1 Corinthians



Final words


Paul now winds up his letter with exhortations, a personal commendation of Sephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus, greetings from the churches in Asia, and finally a word in Paul's own hand.


i] Context: See 1:1-3.


ii] Structure: This passage, Final Words, presents as follows:

Exhortations, v13-14;

Personal commendations, v15-18;

Greetings, v19-20;

Admonition and benediction, v21-24.


iii] Interpretation:

A rhetorical address will often end with a Peroratio - a recapitulation of the main themes. Some argue that Paul does that in this Conclusion, but it seems more likely that he moves from an address format to a more personal conclusion appropriate for a letter.

First, we have concluding exhortations. It seems likely that these do reflect the drift of the sermon / letter. The Corinthians are to "be on guard" for the troublemakers; they are are to "stand firm in the faith", in the gospel, the news that Christ died and rose again; and they are to "do everything in love", rather than divide up into cliques, or act in a way that disregards their brothers and sisters.

Next, Paul gives special mention of Stephanas and his household, v15-18. He, and his household, are obviously early converts through Paul's ministry in the province of Achaia, although aparch, "firstfruits", refers not just to the first part of the harvest, but the choicest part. Along with Stephanas, Paul mentions two members of his household, presumably freed slaves, Fortunatus (lucky), and Achaicus (from Achaia). These key members of the Corinthian congregation are worthy of recognition; the members should "submit to such people." They have obviously joined Paul in Ephesus, and most likely carried the letter from the congregation to Paul, and so will likely carry his reply back to Corinth (1 Corinthians). They, along with the members of Chloe's household, have given Paul a clear insight into the troubles in Corinth: theological, moral and in particular, the growing disregard of some for their founding apostle.

In v19-20 Paul sends greetings to the Corinthian believers. Romans is obviously a general letter circulated among Paul's mission churches, whereas Corinthians is specific to the Corinthian congregation. Even so it is addressed, not just to the congregation, but to "all those who in every place call on the name of the Lord", 1:2. Paul has a global view of ministry and so gathers up all the churches in the province of Asia in the greeting. This greeting includes, not only the congregation meeting in the home of Aquila and Prisca / Priscilla in Ephesus, but the fellowships in Troas, Colosse, Laodicea, etc. Aquila and Prisca originally lived in Corinth before moving to Ephesus, and like Paul, were tent makers by trade.

Finally, Paul puts pen to paper. Up to this point his scribe / amanuensis was probably Sosthenes, cf., 1:1. He makes four final points: a pronouncement of anathema on those who do not love the Lord; a call for the return of the Lord - Come Lord Jesus; a prayer for God's grace upon his readers; a prayer for the realization in his readers of his love for them.

Text - 16:13

Paul's final words, v13-24: i] Exhortations; The Corinthians are to be on their guard, they are to stand firm in the faith, courageous, and strong, and they are to always act in love.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument.

en + dat. "in [the faith]" - [watch / be on guard, stand firm] in [the faith, be brave, be strong]. Here adverbial, reference / respect; "stand firm with respect to the faith." Here the articular "faith" refers to the content of faith, not the act of believing, so Garland, B&L, contra Fitzmyer. "Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you've got, be resolute and love without stopping", Peterson.


uJmwn gen. pro. "-" - [let all things be done] of you. The genitive is adjectival, verbal, subjective; "let all you do be done in love", Moffatt.

en + dat. "in [love]" - Possibly instrumental, "through love" = "guided by love", Barclay, but better adverbial, expressing manner, "let everything be done in a spirit of love", Cassirer, "in a loving way".


ii] Personal commendations, v15-18.

de "-" - but/and [i urge, exhort you, brothers]. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument.

oJti "that" - [you know] that [the household]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what the Corinthian believers know. "And here my brothers, I would make an appeal to you. You know the household of Stephanas, how they were the very first of the harvest which Achaia has yielded, and how they appointed themselves to the task of rendering service for those who are consecrated to God. I would urge you then, to show deference to such as these ...."

Stefana (aV a) gen. "of Stephanas" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive, identifying the possession of a dependent status.

thV AcaiaV (a) gen. "in Achaia" - [is the firstfruit] of achaia. The genitive is ablative, source / origin; "from Achaia."

eiV "to" - [and that they appointed = devoted themselves] into [ministry]. Here expressing purpose; "for the purpose of ministry."

toiV aJgioiV (oV) dat. "of the Lord's people" - to the holy, saints. Dative of interest, advantage, "for the saints"; "To serve the saints", Moffatt.


iJna "to [submit]" - I urge you that [you may be submissive]. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech.

toioutoiV dat. pro. "to such people" - to such a kind. Dative of direct object after the uJpo prefix verb "to submit to." "I urge you to accept the leadership of people like them", REB.

sunergounti (sunergew) pres. part. "who joins in the work" - to [everyone] joining in the work [and laboring]. As with "laboring", the participle serves as a substantive, dative of direct object after the uJpo prefix verb "to submit to." "Of anyone who labours at our common task", REB.


de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a further step in the argument.

epi + dat. "when" - [i rejoice] at. Here probably causal, "because of", although the NIV opts for a temporal sense, "at the time of."

Stefana (aV a) gen. "Stephanas" - [the coming] of stephanas [and fortunatus and achaicus]. The genitive is adjectival, verbal, subjective; "I rejoice because Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus have arrived."

oJti "because" - because [these men filled up your deficiency]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul rejoices. "Their presence has compensated for your absence", Barclay.


gar "for" - for [they refreshed my spirit and yours]. More reason than cause, explaining how these three men compensate for the absence of the Corinthian believers in Paul's life (due to distance??). "There've refreshed me by keeping me in touch with you", Peterson.

oun "-" - therefore [know, look upon, recognize such]. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion. "You should appreciate having men like that", Phillips. Possibly the imperative "to know" here expresses a request / entreaty, "I hope you appreciate men like this", NJB.


iii] Greetings, v19-20.

thV AsiaV (a) gen. "in the province of Asia" - [the churches] of asia [greet you]. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, idiomatic / local, "the churches located in the province of Asia."

en + dat. "in [the Lord]" - [aquila and prisca greet you much] in [the lord]. Local, incorporative union, "in union with." Again, this idiomatic phrase often just takes the sense of "as fellow believers / Christians."

sun + dat. "so does [the church]" - with [the church]. Expressing accompaniment / association.

kat (kata) + acc. "that meets at [their house]" - according to [house of them]. Usually viewed as local here, so "in/at their house", referring to the house-church meeting in their home in Ephesus. It is though a strange prepositional phrase, also used in Rom.16:5. A distributive sense may be implied "according to their household", ie., "the church made up of the members of the household(s) of Aquila and Prisca", Fitzmyer, so B&L. With a couple, the male is usually listed first, but often, in their case, Prisca / Priscilla is named first (although not here). Are they actually a couple or business partners, and if partners, do they have separate households? This may explain the distributive kata.


en + dat. "with [a holy kiss]" - [all the brothers greet you. greet one another] in [a holy kiss]. Instrumental, expressing means, "by means of"; "Pass the greeting around with holy embraces", Peterson.


iv] Admonition and benediction, v21-24. Paul takes pen in hand, authenticating the letter.

th/ ... ceiri (r roV) dat. "in [my] hand" - [the = this greeting is written] in the [my] hand. The dative is probably instrumental, expressing means, "by my hand."

Paulou (oV) gen. "Paul" - of paul. Standing in apposition to "my"; the greeting is in Paul's hand.


a) A pronouncement of anathema on those who do not love the Lord, v22a. This is a strong statement by Paul, but it reflects the situation in Corinth. Too many members claim to align with Jesus, loving both God and mankind as a reflection of the love received from Jesus, cf., 8:3. Yet, the behavior of many deny any allegiance with Jesus; "proud wisdom, unfettered sexual behaviour, wild litigiousness, self-display and wilful disbelief", Barnett. Paul simply announces the consequences of such behaviour; they are "anathema", ie., set aside from God. It is, of course, Paul's hope that those guilty of such sins will turn their lives around.

ei + ind. "if" - if, as is the case, [a certain one does not love the lord then let him be a curse]. Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the proposed condition is assumed to be true.

b) a call / prayer for the return of the Lord - Come Lord Jesus. Probably as a prayer, presented in the untranslated Aramaic marana qa, "Marana tha", "Our Lord, come", or in line with Revelation 22:20, "Come, Lord Jesus." It is only natural for us to understand this coming as a coming of Jesus to earth, ie., his return. Yet, framed within Biblical theology this coming is a coming to the Ancient of Days, of Christ sitting at his right hand until he makes all his enemies his footstool, cf., Ps.110:1. So, this is a "coming", a parousia of Christ, the realization of Christ's lordship, of his rule, of his bringing all things to their appointed end in both blessing and cursing. Even now, with the eyes of faith, we can witness this reality.


c) A prayer for God's grace to rest upon Paul's readers, v23. This is a common ending for Paul's letters, expanded somewhat in 2 Corinthians 13:14. What is the "grace" for which Paul prays? "It is that voluntary, unconditioned mercy by which Christ surrendered his riches in the presence of God to come among us in the poverty of birth, life and death to bestow upon moral paupers the wealth of God's salvation", Barnett.

tou kuriou (oV) gen. "[the grace] of the Lord" - [the grace] of the lord [jesus be with you]. The genitive is adjectival, best classified as either verbal, subjective, or idiomatic; "May divine grace be bestowed on us by the Lord Jesus"


d) A prayer for the realization in Paul's readers of his love for them, v24. This prayer probably reflects the real and present danger facing the congregation, namely of their alienation from their apostle, one who deeply loves them.

meta + gen. "[my love] to [all of you]" - may [the love of me be] with [you all in christ jesus]. Expressing association / accompaniment; "My love be with you all", Phillips.


1 Corinthians Introduction

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