Skip Heitzig - 1 Corinthians 16
Well, you made it. Turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 16. We finish out the book tonight. Chapter 16, we'll do it. There's only 24 verses. Famous last words I heard somebody say. Who said that? You say that? OK. I'll forgive you for that. But you know me well. So this is our 20th study in 1 Corinthians, and we slowed down as you remember for part of it when we went a little bit in depth when it came to the spirituals, the spiritual gifts, the neumaticas the neumaticoy, as we went through those little chapters, chapter 12, 13, and 14. We dug in a little bit, but now we will finish the book of 1 Corinthians, God-willing, tonight.
Father, thank You for Your word. We pray that it would be like water to parched ground, that we would not just learn lessons from it, not just get information, but your spirit would provide real transformation, that these would be truths, Lord, that go deep within us that we might expand your kingdom, that we might be your people in these last day... for we ask in Jesus name, amen.
So by way of recapping the book as we come to the last chapter of the book, you remember that Chloe's household in Corinth got word to the apostle Paul, who was writing this from Ephesus, they got word to Paul in Ephesus, that there were some issues in the church at Corinth, real problems they were experiencing, challenges, as well as some questions they had about a number of issues. So it's a lengthy book in that Paul covers lots of practical and theological ground. So Chloe's household got word to Paul. That was reinforced by three more people, maybe people you've not heard of, Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus. You go, who are those people? You're going to meet them before the night's over. They're mentioned in chapter 16. They came from Corinth as well probably to either carry the letter or to bring Paul's word back to the Corinthians.
But as you remember, the first issue on Paul's agenda in writing this letter was to deal with the division that was in the church. And he does in chapter 1 and chapter 2. He speaks about that division, congregational disunity. Some were saying, I'm of Paul. Some are saying, I'm of Apollos. Some were saying, I'm of Cephas. Others were saying I'm of Christ. So Paul deals with that in chapters 1 and 2. After that, Paul speaks about spiritual immaturity. He says, that I couldn't speak to you as spiritual people but as to carnal people, babes in Christ. And he lists several problems that rendered them spiritually immature. So that's chapters 3 and 4. In chapter 5 and 6, he speaks of sexual impurity that was going on.
There was a case of incest, something that Paul said isn't even done or tolerated in the unbelieving world. But you have tolerated it, and you congratulate yourselves on the fact that you are so liberal minded and that you tolerate these people who have these perverted feelings and activities. So he speaks about sexual immorality. In the next couple of chapters, he deals with marital issues, marital infidelity. There were divorce that was rampant in the church and questions about can I leave my unbelieving husband because he doesn't believe and I don't want to be unequally yoked? Besides that, there's this cute guy I saw at church. And it'd be nice to hook up. I don't know if that was going on. But he does address that marital infidelity.
As the book continues, Paul deals with the issue of personal liberty, what you can and cannot do. What are the guidelines when it comes to gray areas, not the black and white issues that he has dealt with previously in the book, but gray issues, marginal issues? He deals with that in chapter 8. Then for a few chapters, he speaks about imbalanced spirituality, that there were issues when it came to the Lord's supper. There was an immaturity with that. People were taking food at the potlucks that they were having and consuming it and eating it before the poor people could. And, also, they were out of balance when it came to spiritual gifts.
So in chapters 11, 12, 13, and 14, he covers those areas. Then chapter 15, that long chapter that could have easily been divided into two by those who did it later on but decided not to, 58 verses of doctrinal perplexity. And so they were questioning the Resurrection of Christ. They were certainly questioning their own physical bodily resurrection. How are the dead raised? What body will they come back with? So that takes us all the way now to chapter 16 where we go from the lofty lessons of doctrinal perplexity down to practical generosity. And here's what I love about Paul. Paul was able to on one hand speak about the depths or shall we say the heights of the doctrine of the Resurrection of Christ and the glorification of our physical body, which is some pretty heady doctrinal material, to then immediately in the next paragraph, chapter 16, verse 1 and following, say now let's talk about that offering that I want to take up, the collection for the church in Jerusalem.
And so he goes from these doctrinal heights to these practical matters. Sometimes Christians are accused, you've heard this before, of being so heavenly minded that they're no earthly good. I suppose some people are that way. I've always believed that you can't really be much earthly good unless you are heavenly minded and the most who do for people here and now are those who are thinking of the hereafter. But, certainly, Paul the Apostle could never be accused of being heavenly minded and no earthly good. He is very practical when it comes to earthly matters. And here's what it tells me as he deals with heaven and the glorification of the body, and the celestial bodies in heaven, and the plant life on the Earth as a model for physical resurrection, I mean, he gets into some deep stuff.
And then he talks about practical issues. It shows me, the lesson to me is that we can never detach the future from the present. In fact, we are motivated by the future truths, these heavy doctrinal areas. It should motivate us in the present. And that's what it seems. That's the feel that I get if I were to continually read chapter 15 and then on into chapter 16. And it makes sense. It makes perfect sense. You see if I really believe that I have a glorious future and that my body is going to be transformed at some point in the future that I'm going to be in heaven with the Lord forever and then come back and serve for thousand years in a remade Earth, a millennial kingdom in a glorified body, that should motivate me to do as Jesus said when he said lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust cannot corrupt, where thieves cannot break in and steal.
So knowing the future glories of heaven and bodily resurrection, I want to lay up for myselves, while on Earth, I want to start preparing for heaven. And so we can never cut or detach the future from the present. And so he gets very, very practical. He takes up or he mentions what he has already mentioned previously. And he is reminding them of, because he says, I want to come visit you. I'm kind of spilling the beans before I get into it. I'm going to come and visit you. I want you to make sure that you take this offering for the church in Jerusalem and make sure that you do that before I come. And then I'll receive it. I'll send one of you or a few of you there. And maybe I'll come with you. Maybe I won't. But let's get that done ahead of time, which brings up an issue. Why is he taking an offering for those in Jerusalem? Well, they have fallen into some very difficult times. What exactly are they going through? Why are they going through a period of poverty, leanness? Let me give you two possible reasons or it could be a combination of both.
Number one, it was a famine. Now I'm going to remind you about something we've already read back in Acts, chapter 11. When the early church moved its main activity from Jerusalem up to Antioch, do you remember that? So they're in chapter 11 in Antioch. A prophet stands up in one of the church meetings in Antioch. And his name is Agabus. And he makes a prediction that there's going to be a famine throughout all of the world. So it said, every one of them determined to send relief according to each his own ability to the church in Judea, that is, Jerusalem, knowing that there's going to be a famine throughout all the world. They're preparing for the hard times in Jerusalem. Why Jerusalem? Well, the famine if it's throughout all the world would certainly affect Jerusalem.
But reason number two, and I think it's not one but both of these reasons together. Almost all of the employment in the city of Jerusalem during this period of time was temple related. That is, it was related to the giving of the sacrifices by the Jewish people from the surrounding regions. They would come up to the temple for a number of feasts and festivals as well as daily offerings. And so almost all of the jobs were temple related. The temple was controlled by a group of the Jewish people known as the Sadducees. The Sadducees were the prime enemies of the early church because the early church taught and believed a resurrection from the dead, what Paul talked about in chapter 15. And because they were such vehement enemies of the early church, they took it out on those Jewish men and women who had converted to Christ, maybe worked in an associate role in those temple sacrifices somehow. They're employed.
So they would lose their job, lose their employment, and were being boycotted by the Sadducees in Jerusalem. So up to this point if you remember, the early church in Jerusalem sort of lived, and worked, and shared communally. They sold their goods, pooled their resources, and gave to each one as they had need. Acts chapter 2 and 4 tells us that. Well, that common pot of money, that common pool of resources has dried up. And the early church in Jerusalem is suffering. So Paul is determined. We've got to do something. Now Paul has instructed not just Corinth but several of the Gentile churches that he has planted to take up an offering that would be collected and would be sent to Jerusalem. It was very personal to Paul the Apostle.
And if you know anything about Paul's writings, you know that he brings this up a lot. Why was it so personal to Paul? Because, remember, when the church started in Jerusalem, who was public enemy number one to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem? It was Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the Apostle. He harassed them. It says and Saul breathing out slaughters and murders against them. And he was the one who remembered Stephen's face as Stephen was being stoned by his Jewish brethren. And he received the clothes of those people who did that stoning at his feet. He remembers all of that. He remembers what an enemy he was to those people. It's very personal to him. He wants to make sure that this is done, that there's no holes in this endeavor. And he is reminding the Corinthians now like he reminded the other churches that he would take this offering. Paul the Apostle, interestingly enough, speaks a lot about giving and is very unashamed to receive an offering.
Now receiving an offering is uncomfortable for some people. I'm not all that comfortable with it. It's one of the reasons why we have put black boxes. They used to be brown wooden boxes. Now they're black wooden boxes. The same boxes just painted, but all over the campus. And we've never made a big issue of it, never made a big deal of it. Paul didn't want to make a big deal of it. He just wanted to make sure it was done before he got there. But he did take or receive offerings. And he made no bones about the necessity to do that for the churches. Our relationship to our finances tells a lot about who we are. If you took a tour of somebody's checkbook, you are looking at in that checkbook, and I don't suggest that you look at somebody else's checkbook. But if you were to take a tour of somebody's checkbook, your own, just tour it, you'll find out what's important to yourself, where your priorities are.
What's vital to you? Jesus did say where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. And Martin Luther said something interesting. He said, there's three conversions that are necessary, the conversion of the heart, the conversion of the mind and a person's thought life, and he said, the conversion of their purse or we would say their wallet, or checkbook, or bank account. Those three conversions are necessary. And so Paul was speaking to converted people, converted in heart, converted in mind. He wanted to make sure their pocketbook was also converted. And so he wanted to make sure that offering would be taken up. So chapter 16, verse 1, "Now concerning the collection for the saints as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also".
So the churches of the region of Galatia, churches like Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Antioch of Pisidia, those are all in the region of Galatia. These are all places where Paul traveled on his first, second, and third missionary journeys. He had established churches there. He had written to churches there. He told them to receive an offering. He's telling the Corinthians also to do that. Concerning the collection for the Saints as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also. On the first day of the week, let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper that there be no collections when I come. And when I come by whom you approve by your letters, I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.
So get the picture. Usually, it is the Mother Church that supports the mission churches. They send somebody to an area, the church where things started are the ones that send the people out, send resources to fund those people, continue to sow that spiritual material seed through their finances. But this, we're reading about what you might call foreign missions in reverse. It's now the churches that have been established by that Mother Church in Jerusalem that are paying to support the church that started it all because they are the ones in dire need now. The church in Jerusalem needs the help of the Gentiles. So the Gentiles are going to be supporting the Jewish brethren in Jerusalem. This really shouldn't be a surprise to us.
Paul, when he writes the book of Romans chapter 15 and he mentions this very same offering, he gives this explanation, for if the Gentiles, non-Jewish people, are partakers of the Jewish people's spiritual heritage, what is the big deal if we minister to the Jewish people with our material things? That only make sense. If we are inheritors of their spiritual blessings, we ought to give them some of our material blessings. And Jesus did say to the woman at Samaria, salvation is of the Jews. It came through the Jewish people. It came to the Jewish nation. Jesus was crucified outside the Jewish city of Jerusalem. And so that's where it all started. That's where the Salvation story started. It's where the early church first started. And now, they need the help of those people in non-Jewish areas.
Now in verse 2, he kind of tells them how to do it. You want to know something interesting? I get asked this question a lot, what about tithing? What does the Bible say about tithing? How much should I give in my tithe? I get that question a lot. Do you know that Paul never once mentioned tithing. He never used the word tithing. You want to know why? Tithing is not a New Testament concept, it's an Old Testament concept. A tithe means a tenth. And in the Old Testament, a lot of Christians don't understand the tithe. They think, well, they gave a tenth in the Old Testament. Actually, if you tally it all up in the law, they gave 30%, not 10%, 30%, to the Lord. And so when people say Skip, you ought to teach on tithing, I'm thinking, you really don't want me to teach on tithing, do you? Because they gave 10% and then, throughout the year, more for different things. So it was a total of 30% to the Lord. I mentioned tithing is an Old Testament concept. It actually predates the law.
When Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek in the book of Genesis, it's fleshed out in the law. It's part of the covenant for the Nation of Israel. When it comes to the New Testament, it's different. Might start at a 10% base. That's what I do with my family, I start there. But then, there are special gifts and special offerings for special needs that we see and we want to be a part of. But the New Testament regulation, is every man should give as he purposes in his heart, 2 Corinthians chapter 9, not grudgingly, nor of necessity. Not because you have to, not because you're cajoled into it. For God loves, he said, a cheerful giver. That's how you give. You give cheerfully. You give as you purpose in your heart.
So when somebody says, how much should I give? I say, how much do you want to give? I don't want to give anything. Then don't give anything. Because actually, if you think about it, if you don't want to give it, it's really better that you keep it because God loves a cheerful giver. And Jesus said, it is more blessed to give than receive. But if you can't get your head around that, your heart around that concept and give cheerfully, hang on to it. God loves a cheerful giver. Now, he does tell us how to do it, though. He said, "On the first day of the week". The first day of the week, why? Because the church met on the first day of the week. The Saturday Sabbath was over in terms of the church practicing that, especially in Gentile areas.
People say, well, the Bible says we ought to keep the Sabbath. You're right, the Bible says that to the Jewish nation. I'm not part of the Jewish nation. That's a covenant for the Jewish nation, as circumcision was for the males. And so was the Saturday Sabbath. But the early church started meeting on Sundays pretty early on. Acts chapter 20 says they gathered for worship on the first day of the week. So they were doing that way back in the book of Acts. And that is probably because of something that happened before the church was even started. You know what event I'm talking about? The Resurrection. Jesus rose on not the seventh day of the week, but the first day of the week. Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, Jesus conquered death.
And so the church began meeting on the first day of the week to celebrate the Resurrection. But also, Jesus rose on the first day of the week. And then, the Bible tells us in the Gospels that eight days later, Jesus appeared to his disciples when Thomas was present. Eight days later would be the first day of the week. So Jesus appeared on the first day of the week, sanctified that. So the early church began meeting on the first day of the week. So the idea of a Saturday Sabbath and keeping the Sabbath is not a New Testament obligation. Paul never said to do it, Jesus never said to do it. When the early church wrote a letter in Acts chapter 15 to the non-Jewish Christians up in Antioch and they gave them rules and regulations, remember what they said? Abstain from things sacrificed to idol, abstain from blood. They gave a few little regulations. Never once did they say, make sure that you keep the Sabbath day. Didn't do it. They said, we can't lay that on them.
So when Paul writes Romans, he said, one man esteems one day of the week above all the rest. One man esteems all the days alike. Let each one be persuaded in his own mind. There you have it. If you say, I've got to worship on Saturday. Then, by all means, worship on Saturday. We have a Saturday evening service. No, I'm not in the law anymore, I think we ought to worship Sunday, the first day of the week. Great. We have a couple Sunday morning services. Or maybe you're like me. Paul was writing about me when he gave the second part of that verse and he said, one man esteems all the days alike. That's me. I think Jesus should be worshipped Saturday, and Sunday, and Monday, and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, every single day of the week. They're all alike to me. Say, well, I don't agree. That's fine. Let each one be persuaded in his own mind. I'm persuaded in my own mind. You're not going to change that.
If I'm not going to change your keeping of the Saturday Sabbath, have at it. Have fun. But can we all agree that whether it's Saturday, or Sunday, or Monday, or Friday, or Thursday, at 2:00 AM that God and the Lord Jesus, they are worthy to be worshipped? So let's worship Him and not get hung up about what day you worship Him, but that you worship Him. So I better move on so I can finish this chapter. So first day of the week. And then notice also in verse 2, it was to be done by everyone in the church, not just a few, "Let each one of you lay something aside".
So the rich and the poor, the slave and the free, everyone should participate in financial giving. And then, they should give in proportion to what they had, as far as amount, storing up as He may prosper. And then, I like this last part. So, "There's no collections when I come". He just didn't want the heartache of having to make it a big deal. He just wanted to write the leadership, get it all done in advance, to not make a big deal of it, have it all done by the time he got there. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters, I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.
Notice the care in handling money that Paul the Apostle, Paul didn't say, and just make sure that you put it in a sealed envelope and give it to me. Now, he said, you know what? I'm not going to even handle it. You get people that you designate as responsible, and they can take it, they can go. And if it's fitting that I go, I'll go as well, which Paul ended up doing. He went to Jerusalem, he'll be arrested in Jerusalem. But he did end up going to Jerusalem. So Paul is not shy about talking about finances. Paul is not shy about taking an offering. But here's the difference. He never solicited money for himself. He never said, our ministry is really suffering this month, and if you could just see fit before God to give us your seed, faith, offering right to me, Paul the Apostle. Main Street, Ephesus, that's all the address you need. But he didn't do that. He never solicited money for himself. But he did have no problem soliciting money for others, for other needs.
When he writes to the Philippians, he's going to say, I'm really grateful that you guys are stepping up to the plate and sending your resources for me, not that I speak in terms of want, but I want fruit to abound to your account. But I'm grateful that you are doing it. But he never pushed that issue for himself. But if it's fitting, verse 4, that I go, they will go with me. Now, he said, I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia, for I am passing through Macedonia. But it may be that I will remain or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey wherever I go. I can't wait to meet Paul. He's a fascinating fellow. He died at a relatively young age. He only made it to 58, and he was then beheaded. He would have kept going if he could have. But here's what's fascinating to me about Paul. He never seemed to sit still. He's always on the move, always thinking of different projects, and things, and ideas. And he's a man of vision, and he communicated that vision, and he made plans. And he's making plans here.
One author said, Paul never saw a ship that he didn't want to board. He never saw a mountain range that he didn't want to climb over to get the Gospel to people on the other side and to encourage Christians who might live in that region. Always on the move, packed full of vision, and always going to places no one else wanted to go to. I think of Paul, I'm going to call them a Star Trek missionary. How's that? That's my term. He's a Star Trek missionary. You know why I call him that? Right, because he wanted to go where no men would boldly go before. He wanted to boldly go where no man has gone before. He just went into these regions where the Gospel hadn't been preached, but believed in the transforming power of the Word of God, and he went for it. So he said, I'm going to come to Macedonia, for I am passing through Macedonia. Although, he didn't end up going through Macedonia to Corinth. He ended up going to Corinth and then through Macedonia.
So eventually, he'll do that, but it'll be in reverse, not quite as he planned. So with that in mind, watch this, "With you that you may send me on my journey wherever I go," verse 7, "for I do not wish to see you now on the way," which he will end up doing. "But I hope to stay a while with you if the Lord permits". So look at the balance here. Paul was very practical. Paul didn't have any problem making plans in the will of God. Look, I'm coming. I am going to pass through Macedonia, I'm going to come and visit you. So he was very practical, but he was also very flexible. If you're that kind of a person who likes to check all the boxes and get everything planned, good. It's good. But blessed are the flexible, they shall not be broken. Paul was very practical, but Paul was also very flexible. And he realized I may make plans, I may have an agenda, I may see this and believe this to be the will of God. But you know what? It may or may not work out, and I'm good with that because Paul believed, I'm going to write the script, but God has editing rights over my script. He may have a whole different scene that He has written that He wants to drop into my script that I didn't plan for. So be it. So I'm going to give the Lord that permission.
So he would say, I'm going to do this, I'm going to do that, if the Lord permits. That's how we ought to live. We had to live with the caveat, if the Lord permits, if the Lord wills. Remember what James said in chapter 4? He said, come now, you who say today or tomorrow, we're going to go into such and such a city, and spend a year there, and buy, and sell, and make a profit, whereas you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a short time, then vanishes away. Rather, he said, you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that. I don't even know if the Lord wants me to live tomorrow, let alone do this or that. But if it's the Lord's will, great. But you know what? Some of you might not be alive tomorrow on Earth. But if that's the case, you'll be alive in Heaven.
So make your plans, but please give God elbow room because He's going to take it anyway. So be flexible, be practical, be flexible. I remember I was at a pastor's conference and in the Q&A, the question and answer, somebody asked me about my week and my preparation. And the question was, how do you keep yourself from distractions? And I said, well that's a good question, but it's not always possible. And there are some distractions that are from the Lord. And you don't want to ever keep yourself from those. So you can make your plans, and set your time aside, and sequester your study time, and prayer time, and prep time. But know that the Lord might distract you with something. And he has the right to do that. So I'm going to do this, I hope to stay a while if the Lord permits. But I will tarry, verse 8.
In Ephesus, until Pentecost, Paul did end up spending a total of three years in Ephesus. It was very fruitful, it was very effective. He went into the synagogue, they kicked him out of the synagogue. Eventually, he rented a public building called the School of Tyrannus. And for two years, he had meetings there and it was so powerful, it says, all of Asia, both great and small, heard the word of the Lord. So it spread from Ephesus. It became headquarters to him for those three years. And I've been mentioning on Sunday that two people from nearby colossi, Epaphras and Philemon went to Ephesus. They heard Paul preaching in Ephesus. They were converted. They went back and started a church in Colossi. So he says, I'm going to hang out here, I'm going to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost.
So there are certain things that get my attention. This is one of them. He mentions Pentecost, which is a Jewish feast. He's not writing to Jews, he's writing to Gentiles in Corinth, largely. They don't keep Pentecost. But Paul was Jewish. And his calendar, his reference for time, his iPad and iPhone were all adjusted to a Jewish calendar. That's how he kept time. So they probably had heard of Pentecost. But he didn't seem to care if they had or hadn't, he's going by the calendar he grew up with. And Pentecost happens at the beginning of June, the end of May. So his plan is to hang out in Ephesus until then. And here's why, he's going to stay in Ephesus before he comes their way. He says, verse 9, "For a great and effective door has been open to me". God has given me great opportunity here, that's what that means. "A great and effective door," door is always a metaphor for an opportunity, "has been open to me". We even use that terminology, well, the Lord opened the door. That's where we get it. So that door of opportunity has opened, I've gone through that door, I'm hanging out in this room of opportunity known as Ephesus. "It's a great and effective door has been open to me".
Notice this, too, it's interesting that he combines it and there are many adversaries. So let's talk first of all about the opportunity. The opportunity for Paul began on his second missionary journey. On his second missionary journey, he went to Ephesus. He had not done that on his first. He goes to Ephesus, and he thinks, oh, goodness, this is fertile ground, this is ripe soil. So he makes it, as I mentioned, his headquarters for a while, and then longer, and a total, as I mentioned, of three years, he stays in Ephesus. So it was great opportunity. The word of the Lord spread throughout the Roman province of Asia Minor. Great opportunity, but also great opposition. I touched on it last week. There was a guy named Demetrius, a silversmith. The organized religious system of the worship of Diana had its headquarters in Ephesus. An uproar happened in Ephesus. The enemies came out of the woodwork, hated Paul, hated his message, created this huge demonstration in a 24,000 seat theater in Ephesus.
I've stood in that theater. And the people that gathered for two hours shouted out against Paul, great is Diana of the Ephesians, great as Diana of the Ephesians. It was like the Ephesians cheerleaders squad was out in full. And they opposed Paul. Headed by Demetrius and somebody else named Alexander who was Jewish, they came against Paul. So Paul said, hey, I'm going to hang out here because there's great opportunity and because there's great opposition. It's interesting that Paul didn't see opposition as a deterrent to the opportunity. Most people would. They'd go, man, things are getting heated up here. It must not be God's will for me to be here. Why do you think that? Well, because if it's God's will, it's going to be easy. Where did you get that idea? Not from the Bible, certainly not from Paul's ministry.
To Paul, it was like, you know what? Things are heating up here. I pushed one of Satan's hot buttons. I'm going to hang around a while. It's getting fun. Listen, young pastor, if you're looking for a place to start a church, look for a place that has opposition, not for a place that's easy, "I feel led to go to Hawaii or Colorado". How about Albuquerque? How about wherever you might get blowback or opposition? Buckle your seat belt, but it's going to be fun. The ride is fun. And when Satan's minions get all upset, it's kind of fun to watch. I'll be honest with you, I enjoy it. So a great and effective door has been opened to me, and there are many adversaries. It was G Campbell Morgan, one of my favorite expositors, was who said, "If there is not opposition in the place you are serving, then you are serving in the wrong place".
There was opposition for Paul. But the opposition also was filled with opportunity, so he rode the wave out. He continues in final exhortations, "Now, if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear". Why would he say that? "For He does the work of the Lord, as I do also. Therefore, let no one despise him, but send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me, for I am waiting for him with the brethren". You know about Timothy, right? He was Paul's protege. He is what Paul referred to as "my son in the faith". When Paul went through the area of Galatia, Lystra, and Derbe, he encountered Timothy. Timothy was the son of a woman who was a Jewish believer. But Timothy's father was a Gentile unbeliever. Timothy was converted. And when Paul swung through there again on his second trip, missionary journey, he had Timothy come along with him.
And so he was sort of a protege to him. He was mentoring Timothy. He shared ministry with Timothy. And Timothy matured in his faith, so much so that Paul, when he wrote to the Philippian, church, he said, "For I have no man like minded who will naturally care for your estate as Timothy". And it's a very rare word that he used like minded, the only time use in the New Testament, isopsuchos, means equal soul, he and I share the same soul. I'll just say this, as a leader. I have many acquaintances, I've had many friends. It's very rare when you find somebody who has an equal soul. And what that is somebody who knows your heart, knows your thoughts, can sort of live inside your head. You don't even have to give explanations, they're already tracking. When you get somebody like that, hang on to them. Timothy was like that for Paul. He was isopsuchos, equal souled, like minded.
Very similar to that Old Testament duo, Jonathan and David, where it says, the soul of Jonathan was knit together to the soul of David. And he loved him like he loved his own soul. And Jonathan said to David, I know that the Lord has chosen you to be the next King. And me, Jonathan, the King's son, who should be the King, I'm going to be next to you. He was like the Timothy to Paul, equals soul, like minded. So that is Timothy in the New Testament. But notice what he says in verse 10, "If Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear". Why did he say that? Here's my belief. I believe that Timothy, equal souled, loved Paul, loyal to Paul, he lacked the confidence that Paul had. He lacked the robust character of Paul. And he was more naturally fearful and timid. So I just want to show you that since we're wrapping up the book.
In 1 Timothy chapter 4, verse 12, Paul writes to Timothy, a personal letter, and says, listen to the language, "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity". Don't let anybody look down on you or despise you because you're young, Timothy was in his 30s when Paul wrote that. So he wasn't like a teenager, wasn't in his 20s even. He was in his 30s, well in his 30s. But in those ancient cultures, you really weren't respected as an elder until you were in your 40s. And Timothy was in his 30s, maybe he had a baby face. So maybe he looked like he was in his 20s. So he comes with all the authority of Paul the Apostle. And people took one look at him, and went, whatever. So Paul said, Timothy, don't let that happen, "Let no one despise your youth".
Now for that to happen, you need to be an example in these areas. Now, over in 2 Timothy, he continues, or I'm drawing your attention to this thread of thought. 2 Timothy chapter 1, verse 6, "Therefore, I remind you, stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying out of my hands, for God has not given us the Spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind". Now, he's writing to Timothy. Timothy was the pastor, at that time, of Ephesus where Paul was when he wrote 1 Corinthians. But I think by that time, the persecution had increased. And he was already naturally timid, as we have seen. And he's experiencing a little bit of hesitancy among the Ephesians to receive Timothy like they received Paul. So Paul has to say, look, dude, stir up the gift that is in you. And God hasn't given us the spirit of fear.
Then, finally, in 2 Timothy chapter 2, he says, "You, therefore, my son, be strong in the faith". Oh, wait a minute, verse 7, "God has not given us the spirit of fear". Fear means timidity. Verse 8, "Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me, as prisoner," seen that was part of his hangup is that Paul is a federal prisoner. And I'm kind of ashamed that my boss is a jailbird. And people aren't going to respect that. And I don't want to go to jail. And all that stuff he's dealing with. And then, chapter 2, 2 Timothy verse 1, "You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men also, who will be able to teach others also".
So he's experiencing fear. He's ashamed of the Ministry, perhaps his own, certainly of Paul the apostle. And he's doubting his own giftedness. So it makes sense that from Ephesus, he writes to the Corinthians, he said, look, if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear. He's kind of a timid dude, fearful guy, kind of tightly strung. Be easy on the boy. Verse 12, "Now, concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren. But he was quite unwilling to come at this time. However, he will come when he has a convenient time". Apparently, the Corinthians, in part of their communique to Paul through Chloe and these others you're about to meet before we close this epistle, they had requested that Apollos return to Corinth and share his ministry.
Now, do you remember that Apollos was a Jewish convert to Christ from Alexandria? He went to Corinth, met Paul. First, he met Aquila and Priscilla, who had been kicked out of Rome, moved to Corinth. Aquilla and Priscilla listened to Apollos. They saw that Apollos had an incredible gift of oratory, he was a good preacher, he was very persuasive, he knew the word of the Lord, but only up until the point of the baptism of John. So he hadn't heard the rest of the Gospel story. They filled him in on the rest, and he became a force to be reckoned with. Apollos was in Corinth. Apollos went to Ephesus to help Paul the apostle. Paul probably said, look, Apollos, they want you back in Corinth. And Apollos said, I don't want to go, I'll go later on, but I don't want to go right now. So for whatever reason, the honest truth. What I like about this is Paul didn't go, so he didn't want to go, but he's coming anyway because I am the apostle after all, and I gave him a commandment, and use my apostolic authority. He just said, he didn't want to come, next.
So he didn't force the issue. That's the heart of a good leader. He let Apollos go according to the leading he had and the gifts that he felt he had. And so now, we close the letter with final exhortations. He says, "Watch," which could be translated, "be on guard". Watch, be on guard, wake up. The Corinthians had fallen asleep on the job. They were letting weird things into their church. They were being split apart by divisions. They were sexually immoral. They were goofy when it came to spiritual gifts, on, and on, and on. We've covered that in the whole book. So it's fitting that he says, watch out, be on guard, don't fall asleep, wake up. The devil is never too busy to rock the cradle of a sleeping Saint. He wants to lull you to sleep. Paul says, wake up, watch, be on guard.
"Stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. I urge you, brethren, you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Acaia," that's the area where Corinth was, "that they have devoted themselves to the Ministry of the Saints". You remember Stephanas, do you not? In chapter 1 of this book, when the Apostle said, I thank God that I baptized none of you except for Crispus and Gaius, for Christ did not send me to baptize, but preach the gospel. I almost forgot, also, the household of Stephanas, I baptized. But that's it, I can't remember that I baptized anyone else because Jesus didn't send me to baptize people, but preach the gospel. So he mentions Stephanas, he mentions him again. And in verse 15, he says, and that they have devoted themselves to the Ministry of the Saints. Anybody here tonight have an old King James Version in the house? If you have an old King James, what does it say for devoted? Addicted.
Now, listen to this, "for they have addicted themselves to the Ministry". I suppose if you're going to have an addiction, have that one. I struggle with addiction. Really, what are you addicted to? Serving people. Good. Struggle with that addiction, be addicted to that. That's a good one to have. They're addicted to the Ministry, man, they love serving people. They're always looking for opportunities. They're addicted, they're devoted. "And that you submit to such and everyone who works and labors with us. I am glad about the coming of Stephanas Fortunatus and Achaicus," those are the three that I mentioned I would introduce you to, "for what was lacking on your part, they have supplied". They came, they have filled me in on what's going on, I have a full knowledge of that. I am apprised of the situation. And also this, "For they have refreshed my Spirit and yours. Therefore, acknowledge such men. The churches in Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you".
Those were the tent-makers in Corinth that Paul hung out with, and they were converted through Paul's ministry. Great ministry team, husband and wife, Aquilla and Priscilla, "greet you heartily in the Lord with the house," or the church that is in their house. So apparently Aquilla and Priscilla, who were in Corinth, followed Paul to Ephesus, got a home. They were well enough to do with their tent making business that they could afford a large enough home to house whatever believers in that city in Ephesus were needed to be, needed to come to church in. So they supplied the house. And they were just there to support Paul in his ministry. "All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss".
Now, we couldn't do that during COVID. That was frowned upon. You couldn't even shake hands during COVID. You couldn't even get 6 feet in front of people, or less than 6 feet for those, we were trying to figure things out. But all that aside, a holy kiss is mentioned five times in the New Testament. It was always the customary greeting. There's no romantic overtones with that, it's just purely the Middle Eastern kissing of the cheek and welcoming people into the household of God. And so, "Greet one another with a holy kiss". Make people feel at home. We would say, greet one another with a holy handshake, greet one another with a holy hug, or fist bump, or whatever. But make people feel like they're part of the family.
Here's one of the dangers of a large church is that sometimes shy people come to large churches because they believe they're going to blend into the woodwork and not be noticed. That's a danger. Notice them, see them, look for them. Don't let them get away. If they're shy, find them. Don't embarrass them, but love on them, welcome them, greet them with a holy kiss, holy handshake, holy hug. Make them feel part of the family. Don't let them blend in because they ought not to blend in. They should be noticed, they're valuable to God, they're important for the work of the Ministry. They may be the next servant par excellence.
When we first started this church, we had a brother who became a pastor on this staff. His name was Mark McAllister. He was my right-hand man. He was a Timothy to me at first. He served alongside of me. He was very powerful in worldwide missions, did a lot for the church in China and overseas. But I remember what he said to me when I met him. He said, I'm the guy who wants to blend in, I'll make coffee, I'll clean off the stuff at the end of the meeting, I'll turn out the lights, I'll lock the doors, don't ask me to speak in public. So as soon as he said that, my mind went to work. And I thought, how can I get that guy to share something? And the only reason wasn't to embarrass him, but I knew he had such depth. He had so many gifts that needed to be appreciated by the body of Christ.
So I did look for ways for that to happen. But finally, I just said, look, I'm going to be gone next week in our Bible study, I want you to teach it. He goes, no, I told you, don't let me do that, I'm not that guy. I said, I want you to do it. He goes, OK, I'll submit. I said, good. And it was powerful. And he went on to be used powerfully for years to come, to churches around the United States, and around the world, and started mission organizations. And that legacy continues to this day. So don't let them blend in. Chase them down, man, greet him with the holy kiss. "The salutation with my own hand, Paul". Here's what that means. Up till now, Paul has dictated everything to a colleague who has written it down for him. It's called an amanuensis, or a scribe. And that scribe, or amanuensis, wrote everything down, until now. To authenticate that it was indeed from Paul the Apostle, he wrote the last few lines and signed it, which would give authentication to it.
"The salutation with my own hand, Paulos," Paul. "If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed". You go, well, that's mean, that's wrong, that's not Christian. Actually, it is Christian. It comes from the Gospels. The Gospel of John, "He who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the Son of God". He who does believe will not be condemned. So probably thinking of that he says, "He who does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. Oh, Lord, come now". In the original Greek, if you could read Greek, it says, he who does not love the Lord, anathema, and then maranatha.
Anathema was a very strong Greek word to pronounce a curse upon. But the word maranatha is Aramaic, though understood in Greek culture. And Maranatha means, "come, Lord". And it had become a buzzword by this time. It had become a greeting by this time. The early church would say it to each other usually because they didn't want the unbelievers to know that it was a kind of a code word. Maranatha, they go, what is that word? It's in Aramaic. So, "Oh, Lord, come," or, "the Lord is coming". And when we lived in the '60s and '70s during the Jesus movement, we said that to each other every week. We had bumper stickers that said maranatha. There were songs that we used to sing that said maranatha. And I think we should bring the staff back, write more maranatha songs. We even started a music company out of Calvary Chapel called Maranatha Music, which comes from that idea. So oh, Lord come, maranatha. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, my love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen". We finished. Amen, like he said, Amen.
In verse 22, he said, "If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus". That is the simplest description of a Christian, someone who loves Jesus. When people say, oh, you're a Christian, well, what kind? What denomination do you belong to? Just tell them, I'm the kind that just loves Jesus. I love the Lord Jesus, he's my friend. Just tell them that, and watch the look on their face. I love Jesus. Because it's real to you, you take it personally. They're wanting kind of a professional denominational answer, I believe, I belong to this group. Just say, "I love Jesus".
The simplest description of a Christian somebody, in love with the Lord Jesus. Lord, we do love you. We're so thankful for the legacy of this man, this very unique, unusual servant named Paulos, Paul. And those that served with him, Lord that he did point to and say recognize them, honor them, they are my colleagues in the faith, Timothy, and Apollos, and Stephanos, and the others. May we love you, may we be content to love you, may we spread that love to people in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our city, in our state, in our country may. Those watching and being a part of this online, around the world, do the same. Would you transform our part of the world through that love in Jesus's name? Amen.