Watch our Livestream 10am Sundays Give Online

Being God’s People (Conclusion)

August 27, 2023

Teacher: Daniel Baker
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 16:1–24

Being God’s People (Conclusion)
1 Corinthians 16 – Being God’s People: 1 Corinthians – Daniel J. Baker – Aug 27, 2023


“Please stand if you’re able...” Reading 1 Corinthians 16:1–9 “...Thanks be to God”

Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day? – A look at a busy little town and the dozens and dozens of jobs and activities all the townspeople do. It’s a look inside all the buildings and house of the people in the town. And shows what a typical day looks like.

Our passage is like that...

The series: Being God’s People. Dozens of aspects of what it means to be God’s people. To live like God’s people. To worship like God’s people. To love like God’s people. To walk in sexual purity like God’s peole. Now we turn to the close of the letter. The final chapter.

It's clearly the close of the letter. We might think Paul went into autopilot here. Pulled up the ChatGPT and had it write a generic ending. Far from it. The instruction and insight continue to the last word.

What does it look like to be God’s People? It looks like being: (1) Concerned for the Poor (vv. 1–4), (2) being hard at work for the kingdom of God (vv. 5–12, 15–20), (3) being unwavering in strength and love (vv. 13–14), and (4) being committed to the Savior and to his grace (vv. 21–24).


I. Concerned for the Poor (16:1–4)

Being God’s people means being concerned for the poor.

Paul jumps quickly into this paragraph on “the collection for the saints.” We can assume this is because he had already talked to the Corinthians about the need.

From Romans 15 we get a clearer picture of “the collection” he’s talking about:

25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. (Rom 15:25-27)

As Paul is planting these Gentiles churches, he’s fulfilling what the Jerusalem apostles in Jerusalem told him when he visited there (Acts 11:29–30):

Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. (Gal 2:10)

Paul proved faithful and earnest about this task.

There are four things we can say about this giving to the poor:

(1) Part ofcorporate worship.

Paul says to set this money aside “on the first day of every week.” Sunday. In Revelation it’s called “the Lord’s Day.” The day of worship for the people of God changed from Saturday the 7th day in the Old Testament to Sunday the 1st day. After Christ was raised on Easter Sunday and the Holy Spirit fell on Pentecost Sunday, worship had to be “on the first day of every week.”

But the point here is that giving to the poor was to be part of that worship.

And 1500 years later the churches of the Reformation continued that practice:

  1. What is God’s will for you in the fourth commandment?
    A. First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained, and that, especially on the festive day of rest, I diligently attend the assembly of God’s people to learn what God’s Word teaches, to participate in the sacraments, to pray to God publicly, and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.
    Heidelberg Catechism, Question 103

And so do we. Giving alms is a part of our worship.

(2) Regular – weekly commitment

(3) Proportional – The Corinthians were to give “as he may prosper” (1 Cor 16:2). It was proportional giving, not equal giving.

(4) Connected – By this I mean that we give with a sense we’re connected to “the saints” in our community but also throughout the world (1 Cor 16:1). These saints are giving to the church in Jerusalem, a church of people they knew very little about and would likely never meet. Yet, they heard about the need and were being asked to play a part in meeting the need.

APPLICATION: Thank you for your commitment to giving alms! Wisdom is required in a world like ours where our ability to hear about needs throughout the world is so much greater than what was true in the early church. But the call on us is the same, to be concerned for the poor.

II. Hard at Work for the Kingdom (16:5–12)

Read 1 Corinthians 16:5–12, 15–20.

When we read these verses we’re reminded once again that this book of our Bibles was first a letter. By someone to someone. The sender and the recipients knew each other. Had lived life together. They knew some of the same people.

But this letter isn’t only a private letter. It’s also a letter meant to instruct God’s people until Christ returns. As Paul is mentioning specific people by name, God is teaching us something important.

He’s teaching us that part of being God’s people is being hard at work for the kingdom of God. Signs of it all throughout the passage.

The passage is filled with language connected to work and labor and service:

  • Paul speaks of his “effective work” in Ephesus (9)
  • Timothy is doing “the work of the Lord” (10)
  • “Household of Stephanas” has “devoted themselves to the service of the saints” (15)
  • Leaders to be esteemed, the passage calls being a “fellow worker and laborer” (16)
  • Aquila and Priscilla are commended there’s a reference to “the church in their house” (v 19).

The hard work is seen in the travel plans. References to places like Macedonia, Ephesus, Corinth, Asia. Sometimes it’s the apostles who are traveling. But often in this passage it’s other Christians who are traveling for the sake of the kingdom of God.

To get from Corinth to Ephesus where Paul is writing this letter, would be a journey of hundreds of miles by land. Corinth on the west side of the Aegean Sea in Greece. Ephesus on the east side in what is now western Turkey. This is what “Asia” meant (1 Cor 16:19).

Travel was dangerous and expensive and time consuming. That’s why Paul asked the Corinthians to help Timothy with what he needed for his journey back to Paul (1 Cor 16:11).

And then there’s Aquila and Prisca (1 Cor 16:19):

  • Prisca is also called Priscilla (Acts 18:2ff.).
  • This couple reminds us that hard work for the kingdom of God is not just for the men. This husband-and-wife duo are very productive for Christ.
  • Their first appear in Corinth and meet Paul when the church is being planted (Acts 18:2).
  • In Ephesus before Paul gets there, they’re the ones who took the young Apollos and helped him understand the truths about Jesus more accurately (Acts 18:26).
  • Their with Paul in Ephesus when he writes 1 Cor.
  • When Paul writes Romans they’re in Rome (Rom 16:3).
  • At the end of Paul’s life, imprisoned in Rome and expecting to die a martyr, he tells Timothy to “greet Prisca and Aquila,” likely back in Ephesus again (2 Tim 4:19).

A husband-and-wife working together and utilizing the gifts God has given them can accomplish great things for the kingdom of God.

This HARD WORK, SACRIFICIAL TRAVEL, INVESTING OF THEIR OWN LIVES, was all for the sake of Christ. All to see Gentiles brought into the kingdom as the gospel is preached and they bow before Christ as their King.

APPLICATION: In this passage is a call to surrender. Take a few minutes today or this week and get alone with the Lord. Offer to him everything you are. Everything you have.

III. Unwavering in Strength and Love (16:13–14)

Read 1 Corinthians 16:13–14.

Here we get a powerful set of commands from the apostle. These words remind us of the urgency of the life we’re living. Amidst all the personal matters, Paul seizes the opportunity for a blast of truth, another blast of imperatives.

Commentators compare these words to those “a general might say to his troops before they enter into battle.” It’s a reminder as one said, that “following Christ is not for cowards. And that was not only true in the first century” (Ciampa/Rosner, 854, 856).

And one more:

In five clear and crisp charges [Paul] gathers together the duties which he has been inculcating, the duties of a Christian soldier. Four of these have reference to spiritual foes and perils, while the last sums up their duty to one another. They are an army in the field, and they must be alert, steadfast, courageous, strong; and in all things united.
Robertson & Plummer, The First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (1911)[1]

The five commands:

  • #1 - “Be watchful” (v. 13) - This is an eschatological statement. The time is short. Jesus is coming back. Be ready!
  • #2 - “Stand firm in the faith” (v. 13) - The idea is standing firm in "the faith," keeping your doctrinal convictions. Don't compromise the truth! It's not a statement about how strong your faith is, "stand strong in your personal faith." 
  • #3–4 - “Act like men, be strong” (v. 13) – The literal verb is captured well in the ESV, "act like men." It doesn't mean, "act like a man," as if all women and all men should take on the demeanor and dress of a man. The idea is what is often used as a translation, "be courageous." Yet, we can't erase all of the gender idea here. Both women and men are called to courage in their respective spheres, but there's a special place for courage in the life of a man. A vivid example of this is in 2 Samuel. In 2 Samuel, Israel fought the Syrians. Right before the battle Joab, the Israelite commander, spoke to his brother Abishai, also a commander over Israel’s army. Joab said:

“Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the LORD do what seems good to him.” (2 Sam 10:12)

  • The copperhead story.
  • Hard thing about godly courage is we don’t know what form the challenge is going to take. We prepare for a direct assault...and God sends COVID-19. We prepare for a copperhead on the path...and God sends a bad argument with our wife where we didn’t do well at all.
  • #5 - “Let all that you do be done in love” (v. 14) – Reminder that the calling is not to be some kind of robotic tough guy. The call to godly strength is to be matched with “love” (agapē) in all that we do.

APPLICATION: Calling on all of us. But there is a special calling on us as men in the church. To fight for and protect the ones entrusted to us. To lay down our lives for those entrusted to us. Not as reckless vigilantes. But also doing it with love in all that we do.

IV. Committed to the Savior and His Grace (16:21–24)

Read 1 Corinthians 16:21–24.

In verse 21 we see Paul telling us that when the letter was originally written he had a secretary he was working with. But then here he takes up the quill, dips it into the ink, and writes a few words in his own handwriting.

But this is far more than a hasty, illegible signature. He continues to teach, continues to appeal, continues to write God’s inspired Word.

He reminds us here that being God’s people means being committed to the Savior and to his grace.

In one single verse, 1 Corinthians 16:22, Paul packs a lot of theology. Theology that tells us something important the church. “Accursed” is Anathema in the Greek. “Our Lord, come!” is Marana tha. Within one verse we get an Anathema (curse) and a Marana tha (prayer).

The Bible here teaches that you’re “accursed” if you have “no love for the Lord.” When the Bible here says, “love for the Lord,” don’t think of Christian growth and sanctification. We’re all trying to grow in our “love for the Lord.”

Paul here is talking about what it means to be a Christian. To be a Christian is to “love the Lord.” It’s a love that needs to grow, but it’s real love. “Love for the Lord” is a simple test to know whether you’re a Christian.

Remember the conversation Peter had with Jesus in John 21. Three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15–17). The third time stung. It stung because Peter had just denied Jesus three times. Jesus is really asking, “Peter, you just denied me three times, so let me ask you again, do you love me?” Peter knew why Jesus asked him this question three times and not just once. But still Peter said, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (John 21:17). He was “grieved” as he said it, but he said it (John 21:17). And Jesus did not correct Peter's answer. He affirmed by what he said next, "Feed my sheep" (21:17). He commissioned Peter into ministry. 

Peter’s love for the Lord is like our love for the Lord—imperfect and needing to grow. But nevertheless, it’s real.

And for those with a true love for the Lord, we say, “Our Lord, come!” The prayer here is an Aramaic phrase: Marana tha. Aramaic was one of the languages spoken by Jesus and the early church.[2] At times in the NT we get Aramaic words and phrases, like the word “Abba” for “Father.” Paul writes the Aramaic prayer without any comment.

And none is needed: “Our Lord, come!” – Marana tha – is the great cry of our hearts. When Christ comes the final triumph is here. The battle is over. The celebration can begin. There will still be a series of final events to happen. But these days of battling enemies without and enemies within will be over.

Christ’s return means all those great descriptions of resurrection life we saw in the last several sermons will finally come true. For God’s people the devil’s influence in our lives will be forever stopped. Our sicknesses will cease. The killing of babies in our country will forever end. All our psychological confusions and torments will instantly stop.

So, yes! Marana tha. “Our Lord, come!”

But Christ’s return isn’t a day of celebration and triumph for all people, only those who love him. For those who don’t, it means being “accursed.”

  • Christ’s return for the people of God means our trials are finally over; for those who aren’t God’s people, their trials will be multiplied a million times over.
  • Christ’s return for the people of God means our torments end instantly; for those who aren’t God’s people, their torments are just beginning.
  • Christ’s return for the people of God means the end of experiencing like in a fallen world; for those who aren’t God’s people, his return means the end of living in a world where there is some goodness present.

If you don’t belong to Christ, turn to him and be saved. Turn to him and ask for salvation. Repent. Turn away from your sin and rebellion against him. Bow to him as your King and Lord.

If you don’t know where to begin, just pray: “Lord Jesus, I want to be saved. Reveal yourself to me.” Open a Bible and start to read it. Start anywhere. Talk to a Christian friend or one of the pastors here.

In these closing words we’re committed to the Savior and his GRACE.

In 1 Cor 16:23 he adds a prayer for grace. In all 13 of his letters he includes at the very end a prayer for grace like this one.

That means he OPENS and CLOSES his letter with a word about GRACE:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 1:3)

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. (1 Cor 16:23)

“Grace to you” and “Grace be with you.” “Grace to you” as I begin our time together. “Grace be with you” as I leave. I don’t leave you without help. I leave you with “the grace of the Lord Jesus”! There’s no greater assistance we could receive than “grace.”

Then with his final stroke of the pen, he adds a personal touch. A statement that his love is WITH THEM (seems better translated a statement than a prayer).


Being God’s People means being concerned for the poor, hard at work for the kingdom of God, being unwavering in strength and love, and committed to the Savior and his grace.

Restate my earlier exhortation: Take a few minutes and lift up a prayer of surrender.

But as we close this series and look ahead to the coming year at the church, we’ll end with something we read together in our 1st sermon in this series.

Let’s stand and read this together:

A covenant with God:

I am no longer my own but yours.

Put me to what you will,

rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing,

put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you,

or laid aside for you,

exalted for you,

or brought low for you;

let me be full,

let me be empty,

let me have all things,

let me have nothing:

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things

to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

you are mine and I am yours. So be it.

And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.'

“The Methodist Covenant Prayer”

Closing Prayer and “O Church, Arise!”

[1] Archibald Robertson, and Alfred Plummer, 1911, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark; 2nd ed. 1914), 393. Cited in Ciampa/Rosner (PNTC).

[2] See

Recent Messages

Here are some other recent messages.

Cornerstone Fellowship Church logo

We are a church built on the Bible, guided and empowered by the Spirit, striving to make disciples, and pursuing holiness in the context of robust biblical relationships.

Email Updates & Newsletter

Times & Location

10am on Sundays

401 Upchurch St, Apex, NC 27502

© 2024 Cornerstone Fellowship Church of Apex