As Paul closed his letter to the church in Corinth, he found several ways to gently try to move them in the direction of unity within their ranks.
As he opened, he mentioned that they should give in the same way as he had encouraged the Galatian church to give, in a way challenging them to come together and not be outdone by the Galatians.
But then, after all the things he wrote to them about how there were problems there, he told them how much he wanted to be with them and even spend an extended time with them, if the Lord permitted.
And he told them that Timothy was coming to them at his bequest, and that they should treat him well. Timothy was young, and it would’ve been easy for them to mistreat him. But Paul let them know that he would be given a report on Timothy’s treatment there.
And then he demonstrated that even though there were some in the Corinthian church who seemed to favor Apollos, he (Paul) had no animosity towards a fellow laborer in the faith. Apollos knew about the issue going on, and he didn’t want to make the problem worse by going to them at this particular time. He would wait until things calmed down a bit.
Paul then urged them to step up their spiritual game. In verses 13 and 14 he said, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” And he tells them to follow the lead of Stephanas and his family, who had faithfully given themselves to serving the believers, including even Paul.
And he again encourages them with the assurance that the churches in Asia sent their greetings.
And to wrap up, I’m sure with all their divisions and problems in mind, and thinking of his writing on love and how it is acted out, he tells them to greet one another with a holy kiss. In essence reminding them that they are all a part of one body, the body of Christ.
His last sentence puts the bow on the package. “My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.”
This is a wonderful example of Godly leadership, showing by example how we are to love one another, despite our differences and our failings. This is good, not just for churches but for our everyday lives. How many divorces could be avoided, broken friendships mended, and a myriad of other problems, if we would follow this example?