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AM Bible Study Archives
"Paul's Personal Touches"
1 Corinthians 16:1-12
Wednesday AM Bible Study
April 9, 2008
Theme: Paul's expression of his personal plans reveal the qualities of a faithful servant of God.
Paul had dealt with many difficult problems in the Corinthian church--relational problems, moral problems, worship problems, and theological problems. In all of them, he pointed the Corinthians to Jesus Christ as the answer. But Paul, in addition to being a great theologian and defender of the faith, was also a man of great compassion and love for the people he served. We see evidence of this in his closing words to the Corinthians.
In the first half of this closing chapter, Paul expresses his personal plans to the Corinthians. In these plans, we see him demonstrating the character qualities of a faithful servant of God. We see these in . . .
I. HIS PLANS TO SUPERVISE THE CORINTHIAN'S GIFT (vv. 1-4).
A. He begins with words that introduce a new subject: "Now concerning the collection for the saints . . ." (v. 1). The "saints" being mentioned are the believing Jewish people who were suffering persecution in Jerusalem (v. 3). This same benevolence effort is probably what is being described also in Romans 15:22-28, 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15, and Acts 24:17. Apparently, Paul had given orders to the churches in Galatia regarding this gift (perhaps hinted at in Gal. 2:10; 6:2, 10; but more likely only mentioned here); and the Corinthians, who apparently knew of his instructions to the Galatians, were to follow the same instructions themselves.
B. Paul was apparently concerned that the Corinthians would have to scramble at the last minute to gather together an offering; which would have been dishonorable, and most likely done with a grudging attitude (2 Corinthians 9:3-5). Paul urged therefore that a collection be made at the beginning of each week (v. 2; and see here a testimony to the church's gathering together on Sunday rather than on Saturday). Each person was to lay aside as the Lord had prospered them. Paul never intended for anyone to be impoverished by the need of others (although this sometimes happened; see 2 Corinthians 9:10-12).
C. Paul promised to send the gift by the hand of anyone that they tested and found reliable--urging that a letter of recommendation be provided to the person taking the gift (v. 3). If it was felt necessary--probably meaning that if the gift was large enough to warrant it--he himself would go with them (v. 4).
D. Note here Paul's integrity and trustworthiness. He was very concerned that a promise made concerning the gift be followed through; and that it be followed through in a way that properly testifies of Jesus Christ, and expressed love to the believing Jewish people. He was concerned that the currier of the gift be tested and approved; and that he himself could accompany the gift to make sure everything went as it should. He would not go, apparently, on his own; but made sure that someone the Corinthians approved went with him.
II. HIS PLANS TO STAY WITH THE CORINTHIANS FOR A WHILE (vv. 5-9).
A. In the previous section, he mentioned that he would be coming to the Corinthians. He repeats this promise in verse 5. He explains that he would be coming when he passed from Ephesus (where he then was), and through Macedonia.
B. More than simply passing through, though, Paul hoped also to stay a while with the Corinthians (v. 6)--even to winter with them if he could; and then have them send him away on the next leg of his missionary journey. He said this because he didn't want to simply see them in passing (v. 7). The content of the letter suggests that there was more work to be done than could accomplished in a letter. Note that Paul submitted all his plans, though, to the Lord's will (v. 7b; see also James 3:13-17).
C. He felt, however, a greater obligation to remain in Ephesus until the time of Pentecost (v. 8), because "a great and effective door has opened to me" (that is, as an opportunity for the gospel); "and there are many adversaries" (v. 9). Though the needs of the Corinthians pressed in on him, he felt a greater need to minister in Ephesus. This part of ministry plan seems to be mentioned in Acts 20:1-3.
D. Here, note Paul's devotion. Given that there were many adversaries in Ephesus, it would have been tempting to leave and go to calmer fields of service. But he remained where there was an open door and work to be done. And note too that, though there may have been even more pleasant places to serve afterwards, he nevertheless purposed to spend a long time with the problem-ridden Corinthians. Paul went were the need was--not where it was easier to be.
III. HIS PLANS TO SEND TIMOTHY TO THE CORINTHIANS (vv. 10-11).
A. Paul mentions his intention to send Timothy (v. 10; see also Acts 19:22). Timothy was apparently subject to being disrespected (1 Timothy 4:12); and it may be that the Corinthians took advantage of this. Paul urged them to make sure that Timothy had no reason to be fearful in their presence; "for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do" (v. 10b).
B. Paul made it clear that Timothy was not to be despised; but was to be sent on his journey back to Paul "in peace" (v. 11). They were not to try to fight with him; because Paul was waiting for him, "with the brethren". There is a sober warning in those closing words; affirming that Timothy not only had Paul's support, but the support of the church at large.
C. Note here Paul's protectiveness of his coworkers. He would not allow those who served his Lord faithfully to be dishonored or disrespected.
IV. HIS REPORT THAT APOLLOS WOULD NOT BE COMING (v. 12).
A. It seems that the Corinthians preferred bold, dynamic speakers over the humble manner of Paul and Timothy (see 2 Corinthians 10:1, 10). Apparently, in one of their previous letters, they asked if Apollos could come to them--who was a very dynamic preacher (see Acts 18:24-28; also 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:5-6, 22).
B. Paul seems to have honored their request. He urged Apollos to come to them (v. 12). But apparently, Apollos was not at all willing to do so at that time. He would come to them when he had a convenient opportunity.
C. Here, finally, we see Paul's humility. He had a sense of ownership over the Corinthians; because it was through him that they came to the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 11:2). Still, though, he honored their request to send someone more 'dynamic'. He had no sense of competition with his colaborer and brother in the Lord. He was concerned that they be fed and strengthened in the Lord; but it didn't matter to him if it was through himself or Apollos.
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