that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:10-11 ESV)
By Stephen W. Hiemstra
In writing about the movements of the spirit in our lives, I have used both the descriptive term, gap, and the subjective term, tension. Our minds observe an arm’s length gap but our hearts feel intimate tension because our lives require commitments—we are vested in the things we do, the places we live, and the people with whom we live. This is true even when we aspire to transform our lives and work with the Holy Spirit to close the gaps. Such is the nature of the sanctification process; such is our journey as Christians.
An important lesson that Jesus confers on his disciples in the Beatitudes takes the form of an attitude about the process—we are to be humble in all that we do. Humility is important for the Christian not merely as an outward expression but also as a character trait at the core of our being. When the onion is peeled to its core, there we find humility. Christian obedience, through persecution and even in death, is possible because we have surrendered our lives to Christ and we know in the depths of our souls that the future lies in Christ. So the onion gets peeled and its core is revealed, and we find at the core what we see on the skin—humility.
Here we also see the importance of Christian hope. We share the shalom of Christ expecting persecution and rejection. But our hope remains because we know the end of the story is with Christ. This is the fruit of the resurrection. A soldier is issued a gun and does not expect to leave the battlefield without firing it—Christ is an honest leader who shares with his disciples the unvarnished truth of persecution. We have been given the shalom of Christ and share it gladly having counted the cost.
Probably the hardest lesson for modern and postmodern people concerns our relationship with God. In our natural selves, we scoff at zeal, distain offering or requesting mercy, and think of holiness as old fashioned. After all, we delude ourselves, we have grace and have no need of law. But Jesus says otherwise. Fulfilling all righteousness is impossible without the Holy Spirit and impossible without trying. So we must place our faith in Christ and emulate his life and death so that we might somehow also attain the resurrection (Phil 3:10-11).
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love…If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! (1 Corinthians 16:13-14,22 ESV)
Many study groups fast forward through the final chapters in the Apostle Paul’s letters thinking that the names listed are difficult to pronounce and the overt lesson is over. This is a mistake.
In Chapter 16 Paul deals with at least 3 very controversial issues in the church:
Mission giving and financial integrity;
Support and acceptance of church leaders; and
Boundaries on the Christian community.
Missions and Financial Integrity
The Jerusalem council imposed 4 requirements on Gentile converts: …abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality (Acts15:29 ESV) . Paul mentions only one requirement: remember the poor (Galatians 2:10). By that, he particularly meant the poor saints in Jerusalem. He reasoned: For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings (Romans 15:27 ESV).
It is interesting that Paul, who took no support from the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 9), was especially careful to request that they appoint their own trustees for the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem (v 3).
In the middle of church divisions, Paul sends in a turnaround team and highlights the work of theologically sound, local leaders. In commending the household of Stephanas, he highlights their spirituality (first converts) and conduct: they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints—be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer (vv 15-16)
Boundaries on the Church
While the church is open to everyone, the church does not consist of everyone. Paul states: If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! (v 22)  The mark of a Christian is love for the Lord, not affiliation or family ties. Given this presupposition, Paul advises: Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like adults, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love (vv 13-14).
The mention of the household of Stephanas (v 15) as well as Aquila and Prisca (v 19)  underscores the importance of family ministries, especially husband-wife teams, in the early church.
 This list contains 3 food requirements and behavioral requirement. Each requirement focuses on sins of the body.
 “Our Lord come” is written in Aramic (μαράνα θά; Marantha) suggesting again that the earliest confessions included statements of Christ’s divinity and expectations of the second coming.