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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Corinthians 16



Verse 2

1 Corinthians 16:2. Upon the first day of the week Beza observes here, that Basil joined these words, upon the first day of the week, to the preceding clauses which he reads thus: Now, concerning the collection for the saints, &c. even so do ye upon the first day of the week. According to this reading, the following words will express, not what he advises to be done on that day, but previously the week before, in order to prepare for the collections which were to be made, at their usual meetings for public worship, on the first day of every week. The argument thence drawn for the religious observation of the first day of the week, in these primitive churches of Corinth and Galatia, is too obvious to need any illustration, and yet too important to be passed by in an entire silence. The word θησαυριζων signifies, properly, "putting into the common treasury;" treasuring it up in the common stock; for it is certain, the Apostle directs that they should, every Lord's day, bring to the congregation what their charity had laid aside the foregoing week, as their gain came in; that there it might be put into some public box, appointed for that purpose, or into the officers' hands. For if they only laid it aside at home, there would, nevertheless, be need of a collection when he came. See Luke 24:1. John 20:1. Matthew 28:1.

Verse 3

1 Corinthians 16:3. And when I come, &c.— When I come, whomsoever you shall approve, them will I send with letters, to carry your liberality, &c. Locke. The Apostle's sense justifies the present manner of reading; he telling them here that, finding their collection ready when he came, he would write by those whom they should think fit to employ in sending it, or go himself with them, if it should be thought conve

Verse 4

1 Corinthians 16:4. And if But if.

Verse 5

1 Corinthians 16:5. For I do pass through Macedonia. For I am just upon my journey through Macedonia. Macedonia was not the direct way from Ephesus to Corin

Verse 8

1 Corinthians 16:8. But I will tarry at Ephesus, &c.— This is a plain intimation that St. Paul was now at Ephesus, and, consequently, that the inscription added at the end of the epistle, which tells us it was written from Philippi, is very far from being authentic. It should be remembered, that no credit is to be given to any of these additions, which have been very presumptuously made, and very imprudently retained.

Verse 9

1 Corinthians 16:9. For a great door and effectual, &c.— Some think that here is an allusion to the door of the circus, whence chariots were let out when the races were to begin: and that the word ' Αντικειμενοι, signifies the same as antagonists, with whom the Apostle was to contend, as in a course, Acts 19:20; Acts 19:41. This opposition rendered his presence more necessary to preserve those who were already converted, and to increase the number, if God should bless his ministry.

Verse 11

1 Corinthians 16:11. But conduct him forth, &c.— But bring him on his journey, &c. The original words of the last clause are something ambiguous; but the most natural sense appears to be, "For I expect him here with the other brethren, who are now the companions of his journey." Accordingly it seems probable that Timothy came to Ephesus before St. Paul was driven outof it by the tumult; and that the Apostle, being obliged to leave that city in so abrupt a manner, desired Timothy to stay a while after him, to settle the affairs of that important church more completely than he had an opportunity of doing. See 1 Timothy 1:3.

Verse 12

1 Corinthians 16:12. Our brother There are few, perhaps, who need be told, yet it may be convenient, once for all, to remark, that, in the Apostle's time, brother was the ordinary appellation which Christians used one to another. The brethren here mentioned seem to be Stephanas and those others who came with a message, or letter, to St. Paul from the church of Corinth, by whom he returned this epistle in answer. See Acts 11:26.

Verse 13

1 Corinthians 16:13. Stand fast, &c.— There is no need of seeking a different sense of each word in this verse. If there be any difference, the word ανδριζεσθε may refer to a strength of resolution; and the word κραταιουσθε to that cheerful and courageous expectation of a happy event, which the consciousness of so good a cause would naturally administer. The meaning of the next verse is, "Let all your affairs be transacted in love, and under the influence of that noble principle of unfeigned benevolence which I have so largely described," ch. 13; the Apostle's main design being to put an end to the faction and division which the false apostle had made among them, it is no wonder that we find unity and love so much and so often pressed in this and the second epistle.

Verse 15-16

1 Corinthians 16:15-16. I beseech you, brethren, &c.— Dr. Heylin renders these verses thus: Ye know that the family of Stephanas is, &c.—I beseech you then, my brethren, 1 Corinthians 16:16 that you pay all deference to them, and all others who like them assist us in our labours. Dr. Doddridge reads, I beseech you, brethren, as ye know the household of Stephanas, that it is the first-fruits of Achaia, and as they have set themselves to ministering to the saints, 1 Corinthians 16:16 that you subject yourselves to such, and to every associate in that work and labour. The 15th verse seems to imply, that it was the generous care of the whole family to assist their fellow-christians; so that there was not a member of it which did not do its part.

Verse 17

1 Corinthians 16:17. Fortunatus, This worthy man survived St. Paul a considerable time: for it appears from the epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, sect. 59 that he was the messenger of the church at Corinth to that of Rome, by whom Clement sent back that invaluable epistle. See Archbp. Wake's epistles of the apostolical fathers.

Verse 18

1 Corinthians 16:18. For they have refreshed my spirit, &c.— By removing those suspicions and fears which were on both sides.

Verse 19

1 Corinthians 16:19. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much, &c.— They had formerly made some abode at Corinth, and there St. Paul's acquaintance with them commenced,

Acts 18:1-2. It is no wonder, therefore, that they were particular in their salutations.

Verse 22

1 Corinthians 16:22. Anathema, Maran-atha. When the Jews lost the power of life and death, they used, nevertheless, to pronounce an anathema on persons who should have been executed according to the Mosaic law; and such a person became an anathema, or cheren, or accursed,—for the expressions are equivalent. They had a full persuasion that the curse would not be in vain; and, indeed, it appears they expected that some judgment, corresponding to that which the law pronounced, would befal the offender. Now, to express their faith that God would, one way or another, and probably in some remarkable way, interpose, to add that efficacy to their sentence which they could not give it, it is most likely they used the Syriac words Maran-atha; that is, "The Lord cometh;" or, "He will surely and quickly come, to put this sentence in execution, and to shew that the person on whom it falls is indeed anathema,—accursed:" in allusion to this, when the Apostle was speaking of a secret alienation from Christ, maintained under the forms of Christianity, (which, perhaps, might be the case among many of the Corinthians, and much more probably may be so among us,) as this was not a crime capable of being convicted and censured in the Christian church, he reminds them that the Lord Jesus Christ will come at length, and find it out, and punish it in a proper manner. The Apostle chose to write with his own hand this weighty sentence, and insert it between his general salutation and benediction, that it might be the more attentively regarded. See John 9:22 and Bishop Patrick on Deuteronomy 27:15.

Verse 24

1 Corinthians 16:24. My love be with you all, &c.— When we consider what an alienation of affection some of these Corinthians had expressed with respect to our Apostle, this declaration of tender regard to them all, without any exception, is so much the more affectionate, andfully displays the benevolent disposition of his mind.—With respect to the subscription of this epistle, see on 1 Corinthians 16:8.

Inferences.—The example of St. Paul before us should teach ministers to be ready to promote charitable collections for the relief of poor Christians. They should frequently exhort their hearers to do good and to communicate, reminding them that their contributions ought to bear a proportion to the degree in which God has been pleased to prosper them. We see an evident reference to the stated assemblies of the church on the first day of the week in this early age; and it is a proper duty of that day, to devise and execute liberal things according to our respective abilities.

The prudent caution of St. Paul, as to the management of pecuniary affairs, is worthy the attention of the ministers of the Gospel; and may teach them to take care, not only that they satisfy their own consciences in the fidelity of their transactions, but also that they provide things honest in the sight of all men. The Apostle's courage, in making the opposition that he met with at Corinth a reason for his promising a longer visit there, may instruct us not to study our own ease in the choice of our abode; but rather to prefer those circumstances, however disagreeable in themselves, wherein we may be providentially led to do most for the advancement of religion in the world.

His care that his young friend Timothy might be as easy as possible, constitutes likewise a very amiable part of his character, and suggests in a manner well worthy of notice, how careful private Christians should be, that they do not terrify and distress the minds of those who are entering on the ministerial office. A faithful disposition to labour in the work of the Lord, ought to command respect: yet sometimes, as in the instance of Apollos, even that diligence may be so liable to misrepresentation, that it may be the wisdom of ministers to absent themselves from places, where they have many to caress and admire them. On the whole, the great business of life is, to glorify God in doing our best for promoting the happiness of mankind; and no self-denial ought to seem hard to us, while we keep that glorious end in view. However the particular trials of Christians may vary in different ages, the same works in general demand their diligence; the same enemies their watchfulness; the same difficulties their courage and fortitude; nor will they ever perform, resist, and endure well, but when love reigns in their hearts, and presides over the whole of their behaviour.

We owe our sincere thanks to the Author of all good, when he raises up the spirits of his servants to any distinguished activity and zeal in his cause. Christians, of standing superior to their brethren, ought to emulate such a character; and when they do so with genuine marks of becoming modesty, and upright views, all proper respect should be paid to them: especially to those who are honoured with, and labour faithfully in, the ministerial office. To such, let others submit themselves in love; not, indeed, as to the lords of their faith, which even the Apostles pretended not to be; but as friends whom they esteem and reverence, ever tenderly solicitous to secure their comfort, and increase their usefulness.

We see how much the Apostle was concerned to promote mutual friendship among the disciples of our blessed Lord; how kindly he delivers the salutations of one and another. It becomes us to remember each other with cordial regard; and in imitation of this wise example, to do all that we can to cultivate a good understanding among our Christian brethren; and to abhor that disposition to sow discord, which has been so fatally successful in producing envyings, and strife, and every ill work.

To conclude all; let us lay up in our memory, and often review this awful sentence, this anathema, maran-atha, which, to give it the greater weight, the Apostle records with his own hand: be it ever remembered, that professing Christians, who do not sincerely love their Master, lie under the heaviest curse which an Apostle can pronounce. May such unhappy persons take the alarm, and labour to obtain a more ingenuous and devout temper and spirit, ere the Lord, whom they neglect, and against whom they entertain a secret enmity, descend from heaven with insupportable terror, and pronounce the anathema with his own lips, in circumstances which shall for ever cut off all hope, and all possibility of its being reversed. If his solemn voice pronounce, his almighty hand will immediately execute it: how will they be cast down to destruction, as in a moment! How will they be utterly consumed with terrors! To prevent so dreadful an end of our high profession, of our exalted hopes, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us! Amen.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The church at Jerusalem having undergone peculiar oppressions and sufferings, and many of the saints being reduced to great poverty, the Gentile brethren, at the Apostle's instigation, generously contributed for their relief.

Now concerning the collection for the saints in Judea, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Since in wealth the Corinthians exceeded the Galatians, and in spiritual gifts were so eminent, it would be a shame if they came behind in benevolence and charity. Upon the first day of the week, the day held sacred among Christians, and hallowed by their solemn assemblies, let every one of you lay by him in store, contributing to the collection for the poor, as God hath prospered him, each according to their ability; the rich more abundantly; and they who have little, cheerfully giving a portion out of that little, that there be no gatherings when I come. And, being thus in readiness, when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, and recommend as faithful men, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem, concurring in your recommendation. And if it be meet, and judged necessary for this benevolent design, that I go also, they shall go with me. Note; (1.) Every Christian is bound, according to his abilities, to minister to the necessities of his brethren. (2.) All our success comes from God's gracious providence, and is gratefully to be acknowledged. (3.) The more we receive from God, the more are we called, as good stewards, to improve it for his glory, and the advantage of our brethren.

2nd, The Apostle, in his own mind, had planned a visit to Corinth, of which he informs them, though Providence prevented at this time the execution of his design.

Now I will come unto you, such is my present intention, if the Lord please, when I shall pass through Macedonia, for I do purpose soon to pass through Macedonia. And it may be that I will abide a considerable time among you, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whither-soever I go, returning to your former affection, and testifying your accustomed respect for me, notwithstanding these prejudices which the false teachers have laboured to instil. For I will not see you now by the way, ( εν παροδω, ) to make a transient visit, which would not answer the end that I purpose, of settling your affairs, establishing you in the truth, and enjoying your company; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit, at whose disposal I am, and by whose providence I desire ever to be directed. But I will tarry at Ephesus (whence he seems to have written this Epistle) until Pentecost, either till that feast was past, or till its approach, when he intended to be at Jerusalem, a great concourse of Jews from all parts assembling there at that season. And the reason for his long stay at Ephesus he gives; for a great door and effectual is opened unto me, a signal blessing has attended my labours, and great multitudes are by the Spirit converted to the faith of Christ, and, as might be expected, there are many adversaries, both Jews and Gentiles, who, instigated by Satan, oppose with all their might and craft the progress of the Gospel, against whom he chose personally to stand up, and boldly to vindicate the glorious cause. Note; (1.) Wherever Christ is preached successfully, there the malice and cunning of earth and hell will be exerted, to stop the rising interest of truth and godliness. (2.) Success in our labours is a great argument and encouragement boldly to persevere. (3.) Faithful ministers, instead of being affrighted or impeded by outward opposition, have their zeal but the more kindled. What weakens their hands and discourages their hearts, is the unfaithfulness of professors, and the insensibility of their hearers.

3rdly, The Apostle,

1. Recommends Timothy to them, who was now on his journey to Corinth. If Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear of any insult from any of the factious leaders; regard him with affection, treat him with respect, and hear him with attention: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do, zealous for the cause of the same divine Master, and tried and found faithful. Let no man therefore despise him because of his youth, slight his reproofs, or think lightly of his ministry, but conduct him forth in peace; give him a proof of your affection and esteem, by providing him with necessaries for his journey, and bringing him on his way, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren; either I and the brethren here expect him, or I desire his return with the brethren who may accompany him hither. Note; Young ministers should be encouraged, not despised; and their ministrations, though without the sanction of grey hairs, yet, seconded with the weight of zeal and piety, deserve the most serious attention.

2. He informs them that Apollos declined a visit to them at present, though he had earnestly pressed him thereto. 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. Though a party at Corinth had affected to set up Apollos in preference to Paul, the Apostle entertained no jealousy of his brother-labourer, assured that he never would encourage, but discountenance, such a spirit of division. The faithful ministers of Christ will not harbour mean distrusts of each other; no, not though those who love to sow discord among brethren, endeavour to instil base suspicions. On the other hand, Apollos, probably out of respect to his honoured brother Paul, declined at that time the visit, lest, in the present ill disposition of too many of the Corinthians, it might be abused by those who wanted to make him the head of a party; though when the present feuds were subsided, he meant to go thither, and labour among them. Such a spirit of love should ministers cultivate, jealous for each other's reputation as their own, and frowning on every flatterer that would attempt to raise their credit at the expence of their brother.

4thly, The Apostle proceeds,

1. To some general exhortations. Watch ye against every enemy of your souls, especially those who would seduce you from the doctrines of truth; stand fast in the faith, grounded and settled in the hope of the Gospel, so as never to be moved from your holy profession; quit you like men, with wisdom, zeal, and fidelity, in the midst of the opposition of enemies, and the snares of deceivers; be strong in the grace which is in Jesus Christ, exercising yourselves unto godliness, and fighting manfully under the Lord's banners against every enemy within and without. And while you thus shew yourselves courageous for the truth, let all your things be done in charity, and let a spirit of meekness temper all your zeal. Note; (1.) A Christian is compassed with enemies; he need be ever on his guard. (2.) While we are firmly established in the principles of the Gospel, no danger or sufferings will deter us from the path of duty. (3.) Love or charity is the great ornament of our profession; to bear with the perverseness of mistaken friends, and meekly to sustain the attacks of avowed enemies, is to be like our Master.

2. He commends to their particular regard the house of Stephanas. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first-fruits of Achaia, converted by my ministry, and whom I baptized myself, and that they have addicted themselves unto the ministry of the saints, laying themselves out in the Lord's immediate service, and zealously employed in assisting his people to their utmost, both in their temporal and spiritual concerns,) I beseech you, brethren, that ye submit yourselves unto such, directed by them, imitating their examples, and not led away by upstart teachers; and that ye in like manner reverence, regard, and attend to, every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth to promote the interests of the same divine Master, and the edification of your souls.

3. He testifies his satisfaction in the good account that he had lately heard concerning them. I am glad of the coming of Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus; for that which was lacking on your part, they have supplied; giving the Apostle a more clear state of the matter than was conveyed in the letter which they brought, and explaining, much to his satisfaction, things which reports had greatly exaggerated. Note; It is a great joy to every minister and Christian's heart to hear unfavourable reports of the brethren contradicted by those who are best acquainted with their circumstances.

4. He enjoins them to respect those faithful men at their return. For they have refreshed my spirit by their conversation, and the accounts they have given; and this cannot but afford a like satisfaction to yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such, and shew them that respect and regard which their kind, candid, and charitable construction of your conduct merits at your hands. Note; Good offices done to us demand a grateful return.

5thly, St. Paul closes his Epistle,

1. With affectionate salutations. All the churches of Asia salute you, cordially wishing you every blessing of the ever-lasting Gospel. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house, even all the members of that amiable family which compose a little church among themselves; and such a family is happy indeed. All the brethren greet you with warm affection. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss. The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. And thus he signs what his amanuensis had written from his lips, as genuine and authentic.

2. He subjoins a solemn warning. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, be his eminence of station never so great, his gifts never so extraordinary, his profession never so glaring, if his heart be unsound, his principles erroneous, and his practice dishonourable to the Gospel, fomenting divisions and puffed up with pride, let him be anathema, maran-atha, excommunicated from the body of the faithful, and consigned over to that fearful judgment, which the righteous Lord, in the day of his appearing and glory, will inflict on such offenders, unless they truly repent. Note; (1.) It is not enough to be Christians in word; do we love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity? That is the question. (2.) None sink under heavier vengeance than those who have been false and faithless to their holy profession.

3. He concludes with his usual benediction and prayer. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you; and therein is comprehended every blessing in time and eternity. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Sharply as I have been constrained to rebuke you, I love you affectionately in him; and every thing that I have said flows from the most unfeigned desire to promote your present and eternal happiness. Amen! May this be the happy issue. Believe my kind intentions and regard; join with me in my prayers, and then the issue shall be peace.


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 16:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

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