1 Corinthians 1 (day 1063) 28 November 2012
1-3: Corinth, located on the isthmus between Greece and the Peloponnesus, was the “sin city” of Paul’s day. It was a major trading center, the Corinthian Gulf to the north and Saronic Gulf to the southeast providing ships with safe navigation away from the open sea. The church there had been founded by Paul (see Acts 18) around 50 A.D. The letter we are currently reading, which we call 1 Corinthians, is at least his second letter to the church there, for he mentions an earlier epistle (see 5:9-12). It opens with a typical greeting, purporting to be from Paul and Sosthenes. Sosthenes is the name of a synagogue official in Corinth (Acts 18:17), but we cannot be certain it is the same man. Sosthenes may be the person who actually wrote the letter at Paul’s dictation, much as had Tertius the letter to Rome.
4-9: As was the case with Romans (Romans 1:8-15), Paul begins by giving thanks for them. We note that his thanksgiving is for nothing they have done, but rather for what Christ and others have done in and for them. God’s faithfulness, not theirs, is mentioned, along with the hope that they might one day be blameless. Apparently they are not, at present.
10-17: If we found the last paragraph curiously short on applauding the congregation at Corinth, we read now the reason: there is division in the church! How unusual. The problem, as Paul sees it, is that the congregation has divided into factions, each following one of their transient teachers – Paul, Apollos, or Cephas (Peter). At least some of them claim to follow Christ. Paul chides them for these divisions, and insists that his ministry there was not for the purpose of gathering a following for himself. In fact, Paul denigrates his own preaching, and says he did not try to be eloquent “so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.” Preachers do sometimes think people will be saved through their eloquence instead through what God has done in Jesus.
18-25: The proclamation of a crucified Messiah is foolishness to those who demand logical proof and want to see signs (here Paul’s quote may be from several Old Testament passages, such as Isaiah 29:14 or Job 5:12-13). The cross is a stumbling block to them, but to those “who are called,” that is, believers, the cross demonstrates the power of God.
26-31: More than that, God does not call people based on how important they are in the world. Paul tells his congregation to take a look at themselves; their eclectic makeup is proof that God does not play favorites based on wealth or knowledge.
1 Corinthians 2 (day 1064) 29 November 2012
1-5: The account of Paul’s visit to Corinth (Acts 18) is unremarkable. No miracles of healing are recorded, and although some converts were made there is no claim of a large number in spite of the fact that Paul’s stay there was nearly two years. Paul says here that he claimed no insights into “the mystery of God,” but only preached Christ crucified and risen. We can’t be sure what he means by that phrase, but we know that there were any number of mystery cults extant, and roaming teachers pretending to have secret knowledge.
6-13: And yet he does claim to have God’s wisdom, “secret and hidden,” by which he means it can be perceived only by faith, not by any form of human knowledge. The quote in verse 9 is loosely based on Isaiah 64:4. He contrasts human knowledge with spiritual knowledge. Human knowledge cannot fathom the things of God.
14-16: The spiritual gifts that God dispenses to believers cannot be discerned by those who rely on human wisdom. Only those who have spiritual wisdom can perceive the things of God. He loosely quotes Isaiah 40:13: we cannot know the mind of God but we can have the mind of Christ which teaches us spiritual wisdom.
1 Corinthians 3 (day 1065) 30 November 2012
1-4: Paul tells them that they are still “of the flesh,” not “of the spirit;” that is, they are living according to the whims of human nature rather than as children of God born of the Spirit of God. The whims of human nature result in jealousy and quarreling, and that is what is going on in Corinth between the different factions.
5-9: Apollos had been in Corinth after Paul (Acts 19:1), so Paul uses the metaphor of the field to illustrate their different but connected roles: Paul planted, Apollos watered. Neither of those activities is worth anything, however, unless God blesses the labor by giving the growth.
10-15: He piles imagery on imagery. Now he speaks of the Corinthian church as a building for which he, Paul, laid the foundation upon which others built. Whatever is added to the foundation will be tested, and will either survive or collapse, he says. In either case the builder will be saved, but not because he built it. What he means is that any teaching that is given contrary to his foundational teaching about Jesus Christ will be judged on the basis of that original foundation. Their petty disputes and jealousies cannot stand under the “fire,” the test of true faith.
16-17: Now his imagery shiftsagain and the church – that is, the believers who make up the church – is compared to the temple. They are warned that no teaching (or behavior) against the foundation of Jesus Christ crucified and risen will survive.
18-23: Human nature is so far from God’s nature that the “wisdom of the world” is foolishness to God; while the wisdom of God seems like foolishness to those who are trapped in the world of human nature. To the world, faith is foolishness, but to God lack of faith is foolishness (see Job 5:13 and Psalm 94:11 for the source of the quotes in verses 19-20). So, Paul tells them, what matters is how faithful they are, not how famous or eloquent or popular their preacher is.
1 Corinthians 4 (day 1066) 1 December 2012
1-7: Therefore, from all that was said in chapter 3, the folks at Corinth should not judge Paul or Apollos – that is, there is no need or reason to choose one over the other. We catch a glimpse in verse 6 of why Paul quotes so much scripture. It is his conviction that everything to be said about Christ can be found in the prophets and other writings in scripture. To go beyond what scripture presents is to set oneself up for either praise or rejection, and that is not the purpose of an apostle. An apostle is to open the scriptures to show that Jesus is the Christ and that the Christ must suffer and die and then be raised from the dead. There is no need to formulate any other “proof.”
8-13: Paul’s use of sarcasm is on display here. Apparently the folks at Corinth have made a big deal out of the idea that claiming Christ as king makes them all kings. Based on his description of the poverty of apostleship my guess is that they have embraced an early form of what today we call the “prosperity gospel.” Paul insists that such an idea has no place among the followers of Jesus. The followers of Jesus are to be the servants and helpers of others.
14-21: It becomes apparent in these verses that Paul has been referring to certain specific, though as yet unnamed, persons who are trying to commandeer the church at Corinth for their own selfish purposes. He asserts that they have been acting arrogantly because they think he, Paul, is not going to return. Out of sight, out of mind, you know. But Paul isn’t about to let them get away with it, and insists that he is indeed going to return to Corinth “if the Lord wills.” So far as we know, he never does make it back to them.
1 Corinthians 5 (day 1067) 2 December 2012
1-2: Paul is alarmed that the congregation in Corinth seems to look away from a situation that will bring dishonor to the church; that of a man living with his step mother. While obedience to the law (in this case Leviticus 18:8) does not lead to salvation, the law does convict wrongdoing and its value is that it points us in the right direction. More than the sin that is being committed, though, Paul is upset that the church is complacent about it.
3-5: Paul claims spiritual authority even though he is physically absent. He insists that the man (apparently his step mother is not in the church) be excommunicated (“hand this man over to Satan”). The purpose of doing so is not to punish him, though, but rather in hopes that he will thereby be convicted of his error so that he might repent and yet be saved. Paul’s concern is also that the whole congregation not be influenced by the man’s lifestyle.
6-8: Apparently the congregation has been boasting about being open-minded toward such behavior, and Paul warns them that “a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough,” or as we might say, “one rotten apple spoils the barrel.”
9-13: Paul’s primary concern is not with sin per se, but with sin in the church. If one commits to follow Jesus Christ, that one should live according to the will of God – yes, as revealed in the law. The church should not be concerned with judging those outside the body, but must insist on morality within the body. Part of the problem with the church today is that it is perceived as being overly judgmental, and part of that judgment has to do with the fact that the church, once but no longer representing a majority of the population, is guilty of expecting those outside the covenant to behave as though they were inside it.
1 Corinthians 6 (day 1068) 3 December 2012
1-6: It would seem that the church in Corinth is in much need of correction. Paul chides them for using the public courts rather than having their disagreements mediated by “the saints.” By “saints” (literally, “holy ones”) he means the spiritual leaders within the congregation.
7-8: He goes so far as to suggest that it would be better to simply abide whatever wrong one might suppose has been done by a fellow believer than to take that believer to court.
9-11: The list of “sinners” in verses 9 and 10 is not intended to be exhaustive, although the list may in fact represent specific complaints Paul has received concerning members of the church in Corinth. Of course, he does not mean that these people should forever be refused entry into the church, but simply that having professed faith in Jesus Christ one should stop behaving in ways that mock the gift of justification.
12-20: Paul believes that baptism makes us partners with Christ in his crucifixion so that we will be partners with Christ in his resurrection. Being partakers in the gift of life with Christ we are then become sanctuaries for the living God. The way we use our bodies, then (and particularly with regards to sexual behavior), reflects our attitude toward God.
1 Corinthians 7 (day 1069) 4 December 2012
1-7: But Paul doesn’t stop at simply denouncing the sin. He continues with some practical advice about how to avoid sexual temptations. The quote in verse 1 is not a direct quote from scripture, but we have to wonder if Paul didn’t have in mind certain passages such as Genesis 20:6, Ruth 2:9 or Proverbs 6:29. A marriage in which each party respects the other’s desire for sexual activity is the best protection against adultery and other forms of sexual immorality.
8-9: If you can’t stand the heat, why not just jump into the kitchen?
10-11: Marriage should be honored for life.
12-16: However if one is married to an unbeliever and the unbeliever wishes to separate, Paul puts his stamp of approval on the separation. Verse 12 is extraordinary until you remember that when the Biblical code of law was published believers in Christ did not exist. Therefore in Paul’s mind God has nothing to say about the marriage between a believer and a non-believer and he gives the situation the best interpretation he can think of: an unbeliever might be saved by his or her marriage to a believer.
17-20: A judgment is rendered with respect to circumcision. You will remember that the Council of Jerusalem established the rule that Gentiles who converted to the faith did not have to be circumcised (Acts 15:19-20). Paul simply rules that whether one is circumcised or not is of no consequence.
21-24: He says as well that whether one is a slave or is free is of no consequence in terms of one’s relationship with God. Unfortunately, this paragraph was too often taken as a stamp of implied approval for the institution of slavery.
25-31: Paul is convinced that the current world order is on its way out, and so he summarizes their questions about marriage by saying it would be best if they simply remained as they are instead of complicating their lives by being in covenant with a spouse rather than with God only. However, he does not denounce those who wish to marry.
32-35: He offers a further explanation to the above paragraph, saying simply that it is easier to be “anxious about the affairs of the Lord” if one is single.
36-38: And so forth – engaged parties may marry if they cannot remain unmarried.
39-40: Widows can remarry if they wish, but Paul’s opinion is that they are better off if they do not.
I wonder if his ideas about marriage would be different if he himself were married.
1 Corinthians 8 (day 1070) 5 December 2012
1-3: Another concern of the Corinthians has to do with eating food sacrificed to idols, a concern that seems odd to us. Remember, though, that Corinth was a gathering place for sailors and merchants all around the Mediterranean world, and many religions were represented there. In the market place vendors hawked their wares, including food that had been sacrificed or dedicated to some god or another. The fact that the food had been thus “honored” was thought to enhance its value. But Christians don’t worship these gods, so the Corinthians wanted to know if there was a problem with eating such food.
Paul begins his treatment of this issue with a curious approach. He first establishes the difference between knowledge and love, and we are puzzled over his direction.
4-6: But his train of thought leads steadily onward. First of all, knowledge tells us that there is but one God, although people might believe in many gods. There are also many lords, human rulers of one sort or another. We Christians know that there is one God and one Lord. So, food that has been sacrificed to idols is food that has been sacrificed to nothing. That is what knowledge tells us.
7-13: There is therefore nothing wrong with eating such food. However, not every believer has this knowledge, and for them partaking of such food is a pain to conscience. If they see Christians eating meat sacrificed to an idol, they think the Christian is acknowledging the existence of that god. Paul’s advice is that, as an act of love toward their weaker counterparts, Christians should refrain from eating such meat in order to avoid confusion among those who are still steeped in their old pagan ways and superstitions.
1 Corinthians 9 (day 1071) 6 December 2012
1-2: Paul is getting ready to approach the issue from another direction. First he establishes his own credibility: He is a free man and an apostle who has seen Jesus (not in person, perhaps, but Acts records that Jesus did appear to him several times) and by whose witness the Corinthians became believers.
3-7: Next he asserts his rights as a free man who is an apostle: he has the right to eat and drink whatever he pleases. He has the right to marry (provided she is a believer also). He (and Barnabas) has the right to be paid for their work as apostles. After all, the Corinthian Christians are the “vineyard” he has planted.
8-14: The Law of Moses says an ox should not be muzzled when it treads the grain; it should be allowed to eat while it treads(Deuteronomy 25:4). This humane treatment of dumb animals ought to be accorded to him as well, don’t you think? He deserves material benefit for the spiritual good he has sown. Verse 12 implies that they have in fact paid others for similar work. That is as it should be, he says; “those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel” – a verse Methodist preachers depend on, by the way.
15-18: Paul refuses to charge for his services, though, because he sees himself as being obligated by the LORD to do so. He therefore will refuse any compensation, making a joke that to do so would deprive him of bragging rights.
19-23: His method instead is to be a “slave” to those to whom he is witnessing, whether they are Jews or Gentiles who submit to Jewish law, or Gentiles who do not. He becomes weak (that is, refrains from eating food sacrificed to idols) for the sake of those who are weak (who think it is a sin to eat such food). In all this he refrains from pleasing himself so that he might more effectively represent the gospel.
24-27: He compares himself to an athlete who exercises extreme self discipline in order to compete effectively.
1 Corinthians 10 (day 1072) 7 December 2012
1-5: It is apparent that very early in the development of Christianity the Old Testament became an important part of the instruction given to believers whether they were Jewish or Gentile. Paul is here defending his Jewish heritage, claiming that Christ was with them when they came out of Egypt and that their crossing of the Red Sea is tantamount to Christian baptism. It is an interesting position to take, but one which Paul doesn’t seem to dwell on or even to defend elsewhere. However, he notes that in spite of Christ’s presence with them most of them provoked God to anger.
6-13: Paul says that God’s rejection of the sinful Hebrews in the wilderness was an example for his readers, and urges them not to fall into the same idolatry. Verse 7 is a quote from Exodus 32:6. Verse 8 is a reference to the story in Numbers 25 where Phinehas, son of Eleazar, killed an Israelite and his Moabite lover. Numbers 25:9 says 24,000 died in the plague, not 23,000, but after a few thousand who’s counting anyway? Verse 9 references the story in Numbers 21:4-9 when God was said to have sent poisonous snakes into the camp when the people complained against God. Paul alleges again that Christ was present (some manuscripts say “the Lord” instead of “Christ.”). It’s hard to determine to what he is referring in verse 10; several incidents might fit. His point is that all these things should be examples to the Corinthian Christians, and assures them that God never tests anyone but that there is a way out, and they can endure any temptation.
14-22: Breaking bread and sharing a cup is the Christian way of participating in Christ’s suffering, an act which emphasizes their oneness in Christ. There is no reason to refrain from food sacrificed to idols, since the idols are nothing. However, food and drink from such rituals cannot be thought of as the bread and cup we share with Christ, and should be avoided as such.
23-30: The solution to “food dedicated to idols” question is simply this, he says: don’t ask too many questions. There’s nothing wrong with eating such food, but if you ask and find out it is from some pagan ritual, then avoid it.
31-33: The point seems to be that if some new believers are somewhat naïve and even superstitious in their view of things, don’t trouble them by acting in ways that they will find disturbing.
1 Corinthians 11 (day 1073) 8 December 2012
1-16: Just read verses 11 and 12 and tiptoe past the rest of this paragraph.
17-22: On to other issues. Paul chides them for the way they observe the Lord’s Supper. The reason Christians break bread is so they can share it with each other. Hoarding your own stash is not the way the followers of Jesus are supposed to act.
23-26: Another reason we observe the ritual of breaking bread and sharing a cup is to express the reality that Christ has died, but we understand that we do this in expectation that Christ will come again.
27-32: Verse 28, where he writes, “Examine yourselves, and only then …” is the reason in our liturgy we pray a prayer of confession before we come to the Lord’s table. If we would judge ourselves, he says, Christ would have no need to judge us. Still, Christ’s judgment is for the purpose of correction, not condemnation.
33-34: In summary, he tells them, share the bread and the cup not out of hunger but in fellowship with one another and with Christ.
He mentions that they have asked about other matters as well, but defers comment on them until he can visit them. (We will discover that his plans to visit will be delayed, and he will write the letter we call 2 Corinthians.)
1 Corinthians 12 (day 1074) 9 December 2012
1-3: Paul introduces the subject of spiritual gifts as if they have asked for instruction on the subject. All through the Bible the worship of idols is denigrated, and the primary reason given as proof that idols have no power is the simple fact that idols cannot speak. It is also a constant witness of the scriptures that God does speak, although God’s voice is usually heard through the messengers that God sends. The Corinthian Christians have no doubt been taught this, and so it would come as no surprise that they would be curious as to what God might say. Paul makes it clear that God would never have anyone say, “Jesus is cursed.” It is possible that this was the epithet Paul had in mind when he himself persecuted Christians and forced them under threat of torture to blaspheme (see Acts 26:11), obviously meaning to blaspheme the name of Jesus since no Jew would ever try to get someone to blaspheme God. On the other hand the Corinthians were living in a world in which Caesar was Lord, and Paul believed that the courage it would take to say “Jesus is Lord” was evidence that the Holy Spirit had to be behind such a statement.
4-13: In the Corinthian world people believed in many gods. Paul insists that, although the Spirit of the one true God is manifested in a variety of gifts, it is still the work of but one Spirit, one God. He lists here nine spiritual gifts, but the list is not intended to be exhaustive, merely representative. There are other lists of spiritual gifts (see Romans 12:6-8 and Ephesians 4:11), and the idea of spiritual gifts is by no means unique to Paul. In fact, the so-called “Seven Gifts of the Spirit” in much Christian, particularly Roman Catholic, literature are derived from Isaiah 11:2-3. Paul’s point is that the Spirit builds up the church by granting different gifts to each of us rather than all spiritual gifts to each of us. He demonstrates by using the human body as an example of how each part has a different function and yet they operate together as a whole. This idea gives rise to the metaphor of the church as the “body of Christ” (see verse 27).
14-26: Each member of the church has his or her own special place and function, just as parts of the body. Paul inserts a comedic element, picturing parts of the body arguing about which is more important. His point is that in the church each member is carrying out a function of the Holy Spirit by virtue of whatever gift the Spirit has given each one. No one in the church is more important that others, regardless of how important we might deem some gifts to be.
27-31: Each one has a function to perform, and each is important. Nevertheless, Paul tells them to “strive for the greater gifts,” leaving us no clue as to which gifts he is referring. He ends this section, though, with a tantalizing hint of “a more excellent way.” I, for one, believe that by “the greater gifts” he is referring to the three he will mention in the next section: faith, hope, and love.
1 Corinthians 13 (day 1075) 10 December 2012
1-13: Faith, hope and love are referred to as the theological or spiritual virtues, which, added to the four “cardinal” virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and courage from classical literature comprise the so-called “seven catholic virtues,” referred to in the writings of some of the earliest leaders of the Church (the so-called “Church Fathers”). Other than that observationI have nothing to add to this most beautiful of treatises.
1 Corinthians 14 (day 1076) 11 December 2012
1-5: Although love is the “more excellent way” which we are to pursue, other spiritual gifts are desirable as well, and we are to strive for them. He compares the gift of prophecy with the gift of tongues. Prophesy is the more helpful gift, he says, because it is a gift that will “build up the church.” The gift of tongues helps no one but the one with the gift and is thus worthless to the church unless there is someone to interpret what is said. By “tongues,” Paul means glossalalia, a kind of ecstatic gibberish. It is not the same phenomenon as that which occurred on the day of Pentecost, for on that occasion the disciples were speaking in human languages and the people in the street each heard them in their native tongue. Obviously “tongues” was considered a valid expression of spiritual fervor. Unfortunately, of all the gifts it perhaps is the one easiest to feign. Therefore such an utterance, in order to be useful in the community, must be verified by having someone actually understand what is being said – an interpreter, in other words.
6-12: Paul declares that if he spoke in tongues when he comes it wouldn’t be beneficial to them. He then launches into philosophical speculation about the nature of sound and the sounds of nature. Musical instruments are worthless unless they emit some sound that is recognizable. So with speech. The Corinthians are eager for spiritual gifts, he says, but that desire should be for the benefit of the church, not the one who has the gift. We are reminded of one Simon of Samaria who tried to purchase from Philip the power to bestow the Spirit on others (see Acts 8). It wasn’t for sale.
13-19: Still hung up on tongues, Paul continues to insist that it is a gift for the benefit of the individual only, and even claims himself to have the gift. However, he also insists that it is not a gift that benefits the church, and those gifts are more to be desired than the gift of tongues.
20-25: Pressing the point home in a classic example of overkill, Paul adds one more reason not to speak in tongues during times of community worship and meetings: it will only confuse outsiders and make it even more difficult to ever reach them.
26-33a: He gives them a brief outline to use in their gatherings, one which our modern worship services mirror, though rather loosely. Sing some hymns, give folks who have something to say time to say it, make sure everybody understands what is said, and don’t argue. The purpose is to build each other up, not engage in posturing.
33b-36: This paragraph reflects the prevailing culture of the time. Enough said.
37-40: If anybody disagrees with me on this, Paul says, don’t let them speak. Those Corinthians must have been quite a bunch.
1 Corinthians 15 (day 1077) 12 December 2012
1-11: All the preceding notwithstanding, the most important thing is: 1) that Christ died for our sins; 2) that he did so in accordance with scriptures; 3) that he was buried; 4) that he was raised on the third day (also in accordance with scriptures); and the proof of this last claim is that he appeared to a number of witnesses, including Paul himself, surely a reference to his Damascus Road experience. He is the last, he says, to see the risen Christ and therefore he has just as much authority to teach in the churches as do the others. Indeed, the fact that he is the last to have seen the risen Christ has only served to make him work harder than any of the others.
12-19: The whole thing hinges on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
20-28: Paul lays out his understanding of God’s plan to redeem all creation:
- Christ is raised from the dead (verses 20-22).
- Christ will return (verse 23).
- Those who belong to Christ will join him (verse 23).
- Christ will reign in the earth (verse 25).
- Every other realm – and this includes “powers,” not just human realms – will be destroyed (verse 24b).
- Every enemy of Christ will be subdued (verse 25).
- Finally, death itself will be subdued (verse 26-28), but of course the reign of Christ is for the purpose of redeeming creation for God the Father.
- “Then comes the end” (verse 24), although we gather from other passages that “the end” is only the end of the way things presently are in the world.
29: Although the practice of the dead being baptized by proxy has
never been encouraged or officially accepted since very early in the church’s history, it was apparently part of the worship of the Christians in Corinth. Rather than challenge the practice, Paul simply notes that they do it, and uses it to say they are already doing something that presupposes that the dead are raised.
30-32: If the dead are not raised, why should Paul bother to risk his life for the sake of the gospel? His comment that he dies every day either means that he faces constant persecution, or simply that he’s getting older every day. The “wild animals” at Ephesus were of the two-footed variety (see Acts 19:21-41).
33-34: Paul reverts back to his earlier exhortations that they should disengage themselves from those who engage in immoral behavior. They bring shame on themselves by associating with such.
35-41: Now back to the dead being raised: What will they look like? After all, you’re talking about bodies that have been decomposing for years. Paul reverts here to an ancient understanding of the generation of living things. The buried seed was thought to die, and the plant pushing up through the soil was its new manifestation. The new manifestation does not resemble that which was put in the ground, but is a new kind of reality for the original seed. The rest of this paragraph seems a little out of place, and may reflect something of the Greek (Platonic) concept of forms.
42-44: There is therefore a difference between that which has died and its new form when resurrected.
Old body: New body:
45-49: He again contrasts Christ with Adam (see verses 21-23). Adam represents that old type of human being whose existence is manifested physically. Jesus, the “last Adam” represents the new type of human being whose existence is manifested spiritually. The difference between the two is that the first is of earth (physical existence) and must perish; the second is from heaven (spiritual existence) and will never perish. Those who receive Christ will participate in a resurrection like his (see Romans 6:5).
50: In order for us to inherit the kingdom of God, then, we must become imperishable – born of the spirit.
51-57: Paul launches into a rising crescendo to his argument, beginning with his image of the bursting forth of life in the midst of death, heralded by a trumpet blast. Obviously, this aging body can’t survive the way it’s going, so it must take on a new nature, one that is imperishable and immortal. The quote in verse 55 is taken from Hosea 13:19, with some elaboration provided by Paul’s active imagination. He ends with a victory shout of thanksgiving.
58: So, having described the reward to come, he encourages them to keep the faith.
1 Corinthians 16 (day 1078) 13 December 2012
1-4: In the midst of all this talk about the indescribable things yet to be, let’s not forget about the all too describable suffering of many of the saints. Persecution of Christians in Jerusalem has taken on a less dangerous face since Paul presided over the stoning of Stephen, but Christians there are persecuted and discriminated against, leaving many of them in deplorable poverty. Paul wants to make sure their fellow believers in Corinth, as in Galatia, send some support, and boldly and rather blatantly asks for them to start collecting a relief offering which will be sent to Jerusalem. To protect his integrity he makes clear that he himself will not take charge of the offering, but that they will designate some of their own whom they know to be trustworthy.
5-9: Paul intends to lay over in Ephesus for a while, but will return to Corinth, he says. We will read in his next letter that he makes at least three visits to Corinth.
10-11: Timothy seems always to have been Paul’s favorite.
12: Paul apparently wanted Apollos to go to Corinth as he had decided not to go there himself immediately.
13-14: Good advice for us all.
15-18: Paul had baptized Stephanas and his household (see 1:16), and apparently they are present with him at the writing of this letter, and may be the ones who will deliver the letter to Corinth. Fortunatus and Achaicus are not mentioned elsewhere.
19-20: Aquila and Priscilla were Paul’s helpers in Ephesus (see Acts 18:24-28).
21-24: A final word of encouragement. As with the letter to the Romans (Romans 16:22)Paul is dictating this letter, not writing it himself, but signs it at the end.