Paul’s Plans (I Corinthians 16:5-9)
Paul plans to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, which is around the beginning of summer. He has a number of opportunities for teaching the Gospel in Ephesus and because of the strong opposition (Acts 19:9), he does want to leave too soon. Having worked hard for the Lord in Ephesus, he doesn’t want to leave the area too soon and have it torn apart by opponents to the Gospel.
From there he plans to go to Macedonia and then to Corinth where he hopes to spend the winter (Acts 19:21). The wording in the Greek hints that Paul originally had planned to go to Corinth first and then to Macedonia (II Corinthians 1:15-17). He wants to spend some time in Corinth and not just pass through the area. This appears to be a major reason for reversing the direction of his trip. Another reason, not mentioned until later, is that Paul didn’t want to come immediately after his letter arrived in Corinth (II Corinthians 2:1-3).
Afterward, they can send him on his way to whatever is his next destination. Paul did accomplish this plan, spending three months in Corinth (Acts 20:2-3). It is apparent that the churches Paul stayed with helped finance the next stage of his journey (Acts 15:3; Romans 15:24). It also seemed a practice to start the journey with the travelers (Acts 17:15; 20:38).
Timothy’s Plans (I Corinthians 16:10-11)
Paul hopes that Timothy will come before he does. Thus Timothy was not the one picked to carry the letter to Corinth since plans are for him to arrive later. Timothy was already traveling and Corinth is one of his planned stops (Acts 19:22; I Corinthians 4:17). If Timothy does make it to Corinth, Paul wants Timothy to have a good reception and no cause for fear. Timothy was a young man (I Timothy 4:12). Recall that there many hints of internal strife and the presence of false teachers in Corinth. Paul might be concerned that these problems could overwhelm a young preacher. That Timothy was to be sent on his way in peace is a hint that Paul doesn’t want him facing the strife occurring in Corinth. Afterward, Timothy will be joining Paul and the brethren. This may be a hint that if Timothy is not well received, Paul will hear of it before he comes to Corinth (I Corinthians 4:18-19).
It isn’t clear that Timothy made it to Corinth. The second letter to Corinth is written from Macedonia and Timothy is with Paul at that time (II Corinthians 1:1). Timothy had also visited Philippi and Thessalonica (Philippians 2:20-22; I Thessalonians 3:2). Titus must have been sent directly to Corinth because he is mentioned as being there (II Corinthians 7:6-7; 12:18).
Apollos’ Plans (I Corinthians 16:12)
Paul tried to convince Apollos to go back to Corinth, but Apollos is not interested in doing so at this time. Many speculate that Apollos left Corinth because of their divisions and their attempts to rope him into one sect (I Corinthians 1:12; 3:4). It might be that he wasn’t interested in return any time soon, at least not until the problems were solved. But he does hope to come later when he has a chance. Jerome states that Apollos did return to Corinth at a later time.
- Why did God see fit to include travel plans in the Corinthian letter?
- Do these plans serve any use to people today?
- Why did Paul say “if the Lord permits”? (See James 4:15)
- Are our lives completely mapped out by God?