Commentary on First Corinthians

 July 27, 2013
Commentary on First Corinthians

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

 

 

Lesson 10.2: Plans for Travel
 Scripture: 1 Corinthians 16.5-12


1 Cor 16:5-12 (KJV)

5 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.
6 And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.
7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.
8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.
10 Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.
11 Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.
12 As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.


Commentary

5 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.

Now I will come unto you,
St. Paul was now at Ephesus; an opinion that is held by most commentators in spite of the assertion at the end of this epistle that it was written from Philippi. Many strong arguments support the opinion that it was written from Ephesus. For instance, the 8th verse seems to settle the question: “BUT I WILL TARRY AT EPHESUS UNTIL PENTECOST.” That is, I am in Ephesus, and I plan to remain here until Pentecost. Paul had originally intended to go to Corinth first, and then to go to Macedonia. And he would return to them (Corinth) from Macedonia, before going to Judea. These were the travel plans he announced in the lost epistle (see 1 Co. 5.9). But now he has changed his mind, and those plans are set aside and he announces his new plan which entails going to Macedonia first, and then to Corinth; and “by the way,” he says, “I may tarrying a while," and even "spend the winter with you." This was a major change and it lead to him being charged with being fickle—“And in this confidence I intended to come to you before, that you might have a second benefit—to pass by way of you to Macedonia, to come again from Macedonia to you, and be helped by you on my way to Judea…Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No?” (2 Cor 1:15-17; NKJV). Paul tells them that his decision to change his itinerary was not made LIGHTLY, perhaps defending himself from the accusation that he was fickle or indecisive. But why did he really change his plans? He tells why in his second epistle to the Corinthians—“Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to SPARE YOU I came not as yet unto Corinth” (2 Cor 1:23; KJV). He delayed coming in order to give time for his First Epistle to have an effect and bring repentance to that congregation. Had he come before they repented, he would have been forced to deal very harshly with them.


The apostle had labored long and hard in Corinth, and he had done a lot of good among them, and now his heart was set upon doing much more (if God saw fit), and therefore he wanted to see them again, and stay with them. We are told in Acts 20.2, 3 that he did stay with them for three months. It is no wonder that Paul was willing to see Corinth and stay with them as long as the other duties of his office would permit. Though some among the Corinthians despised him, and formed a faction that opposed him, no doubt there were many who loved him and paid him all the respect due to an apostle and one who was their spiritual father. And so, is it any wonder that he would desire to visit them, and stay with them? And as for the rest of them, who were very disrespectful to him, he might hope to change their opinion of him, and to stay with them for a while, and rectify what was out of order in the church.
 

when I shall pass through Macedonia:
Here Paul changes his original itinerary and consequently was accused of being fickle (see above). Although he would have to go out of his way to go to Macedonia, since it did not lie on the direct route from Ephesus to Corinth, yet the apostle intended to go there. He proposed to go to Macedonia first, and after he visited the churches there, he would go to Corinth. In verse 9 he tells them the reason he changed his plans; “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” There were other reasons see above), but this may be the most important. It seems that new opportunities were opening up for ministering to the Ephesians, and so he wanted to stay longer in that great city. The adversaries he mentions are probably Jews who opposed the gospel.
 
 
for I do pass through Macedonia.
FOR I DO PASS is like saying, "This is, at last, what I have decided to do." There was probably some previous correspondence on the subject of the journey, and there is an implication that there had been some indecisiveness in the apostle's plan. According to his second plan, we find him in Macedonia when Second Corinthians was written (see 2 Co 2:13; 2 Co 8:1; 2 Co 9:2, 4), and on his way to Corinth (see 2 Co 12:14; 2 Co 13:1; Ac 20:1, 2). "PASS THROUGH" is the opposite of "abide.” He was not yet in Macedonia (as 1Co 16:8 shows), but at Ephesus; but he was thinking of passing through it (not abiding as he proposed to do at Corinth). And it was because it was not near the direct road to Corinth, but lay at the upper end of the Aegean Sea, and very far out of his direct path, that he says, I DO PASS THROUGH MACEDONIA—I have decided to go there before I go to Corinth.


Some would say that Paul doesn’t know where he is going. Do you mean to tell me that the great Apostle of the Gentiles didn’t have a blueprint or a road map from the Lord telling him everywhere he was to go? No, he says that the Lord just leads him along. Paul is in the wonderful position of being gloriously unsettled. He is not sure what he is supposed to do. This is a great satisfaction to me because I don’t know about the future either. There are people in Christian service who tell me where they are going and what they will be doing five years down the road. This worries me because I have never received directions like that from the Lord, and I hate to think they have a private line to the Lord that I don’t have! Then when I read about Paul’s not knowing what was ahead for him, it is a great comfort. To Paul and me the Lord doesn’t give a road map; He just leads us from day to day. We are gloriously unsettled.

 


6And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.

 

And it may be that I will abide,
Paul’s plans at this time are to spend the winter at Corinth (If the Lord permits. The apostle always put the will of God above his own.).


yea, and winter with you,
He planned to stay at Ephesus until Pentecost; after that he would go to Macedonia, and probably spend the summer there; and go to Corinth in the autumn, and spend the winter there. It worked out pretty much like he planned, because he did "abide and even winter" for the three WINTER months in Greece (Corinth)—“…Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia…And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece…And there abode three months…And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days” (Acts 20:1-3, 6; KJV). From this passage it seems that Paul probably left Corinth about a month before the "days of unleavened bread" or the Passover (in order to allow time for a brief stop at Thessalonica and Berea, where two of his companions were from.); thus, the three months at Corinth would be December, January, and February.

 
that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.
It is clear from this that he hoped for some good results from his stay at Corinth, because he says he intended to stay, so that they could assist him on his journey wherever he went next; not that it was necessary for them to accompany him for a part of his journey, though he would appreciate their company (Actually, it was customary for the apostles to be accompanied by some members of the churches and personal friends in their travels; see Acts 10:23.), but rather, help and encourage him, and provide that which he would need for his journey. The apostle John speaks of a similar situation in 3 John 6, where he commends a man named Gaius for helping some of the brethren in a way worthy of God to continue their journey—“They have testified to your love before the church. Please help them in a way worthy of God to continue their journey” (3 John 6; NABWRNT). In the second epistle, John says that if you bid Godspeed to false teachers, you are a partaker with them; you are guilty of their deeds. But now he says that if you help those who are giving out the Word of God and who are walking in love, you do well. This is actually something you and I should be doing. In Paul’s letter to Titus, he makes a request of his friend—“Send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey soon, and see to it that they have everything they need” (Titus 3.13; NABWRNT). The request is for Titus to help two of his friends on their journey, and to see to it that they have everything they need. This was to be done, not as an act of common civility only, but of Christian piety, out of respect both for them and the work they were sent to do, which probably was to preach the gospel, or to be of service to the churches, in some way.


Paul hoped that while he was staying in Corinth, he would be able to cure their tendency to form factions, and reconcile them to him and their duty. This was a good reason for the apostle to stay in Corinth. When the apostle left Corinth he probably went to Judea. This was evidently his intention, though his plans were not positively fixed as yet. But wherever he should go, it would be gratifying to him to have their aid and companionship. It appears that, in most cases, the different Churches paid his expenses to other Churches; where this was not done; he labored at his business of making tents to acquire the means for travelling.

7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.

For I will not see you now by the way;
From Ephesus to Corinth was a comparatively short passage across the Aegean Sea, but something had occurred to change his mind, and to induce him to go to Macedonia by another way. And here he gives his excuse for not seeing them now; because it would be only BY THE WAY: it would only be a temporary visit. He would not see them because he could not stay with them. Such a short visit would not give either him or them any satisfaction or benefit; it would raise the appetite instead of satisfying it; heighten their desires of being together instead of satisfying them. He loved them so much that he longed for an opportunity to stay with them, and live with them for some length of time. This would be more pleasing to him and more practical for them, than a brief visit; and therefore he would not see them now, but later on, when he could stay longer.

 
but I trust to tarry a while with you,
We see here that Paul wants a long visit with them, not a hurried visit while he is on the way to some other place. Although the apostles wrote under inspiration, they did not know, by inspiration, how God would transact with those they wrote to. Paul had a purpose for going to Corinth, and staying there, and he hoped to do some good work for the Lord while there. But this was not a purpose proceeding from any extraordinary action or impulse of the Spirit of God; it was not the effect of inspiration; because if it had been he would not have added, IF THE LORD PERMIT.


if the Lord permit.
IF GOD PERMIT implies that he would carry out God’s own purpose concerning him, with God’s permission? It is to be understood then that they share a common purpose, formed in his spirit, by God. And with regard to all our purposes it is appropriate for us to say, "We will perform them if the Lord permit.’’ Note, all our purposes must be made with submission to the divine providence. We should say, “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this and that” (James 4:15). We do not have the where with all, in many things, to bring about our own plans, without the divine permission. It is by God’s power and permission, and under his direction, that we must do everything.


Paul is saying here that he does plan to go to Corinth, but only if the Lord permits it. The apostle did not use the language of certainty and of confidence, because he felt his dependence on God, and considered everything under His direction. We find the same form of expression in 1 Corinthians 4:19—“But I will come—and soon—if the Lord lets me…"


Shouldn’t we have plans? Yes! Of course we should make plans, but those plans always should be agreeable to the will of God. We should be willing to change them. We should be willing to shuffle things around. When Paul went out, he did not have a rigid schedule for his missionary journeys. He went as the Lord lead him. We see in the Book of Acts how the Lord detoured him on the second missionary journey. Paul was going down into Asia; the Spirit of God sent him over to Europe. He didn’t know he was going to Europe—he didn’t have a visa for Europe—but in that day he didn’t need a visa. He went where the Holy Spirit led him.

 


8 But I will tarry (remain) at Ephesus until Pentecost.


The time is near the close of Paul’s three-year stay at Ephesus and the season is early spring. He says he would stay there until Pentecost. He was in that case writing before Pentecost, which came in the latter part of the spring.


PENTECOST was a Jewish festival occurring fifty days after the Passover; and that's why it’s called the Pentecost. Since there were Jews at Corinth, and they were in the church, they would understand the time which Paul referred to; and since he was a Jew, he naturally used their method of reckoning time, so that it would be understood. Without a doubt, the great festivals of the Jews were well known in most of the cities of Greece, seeing that there were Jews in them who were conscientious in their observances. It would not be surprising if Christians everywhere regarded this day with deep interest, because it was the day on which the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and on the people of Jerusalem (see Acts 2).


It is very likely that at the time of writing this epistle Paul was in Ephesus, which we understand from this verse and 1 Corinthians 16.19, where he says, “The churches of Asia salute you.” This is a proper salutation if it was written from Ephesus, but it would not be so, if he was in Philippi. "The churches of Macedonia salute you,’’ would have been a better close to a letter from Philippi.


 He seems to have stayed until Pentecost, as he purposed here: because just when the turmoil which drove him away broke out, he was already intending to leave Ephesus—“After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season” (Acts 19:21-22; KJV). By combining these verses with 1 Corinthians 5.7-8, the date of this Epistle is place at a few weeks before Pentecost, and very soon after the Passover.


9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

For a great door and effectual is opened unto me,
DOOR is used here metaphorically for “opportunity.” AND EFFECTUAL implies that this opportunity was highly likely to be effective, or adapted to success, and presenting the opportunity for good results. There was abundant opportunity to preach the gospel. Perhaps Paul observed or perceived that the Ephesians were attentive to his teaching, and were interested in hearing the gospel; that would encourage him in his work there. It is possible that this was one of the reasons why Paul had changed his mind about passing through Corinth on his way to Macedonia. It would require time to visit Corinth, since he would want to remain there; but due to this unexpected opportunity for doing good, he thought it would be a good idea to remain at Ephesus as long as practicable, and then to go at once to Macedonia. So we now have the reason for his staying at Ephesus for the present: Because a great door, and effectual, was opened to him, and there were many adversaries. The apostle had great success at Ephesus (see Acts Chapter 19); he had brought many of them to Christ, and he had prepared many others to receive Christ, and he was very hopeful of leading them to receive the gospel. That was the good prospect that kept him at Ephesus and the reason he continued to work so hard.


There is an abundance of opportunities for a Christian to be useful. Evidently the word DOOR is used here to denote an occasion or an opportunity for doing anything. It is the means by which we have entrance or access; and consequently indicates ability to do anything when there is no impediment. There are many instances recorded in the New Testament where God opened the DOOR for the gospel. For example:
• (Acts 14:27; NLT) “Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them and how he had opened the DOOR of faith to the Gentiles.”
• (2 Cor 2:12; NKJV) “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a DOOR was opened to me by the Lord.”
• (Col 4:3; NKJV) “Meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a DOOR for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains.”
• (Rev 3:8; KJV) “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open DOOR, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”


This is a wonderful verse and it could be put alongside Revelation 3:8, (which is Christ’s message to the church in Philadelphia): “… behold, I have set before thee an open DOOR….” And Paul says, “A great DOOR and effectual is opened unto me.” These two verses are true of every ministry God gives to you. Also it is true today that there are many adversaries. Any man who will stand for the Word of God has many enemies. That was the experience of Paul, and it has been the experience of many Christians today. However, the Lord opens the DOOR and no man can shut it. Thank God for that!


So we see Paul is gloriously happy, rejoicing in the will of God. If the Lord wants him to go to Corinth, he will go; if He wants him to stay in Ephesus, he will stay.


and there are many adversaries.
There were MANY ADVERSARIES, because a great door, and an effectual, was opened. Wherever great success in the work of the gospel is found, it commonly creates many enemies. The devil is the greatest enemy, and he makes those who are the most vigorous and successful in their efforts to destroy God’s kingdom, cause the most trouble. There were many adversaries; and therefore the apostle decided to stay. True courage is aroused by opposition; and it is no wonder that the Christian courage of the apostle was enlivened by the enthusiasm of his adversaries. They were bent on ruining him, and preventing his ministry at Ephesus from becoming successful. Should he at this time desert his post, and disgrace his character and doctrine? No, the opposition of adversaries only excited his zeal. He was not intimidated by them; the more they raged and opposed him the more he applied himself to preaching the gospel. Adversaries and opposition do not break the spirits of faithful and successful ministers, but only ignite their zeal, and inspire them with fresh courage. If truth be told, to labour in vain is cruel and discouraging. It dampens the spirits, and breaks the heart. But success will give new life and vigor to a minister, even though his enemies rage against him, and curse him, and persecute him. It is not the opposition of enemies, but the hardness and stubbornness of his congregation, and the backslidings and revolt of professed Christians, that dampen the spirit of a faithful minister, and break his heart.


Paul is talking directly to the Corinthian believers. These were the people who walked down the streets of Corinth. Corinth was a very corrupt city, a sensual city given over to immorality. They knew more about illicit sex than this generation knows today. Yet there were also people walking the streets of Corinth, who knew the Lord Jesus and who lived for Him. They kept themselves unspotted from the world. But there were adversaries that opposed them as well as Paul; they would block the way and prevent them from entering an open door. They were not merely false teachers, but open adversaries: both Jews and heathen. Paul had labored long at Ephesus, and he produced results which threatened the interests of those whose livelihoods were derived from idolatry, and "many adversaries" arose to threaten him (see Ac 19:9-23). Where great good is accomplished, evil is waiting on the sidelines to intervene as its antagonist.


Paul did not look upon his MANY ADVERSARIES (Some were Jews, and others the friends of Demetrius. See Acts 19.) as a reason why he should leave Ephesus, but rather as a reason why he should remain there. In fact, he considered it evidence that the Holy Spirit was there. It was proof that the enemies of God feared him, and that the kingdom of Christ was advancing. His presence would also be needed there, to encourage and strengthen the young converts who would be attacked and opposed by the same ones who opposed him; and for that reason he judged it his duty to remain. A minister should never wish to make enemies of the gospel, or seek to excite them to oppose it; but such opposition is often evidence that the Spirit of God is among a people; that the consciences of sinners are aroused and alarmed; and that the great enemy of God and man is making, as he was at Ephesus, a desperate effort to preserve his kingdom from being destroyed.

 


10 Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.

Now if Timotheus come,
Paul is still living and working and preaching the gospel in Ephesus, but “He sent his two assistants, Timothy and Erastus, ahead to Macedonia while he stayed awhile longer in the province of Asia (Ephesus)” (Acts 19:22; NLT). At this time Timothy and Erastus were traveling through Macedonia, with instructions to stop at Corinth on the way, and the apostle anticipated that they would be reaching Corinth eventually, and for that reason he had told them earlier—“That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go” (1 Cor 4:17; NLT). He recommends Timothy to them, and asks that they treat him kindly.


Apparently, Timothy was not the bearer of this Epistle, because if he was Paul would not have said, "IF TIMOTHY COME." Therefore he must have been sent by Paul from Ephesus before this Epistle was written, to concur with 1 Co 4:17-19; and yet the passage here implies that Paul did not expect him to arrive at Corinth until after the letter was received. He tells them how to treat him "IF" he should arrive. Acts 19:21, 22 clears up the situation: Timothy was sent from Ephesus, where this Epistle was written, but he did not go direct to Corinth; instead, he went to Macedonia first; and though he left before the letter, he might not reach Corinth until after it was received in that city. It is not certain that Timothy actually reached Corinth; because in Acts 19:22 only Macedonia is mentioned; but it does not follow that though Macedonia was the immediate objective of his mission, Corinth was not the ultimate objective.

 

TIMOTHY [TIM uh thih] (honored by God) — Paul’s friend and chief associate, who is mentioned as joint sender in six of Paul’s epistles (2 Cor. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1; Philem. 1).


Timothy first appears in the second missionary journey when Paul revisited Lystra (Acts 16:1–3). Timothy was the son of a Gentile father and a Jewish-Christian mother named Eunice, and the grandson of Lois (Acts 16:1; 2 Tim. 1:5). Timothy may have been converted under Paul’s ministry, because the apostle refers to him as his “beloved and faithful son in the Lord” (1 Cor. 4:17) and as his “true son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2). Timothy was held in high regard in Lystra and Iconium, and Paul desired to take him along as a traveling companion (Acts 16:3).


Timothy played a prominent role in the remainder of the second missionary journey. When Paul was forced to leave Berea because of an uproar started by Jews from Thessalonica, Silas and Timothy were left behind to strengthen the work in Macedonia (Acts 17:14). After they rejoined Paul in Athens (Acts 18:5), Paul sent Timothy back to the believers in Thessalonica to establish them and to encourage them to maintain the faith (1 Thess. 3:1–9). Timothy’s report of the faith and love of the Thessalonians greatly encouraged Paul.


During Paul’s third missionary journey, Timothy was active in the evangelizing of Corinth, although he had little success. When news of disturbances at Corinth reached Paul at Ephesus, he sent Timothy, perhaps along with Erastus (Acts 19:22), to resolve the difficulties. The mission failed, perhaps because of fear on Timothy’s part (1 Cor. 16:10–11). Paul then sent the more forceful Titus, who was able to calm the situation at Corinth (2 Cor. 7). Later in the third journey, Timothy is listed as one of the group that accompanied Paul along the coast of Asia Minor on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4–5).


Timothy also appears as a companion of Paul during his imprisonment in Rome (Col. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Philem. 1). From Rome, Paul sent Timothy to Philippi to bring back word of the congregation that had supported the apostle so faithfully over the years.


Timothy’s strongest traits were his sensitivity, affection, and loyalty. Paul commends him to the Philippians, for example, as one of proven character, faithful to Paul like a son to a father, and without rival in his concern for the Philippians (Phil. 2:19–23; also 2 Tim. 1:4; 3:10). Paul’s warnings, however, to “be strong” (2 Tim. 2:1) suggest that Timothy suffered from fearfulness (1 Cor. 16:10–11; 2 Tim. 1:7) and perhaps youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22). But in spite of his weaknesses, Paul was closer to Timothy than to any other associate.


Writing about A.D. 325, Eusebius reported that Timothy was the first bishop of Ephesus. In 356 Constantius transferred what was thought to be Timothy’s remains from Ephesus to Constantinople (modern Istanbul) and buried them in the Church of the Apostles, which had been built by his father Constantine.

 

see that he may be with you without fear: 
The apostle requests they make certain Timothy is not abused or in any way made to fear them. He was a young man and somewhat timid, and Paul may have thought that some of the Corinthians might intimidate him. Perhaps he was aware of a nervous timidity in Timothy's character. His youth would add to this feeling, as well as his country, Lystra, which was likely to be despised in refined Corinth.


He was alone and therefore he had no one to back him up, and his own youthful face and years would command little respect; and therefore the great pretenders to wisdom among them might be apt to entertain condescending thoughts of him. "Now,’’ says the apostle, "guard against this.’’ Not that he distrusted Timothy; he knew that Timothy would do nothing to bring contempt on his character, nothing to make his youth an object of loathing. But pride was a sin that reined among the Corinthians, and such a caution was all too necessary.


There might be some danger that he would feel embarrassed among the rich, and the great. Paul, therefore, asks them to encourage him, to receive him kindly and respectfully, and not to embarrass him. Perhaps, Paul had spoken to him about the false teachers whom Timothy might be called on to oppose. They were powerful, and they might attempt to intimidate and frighten him. It was not fear of personal violence, but the fear of not being regarded with respect and confidence. Paul, therefore, asks the church to uphold him in his efforts to defend the truth.


Timothy was sent by the apostle to correct the abuses which had crept in among them; and not only to point them in the right direction, but to blame, and censure, and reprimand, those who were to blame for the problems in that church. They were divided in their loyalties and had formed factions to support their favorite preacher, and no doubt strife and hatred ran very high among them. Some of their members were very rich and it is likely many were very proud on account of their outward wealth and spiritual gifts. Proud men cannot stand to be criticized. It was reasonable therefore to think young Timothy might be treated roughly; and so the apostle warns them against harassing and abusing him. It was their duty to behave themselves and treat him well, and not discourage him in his work for the Lord. They should not resent him when he scolds them, or terrify and discourage him for doing his duty.


for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do
Paul commends Timothy’s ministry to the Corinthians—because HE WORKETH THE WORK OF THE LORD, AS I ALSO DO. This is the reasons why they should treat Timothy kindly. Because he was employed in the same work as Paul, and performed it by the same authority. Timothy did not come to them on an errand from Paul, or to do his work, but he came instead to do the work of the Lord—FOR HE WORKETH THE WORK OF THE LORD. He tells the Corinthian believers that he is engaged in the service of the Lord; and he is worthy of your confidence, and worthy to be supported by you. Before he sent Timothy to assist the Philippian Church, he wrote to them about his character and usefulness—“I hope, in the Lord Jesus, to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be heartened by hearing news of you. For I have no one comparable to him for genuine interest in whatever concerns you. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know his worth, how as a child with a father he served along with me in the cause of the gospel” (Philippians 2:19-22; NABWRNT). Timothy was Paul’s spiritual son. Paul had great confidence in him. He could trust Timothy to demonstrate concern for the state of the Philippian believers. He is like–minded with Paul, and that means that he had the mind of Christ, and he was characterized by humility. We don’t need a National Council or World Council of Churches to bring men together. In fact, we don’t need any organization to bring them together. If they both have the mind of Christ, they are together. Timothy had been faithful to Paul. Sometimes a convert later turns against the person who led him to the Lord. This is like a child turning against a parent. Paul had had that happen to him, but Timothy was faithful to him. Paul was sending him to the Philippian believers because he could trust him. It is wonderful to have men like–minded with Christ so they can work together. There were many others who were seeking their own glory. They wanted to make a name for themselves. Because they were seeking their own glory, they were willing to belittle Paul.


How do you respect others who are standing for the Word of God today? When I hear a man of God being criticized, I recognize that somewhere there is strife. The mind of Christ will not allow you to criticize another man who stands for Christ. Paul says, “I can’t trust these other men.”
People speak a lot about togetherness in our day. There can be no more togetherness than for two people to have the mind of Christ. They are together even though they may be miles apart. That is why there is such a bond between fellow Christians who have the mind of Christ.


Although he was not an apostle, he was an assistant to one, and was sent upon this extremely important business by a divine commission. And therefore to aggravate and trouble his spirit would be to grieve the Holy Spirit; to despise him would be to despise him that sent him, not Paul, but Paul’s Lord and theirs. Note, those who work the work of the Lord should be neither terrified nor despised, but treated with tenderness and respect. That should apply to all the faithful ministers of the word, though not all have the same rank and ability. Pastors and teachers, as well as apostles and evangelists, while they are doing their duty, are to be treated with honour and respect.


The fact he made this request shows that Paul was aware of the nature of the evil existing in the Church of Corinth.


11 Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.

Let no man therefore despise him:
This advice is reminiscent of the advice given to Timothy in I Timothy 4:12—“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Why would they despise Timothy—because of his youth? He is telling the church in Corinth to accept Timothy, and not despise him because of his youth and inexperience; although he is a young man, younger probably than those usually employed in Christian missions, he is a preacher of the Word of God, and should be respected for his calling. Let no one say that he does not have the full authority of God behind his work as an evangelist. It is likely that some of the more wealthy and proud, some who valued themselves because of their wisdom and experience, would be inclined to look upon him with contempt, because he was so young. Paul understood that this could happen, and that Timothy may be exposed to contempt, so he cautions him, "Let no man despise thy youth." A minister of the gospel, though young, should receive the respect that is due his office; and if he conducts himself in accordance with his high calling, his youth should be no barrier to the confidence and affection of even aged and experienced Christians. Instead, it should be a reason for them to treat him with affection, and encourage him in his work.

but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me:
That is, when he leaves, help him on his way; be sure that he has all he needs to sustain him on his journey to me; and if possible, accompany him as far as possible, so that he may come to me in peace.  “PEACE" is the salutation of kindness and respect in the East; and so it stands for blessings and good works. We must “learn” to do good works. It’s something that must be worked at. A great many people think it is easy; we need to know what God considers good works, and we need to learn how to do them.


for I look for him with the brethren.
Another reason is implied; in the same way as they were to respect Timothy for his work’s sake, so were they to respect  him for Paul’s sake, who had sent him to Corinth; not of an errand for him, but to do the work of the Lord: CONDUCT HIM FORTH IN PEACE, THAT HE MAY COME TO ME, FOR I LOOK FOR HIM WITH THE BRETHREN; or the brethren and I look for him (the original will support either rendering)—"I am expecting his return and his report concerning you; and shall judge by your conduct towards him what your regard and respect for me will be. See to it that you send him back with no evil report.’’ Paul might expect that a messenger from him to the Corinthians, sent on an errand like this, would be highly regarded, and well treated. His ministry and success among them, his authority with them as an apostle, would require them to treat Timothy well. They would hardly dare to send Timothy back with a report that would grieve or provoke the apostle.  The brethren and I are looking forward to his return and the report he is to make about the time he spent with you; therefore, do not treat him poorly, but respect him, honor his message, and let him return in peace.’’ It is clear from 2 Corinthians 1.1 that Timothy did return as expected: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia.”


This clause “FOR I LOOK FOR HIM WITH THE BRETHREN” should not be understood in the sense of Paul expecting certain brethren along with Timothy; but it was the brethren that were with Paul that were looking for him; I, with the brethren, am looking for him. Erastus accompanied Timothy in this journey (see Acts 19:22), and probably there were others with him. Titus also had been sent to Corinth (see 2 Corinthians 12:17, 18), and it is not improbable that Paul wanted Titus to bring some of the Corinthian brethren with him to Ephesus, since he might need their assistance.


12 As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.

As touching our brother Apollos,
AS TOUCHING OUR BROTHER APOLLOS may be rendered, "To speak of brother Apollo" or “In regard to Apollos.” We learned at the beginning of this Epistle that the Corinthian Church was divided into factions which were arranged behind different leaders—“Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ” (1 Cor 1:12; NKJV). This was a serious problem because it created strife in the assembly, and therefore Paul dealt with it first. Apollos was not at Ephesus when Paul wrote this Epistle. Paul, therefore, must have asked Apollos some time earlier if he would be willing to go to Corinth in order to resolve some of their problems.


I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren:
It appears from this that the brethren, of whom the apostle speaks in the preceding verse, were at this time with him at Ephesus; I, along with the brethren, greatly desired him to go to you. He may have asked him to go along with Timothy and Erastus when they went to Corinth. For some reason Apollos was reluctant to visit Corinth at that time.


The apostle may have said, I GREATLY DESIRED HIM TO COME UNTO YOU WITH THE BRETHREN, because he did not want the Corinthians to suspect that he had prevented Apollos coming to them out of jealousy. Perhaps they had specifically requested Apollos to be sent to them. Probably Apollos' unwillingness to go to Corinth at this time was due to him being aware of the unwarranted admiration for his rhetorical style of preaching which led many at Corinth to form a faction who alleged, "I am of Apollos," and he did not wish to sanction it. Paul's freedom from all selfish jealousy led him to urge Apollos to go; but Apollos, having heard of the abuse of his name at Corinth by those of the Apollos party, refused to go. Paul calls Apollos "brother" to indicate the unity that existed between the two.
 
 
but his will was not at all to come at this time;

There were probably more important matters which detained Apollos, or which required his presence in Ephesus. It is not known why Apollos had left Corinth, but it has been suggested that it had to do with the dissensions which existed there. For the same reason he might not have wanted to return there while there was so much conflict between the various factions. It was common knowledge that there had been a faction set up in the name of Apollos at Corinth, and he may have thought it not prudent to go there at this time, for fear that his presence might be the means of giving it either intensity or approval. Some say Apollos never returned to Corinth after the religious differences had been settled. It is probable that the Corinthians had requested, by the messengers who carried their letter to Paul that either he or Apollos would come and visit them. Paul states, in reply, that he had asked Apollos to go, but he would not be prevailed on, at least for the present to come, but would when it was more convenient for him to do so. Perhaps he was thinking of the time when all the conflict had subsided through Paul’s epistle to them and Timothy’s ministry among them, and he might have concluded that it would be better to visit then. Apostles did not compete with each other, but consulted with each other on such matters.


Although one of the parties in the Corinthian Church had declared for Apollos against Paul [if that passage is to be understood literally—“Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other” (1 Cor 4:6; NKJV).], yet Paul did not hinder Apollos from going to Corinth in his absence, instead, he pressured him to go there. He was not suspicions of Apollos, that he might lower their interest in and respect for Paul, in order to advance his own. Paul shows his great regard for the church of Corinth, when, after they had treated him rudely by imploring Apollos to come to them; and Apollos shows his respect for Paul, and his concern to preserve his character and authority, by declining the journey until the Corinthians had settled their internal strife.

 

but he will come when he shall have convenient time.
Apparently, at that time he was not able to go but Paul assured them, HE WILL COME WHEN HE SHALL HAVE CONVENIENT TIME. This was said probably to show them that he still retained his affection for them, and had a tender concern for their peace and prosperity. Had this not been said, they might have inferred that he was offended, and had no desire to visit them again. Remember, the Corinthian church had divisions over Paul and Apollos and Peter. But Paul loved Apollos, and he makes it clear that they are serving the Lord together. He assures them that Apollos will come to visit them at a later time. He might be engaged in a project that he needed to complete before he could leave Ephesus; or he might be unwilling to go while there continued to be strife within that church.


According to Jerome there was a convenient time and Apollos did return to Corinth when their divisions became less of a problem.


In the next chapter, Paul begins a series of closing remarks, exhortations, challenges, and greetings.

 

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