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Big teams and small. 1 Corinthians 16.10-12

1 Corinthians 16 (3)

Pray Psalm 133.1, 3.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity...
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the LORD commanded the blessing—
Life forevermore.

Sing Psalm 133.1, 3.
Tryggare Kan Ingen Vara: Children of the Heavenly Father)
O behold, how sweet, how pleasant, when the brethren dwell together;
all in unity abiding find God’s blessing there presiding.

Read 1 Corinthians 16.1-12; meditate on verses 10-12.

1. Who might have been coming to see the Corinthians? Why?

2. Who would not be coming? Why not?


As we have seen in various places in 1 Corinthians, Paul pointed to himself, whom the Corinthians had known for nearly two years, to help them in achieving greater unity and maturity in the Lord. Here, he also pointed to his team.

He had done this before as well (1 Cor. 3.5-9). Paul’s team was a microcosm for the Corinthians, an example of how working together in the Spirit, each according to his own gifts, made for a strong body in outreach for the Lord.

Timothy might have been coming to the Corinthians (Paul wasn’t sure). He was good at follow-up, and Paul did not hesitate to use him in this role (cf. 1 Thess. 3.4-8). He did the work of the Lord, like Paul. They could learn from him if he came, so Paul commanded the Corinthians to treat him respectfully and generously (vv. 10, 11).

Paul wanted Apollos to return to Corinth as well, but it was not convenient for him to do so at that time (v. 12). However, he would go to Corinth when he could. It is possible that Paul related the contents—or at least the gist—of 1 Corinthians to both Timothy and Apollos. That way, if they were able to visit the Corinthians, they would have known what the issues were and what instructions Paul had given.

Meanwhile, the rest of Paul’s team was still at work in Ephesus (v. 11). Once Timothy rejoined them, they would be on their way to Judea to strengthen the believers there. Paul cared well for the Corinthians, arranging not only for two of his team to check on them if or when they could, but promising that he would try to return to them himself in due course. The promise of those visits might have helped the Corinthians get to work on the things concerning which Paul wrote. I have no doubt Paul hoped that would be the effect on them.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Sadly, church can be a frightening place. Look at the words Paul uses to preface Timothy’s possible visit: “see that he may be with you without fear” and “let no one despise him” (1 Cor. 16.10, 11). Yikes! Welcome to our church, Tim!

And then there’s Apollos. He could have had a very good reason for not making this journey when Paul had requested it of him: might’ve been washing his hair, seeing a good show, finishing up a long-deserved vacation? His response just strikes me as a bit off.

In Deuteronomy 1.2, 3 some sad and telling words are recorded about the Israelites: “It is an eleven days’ journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea. Now it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel” to tell them “You have dwelt long enough at this mountain. Turn and take your journey…” (Deut. 1.6, 7). Yes. That journey. The one that should have been embarked upon after the eleven days’ jaunt to the Promised Land—only it took forty years because of their disobedience. To do what God told them to do just frankly was not convenient for them.

And Apollos, perhaps the same. Although Paul urged him to go to the Corinthians “he was quite unwilling”, but not to worry, when he could find a “convenient time” he would hustle on over (1 Cor. 16.12).

Granted, I could be completely wrong about him. But he is a convenient target and example of how not to respond to God’s calling upon our lives. There is not a “convenience clause” written into “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Lk. 9.23-25). Or, “See, I have set before you life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess” (Deut. 30.15, 16). But only if you feel like it? All bets are off if it’s not convenient? Hmm. No.

Kingdom work is teamwork. And if the whole team is not playing, then someone or something suffers. We are called to work that has been planned for us to do (Eph. 2.10). If we don’t do it, who will? All the parts of the body must work together for the good of the body and the community at large.

We find it difficult to function if anything in our bodies chooses to take the day off. The Church is no different. It constantly needs all the parts to function for the good of all willingly and determinedly. And to glorify our Majestic Triune God.

“Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1.11, 12). Teamwork.

For reflection
1. What does teamwork look like in your church? How do you contribute to it?

2. Why is church a “scary” place for some people? How could we make our churches less “scary”?

3. Are you ever tempted by convenience to skip or avoid or compromise on some aspect of your walk with and work for the Lord? What should you do when that happens?

Faithful ministers will not be jealous of each other. It becomes the ministers of the gospel to show concern for each other’s reputation and usefulness. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on 1 Corinthians 16.10-12

Pray Psalm 133.2, 3.
Pray that God will bring greater unity into your church, and between your church and the other churches in your community.

Sing Psalm 133.2, 3.
Tryggare Kan Ingen Vara: Children of the Heavenly Father)
Like the precious oil of blessing flowing down on Aaron’s vestment,
God’s anointing rests forever where His people dwell together.

Like the dew of Hermon’s fountain falling down on Zion’s mountain,
so the blessing of the Savior dwells where unity finds favor.

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable
by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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