Saturday, July 26, 2014

The End Bits are Important (1 Cor 16)

Often when we read the New Testament's letters, we think that the end bits are not important. I wonder how many readers dwell on Romans 16 if they ever get beyond Romans 8 or 11. Today I read the end of 1 Corinthians. I have been reading this amazing Pauline epistle since I took upon myself to comment on 1 Cor 14.

The first part of 1 Cor 16 again informs us that Paul is consistent in his teaching and practice among the churches he founded. As much as the women's role in church is the same everywhere as in all the churches of the saints, likewise the practice of giving, especially to the poor is equally applicable in Corinth as it is in the Galatian churches.

Second, Paul seems to expect some financial support for himself from the Corinthian church when he said, "you can send me on my journey wherever I go." (V. 6). It is not entirely clear whether Paul's refusal of financial support is a blanket rule as far as the Corinthians are concerned or perhaps Paul did not want strings attached or regular support that might be seen as patronage but that occasional gifts for his mission could well be appreciated.

Third, Paul's missionary work is based on how he perceived God to be working through him. As in Ephesus, says Paul, a great door of opportunity of ministry is open wide and as a result, Paul sees that he should spend more time there. This is so despite much opposition (v. 9). This is one principle in ministry that we should do well to recognize that opposition or opponents to our work should not discourage us from God's open door and in fact oftentimes opposition comes beause the devil does not like what we are doing in Christ's name.

Fourth, Paul's advice to the Corunthians to welcome Timothy indicates that there is a measure of opposition among the believers in Corinth against who they perceived as insufficiently charismatic. Timothy was likely to be mild in disposition and youthful (probably late 30s) when Paul penned 1 Cor. How we judge God's servants is often skewed towards worldly srandards, his qualfications, skills, charisma and the like but God sees the heart and chooses the weak to confound the strong (1 Cor 1).

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