Today the blog continues its examination of St. Paul’s Corinthian correspondence. Previous material on this topic and on Genesis and Mark, can be accessed from my archive. Biblical references can be placed after emmock.com as can particular topics eg. emmock.com John 3:16; or emmock.com obedience. The daily headlines are reminders of the world we live in:
1 CORINTHIANS 16
15 Now, brothers, you know that the household of Stephanas were the first people in Achaia to put their trust in the Messiah, and they have devoted themselves to serving God’s people. 16 I urge you to submit yourselves to people like these and to everyone who works and toils with them. 17 I am glad that Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus are here, because they have helped make up for your not being here. 18 They have refreshed my spirit, just as they have yours. I want you to show appreciation for people like these.
19 The congregations in the province of Asia send greetings to you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you in union with the Lord, as does the congregation that meets in their house. 20 All the brothers send you their greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21 Now, I Paul, greet you in my own handwriting.
22 If anyone does not love the Lord, a curse on him! Maranatha!
[Our Lord, come!)
23 May the kindness of the Lord Jesus be with you.
24 My love is with you all, in union with the Messiah Jesus.
I emphasised yesterday Paul’s care in fostering a partnership of faith and love over distance. These concluding sentences are illustrations of this:
1. Perhaps Stephanas and his companions had brought Paul the letter from Corinth which aroused his concern. Paul honours these men with his praise, so that the Corinthians know their ambassadors have been well received, and perhaps, that they may agree with Paul’s reply. Stephanas has already been mentioned in this letter because his famil was baptised by Paul.
2. The congregations in Asia, Ephesos, Galatia, Troas, Derbe and others are mentioned to remind the Coriinthians in Europe that they are not on their own, nor are they at the centre of the Assemblies of Jesus, but part of a world-wide family
3 Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned by Paul as the hosts of the Ephesian Assembly. They are frequently mentioned by Paul as leaders. This suggests that Paul’s conservative position on womens’ role in the Assemblies had already been overtaken by events, and that he was perfectly used to the authority of women.
4 The holy kiss may have been part of the liturgy of the Lord’s meal in the first churches. Here Paul is encouraging it as a friendly greeting. Human affection has an important place in Paul’s vision of the Assembly of Jesus.
5 As Paul used scribes, his letters would have been authenticated by his own signature.
6. It is not clear what exactly is meant by under a curse ( anathema); possibly such a person would be denied access to the assembly or specifically to the Lord’s Meal. Doubtless it refers to a well-known practice of assembly discipline and is not malicious.
7 Paul concludes a contentious letter with the kindness of Jesus and his own love. His vehemence has been evidence of these.
One of the real pleasures of posting this blog is the contact it has given me with brothers and sisters round the world. My guess is that even when there was disagreement with his views ( as there often is with mine) Paul will have been thrilled to receive responses to his letters and messages. They would have been welcome evidence of “family” ties.
Readers may have noticed that David Cameron has ordered a minutes silence on Friday in the UK in memory of those ( Brits?) who were killed at Sousse while on holiday. I hope that at least for one minute he will reflect:
1. On the role of the UK in creating ISIS by its invasion of Iraq.
2. On the folly of his own persistent criticism of Muslims as not sharing “British values.”
3. On his own and his party’s unswerving support for the international arms trade.
If my Prime Minister would characterise these ideas as supporting an “Islamic narrative” then let me assure him that I am happy to be called a Christian extremist, having been radicalised long ago by the narrative of Jesus.