The Church is the People

6.2.23 Devo Image

“After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me. When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers. Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity. Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition. The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.”—1 Corinthians 16:5–24 (NIV) 

Something so cool about reading Paul’s letters is we get a look into the early church. Living in America and knowing church through our experience in the 21st century is not the same as what the disciples and first believers experienced after Jesus ascended. When Jesus left them, He gave them commands to worship Him, obey Him, remember and share His teachings, and to make more disciples baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. With this knowledge, the church began to form as more people started following Jesus and entering into the family of God!  

Today’s Scripture ends our journey through 1 Corinthians! As was custom in the letter format of this time period, Paul ends his letter with farewell greetings and remarks. Although it may seem hard to apply these verses to our lives today, when we look a little bit closer, we can see beautiful truths within these final verses that instruct us on how to view and approach church! Let’s take a look together.

The Church Is the Body of Christ.

Something that sticks out to me as I read through today’s verses is the beauty of Paul referring to specific people in the church. As he writes to the Corinthians, he mentions Timothy and Apollos. He shouts out Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus and also mentions that Aquila and Priscilla send their greetings as well. We may not recognize all of these names, but they did. That’s the beauty of the church. It should be more than just a name or an organization, like we often view it today. The church is about the people who comprise it, so we must not forget that the church is ultimately the body of Christ! 

The Church Offers Support.

Another important observation from today’s Scripture is the amount of support Paul and the other believers showed each other. Paul expressed a desire and intention to go visit the Corinthian church again, but he also explains how he was planning to visit other churches as well. He sent Timothy to them while also encouraging Apollos and other brothers to go to them. Through all of this, he reminds them to support them as they carry the work of the Lord and to submit to them and labor alongside them. This is another example to us of what the church looks like: a place for God to equip His children to accomplish the work He has set before them in community with each other. 

The Church Is Intentional in Encouragement and Truth.

Lastly, we can see from this passage that the body of Christ is intentional and consistent with how it offers encouragement and truth. Paul just finished writing a poignant letter to these people where he rebuked them, encouraged them, and taught them. He knew that this was not only his responsibility as a spiritual father to the early churches, but he exemplifies for them what the body of Christ should be for each other. That’s why I love the concise call to action he gives in verses 13–14: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”

At the end of the day, we should remember that taking part in church is more than just attending services. We must be the church by embracing the body of Christ in the way Paul and the early church demonstrated for us.

Pause: What does your church life look like? Do you just attend and leave, or do you feel like the body of Christ is your family? 

Practice: Embracing the body of Christ can be scary and hard, especially because we are still imperfect people who make mistakes. Make an effort today to take a step towards being more intentional with your church life. Sign up for a group or a class, share a meal with another church friend, or start serving somewhere.

Pray: Mighty Jesus, thank You for being the head of the church! Thank You for giving us each other as brothers and sisters redeemed by Your blood who can follow You together. I pray for the church right now, the body of Christ. I ask that You would help us to be supportive and intentional with each other regardless of the physical building we go to. I also pray for my own involvement with the church. May I continue to honor You with how I embrace my brothers and sisters in Christ. I love You, Jesus. Amen.

About the Author

Samantha Rodriguez

Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.