In our study of 1 Corinthians chapter sixteen, we see how Paul ends this letter that was sent to correct the church in Corinth with a personal touch. They had dealt with serious matters in the church but, now, Paul wanted them to know that they were all a team and that his correction was out of love for them.
"Now about the collection for the Lord's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me." NIV translation
In closing, Paul deals with a final question that had come up in the church which was about offerings. This is speaking of an extra collection that was to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem. They were supporting a large number of widows while they were in the midst of famine and persecution. This was not to be some response to a plea from the pulpit but was to be lead by God. He tells them all to set aside a portion and this speaks to the fact that it was his desire for them to listen to God and give as He directed not based on the need that was presented. This was near and dear to Paul's heart because he had promised the apostles, when he first met with them, that he would remember the poor saints in Jerusalem (see Galatians 2:10). The offering was going to be delivered by men that were appointed by the church in Corinth and possibly accompanied by Paul. A big part of this offering was to remind them that they were a part of a much bigger family. The early believers in Jerusalem had demonstrated this by pooling the resources they had to help those less fortunate.
"After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you - for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door to effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me." NIV translation
Paul explains his travel plans to the Corinthians but we see that he learned to be open to listening to God and exchanging his plans for God's plans. He saw that God had opened the door for effective evangelism and was willing to stay there as long as God wanted, even though he truly wanted to go see the Corinthians believers. The key to any person's ministry is a willingness to listen to the Holy Spirit and to only move at the command of God. We also see that, wherever that work is, there will be opposition. If we are not persecuted (opposed) for our service to God, we need to ask the question of why because Jesus told us to expect it and the early church demonstrated it.
"When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No one, then should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers." NIV translation
Now, Paul commends Timothy to the Corinthians. He was in Ephesus with Paul but was being sent on to Macedonia and Corinth. He reminds the Corinthian believers that, regardless of his age, Timothy was a servant of Jesus Christ and should be treated with the same respect that they would show to Paul.
"Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity." NIV translation
Apollos had evidently left Corinth due to the controversy about following him versus following Paul. Paul had urged him to return with this letter settling the matter. Paul made this point so that they would not think that he had kept Apollos from returning. Once again, this reminds us that there is no place for jealousy in the work of Christ. In Christ, we are all working for His glory and not our own.
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love." NIV translation
Paul reminds the believers to put into practice what he has said in this letter. It reminds us that we are to be doers of the word and not just hearers. God's word has the power to change us but we have to make the choice to take it in.
"You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord's people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it." NIV translation
These were Greek converts and Paul had baptized them. They had put their faith into action and Paul urged the Corinthian church to do the same. The "submit" is talking about responding to them with love as they serve the Lord.
"I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition." NIV translation
These were probably the men that brought Paul the letter from the believers in Corinth. As we can tell, Paul was glad for any fellowship with believers in Corinth. As Christians, we are all called to build each other up in the faith. Sometimes that is done simply by getting together and feeling the sense of unity in the faith.
"The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house." NIV translation
The "province of Asia" speaks of what is the western part of the modern day country of Turkey. Priscilla & Aquila had helped Paul to start the church in Corinth but were now with Paul in Ephesus where a body of believers was meeting in their home.
"All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss." NIV translation
he "holy kiss" is also known as the kiss of peace and is still a part of the culture in that part of the world. Paul urges them to greet each other with a kiss on the cheek which expressed brotherly love and unity. This was especially significant when the Jewish believers kissed Gentile believers.
"I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand." NIV translation
Up to this point, Paul had dictated the letter to someone else. He did this because he had problems with his eyes and it was very difficult and time consuming for him to write. He writes the final greetings so that there would be no doubt that the letter was authentic.
"If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen." NIV translation
Paul makes a very clear distinction between the believers and those who reject Jesus. It might sound tough but he is in fact saying that those who reject Jesus already stand cursed and He could come back at any time. He ends the letter by assuring the church of his love for them even though he has had to send such a corrective letter to them.