By Brooke Holt
“When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers. Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity. Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” - 1 Corinthians 16:10–14
Paul had other ministries to complete before returning to Corinth, so he filled the end of his first letter to the Corinthians with practical instructions to teach them while he was delayed. In the meantime, Paul also sent Timothy to teach them. Now Timothy was not just any other evangelist. Timothy was like a son to Paul, a spiritual son. Paul discipled, trained, and invested in Timothy so that this young man could continue Paul’s work. Paul loved Timothy and urged the Corinthians to receive Timothy with respect and tenderness (v. 10–11).
After Timothy, Paul also wrote about Apollos. There was some confusion as to what the role of Apollos had been to this Corinthian church. Remember the passage from 1 Corinthians chapter 3: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (v. 6–7). There was some thought that Apollos’s work among the Corinthians led to some confusion about the exercise of spiritual gifts in the community.
Notice that Paul does not speak poorly about Apollos or question his ministry. In fact, Paul had encouraged Apollos to return to the Corinthians, but Apollos did not yet feel the call to return. Were Paul and Apollos in conflict? We don’t know, but if they were, you certainly wouldn’t know it from Paul’s tone.
After commending Timothy and Apollos, Paul reminded the Corinthians what he taught them earlier in the letter—to love one another (13:1–13). “Let all that you do be done in love” (16:14). Even when you disagree with someone, do you treat them with love when speaking with them and speaking about them? God’s people should resist the world’s temptation to tear one another down (Galatians 5:15). Paul reminds us of the greater way—the way of love!
Just imagine what our churches and our relationships would be like if these words of Paul were the guiding principles of God’s people: “Let all that you do be done in love.” What would it look like for you to use this verse as a test of what you say, how you interact with people, and even what you think? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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