Saturday, June 8, 2013

1 Corinthians 16 - Offerings, People, and Good-byes

LINK: 1 Corinthians 16

BACKGROUND


In concluding his letter, Paul talked about the offering he was collecting for the poor believers in Jerusalem (16:1-4). It is believed that they were poor because they were converts who had come to Jerusalem at Pentecost and were saved and did not return after this. Employment was probably difficult. There had also been a famine (Acts 11:27-30) that probably contributed to their hardship. Paul was also trying to unite Jewish and Gentile believers through this effort. Gentiles showing care for the Jewish believers in Jerusalem would also help endear the skeptical Jewish believers to their Gentile brothers and sisters that Paul had led to Christ on his missionary journeys (see 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 for more on the offering). 


Paul was in Ephesus when he wrote this letter. At first, he planned to go to Macedonia and Corinth before he went to Judea with this collection. When this did not work out, he was going to visit Corinth twice and travel through Macedonia in between on his way to Judea (2 Corinthians 1:15-16), but this did not work out either. Instead he made a short visit to Corinth and returned to Ephesus then on to Troas where he waited for Titus (2 Corinthians 2:12-13; 7:5ff). Then they went on to Macedonia and Judea. 


At the close of this letter, Paul mentions many people who were a part of his life. The four most notable are:

Timothy - You will learn more about when we read his letter. 
Apollos - He was an eloquent, Alexandrian Jew in Ephesus who did not have the full gospel, but Priscilla and Aquila set him straight (Acts 18:24-28). He had quite an impact in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:4-8). 
Priscilla and Aquila - Paul met them in Corinth where they all made tents (Acts 18:1-3). They went with Paul to Ephesus (Acts 18:18) and stayed behind when Paul returned to Antioch. They also hosted a local church in their home in Ephesus but eventually moved on to Rome where they also hosted a church. They also risked their lives to help save Paul (Romans 16:3-5). Eventually, they moved back to Ephesus to help Timothy (2 Timothy 4:19). 
Paul gives an exhortation with my favorite verses from the book:


Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. 
Be courageous. Be strong. 
And everything you do must be done with love.  
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

The "holy kiss" was a common mode of greeting and was between people of the same sex (16:20; Romans 16:16; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14). 

He also has a parting warning that seems very harsh, "If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed" (16:22). He is invoking wrath on the false teachers who really did not love the Lord (Galatians 1:8-9). 

"Maranatha" is an Aramaic word that means "Our Lord will come." 

REFLECTION

The exhortation "Be on guard" from 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 is not one I take for granted. I have learned that any time we move forward, the enemy is going to give us push back. I have experienced a bit of that this last couple of weeks as God has led me to Bible discovery with people who are in a dark place. After more than 30 years of ministry, the last ten have not been free of hassles from the enemy but I have finally learned to "Be on guard" on a daily basis. 

Recently, I sent out a prayer letter, and I included the "Spiritual Warfare" section of Kenneth Boa's fine book: Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship. I have gotten so many responses back about how wonderful it was to pray through this. So, I am leaving it for you to pray through combined with the verses in the application section below:


Protection in Spiritual Warfare  

Lord, guard my heart against the temptations of the world and renew my heart and spirit:  

Since I have been raise up with You, O Christ, I will keep seeking the things above, where You are at the right hand of God.  I will set my mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)  

I will be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving I will let my requests be made known to You, O God. And Your peace, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:6-8)  

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything worth of praise, I will let my mind dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:9)  

Oh Lord, guard my heart against the weaknesses and temptations of the flesh so that I may reckon myself dead to sin: 
 

Father, I know that my old self was crucified with Christ, so that I am no longer a slave to sin, for he who has died is freed from sin.  I will reckon myself as dead to sin, but alive to You in Christ Jesus. I will not present the parts of my body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but I will present myself to You, O God, as one alive from the dead, and the parts of my body as instruments of righteousness to You. (Romans 6:6-7, 12-13)  

O Lord, guard my heart against the attacks of the devil and give me the strength to resist him:  

As I submit myself to You, O God, and resist the devil, he will flee from me. (James 4:7)  

I will be of sober spirit and on the alert.  My adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But I will resist him, firm in my faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9)  

I will take up Your full armor, O God, that I may be able to resist and stand firm.  I put on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness; I put on my feet the preparation for the gospel of peace and I take up the shield of faith with which I will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one.  I take the helmet of salvation and the sword of Your Spirit, which is Your Word, O God.  With all prayer and petition I will pray at all times in Your Spirit and be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:13-18)

(Here is a link to all of the Morning Affirmations from Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship. The author's ministry was kind enough to give me permission to reprint them from the book. )

APPLICATION


Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. 
Be courageous. Be strong. 
And everything you do must be done with love.  
1 Corinthians 16:13-14


Meditate on these verses. Pray them for yourself and for other believers. How can you express love today? 

PRAYER

Lord, I pray we would all be on our guard and put on the full armor of God every day. Lord, help us to stand firm in what we believe by regular time soaking in Your Word and hearing Your voice. Helps us to be strong and courageous as we navigate the seas of this world. Help us to love one another with Your love. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen. 

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