This is the final chapter of 1 Corinthians and will wrap up the Steering Core devotional series we began back in January. Here, Paul closes out by addressing the topic of giving to the marginalized, showing devotion to ministers of the Gospel, and instructs the Corinthians to be alert, firm, mature, and strong in their Christian faith that is anchored ultimately in love.
THE COLLECTION FOR THE SAINTS (v. 1 – 4)
“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” (1 Corinthians 16: 2)
When Paul addresses the “collection for the saints” in the opening verse, he says that he instructed the Galatians to do the same. We need to understand that this collection was in response to the great needs present during a huge famine in Jerusalem (Acts 11: 28). Paul exhorted various churches to love their needy members of the faith, as echoed in Galatians 6: 10, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” For example, there was the widow population among the believers with great need and probably all the more during the famine, and we see God raising up deacons in the book of Acts (ch. 6) to exercise their Spirit-led decisions to care for them.
Now, Paul instructs not only to give but to have a right understanding of giving. We can see from verse two that this giving:
- was to be prepared ahead of time, not randomly (“put something aside”)
- was for everyone to do (“each of you”) as the whole body of Christ
- was to be generous (“as he may prosper”)
Our God cares deeply about our heart as we give. His character is one of justice, and God’s justice is clearly displayed in the Gospel. Just as He redeemed our dignity through Jesus Christ while we were helpless and needy, Paul’s exhortation is that we ought to reflect this Gospel in our hearts to our more obviously needy members. Let us be rich in good works for God gave Himself to us.
ACKNOWLEDGE ONE ANOTHER WITH DEVOTION (v. 10- 11, 15 – 24)
“All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (1 Corinthians 16: 20)
In this section, Paul makes several acknowledgments of certain people. He expresses his personal joy of being refreshed by Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus in verses 17 and 18, mentioning that such ministering to saints was absent in the Corinthian church. Not only were these men among the first converts that Paul baptized, they were devoted to serving the saints, and Paul commands us to give recognition to those who rightfully devote themselves to ministering the Gospel. He speaks of this with Timothy as well in verses 10 and 11, for those who are ministers of the Gospel have been sent by the Spirit to do this. The church is the family of God in Christ, and we ought to greet one another with a holy kiss and show our devotion to one another because of the work of the LORD that each has been sent and is committed to carrying out.
BE WATCHFUL, FIRM, AND STRONG… IN LOVE
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16: 13 – 14)
What began this letter in chapter 1 by addressing divisions in the church is summarized with a final call to steadfast love. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to be tenacious in our waiting for His return. We need to watch and be on guard for the spiritual battle that is at hand before us. We need to stand fast in our unity as the blood-bought citizens of heaven. We need to be strong by obeying the “one another” commands. All of this, once again, must be done with a humble spirit of love.