Tonight, turn to chapter sixteen of 1 Corinthians.
It is interesting how that in chapter fifteen, Paul talks about the resurrection. He is in sort of the height of glory, the work of Jesus Christ, His resurrection. Of what Jesus did for us through His death and resurrection, removing the sting of death! And ending with that glorious praise to God for the victory that we have in Jesus Christ!
It is said concerning some people that they are so heavenly minded, they are no earthly good. That cannot be said of Paul. He takes you from this glorious height of Spiritual worship and adoration and in chapter sixteen, he sort of just comes, “bump”, now to practical matters. He starts dealing in the sixteenth chapter with very practical things.
As a Christian, yes, we are lifted in worship into the heavenly. But the Christian life must be worked out in practical things, day to day living. Thus, Paul is able to turn now to very practical things in chapter sixteen. The first thing is the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem.
Now concerning (he said) the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. So the church in Jerusalem has gone through some extremely difficult financial times. The people there in the church in Jerusalem are suffering. They financially, are hurting desperately. So, Paul now, is writing to the church of Corinth, asking them to lay up an offering for the church in Jerusalem. Do it in advance before I get there. I don’t want any offering or collections being taken while I’m there. But lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that when I come I can take your liberality to the church in Jerusalem.
It’s interesting that he makes mention of when you are gathering there on the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside. It would seem that the early church did meet on the first day of the week. It’s also mentioned in the Book of Acts (Acts 20:7), referring to their gathering together to break bread on the first day of the week.
It’s an interesting question on our program, “To Every Man an Answer”, it seems like it’s a question that comes up, over and over again in regards to the worship of the Lord. What day of the week should we worship the Lord? Well, I go back to Romans (Romans 14:5), where Paul said, one man esteems one day above another. Another man esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. I’m the guy he is talking about that considers every day alike. As far as I am concerned, every day is the Lord’s Day. I worship the Lord every day. I don’t restrict it to just one day out of the week.
Now the Jews worship the Lord on the Sabbath, on the seventh day. That was a sign of the covenant that God made with the Jews (Exodus 31:13-17). God specifically declared that this was the sign of the covenant with the Jewish people throughout their generations.
God made covenants with the different men of the Old Testament. God made a covenant with Noah. The covenant was that He would never flood the earth again, in a world-wide flood. God gave a sign of that covenant. It was the rainbow in the sky. And that rainbow is a sign of that covenant with Noah that He would never again destroy the whole earth with a flood.
God made a covenant with Abraham that from his seed all of the nations of the earth would be blessed and that God would give the land unto Abraham’s seed as a perpetual gift. Now the sign of the covenant with Abraham was to be the circumcision of the male children. Every male among them was to be circumcised. That was the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham concerning the descendants of Abraham.
God made a covenant with the children of Israel when He gave the law to Moses. The covenant was, if you will keep this law, I will be your God and you will be My people. I will bless you. And I will not put on you any of the plagues that I’ve put on the Egyptians. All of the promises of blessings to the people if they would keep the law. Then God gave then the sign of that covenant and that was Sabbath day worship. So that was given to the Jews to become the sign of God’s covenant with the Jewish nation.
It is not the sign of God’s covenant with the Gentiles. Thus the early church began to meet on the first day of the week because that was the day that Jesus was resurrected. That’s when Jesus first appeared. The first gathering was on the evening of the first day of the week, when Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. And that evening, they were all gathered together and Jesus appeared. And then eight days later, that would have been the first day of the week again, Jesus appeared again, once more to the disciples. Thomas was present this time. So very early, the first day of the week became sort of the day that the church would meet. They began to refer to it as the Lord’s day.
Paul said don’t let anybody judge you in respect to feast days, Sabbath days, new moons and so forth. These were all shadows of things that were to come. The substance is of Christ. In Hebrews, we read that Jesus is our rest. He is our Sabbath. We enter in to the rest of Jesus Christ. We cease from our own labor and we enter into the glorious finished work of Jesus. He is our rest.
So Paul tells them, on the first day of the week, let everyone of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper. Notice the giving is to be purely as God lays upon their heart, as God has prospered them. The whole idea was to give to them that sense of the universality of the church and the fact that we are one church. Here you are way over in Corinth, but the church in Jerusalem is hurting and they are suffering. So you in Corinth need to take up an offering for them to help them, because we are all one body. Whether here or in Corinth or wherever, wherever there is a need, the church should be responding to the needs of the church wherever. As God has blessed in one area, then they need to lay in store for other areas of the church that might be hurting or suffering.
3And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift (liberality in the King James translation) to Jerusalem. The word gift or liberality in the old King James, is your free giving. The Greek word has as the idea, the free giving. It wasn’t an obligation. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, chapters eight and nine, will talk about the offering again. And there he says let your giving not be out of constraint. Don’t feel pressured. Let as every man as purposed in his own heart, so let him give for God loves a cheerful giver. If you can’t give to God cheerfully, then you would be just as well off not to give. God loves the cheerful giver and the free giving unto God.
So your freely giving, will be given to the church in Jerusalem. 4But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me. Now Paul is planning to go to Jerusalem. He is wanting to take an offering from these Gentile churches. There was sort of a division in the early church. The church in Jerusalem was pretty strictly Jewish. There always did exist this sort of feeling among the Jew, that Gentiles, sort of, were almost outside the grace of God. It was a hard thing for a Jew to accept a Gentile as a real brother.
In the early church, there was still quite a separation in the church of Antioch, which was basically a Gentile church. There were certain of the brethren who came down from the church in Jerusalem. They were really spying out the liberty that these Gentile believers had in Jesus Christ. They began to cause a division. They said, look, unless you become Jews, and you are circumcised and you keep the law of Moses, you can’t be saved! Now Peter came down to the church in Antioch. Because Paul was there eating with the Gentiles, Peter began to eat with the Gentiles, until there were certain brothers that came down from Jerusalem. When they came down, Peter sort of dissembled himself and began to eat only with the Jews. He didn’t eat with the Gentiles. It caused hard feelings. It caused a division there in the church in Antioch, because the Jews had this attitude that the Gentiles were somehow, sort of beneath them.
So Paul was praying for spiritual unity, but also was seeking to take offerings, to take money to the poor brethren in Jerusalem because they were suffering great financial hardship. Paul was hoping that by taking the offering from the Gentiles to them, to show to the Jews that the Gentile believers had a love for them and a desire to help them and to sort of create a unity within the body!
It is always difficult when people seek the body over a difference of opinion over certain Scriptural truths. There are those that insist that you see things their way. Now a heretic is someone who believes differently from you. You of course are totally orthodox. Anyone who doesn’t believe just like you believe, of course, is a heretic. There are those who are always setting up themselves as the standard. I, you know, have the corner on truth. And the way I believe is the only way. If you don’t believe exactly the way I believe it, then you know, we call in question your orthodoxy. We divide. The division is created. Now the best way to break down is some of that is to show love, to give.
There was a pastor here in this area, who was extremely jealous over God’s blessing upon Calvary Chapel. It really was eating him up, physically. He was so obsessed with the success of the ministry here, especially because we believed in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the validity of the gifts of the Spirit today. Now he was a cessationist. He believed that all of the gifts ceased with the apostles and all. Because we did believe in the validity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and of the believers being filled with the Holy Spirit, it just ate him up that we were prospering. We should have been in a little store front building on the other side of the tracks. So he began to every Sunday, he did a series of sermons against the Holy Spirit and the work of the Spirit today. He did this long series. It came up so often that his board finally dismissed him. They said we want to hear something different you know. But he was saying terrible things about the ministry here. As I said, this was really eating him up. He moved on up north. We heard that he had to have a serious operation. He was in great financial straits. So what we did was to pay his hospital bills and his doctor bills up there, just as a sign of “brother, we love you”, you know. Get over your bitterness. The body of Christ is one!
This basically, is what Paul was wanting to do. The church in Jerusalem was so prejudiced against the Gentiles. He wanted to show them the Gentiles’ love. He wanted to bring them to a love and the Gentiles to love the Jewish believers and the Jewish believers to love the Gentile believers. In Acts, Paul talks about how that Jesus Christ broke down these walls that once divided the Jew from the Gentile. And that we are all one in Jesus Christ. He was trying now to sort of supplement that by having the Gentile believers send this offering to help the poor brothers in Jerusalem. So he was desiring to go and to take their offering. And to take with them some of the men that they would recommend from the church of Corinth to meet the brothers in Jerusalem and to personally give them the offering that came from the church in Corinth.
5Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). 6And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. 7For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. So Paul is again practical. He is talking about his travel plans. I’m planning to come through Macedonia and then I will come to you. I wanted to spend some time there. I might even spend the winter with you. He was in Ephesus. He was going to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, that is until June, when is the feast of Pentecost. Then he was planning to travel through the summer through Macedonia and get over to Corinth, perhaps to spend the winter.
But notice, if the Lord wills or if the Lord permits! James said (James 4:15), you know it’s not right to just say tomorrow we are going to do this and to do that. He said it would be better to say, if the Lord wills, on the morrow we will do this or that. Because we do not know what a day will bring forth.
The people of God are usually flexible. In other words we are always leaving our plans subject to change or alteration. “If the Lord wills”. If the Lord has something different in mind. We want to be open. We don’t want to be so rigid that the Lord has to break us in order to change our direction. Now there are people like that. There are people that are so rigid that God has to break them. It’s a painful way to go, but if you are that rigid, you know, God will break you if necessary. With some people it takes quite a bit to break them.
I think of Jonah, of how much it took to break his stubborn spirit. God called to Jonah and said, I want you to go to Nineveh. He goes down to the seaport of Joppa and catches a ship in the opposite direction. I’m going to go to the end of the world. Tarshish, that was the end of the world. Tarshish was as far as you could get from Nineveh. Jonah was figuring that I can escape the call of God and the presence of God. So he gets on a ship, he pays the fare to go to Tarshish. So God sends a huge storm. They begin to despair of life itself. The captain of the ship finds Jonah asleep down in the hold of the ship. That was somewhat of a miracle to be able to sleep in a rough storm like that. They tell him to call upon his God. Then they cast lots. It falls on Jonah. They said what’s going on man? He said, well, I’m a prophet of God. He called me to go to Nineveh. I’m trying to escape from the presence of God. But that’s all right, just throw me overboard, everything will be okay. He didn’t say, take me back to Joppa and I’ll head for Nineveh and you’ll be okay. He just said, throw me overboard! I’d rather be dead. I’d rather drown that go to Nineveh. I’m not going! Thrown me overboard. So reluctantly they threw him overboard. Jonah thought, well, that’s it. I don’t have to go to Nineveh.
But God sent a great fish. The fish swallowed Jonah. He was in the belly of that fish three days and three nights. It was hot! If it were, a mammal, it would have been 98.6 degrees. The humidity must have been something horrendous. He talks about the seaweed being wrapped around him, about the gastric juices flowing over him. He said you know, the billows were overflowing me. You know, it must horribly miserable, horribly miserable. Can you imagine, seaweed wrapped around you? It’s dark. The thing is going down, diving, then coming back up. He was probably as seasick as he could be. Now the amazing thing is that after three days, Jonah prayed. I mean he went through those miserable conditions for three days. Nope, I won’t go! It took a lot to break this guy. But finally he was broken. He still wasn’t happy, but it’s so important that we keep flexible. We need to guard against rigidity. “If the Lord wills. If the Lord wants.”
Now these are our plans. It doesn’t preclude planning. This is the plan that I have for the next six months or so. I plan to stay here until the Feast of Pentecost. Then I am going to pass through Macedonia. I am going to come to you. I might spend the winter with you, if the Lord permits, if that’s what the Lord wants.
Now, Paul in his earlier ministry, was wanting to go into Asia, but the Lord forbid him (Acts 16:6-7). He decided to go to Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit did not allow him. So he learned the flexibility as the Lord opened the door and he went over to Macedonia. So that if the Lord wills. It’s an important thing in our lives. To guard against being so rigid that God has to break you in order to bring you around to His purpose, to His desire.
If the Lord permits, 8But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. I like that! Paul said, I’m going to stay here because there are a lot of adversaries. There are a lot of problems. There are a lot of enemies. Paul would never run from a fight. You know, there are a lot of adversaries. I’m going to stay here. I plan to be here until at least Pentecost because this great door is open and there are lots of adversaries. He doesn’t run from them.
10Now if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. Paul, in another place, said concerning Timothy, I have no man who shares my heart for the gospel like Timothy. Timothy and Paul, Paul was sort of a spiritual father to Timothy. Timothy had caught Paul’s heart. He had caught Paul’s vision. Timothy had a true concern, as did Paul. There was no one that had that same kind of burden and concern as Paul had, but Timothy. He had captured that feeling in the heart of Paul and was, as Paul, there was no one quite like minded. For he said everyone is seeking their own. But Timothy had a real heart for the ministry. Now Timothy was young. When Paul was writing to Timothy, he said don’t let anybody despise your youth, but be an example before the believers.
Now the church of Corinth was not the most pleasant church. Now I think had I been living and they needed a pastor and they gave a call to me to come pastor, I would have said, no, thank you. It’s not the kind of a church you would want to pastor. They had the divisions. They had so many problems. Even Paul, they gave him a bad time. If they gave Paul a bad time, a seasoned warrior, what are they going to do to this young guy, Timothy? Paul, sort of exhorts them, said don’t terrify him. Just receive him, that he might be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do.
11Therefore let no one despise him. Don’t despise his youth.
But send him on his journey in peace, Now Timothy carried this letter from Paul to the church in Corinth. Paul was in Ephesus when he wrote this. Timothy was to carry the letter to the church.
But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren. Receive him. Treat him well because he is coming back to be with me.
12Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time. Now this is interesting. Apollos is introduced to us in the Book of Acts (Acts 18:24), as a man who was mighty in the Scriptures, able to prove by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. He had a tremendous apologist, a man who spoke fervently in the Spirit. He sort of established the church in Ephesus. Then he went from Ephesus to Corinth. He came to the church in Corinth. Because of his knowledge of the Scriptures and because of his ability to relate the Word of God and put things together, he became very popular. In fact so popular that some of the people in Corinth, who were carnal, had this party spirit, began to say, well, we are of Apollos. Others were saying, well, we’re of Paul. Others were saying, we’re of Peter.
Paul said, you know, who is Apollos? We are all servants of the Lord. I planted. But Apollos watered. God gave the increase! There were those in Corinth who were still pledging allegiance to Apollos and trying to divide. Some say, well, we are of Paul, we are of Apollos. So Paul is saying now, I really wanted Apollos to come to you.
This is sort of interesting because the church in Corinth was upset because Paul didn’t come. Those that were of Apollos’ little circle, said, well, you know, Paul is too big to come to you. He’s not interested in coming, you know. Paul said, no, I wanted to come, but I was hindered. I wasn’t able to. I do plan to come. So now he is saying to them concerning Apollos, I really wanted him to come with the brethren that are coming to you, because I know he is popular. I know you love him.
Now the interesting thing is that Apollos is at this time back in Ephesus with Paul, working together with Paul. Though they were both powerful personalities, they had great separate ministries, but here they are together at Ephesus. Paul is sort of begging Apollos, go with the brethren, go to Corinth because they respect you and all. You know they will receive you. But Apollos didn’t want to go at this time. He said, no, I’ll go when it’s more convenient. So Paul shared with them how Apollos didn’t feel led to come to them at this present time.
Now Paul gives a series of short little exhortations. He sort of wiping things up with these short exhortations. First of all 13Watch, Be on the lookout! Satan is going around, seeking to destroy. Be on the watch. Be on the lookout. Be alert.
Secondly, stand fast in the faith, Be established in your faith. Stand fast.
Thirdly, be brave, Act like men! Don’t be cowardly. He accused them back in the first part of being children. You know, it should be that we should give you the meat of the Word, but your still in need of the bottle. You are still babes in Christ. Grow up! And so exhorting now, act like men.
I heard that many times as I was growing up. My dad would say, act like a man, son! Grow up, don’t be a baby. Don’t cry. Act like a man. And so, spiritually, Paul is saying, come on act like a man.
14Let all that you do be done with love. Above all be loving. So watch, stand fast in the faith! Act like men! Be strong! Be loving!
15I urge you, brethren–you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted (or addicted) themselves to the ministry of the saints That’s a great phrase isn’t it? They have devoted or addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.
Now Stephanas was one of Paul’s first converts in Corinth. He was one of the few that Paul baptized. In the earlier part of the epistle, Paul, because they were saying we are of Cephas, we are of Apollos, and so forth, Paul said, I thank God that I didn’t baptize any of you but Crispus and Gaius. If there are any others, I don’t really recall. Then he recalled, oh yes, Stephanas and his household. So Stephanas was one of the first fruits. So they addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.
–16that you also submit to such (Recognize his spiritual leadership), and to everyone who works and labors with us. 17I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Now Stephanas had come from Corinth, along with Fortunatus, and Achaicus, These three fellows probably brought the letter from the church in Corinth which explained to Paul, a lot of the problems that were going on. They had come to Paul. He was glad that they came. They were his brethren in Christ.
They helped out financially for what was lacking on your part they supplied. They have supplied me with the information and all that I needed. I was glad for them.
18For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.
19The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. Now Priscilla and Aquila, they were again some of the first converts of Paul in Corinth. They were tentmakers. Paul was a tentmaker. They gave Paul a job so that he was able to pay his own way by making tents while he was there in Corinth. He didn’t have to be dependent upon the church there for his financial needs, but he paid his own way. Thus they could never accuse Paul of being in the ministry as a mercenary. He labored, working with his own hands.
They had come to Corinth from Rome. Back in about 49 or 50, Claudius the Roman emperor, had all of the Jews expelled out of Rome. They were living in Rome and were expelled. They came to Corinth. That is where Paul first met then. Then, when Paul left Corinth, they left with Paul. They came to Ephesus. Paul was on his way to Jerusalem. He left them at Ephesus. Paul continued on the Jerusalem. Being tentmakers, they had a trade. They started a tent business in Ephesus. Later Paul worked with them in Ephesus in making tents, when he started the church there in Ephesus. Now they had opened their house in Ephesus. The church met in their house. It wasn’t until the third century that church ever had any buildings. In the early church, they would meet in houses, usually in a large room of a house. Priscilla and Aquila, no doubt, successful in their business, had a lovely home. They opened their home for the church to meet. Because they had come from Corinth and were a vital part of the church in Corinth, (the people knew of Priscilla and Aquila), so Paul sent their greetings along with the church that was meeting in their house.
Now it is interesting that when Paul went to Corinth as he planned. He went through Macedonia. He came to Corinth. When he was in Corinth, he sent the letter to the church in Rome. The interesting thing, when he sent his letter to the church to Rome, he said, greet Priscilla and Aquila and the church that is in their house. So they moved from Ephesus to Rome and opened up their house in Rome for the believers to meet! So they are a neat couple. I’m anxious to meet Priscilla and Aquila. They are just a great, hospitable couple, always opening their home for the church. So in Rome, again, the church that is in their home. So they are wonderful people.
20All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. In the early church and as was the custom of the area, often they would greet with a kiss on the cheek or the kiss on the forehead. I have one tall guy here who loves to kiss me on the top of my head. But greet one another with a holy kiss. Later they would kiss the hand. Now this was usually women with women and men with men. Not so much opposite sex. But it was just a way of greeting. It’s a way of showing affection, a way of showing love, not in any romantic way, but just in a family of God, brethren in Christ, kind of a thing. It’s a beautiful thing, just to greet one another with that affection, showing affection. Probably our hug has sort of replaced the holy kiss these days.
Now at this point Paul has finished dictating the letter to the scribe. So he picks up the pen in order to sign his name to the letter. So he declares, 21The salutation with my own hand–Paul’s. It is thought that Paul had severe eye problems. When he wrote to the church in Galatia (Gal. 4:15), he said, I testify of your love for me that you have actually given me your eyes if you could. It’s sort of is a hint that he had severe eye problems. Writing to the church in Galatia (Gal 6:11), also, as he signed, he said, you notice with what large letters I written unto you. He is talking about the size of the letters themselves because of his poor eyesight, he wrote large letters. So now he signs. The salutation with my own hand—Paul’s.
And then he writes his own little personal note at the end. 22If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed (anathema). If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. It is true that if a person doesn’t love the Lord Jesus Christ, he is accursed. Sin is a terrible curse. Sin had disastrous effect in the life of the person that is sinning. Paul said, Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. For it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on the tree. He became cursed for us. It is interesting to me that Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Old Testament promises concerning the Messiah, was His glorious reign. He shall sit upon the throne of David and order it, and establish it in righteousness and in judgment from henceforth even forever. But when he came he was not crowned with the throne of David, but with a crown of thorns.
But where did the thorns come from? When Adam sinned, God said (Genesis 3:17-18), cursed be the ground for thy sake. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth. Thorns were the result of the curse. Some have declared that thorns are undeveloped blossoms. If that be so, we can understand the Scripture of the Kingdom Age when it says the desert shall blossom as a rose. Can you imagine when the curse is removed, if everything thorn on the cacti would become a blossom? How beautiful it would blossom as a rose! But, the curse brought the thorns. Thus it was probably very significant that they crowned him with a crown of thorns. But if you love not the Lord Jesus Christ, you are still under the curse of sin. Your life is still being blighted. So if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.
Then he says, O Lord, come! The words used in the King James translation are Maranatha (for the Lord cometh), in the Aramaic. That is to sort of get you into the right perspective, concerning life. The things of the material world, the Lord is coming! How often we need to be reminded of that. In fact, so much so, that in the early church that was the common greeting. In the church, in the marketplace, when they would greet each other, they would say, Maranatha, the Lord is coming! It was a word of encouragement. It was a word of comfort, a word of hope! Thus they would greet one another in the early church because they were going through very severe persecution, hard times. It was easy to get discouraged. But keeping the right perspective, the Lord is coming! Maranatha!
And he closes with grace and love. 23The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. So his own salutation, ending it with the grace of Jesus, my love be with you all in Christ Jesus.
Father, we thank You for the grace and the love that we have through Jesus Christ. Lord, we thank You for this exhortation of Paul. We pray Father, that You’ll help us to take these things to heart, help us to be watchful. Help us, Lord, to stand fast in the faith, to be men and to be strong. And above all, Lord, to be loving. Help us Lord, to comprehend the unity of the body of Christ so that we don’t see ourselves as isolated and separated and only interested in our own affairs. But Lord, help us all to be interested in the church in China, the church in Siberia, the church in Ukraine and in other areas, Lord, where they are going through great difficulty, through persecution. They are going through hardship. Lord, we are so blessed. We are so abundantly blessed. Lord help us to realize that they are a part of the family of God also. May we learn to share with one another of the richness of the blessings that we have received. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Transcribed from “The Word For Today”, Pastor Chuck Smith, Tape #8151, (NKJ Version)