1 Corinthians 16:1-24 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. An offering was being received from the churches to assist the needy Christians of Judea who had suffered personal loss due to persecution (Hebrews 10:32-34) compounded by famine (Acts 11:27-30). What instructions doe Paul give the Corinthian church as to how to prepare their offering? See 1 Corinthians 16:2 (printed below)

On the first day of the week each of you should set aside a portion of your income, so that no collections be made when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:2)

On the first day of the week, each one was to make a contribution according to their own judgment (i.e.; whatever amount each one thought to be appropriate and affordable, depending upon their own financial abilities). Note: this special offering was above and beyond the tithe. These weekly offerings were to be stored up by the church in anticipation of the apostle’s coming. This procedure was to be followed so that it would not be necessary to take up a special offering at the time of Paul’s arrival: to avoid pressuring the Corinthians to give a substantial amount just because the apostle Paul was present; and to avoid giving the unbelieving community the false impression that the apostle Paul was receiving a large personal fee for his ministry.

2. According to verses 3-4 (printed below), how would the Corinthian church’s offering be transported to Jerusalem? Based upon these instructions, what do you think was Paul’s concern?

Then, when I arrive, I will send the men whom you approve, along with letters of introduction, to deliver your gift to Jerusalem. (4) If it seems advisable for me to go also, then they will accompany me. (1 Corinthians 16:3-4)

When Paul arrives at Corinth, the church was to present to him those men whom the congregation has chosen to personally bring their offering to Jerusalem. The apostle would then write letters to the church in Jerusalem certifying that these men are the messengers appointed by the Corinthian church. If the church thought it advisable for Paul himself to bring their gift to Jerusalem, then these messengers will accompany him, in order to witness that their gift was indeed given to the Jerusalem church in the name of the Corinthian Christians. Paul shows concern that things be done honorably and with the utmost integrity. He is concerned that the Corinthians’ financial gift be delivered to the needy Christians of Judea as intended and that the church receive the proper thanks and appreciation due to the Corinthian congregation.

3. Paul informs the Corinthians that he is sending Timothy to minister to them. How is the church to treat this young pastor? See 1 Corinthians 16:10-11 (printed below)

Now if Timothy comes, see to it that he is welcomed among you, for he is doing the Lord’s work, just as I am. (11) Therefore, let no one treat him with contempt; but send him on his way in peace, so that he may return to me, for I am expecting him along with the brothers. (1 Corinthians 16:10-11)

In verses 10-11 Paul instructs the church as to how they are to receive Timothy. He was not to be intimidated nor treated with contempt. Because Timothy was a young man and some of the Corinthians tended to do as they pleased, even to the extent of defying apostolic authority, Paul finds it necessary to give such instructions. Timothy is to be treated with respect and given support and cooperation by the church. This is so because he is carrying on the work of the Lord; that is to say, he comes as a minister of Christ and is seeking to minister to the church on behalf of Christ (note Hebrews 13:17).

4. In verses 15-16 (printed below) Paul makes reference to the household of Stephanas, a Corinthian family that was prominent in the ministry of the church. How is the church to treat these brothers and sisters in the Lord?

You know that the household of Stephanas was the first fruits of Achaia and that they have devoted themselves in service to the saints. I exhort you, brothers, (16) to be subject to such men as these and to all who are fellow workers and laborers. (1 Corinthians 16:15-16)

The Corinthians are urged to recognize and appreciate the fact that the household of Stephanas have devoted themselves to the service of God’s people. Furthermore, the Corinthians are exhorted to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work of the ministry and labors at it. When we find a Christian brother (or a whole family) who is giving himself in service to Christ’s church, we are to appreciate his labor and work with him for the cause of Christ.

5. What is Paul’s reaction upon receiving the delegation sent to him by the Corinthian church? What does this show about Paul’s relationship with the churches to whom he ministered? See 1 Corinthians 16:17-18 (printed below)

Now I rejoice at the arrival of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for they have made up for your absence. (18) They have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore, give due recognition to such men. (1 Corinthians 16:17-18)

In verses 17-18 Paul testifies that he rejoices in the arrival of Stephanas and his companions who were fellow members of the Corinthian church—the reason being the fact that “they have made up for your absence.” The Greek, sometimes translated by the phrase, “what was lacking from you,” can also have the meaning, “your absence.” What the apostle is referring to here is not so much the fact that Stephanas and his companions presented him with a gift of support on behalf of the Corinthian church; but rather, that these brothers made up for the Corinthian church’s absence by representing them and renewing their contact with the apostle Paul. Paul had a tremendously deep Christ-like love for and affinity with his fellow believers in Christ. The renewed contact and fellowship with the Corinthian church through their representatives (Stephanas and his companions) was a source of spiritual refreshment to Paul, it was uplifting to his soul and spirit.