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Personal Requests October 25, 2011

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 1 Corinthians 16:5-18.

Summary: Paul begins by telling the Corinthians that after he leaves Ephesus and passes through Macedonia, he will visit them, as he has set his mind on this plan. In fact, he plans to stay with them through the winter so that they can accompany him on part of the next leg of his journey. He does not want his stay in Corinth to be brief, as he wants to spend time with them – by the will of Christ – in order to correct the problems that he has addressed in this letter. Paul plans to stay in Ephesus for the spring, as many opportunities have arisen for the Gospel to be spread there, even though the Ephesians who worship Diana oppose it. Now when Timothy visits Corinth, Paul urges the Corinthians to receive him with respect and confidence, as he – like Paul – is engaged in spreading the Gospel. Thus, the Corinthians should not despise Timothy, and they should accompany him on part of his return trip to Ephesus so that he and his traveling companions can return to Paul. As for Apollos, Paul notes that he does not want to visit Corinth for the time being. He then gives the Corinthians the following exhortations:

  • they should prepare for the attacks of their spiritual enemies
  • they should hold firmly to settled doctrines
  • they should withstand the attacks of their opponents
  • they should use God-given strength to overcome their trials
  • they should live according to the most excellent way – love.

Paul then reminds them that the family of Stephanas was the first family to accept the Gospel in Achaia, and they have committed their lives to serving their brethren in Christ; he exhorts them to serve this family – and all who have committed their lives to serving their brethren in Christ. He was encouraged at the arrival of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus from Corinth, as their presence made up for the absence of the other Corinthian Christians. Paul concludes by noting that the presence of these three brothers in Ephesus has encouraged him – and should encourage them; thus, the Corinthians should properly appreciate them for their actions.

Thoughts: In verses 10 and 11, we see that Paul encouraged the Corinthians to treat Timothy with respect when he visited them. Hodge offers some insights on this point:

That is, because he works the work of the Lord, he is entitled to respect and ought not to be despised. Perhaps it was Timothy’s youth that made the apostle especially solicitous on his account.

This is actually an aspect of the Christian life that I continue to struggle with. Unfortunately, it is natural for me to look down on younger believers, even if they are spiritually mature. For some reason, I tend to place undue importance on the accumulation of “life experiences,” and Paul implies that this is an improper way for a Christian to act. Putting aside age-based biases and being willing to listen and learn from younger believers is an area where I definitely need God’s grace to be at work.

In verse 12, we see that Apollos was asked by Paul if he wanted to visit Corinth, but he declined for the time being. Hodge offers some thoughts on this point:

It appears from this verse that Apollos was not under Paul’s authority. The only reason for his declining to go to Corinth is that he was not willing. Many commentators suppose it was because his name had been mixed up with the party quarrels that disturbed the church there.

If I were Apollos, I would also have balked at going to Corinth after hearing about the party factions that had sprung up in the church. Apollos was assuredly full of faith – just like Paul – and he assuredly desired to carry on the work of the Lord without setting himself above the other apostles. I’m assuming that it pained him to not be able to visit Corinth at that time, though, since he had forged strong relationships with some of the church members through his previous visits. I wonder if God eventually enabled Apollos to visit Corinth at a later date.

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