1 Corinthians 16:10-24

One of the more demanding situations we enter is the awkward situation. This awkward situation involves us, but we did not create it. However, because it involves us, it is essential that we deal with it. We do not have the option of ignoring it (unless we want to generate even bigger problems). We must get constructively involved.

Tonight we look at 1 Corinthians 16:10-24. After writing a letter that dealt "head-on" with some extremely awkward situations, Paul said, "Here are some specifics in which you can practice what I am writing you about. Show God, show yourselves, and show me that you want to be godly people, not worldly people."

  1. Let's begin with just a little bit of review.
    1. This was a community of Christians who had a lot of problems.
      1. Internal division.
      2. Incest.
      3. Lawsuits.
      4. Sexual immorality.
      5. Confusion about marriage.
      6. Selfishness.
      7. Confusion about worship.
      8. Too little love.
      9. Competitions in the use of spiritual gifts.
      10. Denial of a personal resurrection.
    2. The first four chapters of the letter are devoted to the problem of internal division.
      1. In the world and society of a Roman city, it was absolutely essential that you be loyal to your patron.
      2. Some regarded Apollos to be their spiritual patron, some Peter, some Paul, and some Christ.
      3. Their divisions occurred along the boundaries of their loyalties to those they regarded their spiritual benefactors.
      4. Would you please note: at no time did Paul commend those who caused division out of loyalty to Christ.

  2. With that brief review, I want to focus your attention on Paul's ending of the letter.
    1. Paul begin the letter by dealing with a very awkward situation: their internal division.
      1. Some of those causing that division definitely opposed Paul.
      2. Some of those causing that division championed Paul.
      3. Paul dealt with both "head-on," and he commended neither of them.
        1. He told those who were for him and those who were against him that they were wrong.
        2. He emphatically declared that spiritual loyalty should never be given to a human messenger.
    2. One of his closest friends, finest fellow workers, closest associates might soon arrive in that volatile situation.
      1. Timothy might come; Paul in other places referred to Timothy as his son in the faith.
      2. What a time for Timothy to visit Corinth! Timothy might arrive and find everyone mad at Paul! He might come to a situation when it was a serious disadvantage to be Paul's close friend!
      3. Paul made some requests on Timothy's behalf.
        1. Do not give him reason to be afraid.
        2. Realize he does the same thing I do--work for the Lord.
        3. Do not let anybody despise him.
        4. Send him on his way to me peaceably.
      4. Then Paul talked about Apollos (remember that Paul mentioned him several times at the beginning of the letter and confronted those loyal to Apollos for causing division).
        1. Note that he declared Apollos was a brother--confronting those causing divisions did not mean Apollos was less than a faithful brother.
        2. Paul encouraged Apollos the visit these Christians at Corinth--Paul regard his presence there to be a positive asset.
        3. Apollos made the decision not to come--Paul was not the reason he did not come.
        4. Apollos would visit them later.
    3. Paul then gave them some urgings:
      1. Be dependable in your devotion to Jesus Christ like the mature people should; that means you have to be alert (which they had not been in chapters 5 and 6) and you have to be strong (in their commitment to godliness).
      2. In everything you do, let love be your standard (which had not been the case in the divisions).
      3. Note the people among you Christians who are committed to Christians and who serve Christ's purposes: follow their lead and encourage them.
      4. I am glad three of you visited me.
        1. The three who came to see me supplied what was lacking on your part (they made Paul feel loved and appreciated).
        2. They lifted my spirits.
    4. Paul sent greetings from Christians in Asia.
      1. He also sent greetings from Aquila and Prisca who had a group of Christians meeting in their home.
      2. He said all the Christians there sent greetings.
      3. Then he asked them to greet each other (remember the strains produced by the division he noted) with a holy kiss--showing affection for each other had to attack the stresses that had separated them.

  3. Paul closed with these requests.
    1. Note this letter is signed by me.
    2. Love of Jesus Christ must be the standard for every Christian.
      1. If a person claims to be a Christian but does not love Jesus Christ, let that person be accursed--anathema.
      2. Lord, come!
      3. May Jesus' grace be with you.
      4. I love you all in Jesus Christ (his confrontations did not mean he did not love them).

Two concluding observations:

  1. We need to understand that being in Jesus Christ produces godliness in our relationships and behaviors.
  2. When we confront ungodliness, we must let the love be evident.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 6 April 2003
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