Concluding Comments
Tim Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to I Corinthians, chapter 16, that portion of the Word to which we come today in our verse by verse study of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. We have been approaching this book under the title, “The Lordship of Christ in the Local Church;” and as I have pointed out nearly every time we have looked at one of these passages, the lordship of Christ in the local church is really a matter of the lordship of Christ in your life and in mine, in each of our lives individually.

As we come to chapter 16, we come to the closing thoughts that the Apostle Paul has as he writes this first letter to the Corinthians. Many times the last things that we say to other people are the most important things that we say. Certainly that is true of the last things that a person says before he dies; but as we write letters to other people, as the Apostle Paul was writing this letter to the Christians that lived in Corinth, or as we are visiting with a friend and we know that we may not see that friend again for awhile, we seem to give some careful attention to the things we say at the end of the conversation. Somehow those things, even though they may be kind of scattered and random thoughts, are in a sense the most important things that we say the entire time. I think that is the case as Paul closes his letters in the New Testament–not really that those things are more important, but that they are things that are important to keep in mind as we look back on that letter, as we look back on that bit of truth or that visit or whatever it may have been.

As we look at chapter 16 of I Corinthians, we have what we might call the “famous last words” of the Apostle Paul, at least for this particular point in time; and we have divided this chapter into four parts. In verses 1-4, is “an examination of stewardship.” We talked about that last week, the way we as believers should be administrators of God's estate on earth, not that we have our income out of which we give ten percent or some other portion to the Lord's work, but rather that it all belongs to God, and we administer it for His honor and glory–an examination of stewardship.

In verses 5-9, we have an explanation of submission, in verses 10-18, some exhortations to stability, and in verses 19-24, an extension of salutations. The Lord willing, we will look at those last three sections of the chapter today and conclude in this way our study of I Corinthians, having looked at the first part of the chapter in our last lesson. Let's continue our study of chapter 16 by looking now at an explanation of submission, as Paul gives it in verses 5-9.

Paul's Submission In His Plans

The first thing that we find in verses 5 and 6 is a statement of his plans. If you have your Bibles open to I Corinthians, chapter 16, notice, beginning in verse 5:

I Corinthians 16

5Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.
6And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.

Let's stop there for just a minute. These are the kinds of things that we might include at the end of a letter, explaining when we expect or hope to see that person to whom we are writing again–a very natural kind of a thing to include at the end of a correspondence. He says, “I am hoping to come and see you.” As you can see, Paul's plans were very flexible. In fact, in II Corinthians, Paul is going to be criticized for being fickle in his plans, because it turns out he wasn't able to come and see the Corinthians as soon as he thought. Because he had said, “I hope to come and see you.”, then he didn't come as soon as he thought he would, he was criticized for that. But notice that even though Paul's plans were very flexible, he did have some plans. He had some organization to his life. He wasn't just being haphazard about the future, but this kind of planning is explained by the submission that we see in his planning in verses 7-9. The reason he was so flexible in his planning was in verses 7-9:

I Corinthians 16

7For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.
8But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
9For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

Those verses tell us that Paul was in Ephesus when he was writing this letter to Corinth. He says, “I don't want to just wave to you as I pass through; I want to come at a time when I can spend some time with you.” But notice, as he states these plans, both the ones that we read in verses 5 and 6, and now these that we have read here in 7-9, a key factor in this whole matter of Paul's plans is the phrase, in verse 7: “If the Lord permits.” Do you see that? “If the Lord permits, I hope to stay a while with you.” This is something that was just a natural thing for the Apostle Paul, but it is something that ought to be a part of the planning that any Christian does. All of us as Christians should include in our planning–not only in our talking, but in our planning–this kind of phrase, “if the Lord permits.”

Making Plans In God's Will

Keep a marker in I Corinthians, and turn with me to the book of James, chapter 4, verses 13-15, where we find some specific instructions about this kind of thing. Some of you have studied the book of James before, and you are familiar with these verses, and they serve as a review:

James 4

13Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
14Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
15For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

You see, for the Christian, this is the way all of our plans should be made. Probably everyone of us can identify with the statement of verse 13: “Tomorrow, I'm going to do this or that.” Maybe we don't all identify with going to another city and buying and selling and getting gain, but all of us already have in our minds, at least generally speaking, what we are going to do tomorrow. It is so easy for us as Christians, it is so easy for us as human beings, to say, “Tomorrow I'm going to do this and that. It is going to take me this long, and when I'm through doing that, I'll do the other thing.” The Scripture isn't saying that we should not make plans, but what James tells us, and what Paul is telling us in I Corinthians, chapter 16, what Paul is illustrating in his own life, is that all of those plans that we make should always be under the umbrella of the will of God.

Notice what James says about that kind of thing. This is something that probably most of us realize, but we all need to stop and think about it. In verse 14, he says: “What is your life anyway? It's but a vapor that appears for a little time and passes away.” When we think about time, from God's standpoint, when we think about time on the scale and in the scope that God looks at time, we realize that from eternity past to eternity future this little segment of our whole life is just the tiniest slice of time. James says, “It's like a vapor, that passes away.”

Someone said that the life span of an individual, if we took the empire state building as a representation of time, from the beginning of time until now would be like placing a sheet of typing paper on the top of the empire state building. That's how brief our life is, so how can we have the audacity to say, “I'm going to do this and I'm going to do that, and nothing is going to stop me.” What we ought to say is, “If the Lord wills, I will do this and do that.” Notice that he says we can say, “I will do this or do that,” but we need always to remember, because it is true, whether we accept it as true or not, that the Lord is in overall control of our time and our activity. From a practical standpoint, we need to realize that, but from a spiritual standpoint we need to realize that our plans need to be made in conjunction with the way that our time would best be spent for His honor and glory. Not only is it a practical matter, but it is a spiritual matter, as well.

Adversaries of God's Plan

Verse 9 of I Corinthians, chapter 16, points out something else that may have a bearing on our plans as we make our plans in submission to the Lord's will. Paul says:

I Corinthians 16

9For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

Paul says, “I want to stay in Ephesus–this place from which I'm writing to you–for a while longer, because I have a great opportunity for ministry here.” Notice what he says at the end of that verse: “And [not but], there are many adversaries.” Sometimes adversaries to God's plan can foul up our plan; and we should never say, “I'm going to do this or that tomorrow, or next week. There is not going to be any question but that I will be there. I will do it.” Sometimes the enemy of our souls, Satan (the Scripture describes him over and over again as the one with whom we are in warfare)will try to thwart those plans that we have. And as Paul says, there may be many adversaries.

It is very significant the way Paul words verse 9:

I Corinthians 16

9For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

You can expect that wherever there is a great opportunity to serve the Lord, there will be adversaries to that. You can expect that as you make up your mind that you and your family are going to be a testimony for Jesus Christ, as you make a commitment to be the best Christian business man you can be, or the best Christian homemaker you can be or the best Christian whatever it is that you are doing, as you make up your mind to be a testimony for Jesus Christ in that slot in life where God has placed you–and we all should do that–you need to realize there are going to be adversaries.

There is nothing more dangerous to Satan and his plan than a committed Christian on the campus, in the home, in the office. We tend to think the great threats to Satan's power are the missionaries and the preachers and the evangelists, but I'll tell you today that a committed number of individual Christians who at the grassroots are praying for and ministering in whatever way they can find to those around them are much more dangerous to Satan's plans than the greatest evangelist. That's not to say that preachers and missionaries and evangelists are not important. Certainly they are, but much more important in the overall scope of things, is that number of individual Christians who are working from the base that God has given them. You can expect adversaries as you make up your mind to have a marriage that honors Jesus Christ. You can expect to have problems, maybe not massive problems, but Satan will try what he can to thwart that marriage and to thwart that commitment. If you make up your mind to raise your children for Jesus Christ, you will begin to have problems. As you make up your mind to honor Jesus Christ in your business, Satan will not let that rest.

I realize as I'm saying this that I'm probably giving you a great excuse not to make that kind of commitment, but that's not the application we should make. What we need to realize is:

I Corinthians 16

9For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

Sometimes God allows the adversay to throw in all kinds of problems for all kinds of reasons. Don't assume that just because you're having problems what you're doing is not God's will. Don't assume just because you are having difficulties in your job or in your marriage or in your child training or in these various areas that I have used by way of illustration that it is not God's will to have done what you have decided to do. God very often–in fact, the majority of the time–allows problems to come into our lives, and there are several different reasons for that that we won't even take the time to go into. That is a study in itself. God often allows the adversary to bring problems into our lives. God Himself often puts us under times of testing. That is a separate thing, but it's a problem that can come up, and He has His purposes in doing that. So don't ever assume just because a great and effective door seems to be open but there are adversaries that it may not really be God's will. That is the way God allows things to happen.

Exhortations to Stability

In the first part of the chapter, we saw Paul's examination of stewardship, and now we have looked at this explanation of submission to the will of God. Now we want to look at his exhortations to stability in verses 10-18. The first exhortation that he gives is in verses 10 and 11: “To receive Timothy sincerely.” I like that. I want you to pay particular attention to these verses, verses 10 and 11:

I Corinthians 16

10Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.
11Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.

There are a lot of things in those two verses that any of us who are named Timothy could claim personally and ask you to be obedient to from a personal standpoint, but obviously Paul was talking about one particular Timothy, but he was also giving a principle that applies to anyone who is in Timothy's circumstances. Timothy was one of Paul's young disciples. From II Timothy, chapter 1, verse 7, you know that Paul wrote Timothy two letters that are included in the New Testament. He probably wrote him several other letters, but he wrote these two which are included in the New Testament,and it is clear that Timothy was a very fearful and timid young man. He was, in the course of his lifetime, greatly used of God; but he had the problem that many of us have. He was kind of an introvert; he was fearful; he was timid; and so Paul writes to these Corinthians, anticipating that Timothy might be visiting them. He says, “If Timothy comes to you…” The New American Standard Version says, “See that he comes without cause to be afraid.” What Paul is saying here is that when a fellow believer comes to us, we need to be very careful that we won't do anything that would make that believer's life more difficult.

Careful Treatment of New Believers

Paul is talking about a minister coming to them–a young, timid minister, just getting started in the ministry. He says, “Be careful if he comes to you, that you do not do anything to make him afraid, that you give him your ears, that you listen to what he says.” Before we move on to why Paul is saying this, let me remind you that this would apply not only to a new, young minister, but to a new, young believer, whether he is in the ministry or not. We need to be careful how we treat new young believers–maybe not young in age, but believers that are new and young in the Lord. We need to be careful. Do you ever give any thought to how you treat someone you know is a new believer? Paul says, “Don't give them any kind of cause to be afraid.”

Notice the reason for that in verse 10. The last line of verse 10:

I Corinthians 16

10… for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.

“For he works the work of the Lord, as I also do.” Do you see what that says? That says that this young, timid, fearful preacher, just getting started in the ministry, was just as important in the plan of God as the Apostle Paul was. That is a staggering thought, but let me remind you that it is the Word of God. All of us ought to be able to take comfort in that, and all of us ought to challenged by that. In the first place, this tells us, if each of us put ourselves in the place of young Timothy, each of us is just as important in the work of God as anybody else is. Over and over again we find that in the Scripture. Paul had a whole section, you remember, about spiritual gifts in this letter a few chapters back, which makes it as clear as can be made that each of us is important in God's work. Here is the great Apostle Paul coming to the end of his life, coming to the end of his ministry–world famous in his day, having the authority of an apostle–and he says, “This young guy, just getting started, this young, fearful guy, probably not an outstanding speaker, works the work of the Lord just as I do.”

We live in a day when we are more aware of and more familiar with attractive and powerful preachers than ever before. Maybe there has always been that number, but because of radio and television we can be more aware of them. We are surrounded by powerful, eloquent, godly ministers; and those who do not measure up to that standard we have a tendency to put in a second or third level. Those who are just getting started who may be at that level, we may think, “I'd rather not listen to him.” God says, “He does the work of the Lord just like those superstar preachers with whom you may be familiar.” I have nothing against the superstar preachers. I'm not saying that we should not listen to them, but if God gives you the opportunity to hear someone who may be just getting started, don't downgrade that person. Don't put them in some kind of subservient catagory. Recognize that God uses various ones to bring His message to us and to bring blessings to our lives. Again as I have already said, apply that not only to preachers, but to all other believers. They do the work of the Lord, as we are trying to do, as well.

Individual Responsibility In Obedience

Moving on down to verse 12, we have a kind of parenthetical note about the relationship between Paul and Apollos:

I Corinthians 16

12As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.

We don't know a great deal about Apollos except from chapter 1 of I Corinthians. We know that he was a powerful preacher and that there were people in Corinth who were his followers. Some even said that he was a better preacher than Paul. Some were saying, “I'm of Paul;” Others were saying, “I'm of Apollos.” You remember all that from the first part of the chapter, but Paul was an apostle.

Notice something very carefully here. Even though Paul was an apostle, he had no actual authority over Apollos. See how he words verse 12:

I Corinthians 16

12…… I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time………

It wasn't that Apollos didn't want to come to Corinth at all; it was just that it did not fit his schedule at that time.

We have in verse 12 a passing reference in Paul's letter, but it's a very important lesson about our relationship to fellow believers. You and I can, and probably should, suggest to and advise each other what the Lord's will might be. We should ask others for input about what the Lord's will might be for us, and we should be quick to give spiritual help whenever we can, but we cannot and we should not try to make someone else do our will. We may be convinced that it is God's will for them to do this or that, but the ultimate decision about God's will or the ultimate decision about obeying something that maybe the Scripture clearly reveals to be God's will rests with that person.

I am not the Pope of this church. I do not have the ability, and I certainly do not have the authority, to tell you what God's will is for you. I can show you what God's Word says, and sometimes that seems to be an open and shut case, but the matter of your obedience to the will of God–in some cases even the matter of your deciding what the will of God is–is between you and the Lord. My function as a pastor is to try to open the Word of God to you and show you in general and sometimes even specifically what God's will is; but only you can make that decision. If it is a matter of obeying something that is an open and shut case, only you can make that decision. The Apostle Paul could not make Apollos do what Paul thought that he should do. I cannot and should not make you do what I think God wants you to do. I may be convinced that it is God's will for you, and I have the right to tell you that, but I cannot make you do it, and the same thing is true of you and any other believer.

Stand Fast In the Faith

Paul's first exhortation, then, was “to receive Timothy sincerely,” but the second exhortation is in verses 13 and 14, and that is, “to resist the enemies around them steadfastly.” Look at verses 13 and 14:

I Corinthians 16

13Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
14Let all your things be done with charity.

“Watch,” he says. Every problem that we have dealt with or that we have read of Paul's dealings with in this first letter to the Corinthians was a problem of not watching the truth that they knew. The Corinthians already had a great deal of the Word of God. They didn't have the entire completed New Testament like we do, but they had the preaching of Paul and of Apollos and of Peter. They had a great amount of instruction. Paul said in chapter 4 that they came behind in no gift. They had all the spiritual gifts there. They had a great many things going for them, and yet they had all of these problems. Through the course of the book, one thing becomes clear: The reason that they had these problems was that they didn't watch the truth that they knew. They weren't obedient to the truth that they knew. They had a few things revealed to them in this book, but the problem areas of the book are things that are reminding them of things they already knew. You know, the same thing is true of most of us. For most of us as Christians, it is not a matter of needing to know some new truth; it is the matter of watching what we already know.

Several times in the course of this study, I have used the illustration of coaches in various sports. I think particularly we see it in baseball, but really it's true in any sport. The manager or the coach, or whatever his title might be, is constantly reminding the players to get back to basics. What do they do in football practice or baseball practice? They get out there and they don't spend a lot of time learning new things; they spend a great amount of time practicing the things that they already know and getting that down pat. Certainly they learn new plays, new routines, but a lot of the time is spent practicing what they already know. Listen, if you and I will pay attention to that in our Christian life, we will see a tremendous difference. That's what Paul says: “Watch; stand fast in the faith. Be brave.” The Greek text gives additional insight to this verse, because the Greek text includes the phrase, “Be brave like men;” and in the King James text, from which many of you are reading, which is probably the oldest English translation that we still use these days, it says that. Some of the newer translations do us a disservice by leaving that out. He says, “Be brave like men.”

Maturity In the Christian Life

We have seen throughout this letter to the Corinthians that they were behaving like children. They were being childish about many things–about this matter of, who the greatest preacher was, about the matter of what the greatest spiritual gifts were. They were being silly and childish. We've seen that over and over again, and so Paul says, “Grow up. Watch the truth that you already know. Be an adult about the way you live the Christian life.” Many times we as Christians in the Christian life need to grow up and stop being children. So many times we know what the truth is; we just don't want to do it, or we know the truth tells us something that we want to do, but we should not do.

I remember one of my children, when they were very young, just learning to talk, would ask if we could do a certain thing, and we would say, “No, we cannot do that.” This particular child would say, “But I want to, and I want to!” So often as Christians we are like that, aren't we? God closes a door on a thing that we want to do or God tells us in His Word,“Don't have anything to do with this particular thing.” We wouldn't want God to know that we felt this way, but we would say, “But I want to, and I want to!” Paul says, “Grow up; be brave in obeying the Word of God. Be adults as you handle the Word of God.”

Something else to notice about this verse is that he says: “Be brave; be strong.” Actually that is not the best translation because the phrase, “be strong,” in the Greek text, is written in the passive voice, which really should be translated, “Be strengthened.” You see, it is a wonderful thing that God doesn't tell us, “Be brave; grow up.”, without giving us strength to do that. What this verse is really saying is, “I want you to be brave; I want you to grow up; I want you to be strong; I want you to receive the strength from God that He makes available to obey the truth that you already know and to grow up, to act mature about the things that he has told us to do.” “Be strengthened,” is what he is saying.

In verse 14, we find the way that strengthening takes place:

I Corinthians 16

14Let all your things be done with charity.

Of course, that was the whole message of chapter 13. The motive of the exercise of any spiritual gift should be our love for the Lord Jesus Christ. As we relate to each other, we may not love some other Christian as we ought to; but listen, do you love the Lord Jesus Christ enough to do something for another believer? Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ enough to respond to another believer the way you ought to or to respond to that situation the way that if you would grow up and look at it, you ought to? “Be strengthened,” Paul says, “by realizing the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for you and realizing the love that you ought to have for the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Submission to Spiritual Leaders

There is a final exhortation in this section and that is to receive their spiritual leader submissively. These verses pretty well speak for themselves. But let's just read through verses 15-18. He says:

I Corinthians 16

15I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
16That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.
17I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.
18For they have refreshed my spirit and your's: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.

The principle behind these verses is: The household of Stephanas–apparently Stephanas and his sons and others related to him, perhaps sons-in-law–had become pastors; they had become ministers, and they were very active there in Corinth. The Corinthians at one point had sent Paul an offering, and these men–Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus–had delivered that offering to Paul. They sent these men to carry the gift to Paul. Paul is thanking them for that, but he is reminding the Corinthians in general to be submissive to these who are in authority over them, to these pastors and elders and spiritual leaders in the church there at Corinth.

The principle of submission to authority is throughout the New Testament, but here it is put on a practical, personal level because if you think about it, you realize that the people in Corinth knew these individuals personally. In fact, if you look at verse 15 again, he says, “You know the household of Stephanas. You're personally acquainted with Stephanas and his sons and sons-in-law–those who are related with him in the ministry. You know Fortunatus and Achaicus.” What Paul is saying is, “These men whom you know, these men who are scattered around among you, submit to them as your spiritual leaders.”

Basis for Submission

What is the basis for this submission? Not because they were church officials, not because they were more spiritual than the other Corinthians, not because they were on some kind of higher plane, but because he says, “They devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” The only way that the Body of Christ can work effectively is for this kind of ministry and submission to go hand in hand. Those who serve as pastors and elders and who open the Word of God and who superintend the opening of the Word of God and who handle the spiritual needs of the flock must do their work if we are going to have the lordship of Christ in the local church. They must do it as effectively as they possibly can, but on the other hand, we who are ministered to must also submit to that ministry. We must accept their teaching. We have the Word of God as a guideline to see if they are teaching properly, but as they minister to us, we are to submit to the Lord as we submit to those individuals. So this final exhortation is to submit to the spiritual leaders. As I have said before, there are many other Scriptures in the New Testament that give us that same principle. This is one of those things that Paul did not want to leave the Corinthians without mentioning.

Salutation

Finally, in verses 19-24, Paul closes the letter with an extension of salutations. This is just like you might close a letter: “Tell so and so hello for me, and so and so.” In verse 19, the public salutations:

I Corinthians 16

19The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

You see, this shows the fellowship that existed in various places in that day. The people in Corinth would be familiar with other churches in that area. That's what he says when he says “the churches in Asia.” “The churches in the Roman province of Asia send their greeting to you, especially Aquila and Pricilla.” Apparently a church group met in their home, and so they sent greetings, so there was fellowship among the believers in various places in that day.

In verse 20, he asks for that same kind of harmony among the local body. In verse 20, we have the private salutations.

I Corinthians 16

20All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.

I'm here to tell you today that I Corinthians, chapter 16, verse 20, during my adolescence was one of my favorite verses in the Bible, and several of us who grew up together memorized that verse and very often would spring that on the girls in the youth group and others that we thought might even have some understanding of what the Bible was. “Now here is an instruction from the Scripture. Greet one another with a kiss. How can you deny me that? It's right here in the Bible.” That's one of the difficulties of coming back as pastor of the church that I grew up in. To my left this morning sit–and I'm not even going to look at them as I say this–two of the mothers of guys that I grew up with. Just this morning I mentioned something in passing about something that those guys and I used to do, and my daughter said, “Here goes another one of those horror stories.” So those were the good ole days, and this is just one little part of those good ole days, but that is not really what these verses mean. I hate to tell you teenage guys that, and I think I knew that at the time. What he is saying is, “Look, the churches in Asia greet you, and I know that you want to send greetings to them. These people who are separated from you by a great distance, these messages and greetings that we send back and forth are very important.” And Paul, in so many words is saying, “I know that right now if you saw somebody from the church that meets in Aquila and Pricilla's house, you would be delighted to see them.” Now he says in verse 20:

I Corinthians 16

20All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.

Greet one another there in Corinth or here in Abilene the way you would greet some long lost Christian friend that you had not seen for awhile. Isn't it interesting, if you think about it, you can all remember how exciting it is or how happy you are to see a Christian friend from another place that you haven't seen for awhile. You ask all about him and show all of this kind of concern. How often do we do this with each other who live here in the same town? You see, that's his point.

Often too much is taken for granted in our day-to-day relationships. We should have the same kind of interest in our friends and fellow believers right here that we have in those who live somewhere else.

We have seen the public salutation, the private salutation, and finally we see the personal salutation, in verses 21-24:

I Corinthians 16

21The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.
22If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.
23The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
24My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Evidently Paul took the pen from the hand of his secretary, Bible scholars like to use the word “emanuases”. That's the term for the writer, the secretary, and Paul dictated these books, but probably he took the pen from the hand of his secretary, and signed at least his own name. You will see there in the text in most of your translations that there is “a salutation of my own hand,” and then a dash and, “Paul.” In the manuscript, the word “Paul” is written in a different handwriting. So Paul personally signed this letter. Notice this very personal salutation includes loving the Lord Jesus Christ, in view of His soon coming. It sounds very harsh in verse 22, when he says:

I Corinthians 16

22If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.

Actually that word “accursed” in the King James Text is not the best translation, and I don't know that there is a specific English word today that would translate that, but what he is saying is, “That person is just not on the same wave length with us. Recognize that.” The keynote of all of our fellowship, the underlying theme of all of our fellowship should be “the Lord is coming back,” and if someone doesn't believe that or if someone doesn't understand that, then he is really not on the same wave length with us. So Paul says, “I'm sending this greeting to you in that kind of a context. The Lord is coming back.” Then he adds this little prayer–“Oh, Lord come.” All of us as believers ought to be anxiously anticipating the day when the Lord Jesus Christ comes back, and of course we can't do that if we are all wrapped up in what we are going to acquire next week or what we are going to accomplish by a certain time. Those things have their place. We have talked about the plans earlier in the chapter, but at the same time the overriding theme of all of life ought to be “The Lord is coming back,” and we look forward to that day with great anticipation.

Conclusion

This is the closing note of Paul's letter–the nearness of the return of the Lord and what our life ought to be in view of it. What better note on which to close our study. Isn't it interesting after all of the practical subjects that have been covered in this book, the various kinds of things that we have talked about, the conclusion, the most practical matter of all, the thing that Paul wants to leave on our minds as he closes the letter, is the truth of the Lord's return–the hope for the nearness of the Lord's return.

If you will mentally review the things that you have learned from this book, and I hope you have learned a thing or two from our study, put that all in the context of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ could come back this afternoon. He could come back tonight. He could come back tomorrow, maybe right away–maybe not, but maybe, certainly possibly, right away. Let us filter all of our Christian life through the grid of the nearness of the Lord's return and pray with Paul, “Oh Lord come.”


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