1 Corinthians 16:1–24: Our Lord, Come!
As Paul closes this great letter to the Corinthian church, he deals with a number of ministry management issues. At first glance, this chapter seems to include everything left on Paul’s to-do list for what he needed to communicate to the Corinthians; however, we should not miss the wider structure of the chapter. After spending so much time working through so many issues plaguing the Corinthian church, Paul now directs his attention to the ongoing, perpetual themes of life in the church: the ministry of mercy, the ministry of the word, and the unity of the church in our common hope of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this final chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul bears witness to the idea that Christ directs the ongoing ministry of the church until he comes again.
1. What does Paul prioritize in the instructions he gives about the collection for the church in Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:1–4)? What does this collection suggest about the ongoing role that the ministry of mercy should play in the life of the church? Why is this ministry of mercy so important in the church? How did Christ model mercy ministry in his life? What role should the deacons play in mercy ministry? What role should the rest of the congregation play in mercy ministry?
2. What factors play into whether Paul will be able to visit Corinth (1 Cor. 16:5–9)? What is Paul anxious about for Timothy’s visit to Corinth (1 Cor. 16:10–11)? Why do you think this might be? What does this teach us in general about our relationship to pastors? Why is Paul so insistent on sending Apollos to Corinth, even when people pitted Paul against Apollos (1 Cor. 16:12; cf. 1 Cor. 3:1–9)? What does Paul’s work in getting preachers to Corinth reflect about the ongoing role of the ministry of the word in the church?
3. How many greetings do we see in the final verses of this chapter (1 Cor. 16:19–21)? What do Paul’s greetings suggest about the unity of the church? What role should greetings take within the life of a congregation (1 Cor. 16:20)? In 1 Corinthians 16:22, how does the warning in the first part of the verse relate to the prayer in the last half of the verse?
4. What have you learned from studying 1 Corinthians? What passages stand out in your memory? What questions do you still have about this letter? What is the single most important practical takeaway you have from this letter?