Online Bible Commentary
There Are Many Adversaries
1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 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. 3 And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. 4 But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me. 5 Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). 6 And 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. 7 For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to the Christians in Corinth, Greece from Ephesus, Asia (present day Turkey) during his two-year, three-month stay from A.D. 54-56, while on his third missionary journey. These teachings, while written to the first century church in Corinth, are applicable to all Christians.
In the previous chapter, Paul responded to some false teaching in the church in Corinth. The false teaching was that some teachers were denying the bodily resurrection of Christians.
Now, in this passage, Paul begins by apparently answering a question “concerning the collection for the saints” (v. 1a). This question likely was in response to a previous letter from Paul which was apparently lost (1 Cor. 5:9). The designation “saints” refers to believers, Christians.
Here Paul gives the same instruction to the Corinthian believers that he previously gave to the believers in “the churches of Galatia” (v. 1b). His instruction is that “on the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside” (v. 2a).
The “something aside” would be tithes and offerings for the support of Christians. This collection of money would occur on the first day of the week, Sunday, which was also the day that Christians would gather to break bread (Acts 20:7).
Sunday was also the day Our Lord was risen and the day the church was started at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit first came to indwell Christians. All of these occurrences signify that Christians should worship on Sunday and not on Saturday, as did the Jews.
Each person should give “as he may prosper” (v. 2b). Thus, those Christians who were prosperous would give more than those who were poor. Paul stipulated that the collections should be present “when I come”, which indicates an orderly and consistent giving instead of a last minute, haphazard giving after Paul’s arrival (v. 2c).
At that point the church in Corinth would designate a member to deliver the collection “gift to Jerusalem” (v. 3). The gifts were likely intended for the Christians in Jerusalem who were suffering economically. Often, they were not able to find jobs because of persecution and, on top of that, they were suffering from the effects of a drought.
Paul offered that, “if it is fitting”, the messenger delivering the gifts could go with Paul to Jerusalem (v. 4). Paul is leaving this authority to the discretion of the local church rather than ordering them to do so.
Paul continues by informing the Corinthian Christians that he will “pass through Macedonia” prior to coming to Corinth (v. 5). In this way, he tells them that it will be later rather than sooner that he will arrive.
Paul also wanted to make collections from the Macedonian churches, north of Corinth, before his return voyage southeast to Jerusalem. Paul’s journey through Macedonia would take him through the cities of Neapolis, Philippi, Amphipolis, Pella and Berea.
However, Paul’s plan went awry when persecutors threatened his return to Jerusalem from Greece (Achaia). He then had to retrace his steps back through Macedonia and set sail from Neapolis.
Next, Paul informs the Corinthian Christians that he might “spend the winter” with them (v. 6). This would all depend on when he would arrive in Corinth. If he arrived as winter was approaching, he would not be able to set sail for Jerusalem at that time. The Mediterranean Sea was closed to travel during the winter months.
Whatever the case, Paul hopes “to stay a while” with the Corinthian Christians, and not just pass through as was his plan for the Macedonians (v. 7a). Of course, Paul understands that, even though he is making these plans, all of his plans depend on “if the Lord permits” (v. 7b).
Nevertheless, Paul knew that he would need to “tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost”, which occurs forty days after Easter. This means that he would not leave Ephesus until sometime in May. Winter in Greece would begin in November.
In Ephesus, Paul had rented out a large hall and was training ministers to start churches north of Ephesus in cities like Smyrna, Lydia, Thyatira, Sardis and Philadelphia. Paul’s work in Ephesus was very important, which is why he stayed there so long.
God had opened “a great and effective door” (v. 9). From Ephesus, Paul was sending out apostles to start home churches which would spread the Gospel throughout Asia.
However, there were “many adversaries” against the spread of the gospel (v. 9b). Satan always concentrates his forces where God is working. Satan’s main targets are churches and their ministers.
This was evident when Paul had to return to Jerusalem from Greece back through Macedonia instead of directly from Greece. This was also evident in the false teaching in the church that Paul wrote of in the previous chapter and seems to return to here.
And this presence of many adversaries is certainly evident today. Churches and ministers today are under assault from Satan and those who are under his control. They are leading churches and ministers away from the teachings of the Bible.
Especially liberal churches who do not stress Bible teaching, as do the evangelical churches, are falling prey to the influence of Satan. They even distort God’s Word regarding sexual immorality in order to appeal to the masses who are under the influence of Satan.
Unfortunately, today, as in Paul’s day, there are false teachers in our churches. When selecting a church home we must be especially vigilante to ensure that the church is teaching God’s word. There are many adversaries to the spread of God’s Word, both outside and inside of the church.