1 Corinthians 16:12-21
Paul now closes his letter to the church at Corinth. I do not say his first letter as he had written them previously (5:9), and the Apostle, no doubt, hoped that there would be no need for another letter, but that instead, all would be well when he arrived a few months hence. That was not the case, as we elaborated yesterday. He would write them two more letters (that we know of, at least), one of which he wrote in “anguish of heart” (2 Corinthians 2:4). But for now, he closes this letter with the hope of reconciliation and obedience to his instructions.
To begin, the fact that he encouraged Apollos to visit them shows that the apostle was in no way offended that some in Corinth preferred Apollos to himself (1:12). And the fact that Apollos refrained from going to Corinth makes one wonder that he made that choice so as not to lead any at the church to think that there was the slightest daylight between him and the Apostle. Paul’s then encouraging the men at Corinth to “act like men” is given more meaning coming right after the example he and Apollos just set for them: Stop whining, love your wife, submit to authority, and lead the church! Speaking to the issue of authority, Paul exhorts them to subject themselves to the leaders of their church who had visited, refreshed, and informed Paul of the struggles in the church. Perhaps the people at Corinth would see Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus as tattletales. Paul takes the opportunity to remind the Corinthians of their service to saints.
Finally, Paul closes with greetings to the church from those who are with him, not the least of which are Aquila and Prisca who were involved in the work at Corinth in the beginning (Acts 18:1-4). They hosted a church in their house, which might be the future of churches in America. But what I think is most significant is that, though Paul usually ends his letters with something along the order of, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, etc.,” he does so here, BUT then adds, “My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.” He does not end any of his other letters with such a personal expression of his own affection. No doubt, the Apostle is aware that he has spoken to them in such a way that was not always so pleasant. They had many issues ranging from doctrine to morality to division. And then there were the assaults on his own integrity as an apostle of Jesus Christ. He had to set matters aright. But given all of this, he never stopped loving them. May this be a lesson for us: We shall experience disagreements, even painful ones, in the church; but we must never stop loving one another.