1 Corinthians 16:15


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints— 1 Corinthians 16:15

Paul now makes a firm request to “the brethren” concerning “the household of Stephanas.” They are mentioned as having been baptized by Paul in 1 Corinthians 16. His thought here begins with an urging and then it gives the “who” and the “why” concerning the urging. Only in the next verse will the “what” of the urging detail.

But there is also an unstated possible reason for Paul’s words. It seems from verse 17 that Stephanas was one of the ones who carried the ill-report of what was going on in Corinth to Paul. The circumstances of that report is seen in 1 Corinthians 1:11 –

“For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.”

If this is so, then Paul’s words are intended to look at the devotion of Stephanas to the Corinthians and not to any supposed back-biting or tattling. The issues Paul has been discussing have needed to be addressed in order to maintain right doctrine and also purity within the congregation. There is nothing out of order in reporting such infractions. If Stephanas was a part of this, Paul’s words make all the more sense.

He notes now that “the household of Stephanas” were “the firstfruits of Achaia.” This alone shows a dedicated soul. The first to come forward is always the one who steps into the unknown. After the first, the others will often naturally follow. And so he set an example which was emulated by others. But he didn’t stop there. He and his family “devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints.”

The work of this noble family was with the heart of others within the faith. If he was a member of Chloe’s household who carried the news of the failings of the Corinthians to Paul, it was for their benefit, not their condemnation. Because of this, Paul is urging that they be so recognized for their efforts.

Life application: Those who minister to the saints are often those who aren’t even in leadership positions. It is good and proper to recognize such people and to return the favor when possible. Such actions should never be just a one way street.

Lord God, it is pretty wonderful that there are people in the church I attend who quietly minister to others. They help out with things that need to be done, they bring things for others to enjoy, they provide a hug when necessary, and they quietly work to keep others happy. They have their own little ministry that is often overlooked and yet it is a great asset to the overall congregation. Look into their deeds and reward them abundantly O God. Thank You for such caring people. Amen!


1 Corinthians 16:14


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Let all that you do be done with love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

Paul wrote extensively in 1 Corinthians 13 about love. In 1 Corinthians 14:1, he admonished us to “follow the way of love.” Now his words expand on our relationships once again by commanding us to “Let all that you do be done with love.” In whatever we do, we should consider love first. But this isn’t the sappy love that is carelessly tossed around by the world at large. Sometimes love involves punishment. It is unloving to allow people to follow paths of self-destruction, to abuse themselves or others, or to leave crimes unpunished.

Love, first and foremost, must be a love of God and of His commandments. If these are followed, then it would be unloving to condone immorality. An example of this is the modern concept of accommodating homosexual behavior and calling it “loving.” This is exactly the opposite of true love. Such behavior results in mental disorders, broken lives, and separation from God which will lead to eternal hell. Therefore, it cannot be “loving” to open the church to this behavior as if it is morally acceptable.

It is unloving towards God to allow capital crimes to go unpunished or to reduce the sentence which is deserved according to His standard. Such actions will only cause others to see and not fear. Society will then inevitably grow more and more brazen and crime will inevitably become worse and more common; such is seen in our society in ever-increasing amounts because we fail to offer godly love which is based on obedience to His commands.

On the positive side of this commandment, we are to show mercy, be gracious, be willing to forgive when asked of it, etc. These are considered loving actions because they are attributes which God also displays. All of who we are should be directed towards godly love as is portrayed in Scripture.

Finally, Paul’s words are above all a note to believers about their relationships with other believers. This then is in line with Peter’s similar thought found in this verse –

“Above all, love each other deeply…” 1 Peter 4:8

Life application: Our command to do everything in love must be taken in a biblical context or our actions will often be anything less than truly loving. Let us abhor sin, not allowing it to enter into our congregations. And at the same time, let us direct our affections towards building others up and being kind and gracious in our dealings with them.

Heavenly Father, Your word tells us that we are to be loving in everything we do. And yet, society has taken this to unintended extremes. It is unloving to allow others to continue to live in depraved or morally wicked ways. What society calls “loving” is often contrary to Your word and can only lead to sadness, death, and hell. Help eyes to open up to the truth of Your love. It is a love which asks us to be holy and to conduct ourselves in a manner which leads to life and an eternity in Your presence. Turn our hearts to true love, O Lord. Amen.


1 Corinthians 16:13


Monday, 4 May 2015

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

Paul has laid out his doctrine, explained his intentions, and given his directions for the coming gift which is to be taken to Jerusalem. Now he immediately turns to final exhortations beginning with, “Watch!” This is a common sentiment found in the Bible. Ezekiel was designated a watchman, Jesus exhorted the disciples to watch on several occasions, and Paul follows along with this same admonition. It is an exhortation he uses elsewhere as well –

“Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:6

Next he tells them to “stand fast in the faith.” Five other times Paul uses the term “stand fast” for various reasons. One of them parallels his thought here which is concerning doctrine –

“Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15

After this, he tells them to “be brave.” This is the Greek word andrizó. It means, “Act like men!” It is its only use in the New Testament, but the Greek translation of the OT does use it. Notably it is seen in Joshua 1 several times such as in this verse –

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

These and similar exhortations are found all around the Bible. They implore us to always be alert and careful. Jesus gives quite of few of them to the seven churches of Revelation and also towards the end of Revelation. For those in Corinth, like many churches today, they are especially important because of the spiritual lethargy which permeates the church. As John Chrysostom notes, in Christian matters the church is “drowsy, unstable, effeminate, and factious.” Only by being on constant guard will we steer clear of disaster as we await the return of our righteous Lord.

Life application: As a church, when we think we have it made, we should probably step back and evaluate where we really stand. Reading and taking to heart the seven letters to the seven churches of Revelation is a good way of making a personal evaluation of where any individual congregation stands at any time. Let us heed the words of the Lord and be watchful concerning our spiritual state.

Heavenly Father, a large comfy church with lots of donations coming in, coffee going out, and great light shows at every service does not necessarily indicate either a healthy church, or one which is safe from falling. I know that what You cherish is adherence to Your word, a right explanation of it, and congregants willing to place sound doctrine above ease and comfort. Help me to be such a person and to be an example of such a person to others. My hope and desire is not to be comfortable on Sunday morning, but to have Your approval when I face You for judgment. Amen.

1 Corinthians 16:12


Sunday, 3 May 2015

Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time. 1 Corinthians 16:12

In 1 Corinthians 1:12, Apollos was noted as one of those who the factions within Corinth identified with. Paul is including this verse particularly to show that he had in no way hindered Apollos in coming to Corinth, and that he had in fact “strongly urged” him to come. It is probable that his presence was requested in the letter that precipitated Paul’s letter to them (see 1 Corinthians 7:1). If he didn’t come, some may blame Paul for hindering him. But this verse shows this wasn’t the case.

Despite the possible request by the Corinthians for Apollos to visit, and Paul’s urging him to go, “he was quite unwilling to come at this time.” The reason for this seems to be that he didn’t want to cause further dissensions at Corinth. He and Paul probably read their letter together and said, “What a hornet’s nest!” From that, Paul wrote this letter of response in order to answer their many questions. By not coming with the letter, it would give the Corinthians time to consider its words and to work towards harmony rather than increased divisions.

In this, it is notable of Apollos that he restrained himself from going. Further, he promised them that, “He will come when he has a convenient time.” At some point, probably when news that the church was working together harmoniously, he would join them and minister to them.

In all, Paul’s words concerning Apollos show that there was friendship between them and that they both had the best intent in mind for the church at Corinth.

Life application: Reading how Paul and Apollos have handled the divisions at Corinth can give us insights into how to handle these same types of things in our own churches. Unfortunately, if pastors, elders, or others in authority promote such divisions they can truly get out of hand. It is important to try to not participate in these factions and to be aware of how detrimental than can be.

Lord Jesus, I am a member of Your church and it is my desire to honor You with my conduct in it. At times, factions and egos step in and attempt to divide the congregation. Whenever they do, it always leads to hard feelings and unhappy times of worship. Instead of rejoicing in You, we stew over the disharmony of the church. Lord, help me to be one who works for harmony and fellowship. Help me to keep the eyes of the people on You at all times. Amen.



1 Corinthians 16:11


Saturday, 2 May 2015

Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren. 1 Corinthians 16:11

This is still referring to Timothy. Paul already asked the Corinthians to “see that he may be with you without fear.” Not only should he not be intimidated, but he shouldn’t be looked down on either. Timothy was probably unaware of this kindness which is added into the letter. We can imagine Paul saying to him, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. They will treat you well.” But to ensure his words were met with like action, he is imploring them to so act. It would be a confidence-building moment in the life of Timothy.

After a proper reception and a welcome stay, Paul also implores them to “send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me.” This is another petition for grace to be bestowed upon him. When Timothy departed Corinth, Paul wanted it to be with a blessing and in a brotherly way. He knew that if these things didn’t come about, Timothy might be ruined as a future leader. But by ensuring that he was cared for, he would then more readily accept future challenges in the mission field or in other ministries.

Finally, this verse notes, “…for I am waiting for him with the brethren.” As the NKJV translates this, it sounds as if Paul is with others and together they are awaiting the arrival of Timothy. If this is a proper translation, he has added it in to deter the Corinthians from anything but bestowing the highest kindness on Timothy, knowing that he will be meeting with Paul and so any negative actions or attitudes would come to him directly.

Other translations read this verse as, “…. I am expecting him along with the brothers.” This would mean that Paul was expecting the arrival of both Timothy and those who were with him. If this is the correct rendering, then it would add even more weight to Paul’s request for kindness to Timothy. Not only would he have a report of the Corinthians conduct, but it would be supported by those he traveled with. Either way, by adding the ending comment, he is ensuring that those in Corinth actually treat Timothy in a kind manner and that he would hear about it if they didn’t.

Life application: Just because someone may seem young, timid, or uninformed in certain areas of life, it doesn’t mean that they are incapable of doing the Lord’s work. Everyone has been given gifts which they can use to His glory. We should never despise their weaknesses, but rather exalt their strengths.

Lord, help me to look at others within Your church with the same eyes that You do. Each person has abilities that they can use to improve the body of believers. I know that the task for me is to encourage them in the things they can do rather than discourage them because of the things they cannot do or that they don’t want to do. Help me to have discerning eyes that can see their strengths and overlook their limitations. Each person is a valuable member of the whole. Help me to realize this. Amen.