Poverty among the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and Judea was a big concern for Paul. He’d been asked by the Jerusalem leadership some time before not to forget their poor. Paul came on the idea of soliciting a collection among gentile churches for poor Jewish Christians. He believed this would cement a bond between Jews and gentiles.
As this letter to the Corinthians closes, he references his previous directives for the contribution again. It won’t do a lot of good. He will have to remind them again of it in the second Corinthian letter. All of this comes at the end of his third missionary journey. As Luke recounts in the book of Acts, there appears to be no contribution from Corinth to the Jerusalem church.
There is another issue in this closing chapter. Paul is concerned how Timothy will be treated by the Corinthian brethren. He is also concerned that faithful brethren in the Corinthian church who are well known for their devotion to the cause of Christ might also be mistreated. And so it goes. Christian people ought to respect one another because they are disciples of the Lord. But there should be greater recognition and higher regard for those who have quite obviously devoted themselves to the service of the Lord by serving His people. The problem was in Corinth, and even today, that many Christians want respect and recognition they do not deserve and resent others who have set a better example. This is not the way things ought to be. Though the collection mentioned in this chapter gets more air time among expositors, it is this latter matter of respect that occupies Paul’s greater attention as this letter comes to a close. I’ve seen wonderful servants of the Lord vilified by petty Christians who simply resent the notion that anyone would be honored above themselves. Church leaders, in an effort to calm these troubled waters seldom tell the petty what they need to hear: That they should hush, repent, and try to better emulate the lives of their exemplary brethren.