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Bible: What Does 1 Corinthians 16 Teach Us About Giving and Friendship?
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Collection for the Poor
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John MacArthur: Pastor-Teacher
Paul's Final Words
The apostle’s final words to the Corinthians consist of the following items:
(1) A command about a certain collection [vv. 1-4];
(2) A note about his itinerary (vv. 5-9);
(3) His instructions regarding their treatment of Timothy and Apollos (vv. 10-12);
(4) General exhortations about their conduct;
(5) A specific exhortation concerning the household of Stephanas (vv. 13-18); and
(6) His last greetings to brethren (vv. 19-24)
As he has told Galatian churches, Paul now instructs his readers in Corinth to put aside some money on Sunday (“the first day of the week”) for the poor saints in Jerusalem (vv. 1-2).
Accompanying their delegation, he intends to deliver their gift to the great city in order to meet this dire need (vv. 3-4).
[The contemporary Church has taken this principle of contributing to the needs of the saints in other churches, and has replaced it with paying down mortgages and funding programs in their own local assembly.]
Paul plans to visit Corinth on his way through Macedonia, and, if God so wills, spend the winter with them in hope that they would supply his needs for further travel when the weather broke (vv. 5-7).
Since he is currently experiencing great opportunity for service (with its accompanying opposition) in Ephesus, Paul tells them that he has decided to stay there until Pentecost (May-June) [vv. 8-9].
As for their treatment of Timothy, the apostle instructs them to treat him, a fellow servant of the Lord, with respect if he visits them, and then send him peacefully on his way back to minister to Paul (vv. 10-11).
[Either Timothy was a very timid fellow, or the Corinthians were an especially rabblerousing group, or both.
Why would they despise him?
In II Timothy, Paul encourages Timothy not to allow people to despise him because of his youth.]
Apollos, Paul says, has decided not to visit them at that time, despite the apostle’s strong entreaty for him to do so; however, he adds that the great orator will come to them at a more convenient time (v. 12).
Employing four short imperatives, Paul exhorts the Corinthians not to give up the fight of the Christian life, but to be vigilant, strong, and courageous (v. 13; cf. Josh. 1:6-7, 9).
He also instructs them to act with love (v. 14).
Probably in connection with this last command to show love, the apostle instructs his readers to submit to the ministry of the household of Stephanas for their diligent service (vv. 15-16).
Three men—Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus—especially aided him when the Corinthians could not, and therefore the Corinthians should appreciate them (vv. 17-18).
Last, Paul pens a short list of regional churches, some well-known individuals, and a house church that wished to greet them (v. 19).
He then issues a general message of greeting from “all the brethren,” and instructs them to show brotherly affection for one another (v. 20).
The apostle tells them that he has written them with his own hand; that is, he did not use an amanuensis (v. 21).
Paul tacks on a series of statements to close out this epistle:
(1) He desires that God would curse those who do not love Christ (v. 22a);
(2) he calls upon Christ to return (v. 22b);
(3) he asks God’s grace to empower them (v. 23); and
(4) he sends his love in Christ to all of them (v. 24).
Study Questions for 1 Corinthians
- In what three ways does Paul address the Corinthians?
- Name the several specific issues on which the Corinthians needed further exhortation and instruction.
- What four separate parties or sects exist in this local church?
- How did Paul seek to restore unity among the Corinthians?
- What is humanity's proper subject for "glorying"?
- What four benefits accrue to those in “the environment” of Christ?
- What is God’s “foolishness”?
- Discuss the difference between human and divine wisdom.
- What are the three kinds of spiritual groups/conditions in this world?
- What are the characteristics of these various groups/conditions?
- What is one of the roles of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers?
- Discuss the division of spiritual labor among Christian servants.
- What will Christ do after the Church’s translation?
- What will individual believer’s gain or lose as a result of this activity?
- In what two ways should the Corinthian believers consider apostles and teachers?
- What hardships were that the apostles forced to endure as Christian leaders?
- What does Paul command the Corinthians to do with the one who was guilty of sexual immorality?
- What must the church do in order to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread?
- What misconception did the Corinthian church hold regarding Paul’s instructions in an earlier lost epistle?
- What did the apostle actually command them to do?
- What will be one of the tasks of “the saints” in the millennium?
- What are the different kinds of sinful lifestyles that certain unbelieving judges lead?
- What principle does Paul establish regarding the Christian’s liberty?
- Who and what are the temple of the Holy Spirit?
- What is the apostle’s teaching regarding celibacy and self-control?
- What did Paul teach about divorce and remarriage?
- What is the bottom-line principle that Paul reiterates three times in chapter seven?
- Discuss whether apostolic advice possesses the same authority as divine revelation.
- What general principles does Paul seemingly tack on the end of his discussion on marriage?
- In terms of liberty, how should a “strong” Christian regard his “weak” brethren?
- What four rhetorical questions does Paul employ in the defense of his apostleship?
- What kinds of analogies does the apostle use to prove his point?
- What OT principle does he cite to promote social justice toward Christian workers?
- How does the analogy of the Isthmian games demonstrate the Christian attitude toward life?
- What disqualified OT Israel from further service to God?
- What three OT events demonstrate God’s chastisement of His people because of their sin?
- Regarding the issue of idolatry, what does the apostle emphasize that the Corinthian Church cannot do?
- What general principle does Paul reiterate about Christian liberty?
- What is the three-tiered hierarchy that Paul mentions?
- What does it mean for a woman to “dishonor her head”?
- Should the modern American church, therefore, follow this principle, and teach that women should wear veils? Why or why not?
- What did Paul see as wrong with the Corinthians’ agape feast?
- When did Jesus ratify the New Covenant? When and with whom will God fulfill it?
- What does it mean to participate in the Eucharist “in an unworthy manner”?
- What is the only way that believers may avoid discipline for this infraction?
- How is each Person of the Trinity involved in the administration of spiritual gifts?
- List and discuss the eight spiritual abilities according to honor.
- What is “a more excellent way” to live rather than merely exercising gifts?
- What gifts does Paul focus on as being inferior to the “more excellent way”?
- What are the characteristics of this “more excellent way”?
- What does Paul mean when he references “that which is perfect”?
- What three virtues remain until now, and which one will endure forever?
- Why is prophecy a superior gift to speaking in other languages?
- Who must accompany one who speaks in tongues?
- What motive(s) should people have for possessing spiritual gifts?
- According to Isaiah, what was God’s original purpose for “tongues”?
- What does Paul emphasize as paramount in the exercise of gifts in the Church?
- What was the apostle’s position regarding women in the church?
- What does Paul consider the most vital issue facing the church?
- Is perseverance in the faith a prerequisite to salvation—a works mentality—or is it the necessary consequence of possessing the grace of saving faith?
- What are the three elements of the gospel Paul received as divine revelation?
- Upon what six resurrection appearances does the apostle make remarks?
- What are the six devastating ramifications of the “no resurrection” doctrine?
- What is the order of resurrections?
- Explain how the hierarchical order in the eternal state.
- What is the nature of the resurrection body?
- Explain the mystery of the Rapture.
- What was the original purpose for putting some money aside on Sundays?
- About which associates and helpers did Paul address the Corinthians?
- With what four statements does Paul close out his epistle?
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