For an introduction to this series, click here.
This is the end of this epistle, and Paul had some final words. First of all, he had some interesting things to say about the project to raise money for the church at Jerusalem:
"Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me." (16:1-4)
Often we see this passage referenced with respect to all sorts of giving to and through the local church. This is obviously talking about giving, but it is less about general giving than it is about the specific need for the saints in Jerusalem. There was a terrible famine in Israel that is mentioned briefly in Acts. This was a huge project for the church around the world. Paul mentions it in several of his epistles.
Paul said that he will likely come and visit, but probably not for long. But he said there is someone he is sending, and they are supposed to receive him well:
"When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers." (16:10-11)
A very interesting study I have never seen done is a study on the personality of Timothy. Here is probably Paul's most significant protégé, and it seems every time Paul mentions him in his epistles, he is reminding the church to be nice to him or to treat Timothy as they would treat Paul. Timothy must have been a very timid young man. Paul's first epistle to Timothy is all about encouragement and building up his confidence. I find it very interesting that Paul saw something in Timothy and put up with his many weaknesses in order to encourage him in the Lord. It is certainly a lesson to us not to focus on the weaknesses of young believers, but rather to encourage them.
"I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!" (16:21-22, ESV)
This is how the epistle ends. Those who do not love the Lord will certainly be accursed in the judgment, but I think this is probably referring to people attending the church who exhibit no real change of life or heart. Our job is not to do the condemning, but we can and need to exercise our own judgment and be discerning about people in the church and try to be an encouragement.