25. Conclusion II: Greetings,
and Summary (1Co 16:19-24)
Context: Paul follows the custom of
that time by ending the letter with greetings (v.19-21) and a blessing
(v.23-24). Yet, to ensure that the Corinthians know how serious his teachings
are, a stern warning is also included (v.22)
With those greetings, Paul keeps the Corinthians
aware of the universal nature of the church.
Aquila and Prisca were fellow Jews and tentmakers;
they first met Paul in Corinth (Ac 18:1-3); they accompanied Paul to Ephesus
and led Apollos to Christ (Ac 18:18-26).
The encouragement is to greet one another with
a holy kiss (a kiss that belonged to the saints, God's holy people). The
kiss was practised as greeting of both family (Gen 27:26) and friend (1Sa
20:41), and was evidence of reconciliation (Gen 33:4). The "kiss of peace"
prior to the Lord's Table is an expression of reconciliation and
"Anathema" means a curse; it was used
for those who deviate from the gospel (Gal 1:8-9) and for those who do
not obey his instruction (2Th 3:14-15). The serious warning here is to
assert their need to obey; failure to obey the instruction in the letter
is a lack of love for the Lord.
"Marana tha", Aramaic for "Come, O Lord" (Rev
22:20), was a concluding prayer in the Lord's Supper in Early church. It
functions here as an affirmation that the Lord is indeed coming.
The letter begins with "grace to you" (1:3) and
similarly concludes with "grace be with you."
Paul expresses his love for them to soften the
blow of very strong words in the letter, which appear as late as 16:22.
His point is that all he said was out of love. In the end, he again reminds
them that he and they have a common life together "in Christ Jesus."
||What some Corinthians
||What Paul teaches
||Wisdom is worldly knowledge and rhetorical
way of speaking.
||Wisdom is God's truth and salvation, regarded
by man as folly.
||Leaders are the people to follow.
||Leaders are servants.
||Sexual immorality is not serious as it
involves the body which is not important.
||Sexual immorality is very serious as the body
is the temple of the Spirit.
||Litigation can be done outside the church.
||All disputes must be settled in the church.
||Sexual relations within marriage is not
||Sexual relations within marriage should be maintained.
||Celibacy is good.
||Celibacy & marriage are both valid alternatives.
||Christians have liberty to do whatever
they like, even attending pagan feasts.
||Christian liberty is bounded on the basis of
love; attending pagan feasts is not allowed.
||There are no rules with respect to behaviour
in corporate worship in terms of veiling and the Lord's Supper.
||Corporate worship must be orderly. Neglect of
veiling and abuse of the poor in the Lord's Supper cause disorder and are
||Tongues are the greatest spiritual gift.
||Prophecy is a greater gift than tongues; love
is the only context for all spiritual gifts.
||There is no restriction in using tongues.
||Spiritual gifts must be used in order in worship.
||Bodily resurrection is not an important
belief as Christians already live in the spiritual realm.
||Bodily resurrection is an indispensable doctrine
and is our blessed hope in the future.
The theme of this letter calls all Christians not
to blend in with the world and accept its values and lifestyles.
We must live Christ-centred, blameless, loving lives
that make a difference for God.
Outward action originates from inward attitudes.
We must first have the proper attitudes.
A.W. Tozer: "Attitude leads to action;
direction leads to destination. To be right, we must think right. We are
the sum of our voluntary thoughts."
Biblical values are largely different from the predominant
values of the world.
John Stott: "The church should be a place
that is different. What Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7)
is Christian counterculture, values counter to our culture. Truth is often
contrary to popular beliefs; examples include the poor in spirit are blessed
(Mt 5:3); the meek will inherit the world (Mt 5:5); the first last, the
last first (Mt 19:30); he who loses life will find it (Mt 10:39)."
Christians must not be a conformist.
Helmut Thielicke: "Ro 12:2 teaches us
not to conform but to transform (Greek word used for the
metamorphosis of a butterfly). We are always under pressure to conform,
to go along with 'progress' (such as fashionable clothing, luxury car,
popular entertainments, choice without responsibility). In addition, humans
have a tendency to conform. Yet, we have to discern and differentiate
and not to conform. Abandon our critical stance, we have already conformed."
Sometimes conformity is even disguised as non-conformity
in the church. What non-believers want is something different, not what
they can find in the world. If they want excitement, they can find much
better ones in the world.
Christian values are necessarily in conflict with
Bernard Ramm: "The church must not have
the same values, the same practices as the world. If your life is no different
from the world, if your belief does not conflict with the world, you must
reflect to see whether you are already saved or not."
If a church or a person persists in conforming to
the world, it will lead to disaster.
Francis Schaeffer: An analogy in his book
The great evangelical disaster describes the church as a boat in
a flood and her role as salvation for the drowning. When values and lifestyles
of the world are accepted in the church, the situation changes from "the
church in the world" into "the world in the church"; "boat in water" becomes
"water in boat" and those in the boat become the drowning.
We have to self-examine:
Have we conformed and held any one single belief
or attitude that are popular and politically correct but contrary to
Have we conformed and acted or behaved (in
one brief moment) like people in the world but contrary to what God wants
us to act and behave?
Finally, a word on the necessity of attending Bible
study groups and Sunday School:
Eph 4:12-13 "...so that the body of Christ may be
built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the
knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure
of the fullness of Christ."
Each of us can be built up by studying the
Word of God alone but unity in the faith can only be reached by
studying the Bible together and arriving at the same understanding.