Commentary on 1st Corinthians

 August 3, 2012
Commentary on First Corinthians


By: Tom Lowe
Topic #10: Concluding Exhortations, Personal Matters, and Benediction, 1 Corinthians 16.1-16.24

 

 

Lesson 10.3: Exhortations, Greetings, and Benediction
 Scripture: 1 Corinthians 16.13-16.24

 


1 Cor 16.13-24 (KJV)


13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
14 Let all your things be done with charity.
15  I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
16  That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.
17  I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.
18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.
19 The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
20 All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.
21 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.
22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

 

Introduction

There are two parts to this final chapter:

1. Love for the church (13–18). Love, commitment, faithfulness, obedience, and submission make for a strong church. When you have people who are devoted to the work of the Lord, people who refresh and energize you in the Lord, God is going to bless. What a joy to be a part of a church family that ministers in love!
2. Love for Christ (19–24). We love the Lord, because He first loved us, and it is because we love Him that we pray, “O Lord, come!” This was Paul’s daily prayer and it reveals his anticipation of the return of the Lord. Do you love Him and love His appearing?—“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim 4:8; KJV).


Commentary

13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

Watch ye,
The Greek word used here for WATCH, means to keep awake, to be vigilant, etc.; and this may be a military metaphor derived from the duty of those who are stationed as sentinels to guard a camp, or to observe the movements of an enemy. The term is frequently used in the New Testament; for example—“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matt 25:13; KJV) ( also see Matthew 24:41, 42; Mark 13:35; Luke 21:36; Acts 20:31; 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 2 Timothy 4:5.). Like a military leader Paul urges the brethren to WATCH YE, i.e., be on the lookout for your spiritual enemies and ready to act should they pose a threat to your faith or religious beliefs. A Christian is always in danger, and therefore should constantly be on the watch; but the danger is greater at certain times and under certain circumstances. The Corinthian believers were in danger on many fronts: they feuded among themselves; formed cliques and factions, there were false teachers and deceivers among them, who tried to corrupt their faith in the most important precepts of their religion, those precepts without which virtue and piety could never subsist. These were the dangers they faced, and surely under such perilous circumstances it was wise for them to always be alert.


The Apostle Peter issued a warning similar to Paul’s: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8; KJV). Awake, and keep awake; be always watchful; never be off your guard; your enemies are alert, they are never off theirs. Your adversary the devil wants to ruin your faith and stop you from serving Christ. This is the reason why you should be sober and vigilant; you have a relentless, merciless, subtle enemy to contend with. He walks about—he has access to you everywhere; he knows your feelings, your propensities, and your circumstances; only God can know more and do more than he can, therefore all your care must be cast upon God.


Watch ye— A Christian is always in danger, therefore he should always be on his guard and watch.
1.  Watch for evil;
2.  Watch for opportunities to receive good;
3.  Watch for opportunities to do good;
4.  Watch over each other in love;
5.  Watch, so that no one draws you away from the belief and unity of the Gospel.


Note: If a Christian wants to be secure, he must be on his guard; and the more danger there is, the greater the vigilance necessary for his security.


stand fast in the faith,
He advises them to STAND FAST IN THE FAITH, to stand their ground, hold fast to the revelation of God, and not give it up for the wisdom of the world, or allow it to be corrupted by it—stand up for your faith in the gospel, and maintain it even if it causes your death; and stand firm in it, so you are able to profess it with confidence, and feel its influence and yield to it. A Christian’s faith in the gospel should be hard and fast, so he never deserts or renounces it. It is by this faith alone that he will be able to stand his ground in a time of temptation; it is by faith that we stand—“Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand” (2 Co 1.24; NKJV). Our strength and stability are grounded in our faith, not our submission to some human authority, therefore our comfort and joy must also come from our faith. It is by faith that we must overcome the world—“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 Jn. 5:4; KJV), both when it pleads and when it scowls, when it tempts and when it terrifies. Therefore we must stand firm in our faith in the gospel, firm in holding and defending the truths of the gospel, and firm in holding on to our personal confidence in God.


“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand” (1 Corinthians 15:1; KJV). Paul says that he declares the gospel to them. What is the gospel? “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” That is the gospel. These are the facts. My friend, there is no gospel apart from those three facts. That is what the gospel is. Jesus Christ died for you and for me. He was buried and He rose again. That is gospel—it’s good news


quit you like men,
This means to be manly or brave; to show one's self a man; that is, not to be a coward, or timid, or frightened by enemies, but be bold and brave. We have a similar phrase in common use today: "Be a man," or "Act like a man;" that is, do not be cowardly. When you are attacked, do not flinch; stand your ground; resist; press forward; strike home; conquer. He advises them to act like men, and be strong: "Do not be terrified or deceived by bad men; but show yourselves men in Christ, by your calmness, by your sound judgment and firm resolve. Be courageous. Be strong.” It is a characteristic of Paul to see the Christian life as though he were in the arena. Faith, conviction, and courage are the essential ingredients for success and victory. Christians should be manly and firm in all their contests with their enemies, in defending their faith, and maintaining their integrity. They should especially be so in those points of faith that lie at the foundation of sound and practical religion, such as were attacked among the Corinthians: these must be defended with sound judgment and determination. “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men” (1 Cor 14:20; KJV).Do not be like children, tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine; and give up your life rather than renounce your testimony for God.


be strong.
BE STRONG means “be rigid,” “steadfast.” “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10; KJV). Be continuously empowered in union with Him. He is the source of spiritual power. Spiritual battles require spiritual strength. Utilize all the vigor and energy which God has given you in maintaining and propagating the truth and your spiritual strength will increase with usage; and fear not, because fear will weaken and debilitate you. Your cause is good; it is the faith, the religion of Jesus; he is your Captain in the field; and, should you even die in the contest, the victory is yours.


The terms in this verse are all military: Watch ye, watch, and be continually on your guard, so you are not surprised by your enemies; keep your scouts out and all your sentinels at their posts. See that the place you are in is properly defended; and that everyone is alert and prepared to perform their duty. 


14 Let all your things be done with charity.
He advises them to do everything in charity (love). Our enthusiasm and faithfulness must be consistent with our love for God and for others. When the apostle instructs us to “act like a man” for the sake of our faith or religion, he adds a caution against acting like a devil for it. We may defend our faith, but we must, at the same time, maintain our innocence, and not devour and destroy, and think that the wrath of man will work the righteousness of God. Christians should take care that love not only reign in their hearts, but shine out in their lives, even in their most manly defenses of their faith and the gospel. There is a great difference between steadfastness and cruelty, between Christian firmness and zealous wrath. Christianity never appears more outstanding, excellent, and conspicuous than when Christians bear with their mistaken brethren and oppose the open enemies of their holy faith in love, when everything is done in love, and when they behave towards one another, and towards all men, with a spirit of meekness and good will.


Paul did not use the word love frequently in this letter, but two crucial passages (1 Cor. 8:1–3; 1 Cor. 13), as well as the closing verses of this chapter, indicate that he regarded love as the indispensable pillar for all of his ethical instructions. “Let all that you do” would have included the divisive quarrels (1 Cor. 1–3), their attitude toward him (1 Cor. 4; 9), church discipline (1 Cor. 5), the lawsuits (1 Cor. 6), marital relationships (1 Cor. 7), the abuse of the “weak” (1 Cor. 8–10), the abuse of the poor at the Lord’s Supper, and the failure to edify the church in worship (1 Cor. 11–14). Had they followed the way of love, they would not have encountered many of these problems. The Corinthians had all the gifts, but love is what they needed most. Here Paul says, that charity, or love, should control all that they did. This was a simple rule; and if it was observed, everything would be done well.


 The apostle Peter realized the necessity for Christian love; he said it would cover a lot of sin—“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8; KJV). “Have fervent love among yourselves, for charity [love] shall cover the multitude of sins.” Peter is talking about our relations as believers today. The writer of the Proverbs said, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins” (Prov. 10:12). Hatred in a church will stir up strife. This little clique will be against that little clique, and these folk will be against somebody else, and all that type of thing. But love covers up all that.


15  I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

I beseech you, brethren,
The construction of this verse and verse 16 is somewhat involved, but the meaning is clear. The words, "I BESEECH YOU," in this verse, are evidently to be connected with 1 Corinthians 16:16. "I BESEECH YOU THAT YE SUBMIT YOURSELVES UNTO SUCH, AND TO EVERY ONE THAT HELPETH WITH US, AND LABOURETH.” The idea is to urge them to pay proper respect to Stephanas and his family; and the remainder of the verse gives the reason why they should show respect and kindness to the household of Stephanas.
 

(ye know the house of Stephanas,
The family of Stephanas seem to have been wealthy and important people in Corinth, and yet they willingly offered themselves to this service Paul calls, THE MINISTRY OF THE SAINTS. Probably a considerable portion, or all, of the family of Stephanas had been converted to the Christian faith. They were his first converts at Corinth (FIRST-FRUITS OF ACHAIA), and he personally baptized them (A.D. 53).


that it is the firstfruits of Achaia,
Paul testifies to their character, that they were the first-fruits of Achaia, the first converts to Christianity in that region of Greece in which Corinth was located. It is desirable for any man to come to Christ early, and even more so as a child; to be kept from gross immorality, and to have more years to serve our Lord. 


In Roman times, the name for all of Greece, except Thessaly was ACHAIA [ah KAY yah]. The Romans gave the region this name when they captured Corinth and destroyed the Achaian League in 146 B.C. Later it included several Greek cities, including Athens.


The apostle Paul passed through Achaia on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21). He also appeared before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia, when the Jewish leaders tried to convince him to prosecute Paul for worship contrary to Jewish law (Acts 18:13). Gallio refused to accept the case and Paul was set free (Acts 18:12–17).
 
 
and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
When we read that word ADDICTED, we immediately think of drug addiction. But these people were ADDICTED TO THE MINISTRY OF THE SAINTS. That was a great ministry! "MINISTRY" means service: the house of Stephanas devoted themselves to the service of Christians. That is, by aiding the ministry; by showing hospitality; by providing for their wants; by accompanying and aiding the apostles in their journeys, by helping and assisting them upon all occasions, both in their temporal and spiritual concerns. They have been the chief instruments of supporting the work of God in Achaia.


16  That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.

That ye submit yourselves unto such,
The word SUBMIT, as it is used here, means that you would show those that serve you the proper respect and consideration; that you show them you are grateful for what they have done by treating them with respect and honour, because they are special instruments in the hand of God for carrying on His great work. This does not imply obedience, but that you treat them in a kind and courteous manner and have due regard for them in view of the fact that they were devoted to the ministry. 

In his letter to the Ephesians the apostle also mentioned the importance of submitting—“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Eph. 5.21; KJV). “SUBMIT” is a very interesting word. It does not mean obey. Paul is not saying that the child of God is a buck private in the rear rank taking orders from somebody in the church who thinks he is a sergeant or a captain. We do take orders, but they are from the Captain of our salvation.


Joshua thought he was a general of the children of Israel. He saw a Man with His sword drawn standing at the edge of the camp. He asked, “… Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?” If I may put it in good old Americana, he said, “Who told you to draw a sword? I’m the general here!” It was actually a rebuke. Then that One (who was the preincarnate Christ) turned and said, “… Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come …” (Josh. 5:13–14). Joshua went down on his face and even took off his shoes because he was on holy ground. He learned that he had a Captain.


You and I are under a Captain, but the relationship is not military but on the basis of love. Our Lord said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). I think there is an alternative there: “If you don’t love me, forget the commandments.”


Now we see here that you and I are to submit ourselves “one to another in the fear of God.” That doesn’t mean we are to salute and fall down before some human being who outranks us. It does mean that in the fear of Christ we are to walk with one another in lowliness of mind.


Ephesians 4.1, 2 has this to say: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” Paul is saying that our walk should be in lowliness and meekness. That is the same thing that we have here. But notice that here it begins with “I … beseech you.” This is not a command. It is the language of love. The fires of Sinai have died down, and now it is based on what has been done by Christ at Calvary. It is based on the grace of God. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness….”


“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” means that you do not try to run the church. Pastors, officers in the church, members of the church, all of us are to submit ourselves one to another in the fear of Christ. It cannot be a “my way” proposition. No one can say, “I want you to know that I’ll do as I please. If I want to do it this way, I will do it this way.” Such an attitude is not a mark of a Spirit–filled believer. Submitting ourselves one to another in the fear of God is another mark of being Spirit–filled.


and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.
This includes everyone that aids us in the ministry, or provides for our wants, etc. It is possible that Stephanas lived among them at this time, though he had been converted in Achaia; and it is probable that, since Corinth was a central place and a thoroughfare, others might visit or come to minister to them who were the personal friends of Paul, and who had aided him in the ministry. For all such he asks in advance for their kind, and tender, and respectful regards.

 

17  I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.

I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus:
STEPHANAS AND FORTUNATUS AND ACHAICUS were three members of the Corinthian assembly who ministered to Paul’s needs in Ephesus. All three are Latin names, which is not surprising since the new city of Corinth was composed mainly of Romans. They may have made up the delegation that brought the letter from the Corinthian church to Paul referred to in 1 Corinthians 7.1—“Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me…” (1 Cor 7:1; NKJV). Paul tells the believers in Corinth that these three Christian men were so wonderful that they made up for all the problems he experienced while he was with them in Corinth. I AM GLAD OF THE COMING; that is, I am glad that they have come to me at Ephesus. I am delighted that STEPHANAS who was converted by my ministry in Achaia, and who has for so long shown himself to be a personal friend to me, and an aid in my work, came at this time.


STEPHANAS, as far as we know, is the same person mentioned in the previous verses. He probably was one of the oldest and most respected members of the church, and had been selected to carry the letter mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:1 to Paul, and to consult with him in regard to the affairs of the church there.


FORTUNATUS (his name means fortunate), was one of three Corinthians who were at Ephesus when St. Paul wrote his first epistle. There is a Fortunatus mentioned in the end of Clement’s first epistle to the Corinthians, who was possibly the same person—This man is supposed to have survived St. Paul; and to be the same person mentioned by Clement in his epistle to the Corinthians, sec. 59, as the bearer of that epistle from Clement at Rome to the Christians at Corinth.


ACHAICUS [uh KAY ih cus] (his name means belonging to Achaia) was a Christian from Corinth who, along with Stephanas and Fortunatus, visited the apostle Paul at Ephesus and refreshed his spirit.


Fortunatus and Achaicus were probably members of Stephanas' household.


for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.
The Greek word which has been rendered here as "THAT WHICH WAS LACKING," means, that which is deficient, inadequate, not good enough. It may be used to indicate a want or lack of any kind; things such as support, provisions, help, consolation, information, or counsel (See Luke 21:4, Philippians 2:30, 1 Thessalonians 3:10). What this was which the Corinthians had neglected or failed to furnish Paul, and which had been supplied by these men, can only be a matter of conjecture; and different commentators have suggested different things:
• It might be a neglect to provide for his wants, or
• failing to inform him about their affairs in the letter which they had sent him; or
• it might be that these three men had furnished, by their presence and friendly conversation that which he had desired to have with them, but was lacking, due to his being at Ephesus and therefore absent from them, or
• they gave him a better account of the state of the church by word of mouth than he could acquire from their letter, and that relieved his mind. It seems that their letter had made the situation there appear much worse than it really was; but he had been put at ease by the conversations he had with these three men.


Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus came to him with a truly Christian objective, to set the record straight, and give the apostle as favorable opinion of the church as they could, as peace-makers. They seem to have carried this letter with them on their return trip to Corinth, which is supported by the exhortations given in this verse as well as verse 18, which imply they would be at Corinth when the Epistle arrived.

 
18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.

For they have refreshed my spirit and yours:
Here Paul has in mind both their ministry to him, in terms of reporting the progress of the Corinthian assembly, and their ministry to the Corinthians in terms of sharing the ministry Paul had with them in Ephesus.


Paul commends Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, because THEY HAVE REFRESHED MY SPIRIT. They were able to raise his spirits—by their presence and conversation. They gave him information relating to the state of things in the church; and thanks to their obliging behavior and edifying conversation Paul was in good spirits; having them around was very gratifying. In a certain sense, their visit to him was a benefit to both by removing those suspicions and fears that existed on both sides.  It succeeded in imparting comfort, a good understanding, an increase of their mutual attachment, and ultimately a large enhancement to their mutual joy when they would meet again.


Paul also commends these Christian men, because THEY HAVE REFRESHED YOUR SPIRIT. Having my spirit refreshed has a good effect on you, since you are my disciples. You will be refreshed when you receive this letter, by knowing that "my spirit is refreshed" by their having come to me from you; and (perhaps) by the good report they gave of many of you (See 1 Co 1:4-8). They have contributed greatly to my comfort; and what contributes to my comfort must increase yours; and they gained greatly from the counsel I was able to give them, and when they return to you, you, no doubt, will be refreshed by their ministrations among you.


 Titus was one of Paul’s disciples; he went to Corinth at the apostle’s request, and his return engendered this comment: “Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all” (2 Co. 7.13; KJV). When Titus returned from Corinth, he reported the spiritual progress at Corinth, and Paul was cheered and comforted by the good news. 

 
therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.
Paul has applauded these men for their service to him, their friendly demeanor, and the clear picture they provided on the state of the Corinthian church. He gives instructions on how the Corinthian believers should behave towards them, and all others involved in Christian service. He requests they acknowledge their service and treat them with respect. They deserve it for the good work they have done for Christ’s church. Those who serve the saints, those who desire to bring honor and esteem to the churches, and are anxious to wipe away all the criticism, and repair the damage done by hypocrisy in the church, are to be appreciated, and respected, and loved. Those who discover within them such a good spirit cannot easily be over-valued.


He advises that they should submit themselves to men like Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, and to all who helped the apostles, and labored along side of them—“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you” (1 Thess 5:12; NKJV). Act kindly towards them; acknowledge them as the messengers of Christ; and treat them with tenderness and respect. This does not mean they are to be in subjection to those who are their superiors in office or rank, but rather, to voluntarily acknowledge their value. They were persons to whom they owed respect, and whom they should admire. THEREFORE ACKNOWLEDGE YE THEM THAT ARE SUCH. Receive them warmly, recognize them as brethren; cherish, and treat kindly all that demonstrate such a spirit. Evidently, the apostle desires that the Corinthians receive them kindly when they return, and respect the counsel which they might offer, and the message which they might bear from him. Simply stated, Paul is saying, “Give them a vote of thanks when they get back.”

Note: those who serve the saints and labour hard for the success of the gospel, which encourage the faithful ministers of Christ, and attempt to promote their usefulness, should be held in high-regard.


19 The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

The churches of Asia salute you.
The apostle closes his epistle with salutations to the church of Corinth from him and several others he mentions; he begins with those who lived in Asia. To his credit, Paul could find room in an epistle concerned with very important matters to send the greetings of friends. It would be a good idea for us to follow his example in our correspondence and verbal communication, because Christians should promote a courteous and obliging disposition towards everyone. Those who are always sour and down in the dumps give a false impression of religion, and encourage others to criticize Christianity. Christian greetings are not empty compliments; they carry in them real expressions of good-will, and they are sometimes accompanied with warm wishes for divine grace and blessing upon them.


In Paul’s day, Asia was a Roman province in western ASIA MINOR which included Mysia, Lydia, Caria, and the coastal islands as well as western Phrygia. Seven of the churches of “Asia” are named in the Book of Revelation. The borders of this province were, for the most part, those of the earlier kingdom of Pergamos. It was sometimes used in a more limited sense, to denote the region around Ephesus, of which Ephesus was the centre and capital. “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6; NKJV). This is undoubtedly the region which is intended here.


This sentence, “THE CHURCHES OF ASIA SALUTE YOU,” tells us immediately that Paul was not at Philippi when he wrote this letter, which is an opinion held by some; but in Ephesus instead, because if he had been at Philippi he would have said, The Churches of MACEDONIA, not the Churches of ASIA, salute you.


 Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord,
 AQUILA AND PRISCILLA (salute them MUCH in the Lord) were driven out of Italy by Claudius, and they had gone to Corinth to live, where they met Paul (That is why their greeting to the Corinthians is appropriate here.), and then they moved with Paul from Corinth to Ephesus, which is confirmed by these verses: “After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.  So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:18, 19, 24, 25, 26; NKJV). It is clear that this married couple were exceptional Christian workers and were probably of great assistance to the apostle.

They set up a Church (or assembly of believers) at their house in Ephesus (Ro 16:3, 5), as they had done in Rome; a pattern for Christian husbands and wives to follow. Their Christian love shines wherever they go—“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house” (Romans 16:3-5; NKJV). Even the gifted Apollos, who was so greatly admired at Corinth, owed them a great deal for telling him about Christ (See Acts 18:24-26, above). This unique husband-wife team was viewed as capable teachers in the early church.


The word MUCH is quantitative and indicates special affection; therefore MUCH IN THE LORD refers to their union together in Christ, and their prayers for the Corinthian brethren in recognition of that union.


 PRISCILLA is called PRISCA in 2 Tim. 4:19: “Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.”


with the church that is in their house
Apparently, wherever this couple went, they made their home a place where Christ was honored and believers gathered to share the Word together and worship. That is where many of these people came to know about Christ. The early church did not have church buildings, and found it necessary to meet often in private houses. The house of Aquila and Priscilla appears to have been devoted to this purpose. The house of Philemon was also a church (Philemon 2). So was the house of Nymphas—“Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house” (Col 4:15; NKJV). In 1 Corinthians 16:20, "All the brethren" (that is, the whole Church) seem to be distinguished from “THE CHURCH THAT IS IN THEIR HOUSE” which was only a partial and private assembly out of the general Church at Ephesus.


It is very probable that the family of AQUILA AND PRISCILLA is called THE CHURCH IN THEIR HOUSE, since every Christian family should in some respects be a Christian church. In some cases (as, for instance, where they live in a foreign country, where there are no other Christians), they should be a church themselves, if large enough, and live according to all the ordinances of the Christian faith; but in every circumstance Christian families should live under the guidance of Christian rules, and come together daily for Christian worship. Wherever two or three are gathered together, and Christ is among them, there is a church. When Christ's followers are separated from one another they cease to be a congregation, but are still a Church, in the sense they retain the common bond of union to Christ and share the same faith and hope.


20 All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.

All the brethren greet you.
ALL THE BRETHREN would be all the Christians with whom Paul was connected in Ephesus. They felt a deep interest in the church at Corinth, and sent Christian greetings.


Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.
This is Paul’s advice, that THEY SHOULD GREET ONE ANOTHER WITH A HOLY KISS, or with sincere good-will; he may have intended this as a roundabout rebuke of their feuds and factions. In other words, they were to put away their divisive spirit and unite in the bonds of love.  This mode of salutation has been practiced throughout history; and particularly in eastern nations. It was even practiced by men—“And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:47-48; KJV).


The use of the word holy here serves to denote that Paul intended it as an expression of Christian affection; and to guard against all improper familiarity and scandal. A kiss was a customary greeting in Paul’s day, and was an expression of mutual affection and friendship. The ancient patriarchs and the Jews in general, were accustomed to kiss each other whenever they met; and this was a token of friendship and peace with them, as shaking of hands is with us. The primitive Christians naturally followed the example of the Jews. (Also see II Cor 13:12; I Thess 5:26; I Pet 5:14).  The HOLY KISS was mentioned by Justin Martyr and other Church Fathers as a greeting, but later it was incorporated into the Eucharistic liturgy and was practiced in the Western Church until the thirteenth century. Originally, it was an actual kiss; it has been modified over the centuries. Sometimes, in lieu of a kiss, each believer places his or her hands on the other’s shoulders and then bows.


Does this mean it would be alright for today’s Christians to kiss? It certainly does—if it is a holy kiss. Most kisses are not! I doubt that kissing would be accepted by most congregations due to today’s emphasis on sex. If we meet someday, I would prefer to shake hands.


21 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.
WITH MINE OWN HAND refers to the salutation, not the entire epistle. In Galatians 6:11, Paul remarks that his writing of that epistle with his own hand was something unusual due to his poor sight. Ordinarily, he used an amanuensis (secretary) to whom he would dictate his letters and then he would write the salutation with his own hand to authenticate it—“The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you” (Col 4:18; KJV). His personal salutation was a proof that it was his own and not a counterfeit—“The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write” (2 Thess 3:17; KJV). So I write probably refers to some mark or method which Paul had of signing his name which was well known, and would easily be recognized by them.


Paul wrote this verse and the final three.


22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.

If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ,
Here is a solemn warning, written by the hand of the apostle. Many who call themselves Christians have no true love in their hearts for Him. No one truly loves Him, who does not love his laws, and keep his commandments. Many are Christians in name only, since they do not sincerely love the Lord Jesus. Those who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ, must perish even though they may worship Buddha or Allah, or sacrifice to an idol that looks like a man, a woman or an animal. I have never heard a Buddhist or Muslim say they love their God, But I love Christ, because He first loved me. Let us not join with any religious group where there is not love of Christ, earnest desires for His salvation, gratitude for His mercies, and obedience to His commandments.


The person described here is legally responsible for his own doom. “He that loveth not the Lord Jesus Christ” stands here as a warning to the Corinthians and a rebuke of their criminal behavior. It is a warning to them not to be led away from the simplicity of the gospel, or those principles of it which were the great motives to live a life of purity, or by those who advocate science over religion, or by the wisdom of the world, which says their religion is only for fools, and its most important doctrines are absurd and ridiculous. Those men despised Christ; and, if the Corinthians listen to their seducing speeches, they were in danger of abandoning and renouncing Him. Against this possibility he gives them a very solemn warning. It was designed to direct them to the great and essential matter of religion—love of the Lord Jesus; and was intended, without a doubt, to turn their minds away from the subjects which had upset them, the disputes and dissensions which had split the church into factions.
 

The Savior showed how important this issue was to Him. He asked Simon Peter, “Do you love Me? (See John 21:17). He didn’t ask Peter if he would deny Him again. He just asked “DO YOU LOVE ME?” That is the acid test today. Do you love Him?

 
let him be Anathema Maranatha.
ANATHEMA means “accursed” or “devoted to destruction.”  Maranatha means “the Lord commeth.” Anathema, maran-atha means "Let him be accursed; our Lord cometh."
Paul is saying, “If any one does not love the Lord, let him be accursed.” and the idea here is that one who did not believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him, would be, and ought to be, devoted to destruction, or accursed of God. It expresses what ought to be done; it expresses a truth in regard to God's dealings with mankind, and not the desire of the apostle. No matter what any man's gifts might be; no matter how wealthy he might be, what his standing  in the community might be, or his talent; no matter if he was an officer in the church, or at the head of a faction within the church; if he did not truly love the Lord Jesus, he could not be saved. This opinion is in accordance with the declaration of Scripture.

• John 3:36 (KJV) “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Eternal life and eternal death depend upon trust in Christ. He who believes on the Son with a sincere, obedient faith, a faith that trusts all and surrenders all to the will of Christ, is born again and “hath eternal life.” The faith that saves is a faith that causes us to come to Christ.
• Mark 16:16 (KJV) “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” These are the awful issues of the reception or rejection of the Gospel.


Someone may have asked “How can I tell if someone is truly saved, to which Paul gave this answer in 1 Corinthians 12.3 (KJV)—“Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor 12:3; KJV). In times of persecution Christians were asked to say Jesus Anathema. If one speaking by the spirit pronounced Jesus the Lord, he had the Holy Spirit. This confession from the heart is always moved by the Spirit. Of course, if anyone would curse Jesus, they were not saved, and they bring down on their own heads the same curse.


 Those who did not love the Lord Jesus could not be punished by men, since they do not break any known law, but they could not escape Divine condemnation. The Lord would come to execute vengeance himself on the Great Day, and they could not escape. It is probable that the Jews were accustomed to using this sentiment in their declarations of excommunication; and that they meant by it, that the person who was thereby devoted to destruction, and excommunicated, must be destroyed; because the Lord would come to take vengeance on all his enemies. It certainly was not used now, for the first time, as a new kind of cursing by the apostle; but he was merely applying a current manner of speech to underscore the point he was making.


The bottom line is this: if we do not love the Saviour, we cannot be saved. In that case, we must be subjected to the curse; and the Lord Jesus will soon return to execute the tremendous sentence on a guilty world. How important, then, is it for you and me to ask whether we have that love? Whether we are attached to the Lord Jesus in such a manner as to secure his approval, or whether we love him and are prepared to welcome His coming with joy, and to be received into his everlasting kingdom.

 

23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
I believe the apostle loved the Christians in Corinth; he had personally led many of them to the Lord. He really means it when he sends his good wishes and expressions of good-will to them. THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST BE WITH YOU, is like saying "May the favor, influence, mercy, and salvation procured by Jesus Christ, be with you—prevail among you, rule in you, and be exhibited by you, in your life and conversation! Amen.’’ The phrase “THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST” conveys the idea that this heartfelt desire is good for time or eternity. When we wish that our friends may have this grace with them, we are wishing them the highest good. And we should wish this for all our friends and brethren in Christ. We can wish them nothing more, and we should wish them nothing less. We should pray for them; that they may appreciate, and ask for, and obtain, and secure, the grace and good-will of their Lord and Judge. It is important to understand that the most solemn warnings are the result of the tenderest affection and the greatest good-will. We may tell our brethren and friends with great bluntness and sorrow; that if they do not love the Lord Jesus Christ, they must perish, while we wholeheartedly wish for the grace of Christ to be with them. We may give them this warning, first, because we love them, and secondly, so that they might acquire this grace. Have you ever noticed how much true Christianity enlarges our hearts; it makes us wish those whom we love the blessings of both worlds, since this is what is implied when we wish for the grace of Christ to be with them. And therefore it is no wonder that the apostles should close all their correspondence in this manner—“… The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you…” (Romans 16:20; KJV).


24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
IN CHRIST JESUS means through Christ Jesus; or in connection with your love for Him; that is, as Christians. This is an expression of tender regard for them as Christian brethren; of his love for the church; and his earnest desire for their welfare. It is in accordance with the usual manner in which he closes his epistles; and here it is peculiarly tender, affectionate, and beautiful, especially in light of the manner in which he had been treated by many of the Corinthians; and when considering the solemn declaration in 1 Corinthians 16:22: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” Paul loved them; loved them intensely, and was always ready to express his affectionate regard for them all, and his earnest desire for their salvation.


Only their spiritual father could speak to them in this way: “MY LOVE BE WITH YOU ALL.” His love is extended not only to those who agree with him, but to everyone in the assembly, even his enemies. He had dealt very bluntly with them in this epistle, and admonished them for their faults with justifiable severity; but, in order to show that he was not simply excited by his passions for this church, he parts with them in love, and makes this solemn profession of his love for them, for Christ’s sake. He tells them what is in his heart, that he truly loved them; but to insure that his words would not be deemed flattery, he adds that his affection for them was the result of his religion, and would be guided by its rules. His heart would be with them, and he would love them as long as their hearts were with Christ, and His cause and interests.


The greatest example these Christians have of how to live the Christian life is the great apostle himself. After having administered some severe rebukes, he closes with expressions of "love": his very rebukes were prompted by love, and therefore are altogether in harmony with the profession of love made here: it was his LOVE IN CHRIST JESUS that caused him to embrace "ALL" those who loved Him.


Remember, this is for us too; we should be gracious lovers of all who are in Christ, and who sincerely love Him. But our love must not be limited to the brethren; we should love all men, and wish them well, and do them whatever good is within our power; but those must have our dearest affection that are dear to Christ, and lovers of Him. MAY OUR LOVE BE WITH ALL THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS! AMEN. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do … but how much love we put in that action (Mother Teresa).  If you love the Lord Jesus, you will love the saints. The epistle closes on the high note of love.


To all my readers, I wish to say as Paul did, “THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST BE WITH YOU. MY LOVE BE WITH YOU ALL IN CHRIST JESUS. AMEN.” I began this work eleven months ago, and it has blessed me, even to the point of tears; tears of sorrow because of my sin, tears of joy because they are forgiven, and tears because I love Him so much. I pray that you love Him too!

 

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