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Epistles of Paul: 30 - 1 Corinthians 16:1-23

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Epistles of Paul

30 - 1 Corinthians 16:1-23

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Epistles of Paul: 30 - 1 Corinthians 16:1-23

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MP3 Audio (27.61 MB)
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In this class we will discuss 1 Corinthians 16:1–23 and examine the following: Paul gives practical instructions on financial support for the Jerusalem church. He urges believers to contribute systematically and purposefully. Paul discusses travel plans and encourages hospitality toward fellow workers. He commends Timothy and Apollos and sends greetings from various individuals. Paul warns against those who oppose him and exhorts love and steadfastness. The passage emphasizes practical generosity, cooperation in ministry, and unity within the church. Paul's final words highlight the importance of love, faithfulness, and unity as he closes his letter to the Corinthians with blessings and greetings.

Transcript

[Steve Myers] Good to be together once again. Finishing up, 1 Corinthians, the letter of 1 Corinthians and beginning in Chapter 16. So looking at Chapter 16, we have an interesting conclusion to Paul's letter. And as you begin Chapter 16, there's an interesting passage that is oftentimes misunderstood. Let's just read it and then we can talk a little bit about it.

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Paul writes, "Concerning the collection for the saints as I've given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must also do. On the first day of the week, let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come."

So just looking at this, is Paul authorizing a collection that would be done on Sunday morning as we pass the collection plate? Oftentimes that's the way this is understood, that you pass the plate every Sunday morning in the Catholic or Protestant churches and this is the way that you can fund the church. And so they'll take this particular passage as a command. Is this commanding Christians to worship on Sunday and to take up a collection on Sunday morning? No, it is not.

Well, what is he talking about? Because just on the surface of things, it seems like this might be talking about some type of collection that's taken up on the first day of the week, on Sunday. Doesn't it validate that? Well, let's take a look at this particular passage and notice a couple of interesting aspects to this collection that he talks about here. Let's read it once again. "Concerning the collection for the saints." So there's a couple of interesting things just to think about this collection. This collection itself certainly is a specific one. It's specifically an offering that is for the saints. So it's a specific, I guess we could call it an offering, a specific offering, and it's to specific people. It's for the saints, it's for the believers, it's for those who are in the church. And there's an interesting connection to this that's further described in Romans 15.

So if you want to turn with me over to Romans 15, we can see why this is a unique offering, a unique collection that he's talking about here. Look at Romans 15 and we'll begin in verse 25.

Romans 15:25-27 Here Paul writes, "I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints." Of course, that minister word, serve the saints, he's going to be serving them. How is he going to be serving those in Jerusalem? Verse 26, "For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and their debtors. For if the gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things."

So here Paul is describing this contribution. In fact, this is the same contribution, the same offering that he's describing here.

Romans 15:28 He says, "Therefore," verse 28, "when I perform this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain," talking to the Romans there.

So this is a very specific offering that also Macedonia was making in that area of the world, Achaia as well, which is interesting because what does he say at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 16? Take a look back there again. "I've given orders to the churches of Galatia." Well, that's Macedonia. That's Macedonia. And so this is the same offering, the same collection that he's referring to. So he's not saying this is some ongoing collection that should happen every Sunday. This is not validating somehow Sunday worship or something like that. Not at all. Not at all. He's saying you need to put a collection together. Well, what kind of collection? Well, we read in Romans 15 for the poor, for those who are in trouble in Jerusalem. Back in Judea, they're having trouble. Those specific people need help. Those people need help. And so when you begin to think about this collection, this offering, that is not funding the church. That's what most Protestant churches do, they pass the plate and that's how they fund the church. That's how they do their missionary work, whatever it may be. Well, this is definitely not a command in Chapter 16 to do that.

What do we find in Scripture? What is it that funds the church? some collection we have? Well, no, we give tithes and we give offerings. That's how the church is funded. We certainly see that example in Scripture that we are commanded to give tithes and offerings. And it was given, well, originally to the Levites and then later to God's ministers in the New Testament. We read some of that here in 1 Corinthians that labor is worthy of his hire. You don't muzzle the ox while he's treading out the grain, those kinds of things that you fund the church. Is this talking about something in that regard? No, no, he says you store up something and that is part of the collection. You're storing things up. What would you store up? You'd store up food. You'd store up supplies in that regard. And so gathering fruit, gathering produce, gathering supplies to relieve those in Judea that were suffering. Well, why were they poor? Why were they suffering? Was this just the way they were? Or maybe there's a little bit more to the story. Yeah, if you think that, you're definitely right.

If you hold your place here in first Corinthians 16, you could go with me over to Acts 11. In Acts 11, we have the same situation addressed here. So take a look at Acts 11:27 is where we can begin, Acts 11:27. Notice what it's describing here.

Acts 11:27-29 "In these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in..." Where? Judea, Judea. And so this famine was prophesied and the relief, the relief efforts to help those who, well, Romans said, were poor. Well, why are they poor? Because there's a famine. There's a great trial going on here. And so this suffering that the Judeans were going through was what the Corinthians were supposed to help with, with what the Romans were supposed to help with, with what the Macedonians, those in Galatia, were supposed to help with. So this is not some Sunday morning collection. No, not at all. Very specific to help the people who are suffering from this prophesied famine. It's also interesting that we see it was also to be done at a specific time, a specific time.

If you go back to 1 Corinthians 16, notice when was this supposed to happen? Every single Sunday at church services? No, that's ridiculous. Paul says in verse 3, when I come.

1 Corinthians 16:3 "When I come, I'll send a bear your gift to Jerusalem."

So that was the specific time when Paul passed through that he would take up that collection and help deliver it to Judea. And in fact, it becomes pretty evident. This wasn't done at some kind of a gathering. How you get the idea that this validates collecting an offering on a Sunday morning is really ridiculous because he talks about a specific place. Right? What's the place you're supposed to take this collection?

1 Corinthians 16:2 Well, he says, "Each one of you," verse 2, "lay something aside."

So you, where you're at, your home, you get this ready and you lay it aside. Some translations say you lay it in store. Of course, that's exactly what you do with fruit or vegetables or whatever goods that you arrange. Yeah, because Paul is going to come later and gather what they had been collecting at their homes. And yeah, he would then carry that to Jerusalem. "I'll send to bear," or literally that word is carry, "your gift to Jerusalem." Which could also, I think, entail if people gave monetary gifts, that could be part of it as well. Paul could have carried that as well.

But obviously it wasn't just money. It wasn't just that, that it certainly points to the fact that they're going to have some literal supplies and goods to help them because of this particular famine that was going on. It's also interesting that what Paul is talking about right here. Yeah, he identifies that, okay, there are those in Galatia that have gotten this direction, but this one specifically is for the Corinthians, right? So for Corinth, he tells them, you do this, you do this. And so, this is for you. He says, "This collection for the saints, you must do also." See that at the end of verse 1? This is for you. This is not some general command for all churches everywhere in the entire world. It's not that at all. And so, doesn't it become pretty clear? This is not about Sunday collections. It was to help the poor brethren in Judea. This is not for the ministry, right? It's not for Paul. It's not for missionary work around the world. That's not what this is for. It's not for any other purpose than to help those who are suffering from this famine. In fact, as we go through the various epistles of Paul, this famine is mentioned and the ability for the brethren to help those that are suffering because of that are mentioned quite a few times throughout Paul's writings. And so it helps us to recognize exactly what this particular collection was designated for. Okay, so then as we go on, let's look back to 1 Corinthians 16.

1 Corinthians 16:3 He says, "I'll send to bear your gift to Jerusalem."

We see it's a gift, it's kind of like an offering, it's not a requirement, it's not tithes in that sense, it's not a holy day offering in that way. It's a gift, it's a collection for them. He tells them even when they're supposed to do that, that specific time that we mentioned in number 3 here. Okay, when is that specific time?

1 Corinthians 16:2 "On the first day of the week," verse 2.

On the first day of the week. Interesting expression, the first day of the week. Now, if you look in your Bible, you notice something, well, if your Bible designates it this way, verse 2 at the very beginning, many of you in your translation may notice something interesting about that phrase, on the first day of the week. Many translations have the word day italicized. Why would that be? It's not there. It's not there in the Greek. In the Greek, it's the first of the week. It's the first of the week.

And so interesting, this is not pointing to Sunday as the first day of the week because the day word isn't there. One of the interesting things about this particular passage is the word that's used there is sabbaton. Definitely related to the Sabbath, but that's the plural for Sabbath, which would be Sabbaths, Sabbaths. So interesting that Paul tells them on the first of the Sabbaths. So that's where the week comes in because when you put multiple Sabbaths together, you have multiple weeks, right? So plural Sabbaths translates to weeks. But did you notice something interesting? He says the first of the Sabbaths or the first of the weeks. Now, we have to recognize, what kind of day is that? Is that a worship day? No, he's saying, get to work. Get to work. On the first of the Sabbaths, get to work. This is when you start working, you put this collection together. This is the time to work. Of course, when you consider the concept of the first of the weeks, that becomes very specific. you harvest, you put together the goods that will help feed those who are suffering from a famine and do it immediately on the first of the weeks, the first of the weeks. When you compare that to the Old Testament, there is a specific time that's designated as the first of the weeks, first of the weeks for what? Well, interesting. that ties in with something very specific.

So if you hold your place here, let's go back to the book of Deuteronomy for a moment. In Deuteronomy 16, we'll see what I think is an amazing connection to what Paul's referring to here. Take a look at Deuteronomy 16 and we'll pick it up in verse 9, in verse 9. Here he's been talking about the Passover and then the Days of Unleavened Bread here in Deuteronomy 16. And as he begins to discuss the Days of Unleavened Bread, then he says this in verse 9.

Deuteronomy 16:9 "You shall count seven weeks for yourself. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time you began to put the sickle to the grain, then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God."

But what is the Feast of Weeks? Another name for Pentecost. Another name for Pentecost. We count the weeks to Pentecost. And what about this idea of the first of the weeks? Well, Pentecost and counting to Pentecost recognizes these seven weeks that have to pass before you observe the Feast of Weeks, before you observe Pentecost. And so it's interesting, there was a day that initiated the counting of those...well, Pentecost says count 50, you know, that idea of counting. Well, when did that begin?

Well, if we look over at Leviticus 23, we can see exactly the specific time that's referenced by, well, Deuteronomy 16 and also referenced by Paul in 1 Corinthians 16. Let's notice Leviticus 23 and let's pick it up...let's see, where should we do? Verse 15, Leviticus 23:15. Notice once again here it says.

Leviticus 23:15 "You shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath. From the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, seven Sabbaths shall be completed."

So here's this idea of weeks passing by, 7 weeks, the 50 days that start counting from the day after the Sabbath, which would have been a Sunday morning. And what was happening on that day? Well, if we go back just a little bit, verse 10 says.

Leviticus 23:10-11 "Speak to the children of Israel and say, 'When you come into the land which I give you and reap its harvest...'" What's happening on the first day? We're harvesting. We're harvesting. It says, "Then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord to be accepted on your behalf." When? "On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it."

And so what was happening here? Well, before the harvest could begin, they had to bring a sheaf and wave it before God. The priest would bring this special offering and present it to God before the harvest could begin. So this was the beginning of the harvest, this wave sheaf. Interesting connections to Jesus Christ as well. He was this wave sheaf that was the first of the harvest. He was the firstfruits, we read that in 1 Corinthians as well. And then the harvest could begin, and all the rest of us could follow as firstfruits. Well, literally that took place when this sheaf was waved and accepted by God on the first of the weeks, on that day after the Sabbath during Unleavened Bread, on that Sunday morning. Yeah, this was offered before God, and then the harvest could begin. And so it's interesting that then the count began toward Pentecost as well. Look at verse 15.

Leviticus 23:15-16 "Count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath." Yeah, from the day you brought that chief of the wave offering. Then verse 16, "Count 50 days to the day after the 7th Sabbath, and you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord."

And so kind of interesting here, Paul's referring to that. And why would he do that? Well, let's look back. Let's go back to 1 Corinthians 16 once again. 1 Corinthians 16. He's referring to a work day on the first of the weeks. The first day that you would begin counting the weeks would certainly be what he's recognizing here. This was the first day of the harvest. Makes sense, doesn't it? Paul is telling them, you're going to begin the harvest. The beginning of the week, this is what you're going to need to do. You start the harvest, set aside some for those who are suffering in Judea. Set some aside for them. Day number one, first of the weeks, first to that counting toward Pentecost, when the harvest begins, put some of that harvest aside to help those who are poor, those who are suffering from this famine. This isn't some reference to a Sunday morning offering or Sunday morning worship. No, not at all. This is the day after the Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread. And that's the day that began the count toward Pentecost. And so Paul is telling them, get to work on that day, that first day of the harvest, and put something aside, put some grain together, put some fruit together, put some of those things together, and do it quickly so when I come, It's ready to go.

And so a pretty powerful description here that is so often overlooked. We overlook the fact that it's really telling us in 1 Corinthians 16:2, keep Pentecost. Was the New Testament church keeping Pentecost? Yeah, here's a reference to the count. And of course, we remember, when was Paul writing this? He was writing this right around that Passover, Days of Unleavened Bread time. So yeah, no wonder it was about to be this way. So on the first of the weeks you're going to begin your harvest, get out there, put something aside for those who have been suffering. And so it puts it in that perfect context of when this letter would have been written, on that first day of harvest, on the beginning of the weeks, the sabbaton, the first of the weeks, you go ahead and you begin to do this. So rather than coming to the conclusion that this is saying take up a Sunday morning collection and worship on Sundays, it's just the opposite. It's reminding us we keep the holy days of God. They are valid under the New Covenant. And there is no doubt about it as Paul says, "Let us keep this feast." Remember he said that. We keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We keep the Passover. He described how to keep the Passover. And now he's validating counting to Pentecost. And so it's just such a beautiful example of the veracity and validation of God's holy days for His new covenant people. Powerful example here. And so Paul reminds them to do just that. And so going back to 1 Corinthians 16, in verse 4.

1 Corinthians 16:4-8 He says, "If it's fitting that I go also, they'll go with me." I'll take that offering. I'll take that harvest with me to Jerusalem. Then in verse 5 he says, "Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia. I'm passing through Macedonia, and it may be that I'll remain or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey wherever I go." He says, "I don't wish to see you now on the way, but I hope to stay a while with you if the Lord permits. But I'll tarry in Ephesus..."

Until when? Until the counting is done, until we get to that time of Pentecost. "I'll tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost." So we have that, kind of, bookends right there. First of the weeks, we count until Pentecost. So we see exactly when that occurs.

1 Corinthians 16:9-10 He says, "For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries." Interesting Paul wanted to walk through that door that was opened. And he says, "If Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear, for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do."

Of course, remember how Timothy had reported back to Paul about what was going on in Corinth, you know, that we had the house of Chloe reporting some of the things that were going on. So Timothy, kind of an emissary, I suppose you could say in a sense here. And Paul saying, there's a lot going on in the work of the church. And so, remember, if I can't get there right away, Timothy will come, and respect him, respect the work that he does.

1 Corinthians 16:11 He says, "Let no one despise him, but send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me, for I'm waiting for him with the brethren."

So here Paul, as he's kind of drawing more to a conclusion to this letter, he's reminding the Corinthians of those who are serving him and to recognize those who are ministering and helping them. In fact, next he talks about Apollos, verse 12.

1 Corinthians 16:12 "Now, concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time. However, he'll come when he has a convenient time."

Which is kind of an interesting thing. It kind of puts things in a little bit of perspective there, doesn't it? You know, was Paul the be-all, end-all power authority of the church? No. No, he was definitely a leader in the church, no doubt about that. He was an apostle of Jesus Christ. But could he just command people around at his will? No, you in a sense here see consensus and collaboration. Yeah, Paul said, "Really be great if you could go." Apollos says, "I can't really do it at this time, but I can go later." So you see how God's people were working together. The leadership of the church just weren't ordering each other around. They were working together. And so we see that here. Yeah, Paul's urging him to go, but just didn't work out right then. And so Apollos agreed to go when he could work it out. And so I think that's an important example for all of us. Sometimes God allows certain things to work out. Other times, well, we've got to adjust and do things as we can and as God allows. And so interesting example there with Paul and Apollos. Now then in verse 13, he gives some directives.

1 Corinthians 16:13 He says, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong."

And so here this admonition that kind of takes us back to some of those sports metaphors that we had talked about before, standing fast, that we have to stand strong, don't get knocked over, don't get taken down, don't let Satan influence you, get you off your mark. Yeah, in order to do that, you better be on your guard, you better be watching, better be watching. And sometimes there's going to be challenges. So what do soldiers have to do? You have to be brave, be strong, be ready to face whatever may come. Be ready. And when you're ready, it's not going to catch you by surprise. So then you can be immovable. That idea of standing fast carries that connotation, being immovable, be strong in the faith. Be strong in the faith. Don't lack faith. He's not wishful thinking, right? When he talks about that idea of faith, it's not, oh, well, I wish that this will work out, or hope maybe by chance it'll be okay. No, he's not talking about that kind of hope. He's talking about a confident hope. He's talking about an assurance that God will be with him. We can do these things. We can be brave. We can stand fast. We can be watchful and strong in the faith, in the confidence that we have in God because if God said it we can take it as a matter of fact that God's going to do what He says He's going to do.

1 Corinthians 16:14 And so Paul then says, "Let all that you do be done with love."

And it brings us back to Chapter 13 again, right, with agape, let all that you do have that perspective. Now he gets into a personal thing.

1 Corinthians 16:15-16 He says, "I urge you, brethren, you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints." So here you have a whole family, the family of Stephanos that are serving. Verse 16, he says, "Also submit to such and to everyone who works and labors with us."

That must have been an interesting circumstance that the Corinthians, as soon as he mentions them, something going to come to mind? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, can you think of individuals? Can you think of families when you hear their name, certain sense of service and dedication comes to mind? Yeah, I think you can. Well, this was one of those that Paul brings to their memory. They were dedicated, they were devoted. They were devoted to ministering, to serving, serving the saints. Remember that was one of the spiritual gifts, wasn't it? Ministry, serving. Yeah. So they're demonstrating and utilizing that giving to the congregation and he's saying, yeah, recognize that, recognize that and realize they're doing God's work. Submit to such, he says. And so that's a very good thing.

1 Corinthians 16:17 And then he goes on in verse 17 saying, "I am glad about the coming of Staphanos, Fortunatus, and Achaicus for what was lacking on your part, they supplied."

So it seems like they came to visit Paul. And of course, boy, when you see people you haven't seen for a while, it kind of rejuvenates you, doesn't it? You know, that, wow, it's just good to be...I know some of you are probably waiting to maybe head for home over the break. Yeah, you just get rejuvenated. And so that's exactly what Paul felt with these individuals. What was lacking on your part, they supply. Well, the whole congregation couldn't come and visit, but they could. And so it says, verse 18.

1 Corinthians 16:18 "They refreshed my spirit and yours, therefore, acknowledge such men."

Acknowledge them. Recognize that. Recognize. And that's, I think, a good recognition of the fact we are the body. We are the body and we work together. We're all in this together. And so when you recognize this, I think he's also saying when one part is suffering...What did he tell us in Chapter 12? He said, well, we all suffer. When one rejoices, we all rejoice.

And so here he's pointing that, acknowledge that. Don't be threatened by that. Well, they have this gift. Oh no, what's my gift? Isn't mine just...? You don't compare yourselves among yourselves. We can rejoice about that. When someone succeeds, when someone has a great accomplishment, well, we don't feel bad that, well, that wasn't me. No, we rejoice. We acknowledge those who serve well. And that's a wonderful thing that they were able to submit to God's Spirit so they could do this. So he says, yeah, those are the kinds of individuals we do want to acknowledge. It doesn't discount us just because someone else is serving well. It should be a good example for all of us. And we want to be like that. Yeah, we want to be like Fortunatus. That's what we want to be like too. And so he encourages them to recognize these individuals. Then as he concludes, verse 19.

1 Corinthians 16:19 He says, "The churches of Asia greet you, Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord with the church that is in their house."

So Paul reminds them they would, of course, they knew them, they knew these people. And so we have greetings going back and forth here. And to say Paul was somehow impersonal or harsh or all these kinds of things, the ends of his letters certainly speak otherwise, that he was well loved and these individuals as well. Also interesting to show that they had a congregation that was meeting at home, at their home. And so they were...in a way Aquila is kind of pastoring and his wife assisting with the congregation and serving them.

1 Corinthians 16:20 Now in verse 20, he says, "All the brethren greet you." They all greet you. And it says, "Greet one another with a holy kiss."

Well, what is that getting at? We should walk around today kissing everybody? Is that what we should be doing? Is that what he's proposing here? Yes, greet one another with a holy kiss. We might say it a little bit differently today. Back in the day, I mean, think about coming out of the Jewish tradition. Did men kiss women in the Jewish tradition? Did you go to the synagogue, was that...? No, that didn't happen. Who kissed who in the synagogues? Men kissed men and women kissed women. That was the custom. So he's not saying walk around kissing everybody. That's not really the idea here. He's pointing to the custom of greeting people, of kind of a...I think what you say here is you greet each other with a hearty handshake. You know, there might be certain instances you would give a hug too. You got to be careful about that as well. Things taken the wrong way. But you recognize this idea of greeting each other and there's a closeness and a camaraderie, a sense of family here. And that's what he's definitely encouraging, that we are a close-knit spiritual family. That's what he's pointing out as he concludes this letter. And so interesting that he emphasizes that aspect as he closes here.

1 Corinthians 16:21 Then, as he often does in his letters, verse 21, "The salutation with my own hand," Paul's.

Seems like he's taken the pen himself, you know, after kind of dictating, I suppose you might say, and then he writes with his own handwriting. This is my own hand. This validates what's written, that this is me. Of course, remember some of the things that he had been writing about were those false teachers that claim to be Paul. Well, here he's validating this very recognizable signature here.

1 Corinthians 16:22 Then, "If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come."

This is the word anathema. Let him be cursed. Let him be cursed. And so, yeah, that's what it's all about. And ultimately, that's all that's going to count. We have to have love. We have to love God. We have to love Jesus Christ. And so, ultimately, the whole world will be faced with that very fact that either you will love God or life is going to end. That'll be all there is to it. And so, looking forward to that time when Christ will return, "O Lord, come."

Then he concludes in a typical Pauline way.

1 Corinthians 16:23-24 He says, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, my love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen."

Amen. And so interesting here as he concludes, no reference to the Holy Spirit being a third person in the Trinity or anything like that. He points to the fact that we need a Savior. We need our Lord, Master, and High Priest, Jesus Christ. And so with that he concludes this very first letter to the Corinthians. So that'll kind of end our studies in 1 Corinthians, because then we can look forward to delving into 2 Corinthians next time around.