My Love Be With You

1 Corinthians 16:19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 21 The salutation with my own hand--Paul's. 22 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. (NKJV)

The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to the Christians in Corinth, Greece from Ephesus, Asia (present day Turkey). He stayed in Ephesus for two-years and three-months from A.D. 54-56, while on his third missionary journey.

This letter was written towards the end of his time in Ephesus, in A.D. 56, prior to his departure in May of that year. A riot in Ephesus was one factor that affected the timing of Paul’s departure.

In this passage, Paul concludes his letter to the church at Corinth. He begins with a greeting and ends with his customary salutation.

Paul sends greetings from those who were with him doing the work of the Lord in Ephesus. Paul had rented a large hall in Ephesus which he used to teach and train-up ministers of the Gospel. He then sent out these ministers to start churches in Asia.

This hall, or school, was provided to Paul by Tyrannus and was called the School of Tyrannus. Tyrannus was a Greek, and a public teacher of philosophy, or rhetoric.

Paul begins this passage by sending greetings from the “churches of Asia” (v. 19a). The house churches in Ephesus, the fourth largest city in the world at that time, would have been included in that greeting. These churches of Asia Minor included the seven churches of Revelation 1:11: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

Next, Paul sends greetings from Aquila and Priscilla and those who were members of their house church. Aquila was a Jew that Paul met in Corinth upon his arrival from Athens on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:2), some four years earlier.

Aquila was a native of Pontus, a large district in northern Asia Minor. The district of Pontus extended along the coast of the Pontus Euxinus Sea.

Aquila had been living in Rome but he and his wife Priscilla had to flee to Corinth because of persecution. The Fourth Roman Emperor Claudius, who reigned from 41 to 54 A.D., commanded that all Jews leave Rome. He was poisoned by his fourth wife, Agrippina, on October 13, A.D. 54.

Aquila and Priscilla were tentmakers, like Paul, and became acquainted with Paul in Corinth in March, A.D. 51.  A year and a half later they accompanied Paul to Ephesus, where they stayed.

In Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla taught Apollos, who then left for Corinth to minister to the Corinthian Christians (Acts 19:1). Apollos was known as “the eloquent Jew of Alexandria”, and his eloquence was evident in his teaching, a quality that the plain-spoken Paul did not possess. His eloquence swayed many to follow Apollos’ teachings instead of Paul’s, and a division occurred in the church in Corinth,

So, the Christians in Corinth were well acquainted with Aquila and Priscilla. The final greeting that Paul sends to the church in Corinth is from “all the brethren” (v. 20a), a reference to all the other Christians in the area.

Next, Paul states that they should “greet one another with a holy kiss” (v. 20b). The holy kiss on the cheek was not only a friendly salutation but also a symbol of Christian love and brotherhood.

While the holy kiss was part of the first century church it is not to be practiced today. In today’s sexually charged culture a handshake should replace the holy kiss. Even though the holy kiss is Biblical, we are better served to not be a stumbling block to our fellow Christians (1 Corinthians 8:9).

After sending greetings, Paul turns to the salutation of his letter. A salutation can be a greeting or an acknowledgement of an arrival or departure.

Paul would dictate his letters to an amanuensis, defined as one who takes dictation or copies manuscripts. It was his custom at the end of his letters to take the pen himself, writing his salutation and signing his letter.

He fulfills that custom here by writing “The salutation with my own hand--Paul's” (v. 21). His salutation begins with “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed” (v. 22a).

This is an unusual salutation. Paul’s normal salutation is of grace and peace. Here he appears to be summing up this entire letter with a stern warning.

The church in Corinth had been beset by false teachers. Paul seems to be warning them of falling prey to this practice.

We show our love for the Lord by our obedience to Him. The act of false teaching or following false teaching would be contrary to our love for Christ. It would be “accursed” according to Paul,

The word translated “accursed” is the Greek word anathema, which means condemnation. Those who do not love the Lord are condemned already, but their condemnation will be manifested at the coming of the Lord.

Thus, Paul adds the phrase “O Lord, come!” (v. 22b). He writes the Greek word marana tha, which was an Aramaic expression used by the early Christians. Also used at the time was the same Aramaic word but with a different spacing. The word maran atha means “our Lord has come”. Both expressions are accurate.

After this warning, Paul then continues on to his usual salutation. He writes “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (v. 23). The theme of grace was Paul’s favorite theme. He would begin and end his letters with this theme.

Paul then finishes this letter with a short prayer in Jesus name; “My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen” (v. 24). Perhaps, Paul chose to end on this prayer of love because of his previous stern warning,

Paul was always praying for his brothers and sisters in Christ, and he wanted them to know that, despite being disappointed by them at times, he never stopped loving them. This is also a good example for us to follow with our loved ones.


Art Toombs Ministries 

Online Bible Commentary