took up a contribution on that day.  (With this is joined the matter of date, noting that the Sunday meeting referred to in Acts 20:7 actually occurred after First Corinthians was composed, meaning that this is the earliest extant record of a Sunday service.)  In short, if the day of the meeting is evidence of an ongoing, already existing custom, then so is the idea of a contribution.[75]  Admittedly not for the same specific purpose, but a contribution for church maintenance is, nonetheless, a church contribution. 

(I would approach it slightly differently:  There is no hint that the idea of a group contribution is either new or challenged.  The conclusion of the argument is the same in either approach.)   

 In one way this sounds like a self-serving argument, to “prove” what one does not have concrete “hard” evidence for.  Which is quite common in non-Biblical historical analysis, I might add.  When you lack data you reason from the “known” that is available to the “unknown” where you lack documentation.  Nothing is being done here that would not be done in these other contexts.

So let us return to an earlier point:  Was there any real inherent reason for a congregation to have a regular contribution just to say they were having one?  If needs were being met by some reasonably well to do sponsor who provided meeting space and the few essentials required, would they decide to have a contribution at all?  Or would they wait until a particular problem was encountered?  Although the latter makes sense, all congregations ultimately have just such situations arise, so it seems unimaginable that most first century congregations weren’t taking up contributions—at least for so long as their particular need(s) lasted. 

Then we must factor in yet another reality:  growth guaranteed such to eventually exist on a regular and continuing basis.  It was only a matter of when and not whether.  And, oddly enough, the first congregation--in Jerusalem--clearly had a treasury and some means for people to gather funds together for their local problems.  If not by—at least in part—a contribution, what then? 

And the way Acts is written, this was either from “day one” of the church or extraordinarily close to it.  As the Jesus movement spread from place to place would not the memory—even the first hand knowledge—of how the first congregation handled such matters go with them?  


(3)  If one pictures the church as a spiritual family or household then one would anticipate the obligation of contributing to its collective needs and responsibilities.[76]  And, of course, the church is described in exactly those terms:  “the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:19, though the first is clearly referring to individual rather than church acts being carried out on behalf of members of that “household” rather than “by” it). 


(4)  The meaning of fellowship.  Wayne Jackson notes that, “Fellowship” (koinonia) is a comprehensive term that most surely can embrace the idea of ‘contribution’ (cf. Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 8:4; 9:13; Hebrews 13:16). . . . Koinoneo is used specifically of providing support for gospel preachers in Paul’s Galatian letter (6:6).”[77]  Romans 15:26 is not about contributing to your congregation but of

[Page 166]   congregations sending their funds elsewhere.  In 2 Corinthians 8:4 it has the emphasis upon helping those who receive the funds and 9:[12]-13 upon the consequences of them being helped.  None have any direct reference to the giving of the funds into a locally shared pool of resources.

Hebrews 13:16 refers to the need to “do good and to share,” which sounds like helping the specific individuals you, personally, encounter who need such assistance.  In other words, none of these reasonably imply the act of giving into a shared treasury and that being used to help others.

Even so, except for Hebrews 13, it is hard to see how any of the other texts could be carried out without a joint treasury and contribution to it.  In other words, they assume either the existence of such or of special collections, but none of them directly discuss its existence.


(5)  Acts 2:42 as proof.  Jackson argues that this passage “provides strong circumstantial evidence that regular giving, as an act of worship (along with teaching, the Lord’s supper, and prayer), predated the Corinthian letter perhaps by a quarter of a century.”[78]  The text reads, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”  In short, they remained a united group. 

This does not necessarily tell us anything about their congregational worship, however.  Remaining “in the apostles’ doctrine” obviously need have nothing to do with the worship; it describes fidelity to their teaching.  Continuing in “fellowship” indicates the lack of schism, something that can happen between individuals/groups, either in or outside the service. 

“Breaking of bread” can simply mean sharing meals together as they would with their “natural” families.  “Prayers,” beyond referring to sharing with God one’s hopes and fears, simply indicates that their concerns for each other did not stop them from cultivating private devotion to God as well.  Possibly, joining together in joint prayer as the familial “breaking of bread” with guests does in regard to hospitality.   

Assume that the assembly is under discussion, then “the apostles’ doctrine” would mean listening to them as teachers, having fellowship would refer to maintaining the unity of the group, breaking of bread participating of the communion, and prayer to prayers in that meeting.  A not unnatural working out of the text but seemingly lacking any particularly strong evidence that the assembly is under discussion in the first place.


Did local congregations maintain a “treasury” for their joint funds until they were used?  With the precedent of a weekly contribution, one would anticipate the creation of an on-going treasury in which to accumulate what had been given.  After all, they had to have somewhere to put the gifts, monetary or in goods, and in order to carry out affairs on an orderly basis.  Especially when the number involved became quite large.  Indeed, the number who needed help in the Jerusalem church was so substantial that it ultimately required the appointment of six men to oversee “the daily distribution” (6:1); for them to adequately help others a means had to be provided to give them the resources they needed. 

A regular contribution certainly did not rule out bringing to the church leaders, on a different day, a special amount when it became available.  Ananias and Sapphira sold a [Page 167]   piece of property whose proceeds they could do with as they wished (“While it remained, was it not your own?  And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Acts 5:4).  They had no obligation to give all of it to the congregation, but seeking the honor and prestige of having done so, they gave only part while pretending it was the entire sum and this caused their death. 

Such money was “laid at the apostles’ feet” (4:37), i.e., given into their charge and authority.  From that point on, this represented a de facto treasury though we are given no details as to who oversaw it.  This also meant someone functioned as treasurer.

Assuming that the resources to be gathered in 1 Corinthians were joined together in the church assembly, then that pooling also constituted a de facto treasury.  The word doesn’t have to be used for the concept to be conveyed.  “It is foolish to say that you cannot call it what it is.”[79]   

Having a treasury—a portable one, in this case--had been the situation during the personal ministry of Jesus as well and Judas had served in the role of its overseer.  “For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, ‘Buy those things we need for the feast,’ or that he should give something to the poor.”  He was, unfortunately a dishonest one:  he “had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (John 12:6). 

So we see that the concepts of having a local church treasury and treasurer are well grounded in the scriptures though we usually just take them for granted. 


Would the percentage / amount expected to be given always be the same in both the “benevolent” contribution and one for the “operational needs” of the congregation?  Although it is easy to reason that congregations (with rare exceptions) all had regular Sunday contributions, it is significantly harder to come to the conclusion that the amount one was expected to give would be the same in all cases. 

Would one be expect to “go the extra mile” to help the desperate in another congregation?  Yes, it would make sense.  Would one be expected to go so far to support a preacher?  Having been one, I still must confess that the “need” is surely far greater in the former than in the latter case. 

Decent amount, reasonable amount, even—these are one thing; “as prospered” seemingly moves the “goal post” significantly further.  And however useful preachers are, are they really in that same moral and practical category as those scrounging for daily livelihood?

On the other hand, if one truly values the service being provided, the necessity is still there to finance it.  To skimp on such matters may be one’s “right,” but it undercuts the ability to have it at all.  Perhaps the unstated scriptural assumption is that everyone must give—within their means of course—for any function of the church, but that they should only be called upon to give the maximum (“as he may prosper”), when the need is the greatest, for human survival? 

Perhaps the strongest argument in behalf of an “equality” of giving obligation in both benevolence and such cases is that no other standard than “as prospered” is ever spelled out.  Some will regard this as definitive in favor of the concept; others that when “apples” and “oranges” are being compared--i.e., benevolent versus non-benevolent needs--that they are so dramatically different that there is no inherent reason to anticipate or require a “carry over” from one type of offering to another.

[Page 168]         Be that as it may, there are always non-monetary things that a person can contribute even if one’s finances are limited.  Cleaning up the building.  Internal routine maintenance.  Maintaining the outside of the worship facility:  cutting the grass, etc.  All are things that the cash poor can contribute—saving the congregation money (by not paying others to do it) and which take not a dime out of the individual’s pocket.  “Non-cash contributions to the church,” if you will.  

Perhaps part of our problem is that we fall into the trap of defining our “contribution” exclusively in monetary terms.  “Contributions” of time and labor can count as much to a congregation’s success as money in the “contribution basket.”

Regardless of how one answers the question we have been discussing, one matter is surely beyond dispute:  Paul would not have encouraged “guilt tripping” those less well off in the things of this world.  A significant number are cash compromised due to the very subject the contribution in 1 Corinthians 16 was for—the well-being of fellow believers, but in their case those of their own household.

Speaking of the latter (whether believers or not), Paul wrote, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).  Elderly parents or struggling siblings may take resources that could otherwise be given, but these obligations are put as primary by the apostle.  Only when these obligations were met, did one determine what “giving as prospered” meant on an individual basis.



            16:10-11:  Why might the Corinthians “despise” Timothy (ATP:  “treat him with contempt”)?  In a different epistle, Paul refers to how some might look down upon Timothy because of his youth (1 Timothy 4:12).[80]  If this mentality existed in one place it is virtually sure to have existed in others as well and represented a potential problem for him among the Corinthians.[81] 

There are no “hard” statistics for life expectancy in the Roman Empire, but the available estimates generally speak in terms of under fifty if one survived birth and the dangerous first five years.  Add those early death figures in and you reduce the average lifespan to perhaps 25.[82]  (Even for the United States in 1850, you were looking at 38.3 years when figured from birth and 58.0 if you reached age ten.[83])

Hence, even if one adopts the view that Timothy was “scarcely more than twenty-five” years of age,[84] that is “youth” by our standards, but is at least ready to break out of the upper edge of the category by first century statistical ones.  Statistics do not equate with perception, however.  If a culture considers you “young”—and Timothy’s clearly did—then you are “young” whether the numbers say you are or not.

            We might well add that there is also the matter of age in relationship to responsibility.  Paul was giving Timothy a major task and the younger a person is in proportion to such an obligation, the greater the danger of a “credibility” problem.  No matter how much one may concede, intellectually, that a twenty-five year can run—to use a modern day parallel—a $100 million company, there is still something inside those who are significantly older that cries out, “something is wrong with this picture.”  Hence it would have been very easy for Corinthians to wonder whether this youthful person was “really up to the responsibility.”  Undermining his efforts without necessarily even intending to do so.    

[Page 169]          This edges us into how factors may come into play beyond Timothy’s own age, the comparative age of others.  For example, in Paul’s epistle to Timothy, the reference to “your youth” may actually tells us more about how much older Paul was (or at least felt!) than about Timothy’s actual chronological age.       

            There is also the possibility that the clique leaders in Corinth were significantly older that Timothy.  The cultural expectation that one treat one’s elders “with respect” could easily be bent into a battering ram to assault his quite legitimate expectations that they carry out Paul’s instructions.  Hence the warning to maintain the right attitude toward his delegate, Timothy.

However other issues above and beyond age—either that of Timothy or the Corinthians--could also have been present and led to Paul’s caution.  Some have suggested that Timothy had a restrained rather than outgoing, forceful, enthusiastic approach to life and others.[85]  Others suspect he may have manifested a “lack of confidence” in his dealings with others.[86]  In either case, he may have been deeply knowledgeable, but in teaching and handling relations with others, such is a recipe for personal frustration and railroading.

Dealing with a congregation like Corinth--which clearly suffered from more than its share of local domineering personalities who had splintered the church into factions--he could have easily been dismissed as a ministerial lightweight.  Well meaning, of course, but one who could be safely dismissed.   

If he had either of these disabilities—unusual restraint or lacking personal confidence—the temptation would be magnified to use him as a lightning rod for their own frustrations with Paul.  (And the age factor could serve as “icing on the cake;” when one is engaged in the disreputable art of character assassination, the guiding principle is using anything that will work.)  Due to his close relationship with the apostle, if he got to Corinth first, the Corinthians might take out on him any frustrations they had about the content of Paul’s letter.  Paul would certainly want none of that to happen; he was quite capable of taking all the blame on his own shoulders that people wanted to heap out. 

Allowing them to heap the censure on someone else, however, was a different matter entirely.  By intervening in this manner, Paul hoped to keep it from developing into a problem for his young assistant and friend.[87]

            Whatever the exact motive that could lead them to snub Timothy, Paul stresses that he deserves first class treatment:  “for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do” (16:11).  He does the work, so he deserves the respect. 



            16:12:  Why was Apollos unwilling to follow Paul’s advice and travel to Corinth?  At the very beginning of the epistle, Paul refers to those invoking Apollos name in defense of their factionalism.  Annoyance at his name being twisted into a justification for division could easily make him want to be somewhere else[88]—virtually anywhere else.  Especially being there alone and without Paul so the two could take a united front against the local folly.[89]  Perhaps he even viewed his presence as inevitably inflaming the local situation no matter what he said or did.[90]

            There is the strong likelihood, as we saw earlier, that Paul substitutes Apollos’ name for local sectarians who thought themselves intellectual/orator types themselves--or simply preferred intellectual/orator types like Apollos.  Even in that case, Apollos might [Page 170]   well have misgivings about walking into a situation without Paul being present as well.  Otherwise efforts might be made to play off the one present against the one who was absent.         

            It has been noted, however, that the identity of the “he” who was “unwilling” is not actually in the Greek.  It has to be supplied by the translator to make the text provide a coherent meaning.  Hence, the verse has been read by some to indicate that it was God who was unwilling for Apollos to make the trip at that time.[91] 

            The NRSV suggests this as a footnote alternative.  Young’s Literal puts “his” as an interpretive addition, leaving the text unclear as to the identity.  Rotherham provides ambiguity by a rather (intentionally?) clumsy wording, “there was, by no means, any will, that he should come”—a rendering that leaves whose will unstated.

Inserting God into the main text produces this translation, “Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all God’s will for him to come now.  He will come when he has the opportunity.”  There is a fundamental problem with this, however:  It seems incongruous to find Paul urging Apollos to do something that turns out to be contrary to God’s will.  It seems far sounder to simply say that Apollos, for quite understandable reasons, did not want to return at that time, especially not without Paul.

            Yet it should not be overlooked how much trust Paul manifested by his desire for Apollos to go to Corinth at all:  he had no doubt as to his co-worker’s reliability, loyalty to himself, and personal rejection of the divisiveness going on in the seaport.[92]  In essence, he was telling the Corinthians that if they thought they were going to receive any encouragement in their factionalism from this loyal compatriot, they were completely mistaken. 



            16:15:  What is the “ministry to the saints” (“serving God’s set apart people,” ATP) that the “household of Stephanas” had dedicated itself to?   What form this “ministry” took we do not know.  Reasonable conjecture permits us to suggest possible forms, yet without us being certain which particular one(s) Paul specifically has in mind.  For example, it “might include looking after the poor, hospitality to visitors (Romans 16:1), lending their house for meetings, etc.”[93]  This would carry the implication that Stephanus was a man of superior economic resources to many city people, but not necessarily considered either rich or socially important in the town.[94]

            Paul’s words of praise for the household have been read as an indication that he was concerned whether the Corinthians would manifest proper respect for their hard labor and dedication.[95]  In other words, there was the fear that a praiseworthy extended family would be overlooked in its invaluable contributions to the congregation’s welfare.

The apostle gives no indication that Stephanus held any kind of official “position.”  The impression is that he was one of those people who saw a need of some type and immediately thought, “What can I do to solve it or ameliorate it?”[96]  In the divisive atmosphere of Corinth there would be a real danger that such efforts would be overlooked.  The entire atmosphere breathed self-advancement and group interest; those like Stephanas—who simply sought the good of the entire group--simply did not fit in well.  They might be “tolerated,” but not encouraged for they diverted attention from the far more “important” matter of winning supremacy for one’s own clique. 

[Page 171]         In spite of such powerful “head winds” against them, the tone of Paul’s remarks seems to imply that at the moment they had gained respect in spite of all the obstacles.  But, even so, factional self-centeredness might cause their invaluable contributions to be overlooked or scorned in the future.  Paul wishes to remove that possibility by putting their contributions front and center.

            Their attitude to such people should be markedly “uncorinthian,” at least uncorinthian if we define such by their recent collective past:  “that you also submit to such and to everyone who works and labors with us” (16:16).  They weren’t to “submit” because of a title but because of the “works and labors” they were engaged in.  Instead of an angry dispute over who was to be “leader,” they were to throw themselves behind those who had already demonstrated the ability to get the job done effectively and well.  These individuals had proved by their actions that their advice and suggestions could be counted on and that they had trustworthy instincts and skill in such areas.[97] 

            Some have suggested that Paul is discretely requesting that Stephanus’ household play the pivotal role in assuring that the contribution for the needy Palestinian Christians be carried out.[98]  With the emphasis upon their role in benefiting the needs of the Corinthians, this would certainly represent a logical extension of their past humanitarian actions and concerns. 

On the other hand, if the contribution was carried out strictly by individuals laying aside their money at home, there would seem to be no useful manner for Stephanus and his people to carry out this function.  If, however, it was collected at the assembly one could easily imagine them assuring that the resources were carefully preserved for Paul’s arrival.



            16:17-18:  What was it that Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus did for Paul?  Verse 17 speaks in terms of  what was lacking on your part they supplied (ATP:  they have supplied what was lacking due to your absence).”  The Corinthians were not present to help the apostle.  Hence their personal assistance and encouragement--in any shape or form--was a physical impossibility.  On the other hand, these individuals were present and they were quite adequate to be of encouragement to the apostle.[99]  The idea of “suppl[ying]” (unlike the vaguer “refreshed”, mentioned in the following verse) would most naturally suggest something tangible.  Providing financial support or supplies of some type comes immediately to mind.[100]    

            Verse 18 elaborates upon this by saying “they refreshed (ATP:  raised) my spirit and yours.”   Some have interpreted this as, in part, referring to their bringing him the epistle mentioned in 7:1.[101]  On the other hand, one would think that epistle (and, even more so, their accompanying verbal conversations as to the Corinthian situation) would have been depressing to the apostle rather than “refresh[ing].” 

            Some deal with this difficulty by stressing that the very fact that the Corinthians sent their questions to him implied at least some degree of recognition of his apostolic authority.[102]  Furthermore, the individuals may have provided additional information that made Paul believe there was a good change that the mistakes could be rectified without destroying the congregation.[103]  Hence their words ultimately “refreshed” him and aroused  him from any discouragement.  

            Even so, it seems better to seek a different context to explain his remark.  Perhaps [Page 172]   it is that their personalities were so upbeat, positive, and life-affirming that they were the kind of people that it seems impossible to be around and remain sad and downcast.  With Paul’s often difficult circumstances, such individuals would have been worth far more to him than direct temporal assistance for his needs.

            Since they are described as refreshing both the “spirit” of Paul and that of the Corinthians, this would suggest they were continuing in Ephesus with the type of behavior they had manifested at home in Corinth.  It has been reasonably proposed that, since they are praised for what they had done for the apostle and were, apparently, well respected in Corinth, for these reasons they were selected by Paul to carry 1 Corinthians back to the church.[104] As mentioned above, it has also been suggested (and this fits in well with their conjectured respected position at Corinth) that they had carried the Corinthians’ written enquires to Paul, which he begins to answer in chapter seven.[105]  

Some have speculated that Stephanus was even “the head of the delegation” of letter bearers traveling to the apostle[106] and, if so, one would assume he played the same role in the return journey as well.  Although his being mentioned first may provide support for this thesis, Paul’s words of praise are aimed at all three men rather that only Stephanus. 

We could speculate that the other two were his servants or slaves (which would fit in well with the scenario that he was among the wealthier Corinthian Christians);[107] we could reasonably speculate that they were freemen and equally respected members of the congregation, however.  Some have suspected that these are the names of those of Chloe’s household who had provided Paul information on the divisions in their congregation.[108]  Whatever they were, Paul considered them as amply fulfilling their goals in coming to him.   



            16:22:  The use of “Maranatha” in the closing words of the epistle.  Some translations retain the use of the Aramaic word Maranatha, either because the expression was regarded as so significant that even Greek speakers did so or because it can be rendered two different ways.  This is because the word itself can be divided at two points:  Marana tha, leading to “O Lord, come!”  This is the understanding given it by most commentators[109] (and reflected in the ATP as, “Our Lord, come!)

            Alternatively the word can be broken into Maran atha, which would be rendered “Our Lord has come.”[110]  The first expresses hope for the future; the second rejoicing over His having come in the past.  The latter reading was embraced as long ago as Chrysostom as the preferred one.[111]

            “O Lord, come!” makes it, in effect, a prayer.  “Our Lord has come” turns it into an affirmation of faith--from the Christian standpoint, a statement of the most pivotal historical fact in all of history. 

Its use among the earliest Judean and Galilean area Christians, can be imagined in either sense.  On the one hand, the phrase was surely an affirmation of what made them different from other Jews--explicitly repudiating the traditionalist Jewish stance that the Messiah was yet still future.  On the other hand, as they increasingly represented a distinct movement, a “futuristic” use would be logical for its fulfillment would be the obvious, visible and tangible proof that their claims about Him were correct.  The ultimate vindication. 

[Page 173]           Perhaps the fact that “Maranatha” was, inherently, a two edged theological sword made it even more popular among these pioneer believers because of its double significance.  It was not a matter of one approach being right and the other wrong; it was a matter that both were right.   

            It may seem odd that “Maranatha” can be divided two different ways and yet “Lord” remains in the translation in both cases.  However in the Aramaic both “maran” and “marana” are words meaning the same, i.e., “Lord.”[112]

            Gordon D. Fee rightly points out that the presence of “Maranatha” constitutes powerful evidence for how the church in its earliest pre-expansionist phase—before embracing Gentile converts--could influence not only the concepts and doctrines accepted by the broadening church, but even create an unexpected impact on the very vocabulary utilized to express its faith,[113]


The significance of this cry for our purposes is twofold.  First is the fact that an untranslated Aramaic phrase, written in Greek for a Greek-speaking Christian community, is still in use some twenty-three or more years after Christ’s death and resurrection.  Why should this be so? 

Almost certainly because they learned it from Paul or his companions as a phrase that had meaning to him/them in its original tongue.  This further means that the cry must go back before Paul himself became a believer, since by his own testimony (Galatians 1:15-24) he had very little contact with the Aramaic-speaking church for most of the years following his conversion.

Thus he would have learned it either from his earliest association with Aramaic-speaking followers of Jesus in Damascus or from his time in Antioch—but in this case from Greek-speaking Christians who themselves had already kept the “sacred language.”  In any event, this prayer (or affirmation) goes back to the very earliest time in the church, meaning that prayer to Christ as “Lord” is something Paul inherited, not created.

The second (very significant) point is that this cry serves as evidence that almost from the very beginning the early church, because of Christ’s resurrection and exaltation, had come to think of him in terms of Psalms 110:1.  He is now the Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, to whom they pray.  It is not surprising, therefore, that even the Greek-speaking church had an attachment to this “foreign” phrase that signaled so much—about both Christ Himself and their longing for His return.   








[1] A. E. Harvey, A Companion to the New Testament, Second Edition (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2004), 560.


[Page 174]   [2] John A. Bengel, Gnomon of the New Testament, Volume 2 (Philadelphia:  Perkinpine & Higgins, 1864), 270.


[3] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary:  New Testament (Nashville, Tennessee:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990), 628.


[4] Wayne A. Meeks, The Origins of Christian Morality:  The First Two Centuries (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 1993), 107.  Joubert, 159, argues that only the head of the household was given the responsibility to give and that person did so “on behalf of all members in their household.”  This approach only makes sense if the householder was the only source of income in the extended family (households could consist of mother, father, offspring, and certain relatives, and servants or slaves).  In light of the Torah tradition upon all people giving their appropriate amount (in regard to tithing, in particular), it seems hardly likely that the Jewish Paul would have meant his words in any less a “universal” application:  if you have, give.   


[5] McFadyen, 228.

[6] Dieter Georgi, Remembering the Poor:  The History of Paul’s Collection for Jerusalem (Nashville:  Abingdon Press, 1992), 53.


[7] On this and perhaps additional implications of the verse, see Chow, n. 4, 186.    

[8] Constable, 185, citing 7:1; 7:25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:12 as examples.  Also see Gerd Ludemann, Paul:  Apostle to the Gentiles—Studies in Chronology, translated from the German by F. Stanley Jones (Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1984), 81.


[9] Georgi, 56. 

[10] Getty, 1132.  In a similar vein, Bruce, Corinthians, 158; Doohan, Leadership, 97-98; Helen Doohan, Paul’s Vision of Church (Wilmington, Delaware:  Michael Glazier, 1989), 87; and Stephan Joubert, Paul as Benefactor:  Reciprocity, Strategy and Theological Reflection in Paul’s Collection (Tubingen, Germany:  Mohr Siebeck, 2000), 159.


[11] Max Goins, “Financial Planning and Time Management:  1 Corinthians 16:1-12,” page 2.  At: (1999).  [November 2010.]


[12] Craig C. Hill, Hellenists and Hebrews:  Reappraising Division within the Earliest Church (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 1992), 178.  In light of the potential areas for conflict he suggests that, “As with Samuel Johnson’s dancing dog, the wonder is not that Paul had a difficult relationship with Jerusalem but that he had a relationship at all” (174).  The same could be said of some of the Gentile dominated churches.        


[Page 175]   [13] Watson, 175, views this as more a strategy of calculated concern rather than humanitarian passion, “Paul was seeking to preserve his congregations in their separation from the synagogue in two different ways:  by warnings to his congregations [against Judaizing, rw], and by trying by means of the collection to secure Jerusalem’s recognition of their legitimacy.”  (For the argument in detail, see 175-176.)  This line of reasoning assumes that Jerusalem was in the pocket of the extreme Judaizers in regard to the status and behavior demanded of Gentiles, an extremely challengeable premise.  More likely there was a wide variety of feelings ranging from encouragement to ambivalence to hostility, with the apostles attempting to keep things on an even keel.   


[14] Goins, “Financial Planning,” 1.


[15] Alan F. Johnson, 1 Corinthians, in the IVP New Testament Commentary series (Downers Grove, Illinois:  InterVarsity Press, 2004), 312.


[16] [Anonymous], “The Roman Calendar.”  Part of the website.  At:  [August 2011.]


[17] Ibid.


[18] Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, 618.


[19] Ibid.


[20] Leslie M. Grant, Comments on First Corinthians.  At:  http://www.biblecentre. org/commentaries/lmg_50_1_corinthians.htm.  [November 2010.]


[21] Matthew Poole, Annotations on the Holy Bible, Volume 3 (New York:  Robert Carter & Brothers, MDCCCLVI), 599.


[22] Charles J. Callan, “Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 16:10-18.”  Posted May 31, 2011.  Part of the Divine Lamp website.  At:  http://thedivinelamp.  [August 2011.] 


[23] Calvin Cheah, “Do Everything in Love (1 Corinthians 16:12-24).” July 13, 2011.  Part of A Chinese Christian at Cambridge website.  At:  http://calvincheah.  [August 2011.] 


[24] Cf. Ibid. 


[25] Keith Krell, “Love Is the Last Word (1 Corinthians 16:13-24).”  Part of the website.  At:  [August 2011.]


[Page 176]   [26] Ibid.


[27] Ibid. 


[28] Ibid.


[29] Ibid.


[30] Ibid. 


[31] J J. Lias, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, in the Cambridge Bible for the Schools and Colleges series (Cambridge:  At the University Press, 1891) 168.


[32] T. Teignmouth Shore, “The First Epistle to the Corinthians,” in A Bible Commentary for English Readers, edited by Charles J. Ellicott (New York:  E. P. Dutton & Company, [n.d.]), 355, suggests the rationale of their being outsiders but does not develop the idea this fully.


[33] See the discussion in regard to the current passage in particular in Comfort, 527.


[34] Moltmann, 265.

[35] J. Paul Sampley, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible, volume 10, edited by Leander E. Keck et al. (Nashville:  Abingdon Press, 1996), 1001.


[36] Alan F. Johnson, 320.


[37] Ibid.


[38] Cf. the possibilities discussed in Trail, Exegetical 10-16, 399.


[39] Ibid.


[40] Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, 629.


[41] Jeffrey A. D. Weima, Neglected Endings:  The Significance of the Pauline Letter Closings (Sheffield, England:  JSOT Press, 1994), 207.


[42] Ibid., drives home this point but in different language.


[43] Edware H. Donze, “1 Corinthians,” in A Commentary on the New Testament, prepared by the Catholic Biblical Association ([N.p.]:  Catholic Biblical Association, 1942), 481.


[Page 177]   [44] Cf. Brian S. Rosner, “Deuteronomy in 1 and 2 Corinthians,” in Deuteronomy in the New Testament, edited by Maarten J. J. Menken and Steve Moyise, Volume 358 of the Library of New Testament Studies (New York:  T. & T. Clark, [n.d.]), 132-133. 


[45] Blomberg, 324.  Others who take this at-home approach (in addition to those cited in the following arguments) include Bruce, Corinthians, 158; Conzelmann, 296; Ellingworth and Hatton, 371; Ruef, 181; and Vine, Corinthians, 229.  Witherington, Conflict, 315, believes it was done at home (note 5, page 315).  Yet he uses the odd description that it was “set aside . . . and then collected at each home” (315), as if the church sent someone from house to house each Sunday.


[46] Arthur P. Stanley, 330.


[47] Charles Hodge, An Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (New York:  Robert Carter & Brothers, 1878), 364.  He also develops, at length, problems with the “at home” scenario:  the oddity of specifying a specific day for the contribution and the fact that a contribution would still need to be taken up when Paul arrived, a situation the apostle desired to avoid.


[48] Wayne Jackson, “Does 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Constitute a Binding Pattern?”  Part of the Christian Courier website.  At: /articles/1536-does-1-corinthians-16-1-2-constitute-a-binding-pattern.  [August 2011.]


[49] As quoted by Lias, 164.


[50] Ibid.


[51] Gromacki, Called, 200; Howard, 136; Lipscomb and Shepherd, 249; McGarvey and Pendleton, 161. 


[52] MacEvilly, 270; McGarvey and Pendleton, 161; Zerr, 43; and Charles Hodge, An Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (New York:  Robert Carter & Brothers, 1878), 364.


[53] Mare, 293. 

[54] Cf. McGarvey and Pendleton, 161. 

[55] Hodge, 364, and Zerr, 42. 


[56] Orr and Walther, 356.   

[57] Parry, 190.         

[58] Yet it is not common to detect the oddity.  David Ewert, 199, for example, explicitly asserts both points and gives no indication of tension between them.  

[Page 178]

[59] Grosheide, 398. 

[60] Georgi, 53.

[61] Ibid., 54.   

[62] Kistemaker, Exposition, 595.

[63] Joubert, 161.

[64] Cf. Ibid., n. 15, p. 16. 

[65] Grosheide, 398, and Arthur P. Stanley, 330.

[66] Joubert, 161.   

[67] John Wesley, Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, abridgment of 1765-1766 edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Francis Asbury Press, 1987), 522.


[68] Vine, Corinthians, 229.   

[69] Cf. Hargreaves, 220. 

[70] Lenski, 760. 

[71] Goins, 3.


[72] MacGorman, 149.  Cf. Raymond Bryan Brown, 394, and Conzelmann, 295.       

[73] Cf. Bruce, Corinthians, 158.  

[74] Doohan, Leadership, 98.  

[75] Jackson, “1 Corinthians 16:1-2.”


[76] Ibid.


[77] Ibid. 


[78] Ibid.  


[79] Terry W. Benton, “The Church Treasury.”  At:  http://lavistachurchofchrist. org/LVarticles/ChurchTreasury.html.  [August 2011.]


[Page 179]   [80] Even if one rejects the Pauline authorship of this epistle, it certainly indicates the perceived age of Timothy during the time of Paul’s ministry.


[81] MacEvilly, 272; and Weiss, Commentary, 273.   

[82] [Anonymous], “Estimated Life Expectancy in the Ancient World.”  1992; at:  [December 2010.]


[83] [Anonymous], “Life Expectancy by Age, 1850-2004.”  At:  http://www.  [December 2010.]


[84] Source misplaced.


[85] Cf. Bruce, Corinthians, 160, and Grosheide, 400.

[86] David Guzik, 1 Corinthians 16:  A Collection and a Conclusion.  2001.  At:  http://  [August 2011.] 


[87]Allen, 194.   

[88] Donze, 480.


[89] Cf. Parry, 193.        

[90] Quast, 102.

[91] Bruce, Corinthians, 160.  

[92] Quast, 102.

[93] Parry, 193-194.  Cf. Russell D. Snyder, 485.           

[94] Chow, 88-89.  Cf. Branick, House Church, 63.   

[95] Mare, 295. 

[96] Allen, 195.   

[97] Weiss, Commentary, 274-275. 

[98] Ruef, 186.

[99] Cf. Russell D. Snyder, 485. 

[100] Metz, 482. 

[Page 180]   [101] Zerr, 44.

[102] Grosheide, 403. 

[103] Cf. Lipscomb and Shepherd, 258. 

[104] Mare, 180.  

[105] Bratcher, Guide, 163; Bruce, Corinthians, 160; Dahl, 50; Mare, 215 (which also presents difficulties with the theory that Timothy had carried the epistle); and Parry, 194. 


[106] Dahl, 51.

[107] Polhill, 251, and Chester, 242-243.


[108] Wilfred L. Knox, n. 26, p. 324.         

[109] For example, Philip E. Hughes, 278. and Gordon D. Fee, Pauline Christology:  An Exegetical-Theological Study (Peabody, Massachusetts:  Hendrickson Publishers, 2007), 121.  


[110] For argumentation that it must refer to Jesus’ past coming to earth, but that it implies “and is here” as well, see Conzelmann, 300-301.  


[111] Raymond Bryan Brown, 397, and Mare, 297.  Although these are the two primary translations into English, some suggest alternatives to both.  “Our Lord is a sign” is one and “Thou art Lord” is another, but neither has gained as much attention or embracial as the other two.  See Mare, 297.


[112] Bruce, Answers, 100. 

[113] Fee, 121-122.