Paul closes this letter or epistle with some practical plans. He urges them to prepare their gifts and collect them on the first day of the week to help those less fortunate believers in Jerusalem (vs. 1-2). While some of the details are not exactly clear about getting the gifts to Jerusalem, Paul indicates that as Christians it is our responsibility to look out for one another.
It appears that Paul is planning to visit them, but his plans later change. Verse 8 indicates that he planned to travel to Ephesus, which was probably the beginning of his three-year stay (see Acts 20:31). In fact, Acts 19 records some of his trials and tribulations while working for the believers in Ephesus. Yet in this final section of 1 Corinthians, he gives some indication of his personal plans, at least up to this point (vs. 5-12). Since communication was difficult, the end of this letter reads in a way somewhat like an e-mail message of today. The final verses (vs. 19-20) include greetings. One must remember that Paul had assistants who put his letters on to parchment, but he took the time to personally write the final salutation “with my own hand” (vs. 21).
In summary, once again Paul reminds the church in Corinth about the heart of his burden for them: “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love” (vs. 13-14). God’s love, no matter what the issue, is what the Christian life is all about.
Michael W. Campbell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Historical/Theological Studies
Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies