1 Corinthians 16:15
I beseech you, brothers, (you know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) The house of Stephanas.—The Apostle here reminds the Corinthians that the devotion of teachers, and all who serve in the gospel ministry, ought to be rewarded with a return of sympathy and devotion on the part of those whom they serve. There is in the original a characteristic play upon words here which can scarcely be rendered adequately in the English: “Ye know the house of Stephanas, that they have ordered themselves to the ministry of the saints, now I exhort you, order yourselves to be subject to them.” Stephanas (1Corinthians 16:1-16), Fortunatus, and Achaicus had come from Corinth to Ephesus, probably with the letter from the Corinthians (1Corinthians 8:1), and their presence had cheered the Apostle. They, “faithful amid the faithless,” had made up for the want of zeal and love on the part of so many of the Corinthians. The Corinthians might think that these men had told St. Paul much of the evil state of Corinth, and he, therefore, carefully commends them to their consideration as having refreshed, not only his spirit, but “theirs also.” They had come on behalf of the whole Church there, not enemies to bear tales, but well-wishing friends to obtain apostolic help and counsel for all. The Apostle did not send his reply back by the same messengers, but by Titus instead, as probably their return to Corinth would have stirred up a good deal of controversy and ill feeling as to what account they had given him verbally of the various parties and their conduct in Corinth.

1 Corinthians 16:15-16. Ye know the house, or family, of Stephanas, that it is the first-fruits of Achaia — That he and they were the first converts in that province; and that they have addicted themselves — According to the rank in which Providence has placed them, and the abilities which God hath given them; to the ministry of the saints — To the supplying of their temporal and spiritual wants, both in promoting the progress of the gospel, and succouring the afflicted. That ye also — In your turn; submit yourselves to the admonitions of such; so repaying their free service. And to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth — That labours in the gospel, either with or without a fellow-labourer.16:13-18 A Christian is always in danger, therefore should ever be on the watch. He should be fixed in the faith of the gospel, and never desert or give it up. By this faith alone he will be able to keep his ground in an hour of temptation. Christians should be careful that charity not only reigns in their hearts, but shines in their lives. There is a great difference between Christian firmness and feverish warmth and transport. The apostle gave particular directions as to some who served the cause of Christ among them. Those who serve the saints, those who desire the honour of the churches, and to remove reproaches from them, are to be thought much of, and loved. They should willingly acknowledge the worth of such, and all who laboured with or helped the apostle.I beseech you, brethren - The construction here is somewhat involved, but the sense is plain. The words, "I beseech you," in this verse, are evidently to be taken in connection with 1 Corinthians 16:16, "I beseech you that ye submit yourselves unto such," etc. The design is to exhort them to pay proper deference to Stephanas, and to all who sustained the same rank and character; and the remainder of 1 Corinthians 16:15 is designed to state the reason why they should show respect and kindness to the household of Stephanas.

Ye know the house - You are acquainted with the household, or family. Probably a considerable portion, or all, of the family of Stephanas had been converted to the Christian faith.

Of Stephanas - See the note at 1 Corinthians 1:16. Paul there says that he had baptized his family. That it is the first-fruits of Achaia. They were the first converted to the Christian religion in Achaia; see the note at Romans 16:5. Respecting Achaia, see the note at Acts 18:12.

That they have addicted themselves ... - That they have devoted themselves to the service of Christians. That is, by aiding the ministry; by showing hospitality; by providing for their needs; by attending and aiding the apostles in their journeys, etc.

15. first-fruits of Achaia—the first Achæan converts (compare Ro 16:5). The image is from the first-fruits offered to the Lord (Le 23:10; compare 1Co 15:20). The members of this family had been baptized by Paul himself (1Co 1:16).

addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints—Translate, "Set themselves, (that is, voluntarily) to minister unto the saints" (compare 2Co 8:4).

Of this Stephanas we read before, 1 Corinthians 1:16; his family was one of those few families which Paul baptized: he is here called

the first-fruits of Achaia, because (as it should seem) he was one of the first of all those who in that courtry received the gospel. He further saith of him, that he had given up himself

to the ministry of the saints, either in preaching the gospel, or (which is more probable) in the proper employment of a deacon, in relieving such amongst the saints (whether of that or other churches) as were in want. I beseech you, brethren,.... Entreat or exhort you as brethren in the Lord; this entreaty or exhortation is to submission to fellow helpers and labourers of the ministry, more particularly expressed in the following verse, after the apostle has given a character of the household of Stephanas, who are principally intended, and which contains reasons and arguments why they should be submitted to; and which account stands in the following parenthesis,

ye know the house of Stephanas; a person of note at Corinth, whom the apostle had baptized, together with his family, 1 Corinthians 1:16. The Vulgate Latin version, and some copies, add, "and of Fortunatus and Achaicus", persons mentioned along with Stephanas, in 1 Corinthians 1:17;

that it is the firstfruits of Achaia: this family was one of the first in the regions of Achaia, of which Corinth was the metropolis, that believed in Christ; these were some of the first instances of conversion, and who received the firstfruits of the Spirit in these parts, and by the grace of God had been enabled to persevere hitherto, and were worthy of respect: the same he says of Epaenetus, in Romans 16:5;

and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints; that is, either to minister to the wants of poor saints, whether out of their own substance, or the churches' stock, being deacons, or to minister to the saints by preaching the Gospel; which good work they desired, willingly gave up themselves to, and cheerfully engaged in, and took the oversight and care of the flock, not by constraint, but willingly; not that they thrust themselves into an office, or came into it in an irregular way, but being called into it in an orderly manner by the church, and invested with it, they applied to the execution of it with great heartiness, diligence, and zeal, and so were very deserving of due respect, as next mentioned.

I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of {g} Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have {h} addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

(g) Stephanas is the name of a man and not of a woman.

(h) Given themselves wholly to the ministry.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 16:15-18. Commendation of the three Corinthian delegates who had brought to the apostle the letter of the church; first of all (1 Corinthians 16:15 f.) and chiefly, of Stephanas (1 Corinthians 1:16) and his house. The special expression which Paul gives (1 Corinthians 16:16) to the commendation of Stephanas must have been grounded in some antagonism unknown to us, which the man had to lament in his work for the churc.

παρακαλῶ] The question is, Whether the exhortation itself begins at once with οἴδατε (so that the latter would be imperative), or only with ἵνα, so that οἴδατε would be indicative, and the passage ending with ἑαυτούς would put forward the motive in the first place? The latter is the ordinary view and the only correct one, for οἴδατε as an imperative form (instead of ἴστε) cannot be pointed out (in opposition to Erasmus, Wolf, Heydenreich); on the supposition of its being imperative, εἰδέναι would require to be taken as in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 (“ut jubeat agnosci bene meritos,” Erasmus); on the view of its being indicative, it is the simple know. The construction is the ordinary attraction οἶδά σε τίς εἶ, and οἴδατεἑαυτούς is an auxiliary thought which interrupts the construction (comp. Dissen, ad Dem. de Cor. p. 34 b).

ἀπαρχὴ τῆς Ἀχ.] i.e. the first family which had accepted Christianity in Achaia; the holy first-fruits of the land, in so far as it was destined to become, and was in process of becoming, Christian. Comp. Romans 15:6.

ἔταξαν] The plural, on account of the collective οἰκία. They have set themselves (voluntarily devoted themselves and placed themselves at the post) for the service of the saints. Instances of τάσσειν ἑαυτόν in this sense may be seen in Wetstein and Kypke, II. p. 234. Comp. Plato, Rep. p. 371 C: ἑαυτοὺς ἐπὶ τὴν διακονίαν τάττουσι ταύτην, Xen. Ages. ii. 25, Mem. ii. 1. 11. Beza denies the emphasis of ἑαυτούς, unwarrantably, but in the interest of the “vocatio legitima.”[109] We have no more precise knowledge of the historical circumstances here pointed to. Perhaps Stephanas devoted himself also especially to journeys, embassies, execution of special commissions, and the like; his wife, to the care of the poor and sic.

ΤΟῖς ἉΓΊΟΙς is an appropriating dative to ΔΙΑΚ. See, already, Raphel, Xenoph. in loc.; Bernhardy, p. 88. By οἱ ἅγιοι are meant the Christians, as in 1 Corinthians 16:1; not, however, the mother church at Jerusalem (Hofmann). A reference to prosecuting the collection (in connection with which people had, it is supposed, been refractory towards Stephanas) lies wholly remote from the word.

καὶ ὑμεῖς] You too. The καί finds its reference, according to the context, in what goes before: ΕἸς ΔΙΑΚ. Τ. ἉΓ. ἜΤΑΞ. ἙΑΥΤ. Wetstein is right, therefore, in saying: “illi vobis ministrant; aequum est, ut vos illis vicissim honorem exhibeatis” (rather: obsequamini).

ὑποτάσσ.] namely, to their proposals, exhortations, etc. Ewald and Ritschl regard Stephanas as one of the overseers of the church; a relation which, however, would have required a more precise and definite designation than the general and qualitative τοῖς τοιούτοις. See, besides, on 1 Corinthians 1:17.

ΤΟῖς ΤΟΙΟΎΤΟΙς
] to those who are so affected, indicates, in a generalizing way, the category to which Stephanas and his house belong. This generalization, by which the injunction of obedience towards the concrete persons comes out in a less strict and immediate form, but in which it is still implied, is a delicacy of expressio.

τῷ συνεργ.] The reference of the ΣΥΝ is given by the context from ΤΟῖς ΤΟΙΟΎΤΟΙς; hence: who works with them, i.e. in fellowship with them, which presupposes harmony in the spirit and purport of the work. Comp. Chrysostom. While Rückert leaves us our choice between three supplements contrary to the context: τῷ θεῷ (1 Corinthians 4:9), ἘΜΟΊ (so Erasmus), and ὙΜῖΝ (2 Corinthians 1:24), Hofmann adds a fourth arbitrary supplement: helpful to increase the kingdom of God. This design is of course taken for granted of itself, but does not explain the συν.

καὶ κοπιῶντι] and takes pains (therein), gives himself trouble about it. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:10, 1 Corinthians 4:12; Galatians 4:11; Romans 16:6.

[109] Which does not fall to be considered here, since there is no mention of entrance upon an ecclesiastical office.1 Corinthians 16:15-16 urge particular instances of the above ἐν ἀγάπῃ γινέσθω. The ἵνα clause of 1 Corinthians 16:16 is complementary to παρακαλῶ (see note on 1 Corinthians 1:10), and is suspended to make room for the explanatory οἴδατεἑαυτοὺς: “you know that the household of Stephanas is the first-fruit of Achaia, and that they set themselves for ministering to the saints”.—τὴν οἰκίαν κ.τ.λ., acc[2679] by attraction to οἴδατε, according to the well-known Gr[2680] usage with vbs. of this class (Wr[2681], p. 781). There were earlier individual converts in Achaia (see Acts 17:34), but with this family the Gospel took root in the province and the earnest appeared of the subsequent ingathering: cf. Romans 16:5; also 1 Corinthians 1:16 above, and note. The St. family must have been of independent means; for ἔταξαν ἑαυτοὺς (they arrayed or appointed themselves—made this their business) implies a systematic laying out of themselves for service, such as is possible only to those free to dispose, as they choose, of their persons and their time; see this idiom in Plato, Rep., ii., 371C.—“The saints” can hardly be the Jerus. saints of 1 Corinthians 16:1, since εἰς διακονίαν is quite general, and the last words of 1 Corinthians 16:16 imply manifold Christian labour; the present commission of St. to Eph. is an instance of “service to the saints”.—P. “exhorts” his “brethren … that you also (in return for their service to you) submit yourselves to such as these (τ. τοιούτοις, referring to the interpolated οἴδατε κ.τ.λ.), and to every one that shares in the work and labours”. These persons did not constitute a body of Church officers; we find no traces as yet of an official order in the church of Cor[2682]: the Ap. enjoins spontaneous submission to the direction of those able and disposed to lead in good works. The prp[2683] in συν-εργοῦντι refers not to St. specifically, still less to P., but generally to co-operative labour in the Church, while κοπιῶντι implies labour carried to the point of toil or suffering (see note on κόπος, 1 Corinthians 3:8; also 1 Corinthians 15:58). Loyal and hard work in the cause of Christ earns willing respect and deference in the Church: cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 f.

[2679] accusative case.

[2680] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

[2681]
Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

[2682] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[2683] preposition.15. the house of Stephanas] See note on ch. 1 Corinthians 1:16.

the firstfruits of Achaia] Not necessarily the very first converts, but among the very first. See Romans 16:5. ‘Achaia’ is used by St Paul to denote the Peloponnesus, now called the Morea.

to the ministry of the saints] Rather, to service for the saints. The context would imply that they had not confined themselves to ministering to the temporal necessities of the saints, but had given valuable assistance to St Paul in his spiritual ministrations. See next verse.1 Corinthians 16:15. Τοῖς ἁγίοις, to the saints) The Dative is governed by διακονίαν, ministry. To the saints of Israel, for they were the first fruits of Achaia.—εἁυτοὺς, themselves) spontaneously [These were the very persons, who had come from Corinth to Paul, 1 Corinthians 16:17.—V. g.] The more voluntary the service in difficult circumstances, the more agreeable and praiseworthy. 2 Corinthians 8:16-17; Isaiah 6:8.Verse 15. - Ye know the house of Stephanas. This paragraph seems to have been written lest the Corinthians should be angry with Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus - who, perhaps, were slaves of the household of Chloe - for having carried to St. Paul their ill report (1 Corinthians 1:11). The firstfruits of Achaia. For which reason St. Paul had baptized Stephanas and his house (1 Corinthians 1:16). In Romans 16:5 Epaenetus is called "the firstfruits of Achaia," but there the reading ought to be, of Asia. Have addicted themselves; rather, they set themselves. Achaia

In a restricted sense, the northwest of Peloponnesus; but often used by the poets for the whole of Greece. Under the Romans Greece was divided into two provinces, Macedonia and Achaia; the former including Macedonia proper, with Illyricum, Epirus, and Thessaly, and the latter all that lay south of these. In this latter acceptation the word is uniformly employed in the New Testament.

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