A Collection for God's People
1 When you collect money for God's people, I want you to do exactly what I told the churches in Galatia to do. 2That is, each Sunday each of you must put aside part of what you have earned. If you do this, you won't have to take up a collection when I come. 3Choose some followers to take the money to Jerusalem. I will send them on with the money and with letters which show that you approve of them. 4If you think I should go along, they can go with me.
Paul's Travel Plans
5 After I have gone through Macedonia, I hope to see you 6and visit with you for a while. I may even stay all winter, so that you can help me on my way to wherever I will be going next. 7If the Lord lets me, I would rather come later for a longer visit than to stop off now for only a short visit. 8 I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9because there is a wonderful opportunity for me to do some work here. But there are also many people who are against me.
10 When Timothy arrives, give him a friendly welcome. He is doing the Lord's work, just as I am. 11Don't let anyone mistreat him. I am looking for him to return to me together with the other followers. So when he leaves, send him off with your blessings.
12I have tried hard to get our friend Apollos to visit you with the other followers. He doesn't want to come just now, but he will come when he can.
Personal Concerns and Greetings
13Keep alert. Be firm in your faith. Stay brave and strong. 14Show love in everything you do.
15 You know that Stephanas and his family were the first in Achaia to have faith in the Lord. They have done all they can for God's people. My friends, I ask you 16to obey leaders like them and to do the same for all others who work hard with you.
17I was glad to see Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus. Having them here was like having you. 18They made me feel much better, just as they made you feel better. You should appreciate people like them.
19 Greetings from the churches in Asia.
Aquila and Priscilla, together with the church that meets in their house, send greetings in the name of the Lord.
20All the Lord's followers send their greetings.
Give each other a warm greeting.
21I am signing this letter myself: PAUL.
22I pray that God will put a curse on everyone who doesn't love the Lord. And may the Lord come soon.
23I pray the Lord Jesus will be kind to you.
24I love everyone who belongs to Christ Jesus.
Paul’s conclusion provides valuable insights into his life as an itinerant missionary-pastor.
The first theme is the collection to assist Christian sisters and brothers in Jerusalem (vv 1-4). A famine had struck the region and members of the Christian movement, as a minority group, were particularly vulnerable. Paul and his associates organized a relief collection among the churches in the area we now know as Greece and western Turkey (see Romans 15:25-29; 2 Corinthians chs. 8-9). Contemporary Christian efforts to alleviate hunger can find inspiration in the first century famine collection.
The second topic is Paul’s travel plans (v 12). Roman roads improved travel conditions in the first century. Nevertheless, long journeys were arduous, particularly in winter months. There is some uncertainty in Paul’s planning. He writes from Ephesus where there is a wonderful opportunity (literally an open door) for evangelism. He notes that there is also strong opposition.
The third section (vv 13-14) can be read as a capsule summary of the entire letter.
• Be alert to what is happening in the church and in the city.
• Be firm in the faith.
• Be brave in living for Christ.
• Be strong rather than vacillating.
• Demonstrate love in every action.
We can take these characteristics to heart as we live for God in our own contexts.
The final words (vv 15-24) express gratitude for the visit of Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus. The greetings from local congregations are a reminder of the fellowship that united Christians in distant parts of the Roman Empire. Paul personally signs the letter that had been dictated to an amanuensis (secretary). He concludes by calling for God’s judgment on those that oppose the Christian movement, expressing his desire for Christ to return, and affirming his love for all people in the house churches of Corinth.
Spirit of God, work in my heart today so that I may be alert, firm, brave, strong and loving in my service to God’s kingdom and the people around me. In the name of our Saviour. Amen.