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God’s Word for You

1 Corinthians 16:19-24 Amen.

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Sunday, August 13, 2023

19 The churches in the province of Asia send greetings. Aquila and Priscilla, along with the church that meets in their house, greet you warmly in the Lord. 20 All the brothers and sisters greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Paul says “Asia,” but we understand that he means the province of Asia, or Asia Minor as we call it—the modern country of Turkey. Aquila’s wife was named Prisca, which is what Paul always calls her. Luke (in Acts) tends to use the diminutive (or nickname) Priscilla. Since we hear Priscilla still in use today, translations often say Priscilla even where the text has Prisca. They opened their home up for use as a small church when they were in Rome (Romans 16:3) and they might have done the same thing when they lived in Corinth (Acts 18:2) and in Ephesus (Acts 18:18). It has been estimated that a moderately well-to-do household could host up to about thirty people comfortably. When I was a missionary, my wife and I found that twenty-five or thirty people would fit comfortably on folding chairs in our den where we held worship.

The “holy kiss” was a typical Christian greeting. Kissing was more common in ancient times between friends or acquaintances than even a handshake has become today. Ancient artwork always shows this to have been a kiss on the lips and not on the cheek. There are churches today that have tried to re-create this greeting at the beginning of worship, either in the form of standing and greeting one another or in the more confusing form (especially for a visitor) of simply saying “peace,” which, with no explanation, seems to fall short of a greeting and comes across as a kind of pious distancing of the members from the guests: “We know something you don’t. Keep up.” It smacks of gnosticism (an ancient heresy embracing secrets) when mishandled in such a fashion.


The text here is identical to what Paul writes in Colossians 4:18 and 2 Thessalonians 3:17; Paul’s signature in his own handwriting. His greeting and signature are just slightly different in Galatians 4:18 and Philemon 1:19. He probably dictated this letter to a friend acting as scribe, and then signed here. Why not sign at the bottom as we do in our letters? His name was already at the very top of the letter, which is where they were accustomed to finding the name of the sender in their letter (1 Corinthians 1:1; Romans 1:1, etc.). I have written his greeting in all capital letters to show that this part of the original would have looked different, with Paul’s actual signature and greeting written here.

22 If anyone does not love the Lord, a curse on him! Come, O Lord! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Paul wants all of the troubles and strife that have been happening among the Corinthians to stop. He has spoken more than once about love, especially love for the Lord (2:9; 8:1; 13:1-13; 14:1; 16:14). Now he underlines it with a curse, showing how strongly he feels about it: If anyone does not love the Lord, he is cursed! The word for curse is “anathema,” a word that has entered into English through this verse in the King James Version, as has the next word, “Maranatha” (“Come, O Lord!”). Anathema is Greek; maranatha is Aramaic. To these explosive terms he adds a blessing from the Lord, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you,” and from himself: “My love be with all of you.”

The final word, “Amen,” is not in every copy of 1 Corinthians, but it is represented in manuscripts both ancient and widespread. Amen means “truly” or “this is most certainly true.” It goes back as far as Moses (Numbers 5:22; Deuteronomy 27:15-26) and is used throughout the Old Testament (Jeremiah 11:5; and see especially Psalm 41:13; 72:19 and 89:52).

Paul places his signature and his Amen at the close of this letter, awaiting the Corinthians’ response. They would indeed respond, leading to yet another epistle from Paul. Between the two, First and Second Corinthians present the longest correspondence we have from the apostles to a single church, with twenty-nine chapters of teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. Here, with all of its troubles and problems, and God’s patient guidance, is the Christian life.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always. Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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