International, generous & alert
The Church in Corinth was wonderfully international in nature and reach! In chapter 16 Paul mentions Galatia, v.1; Judea, v.3; Macedonia, v.5; Achaia, v.15; and Asia, v.19. So European and Eastern, Jew and Arab, Greek and Roman, urban and rural. Such is the nature and power of the Gospel that it can touch and reach anyone from any background.
The international mission was helped by
- the Pax Romana – the peace that the Romans had brought
- The road system
- The common language of Greek
- The vision and passion of men and women, couples, businessmen and missionaries
- The generosity of believers.
Paul reminds them of his gratitude for their generosity by encouraging them to systematically give to help the Jerusalem church, v.1-4; his itinerant ministry, v.5-7; and Timothy when he visits v.9-10.
He mentions Apollos and their mission together and his sending of Apollos to them – further putting a nail in the coffin of the first issue he dealt with – the party spirit of which apostle they were fans of!
Then Paul mentions that opposition goes alongside effective ministry. Paul experienced opposition from 3 areas:
- Demonic power – as he saw the Gospel penetrate occult followers in Ephesus who burnt their magic books
- The world – the silversmiths who were less than impressed at losing their income.
- The religious, in this case Jewish, hierarchy.
Opposition doesn’t mean you are out of God’s will – often it means you are firmly in it!
Verse 13-14 gives us five pithy statements:
- Be watchful
- Stand firm
- Be courageous
- Be strong
- Do everything in love
Which ones do you need to grow in?
Then Paul finishes off with love and grace. Be filled with them today!