1st Corinthians – Closing the Letter

January 24, 2009

In chapter one, Paul introduces himself as an encouraging father. Chapter two shows a more corrective side, outlining the immaturity of the Corinthian community. He highlights their faults even more centrally throughout chapter three. By the end of the letter, he establishes himself as an honorable father who will ever speak honestly to his children, correcting faults when necessary.

In chapter 16, he says, ”I urge you to be subject to such men and to every fellow worker and laborer” (v. 16). He cites Stephanus, Fortunatus and Achaicus as examples of holiness and leadership within the Church.

He closes the letter with, ”I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love will be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen” (v. 21-24). When Paul says ”If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed,” he instructs the Church not to tolerate immorality and godlessness.

Ever present throughout this letter is the mind and personality of St. Paul. The letter contains vivid and notable snapshots of the Church that hosted the great missionary-pastor for 18 months, and one can never reach the bottom of its depths. The letter’s contents compel the reader to spiritual progress as well as discipleship, service and love. It also demands the resolution of interpersonal disputes and the establishment of the highest standards of sexual morality. The role of women, spiritual gifts and the nature of the Eucharist all have profound places in this letter. Although the letter’s chapters build into a sort of crescendo of pastoral correction, Paul always writes with great and genuine love.

Music: Sergei Rachmaninoff’s 6 Moments Musicaux Op. 16 – Andantino, from the album Moments Musicaux, performed by Elizabeth Wolff. www.magnatune.com

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