If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is doing the Lord's work, just as I am.
I. THE OPPORTUNITY OF SERVICE FOR CHRIST REPRESENTED IN THIS FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE. A door offers the means of admittance to a house, and an open door invites approach and entrance. In Scripture a door is often used to express the opportunity to do God's will and advance his cause. So here, the apostle represents by this figurative language the summons which Providence addressed to him to evangelize this great city of Asia Minor. The citizens and visitors were numerous, the idolatry and vice which prevailed were flagrant, human sorrows and difficulties and temptations abounded; so that there was abundant room for evangelistic and pastoral labour. Further, there seems to have been in some quarters a remarkable and gratifying readiness to hear the gospel of Christ.
II. THE HINDRANCES TO SERVICE FOR CHRIST HERE ALLUDED TO.
1. Observe from what quarters it came. The narrative in the Book of the Acts makes it evident that opposition to Christian preaching arose from both Jews and Gentiles. On different grounds sinful men oppose the truth. It always has been so. It was so in the time of our Lord, and the disciple, the servant, must not expect or desire to be above his Master.
2. Observe what forms it took. Slander and secret misrepresentation was one way in which adversaries sought to hinder the truth. And another was open hostility and violence. This we know to have been put in motion at Ephesus against the apostle. The ignorant and impassioned mob was stirred up to oppose the work of Paul; in this sense, at all events, he fought with beasts at Ephesus.
III. THE COMPATIBILITY OF GREAT OPPORTUNITIES AND MANY ADVERSARIES. It is certainly a paradoxical statement. Yet reflection will show that there is no real inconsistency.
1. Hindrances, calumnies, serve to draw attention to any cause, and the gospel is sure to profit by anything which leads men to inquire into it.
2. These obstacles serve to test the quality of the labourers, and to bring out courage and resolution and patience where such qualities are required.
3. They always answer a valuable purpose in testing the sincerity of the converts. Times of persecution are times of testing.
IV. THE ATTRACTION THIS COMBINATION HAD FOR THE APOSTLE.
1. It called forth and employed his many and remarkable powers.
2. It enabled him to realize his fellowship with his Master.
3. It promised great results of spiritual good.
1. Enter in, Christian labourers, at every open door!
2. Be fearless of adversaries! - T.
Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear.1. Often need encouragement.
2. Should be respected for their works' sake.
3. Ought not to be despised.
4. Must be treated with tenderness and consideration.
5. Have a claim on the affectionate sympathy of their elder brethren.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)
I. THAT HUMAN PLANS AND PURPOSES ARE FRAUGHT WITH CONTINGENCY. "If Timotheus come." Uncertainty is an important factor in human calculations.
1. Even Paul could not project his plans into the future positively.(1) The Macedonian cry of some more needy Church might be heard; new doors constantly opening, fresh emergencies might arise.(2) Fiery persecutions were rife, the murderer's hand might smite, bonds and imprisonment might hold.(3) Escaping all these, death was still on his track — accident or disease might prevent. Paul was wise in saying, "If he come."
2. So you are expecting your Timotheus, my successor. Do not forget the extent and variety of the interests to be looked after, or the contingencies that may arise in adjusting the many claims. The cause you are interested in is God's, so are the men. Let not your over-anxiety fence Him off from having a hand in selecting your pastor.
II. OF THE STATE OF MIND ESSENTIAL TO MINISTERIAL SUCCESS. "With you without fear." Paul wanted this young man to start off well on his new charge. He who is not "without fear" is in bad company. He lets rooms, or, rather, helplessly admits an enemy who ties him hand and foot, and robs him of happiness and success. Every man "who is a shepherd, and not an hireling," will have a natural fear or timidity in taking charge of an important Church. You have the power to confirm or remove this feeling. It is with our people to swing us out into the tropics, or create a winter about us, and — oh, how cold it feels!
III. OF THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH IN THIS IMPORTANT MATTER. "See that he," etc., etc., make it your business. Take pains to let him know that he is appreciated, and has your goodwill and co-operation. Banish the insulting suspicion that you might make him proud if you told him you like his sermons. If such be the case, have the honesty to let him know it. If he be a man of God it will make him a better preacher and more humble. "Now if Timotheus come, see that" —
1. You do not, by needlessly eulogising your former pastor, produce in his mind the fear that he will never be able to fill "the aching void."
2. You do not, by needlessly unkind criticism, and fault-finding references to your former pastors, produce in him the "fear" that he is among an unkind, fault-finding people; and that, possibly in a few mouths, they may be equally bitter against himself. Do not be in too great a hurry to weigh "Timotheus, if he come"; give him a chance. When you do weigh him, put him on a decent scale, and not one that weighs everything on a sharp hook. See that he is without fear when you put him on the scales; if fear go on with him, he will not register half his weight or worth.
IV. THAT GOD'S FAITHFUL MINISTERS ARE ALL MEN OF ONE WORK. "He worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do." He in his way, I in mine. Sanctified individuality is the great want of the times. Every man has his own mission, and, sanctified to God and duty, he can do a work which no other being on earth can do as well. Better wield the simple sling of David than the cumbersome armour of Saul.
(T. Kelly.)I. SHOW A TENDER REGARD FOR THE INTERESTS OF YOUNG MINISTERS. Timothy was young in years and in the faith; a man, too, perhaps of delicate frame and nervous temperament, and probably not distinguished by any great gift. In Corinth there were philosophers and orators in whose presence he would perhaps feel somewhat abashed. Hence Paul asks the Corinthians to treat him kindly, not to "despise him," nor in any way to dispirit him. Alas! it is not an uncommon thing for elder ministers to disparage the younger ones, and often treat them with disrespect, and even rudeness.
II. RISE SUPERIOR TO ALL MINISTERIAL JEALOUSIES. If Paul had been capable of jealousy it would have been towards Apollos. He was a man of distinguished ability, and perhaps more popular even than Paul himself. Had he been jealous, Paul would have kept him out of Corinth as long as he could, instead of which he says (ver. 12). Jealousy amongst ministers, though most anti-Christian, is not an uncommon thing; and shows itself often in detracting innuendoes and symbolic looks and shrugs.
III. BE NOT DISPLEASED IF INFERIOR BRETHREN ACQUIESCE NOT IN YOUR DESIRES. Both the Christian experience and ministerial ability of Apollos were inferior to that of Paul. Notwithstanding this he did not comply with Paul's request; nor did Paul seem displeased (ver. 12). If Paul did not enforce his wishes on his brethren, how arrogant it seems for any uninspired minister to attempt it! The only authority which one genuine minister has over another is the authority of superior intelligence, experience, and moral force.
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
1. That with St. Paul personal considerations were not lost in general philanthropy. It is common enough to profess great zeal for humanity, whilst there is indifference about individual men. But St. Paul's love was to the Church generally, and besides to Aquila, Priscilla, etc. And is not this too the nature of God's love, who provides for the universe, and yet spends an infinity of care on the fibre of a leaf?
2. The value of the courtesies of life. There are many minds which are indifferent to such things, and fancy themselves above them. Prescott observes that "liberty is dependent upon forms." Did not the slow, solemn change in the English constitution, and our freedom from violent subversions, arise from the way in which precedent has been consulted in the manner of every change? But more love is dependent upon forms — courtesy of etiquette guards and protects courtesy of heart. There are three persons chiefly mentioned here.
I. TIMOTHY (ver. 10). Paul bespeaks for him official respect and personal consideration. Consider the circumstances in which young Timothy was placed in coming to a city where gifts were unduly reverenced, and where even the authority of St. Paul was treated lightly. Think how Timothy's own modesty would have silenced him, and how his young enthusiasm might have been withered by ridicule or asperity!
1. St. Paul's pleading is an encouragement of goodness while yet in its tender bud. There is a danger of our paralysing young enthusiasm by coldness or by sneers. There are few periods in life more critical than that in which sensibilities and strong feeling begin to develop themselves. The question is about to be decided whether what is at present merely romantic feeling is to become generous devotion, and to end by maturing into self-denial; or whether it is to remain only a sickly sentiment, and by reaction degenerate into a bitter and a sneering tone.
2. Nowhere is feeling met with so little sympathy, or enthusiasm so kept down as here; nowhere do young persons learn so soon the fashionable tone of strongly admiring nothing, reverencing nothing. And this was a danger which Paul knew well, and could not overlook. In earlier days Apollos himself ran the same risk. He set out preaching all the truth that he knew enthusiastically. It was lamentably incomplete. Had the Christians met him — "this young upstart does not preach the gospel" — there had been either a great teacher blighted, or else a strong mind embittered into defiance and heresy. But from this he was delivered by the love and prudence of Aquila and Priscilla, "who expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly."
II. APOLLOS (ver. 12). Note —
1. The perfect absence of all mean jealousy in St. Paul's mind. Compare this passage with his earnest rebuke of the party of Apollos in the first chapter. On reading that it might appear natural to say, "Oh, he cannot bear a rival!" But behold, it was zeal for Christ, and not jealousy of Apollos. These are some of the fine touches by which we learn what that sublime apostle was, and what the grace of God had made him.
2. The apostle's earnest desire to make Apollos stand well with the Corinthians. A meaner spirit would either have left his conduct unexplained, or would have caught at the suspicion resting on him; why did he stay away? But St. Paul would leave no misunderstanding to smoulder. He simply stated that Apollos had reasons for not coming; "but he will come." This is magnanimity and true delicacy of heart.
III. THE HOUSE OF STEPHANAS (vers. 15, 16).
1. See what Christianity is — equality, but not levelling. God's universe is built on subordination; so is God's Church. The spirit of the world's liberty says, "Let no man lord it over you"; but the spirit of the gospel liberty says, "Submit yourselves one to another."
2. They had addicted themselves to the ministry. Who had called them to it? No one, except God by an inward fitness. There are certain things to be done in this world which require peculiar instruments and qualifications. A call from God to do such a work is often shown by a willingness to do it; a readiness to stand forward and take the lead. When this is the case, and such men try to do good, they are often met with innumerable hindrances, as in the cases of Howard and Mrs. Fry. Now St. Paul says, This is wrong; you ought rather to help such. Let them take the lead — follow in their wake, and do not mar the work by any petty jealousy. Observe, then, it is as much an apostolic duty to obey persons who have "addicted themselves" from inward fitness, as it is to respect an outward constitutional authority.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
As touching our brother ApollosI. IS FOUNDED IN THEIR BROTHERLY RELATION.
1. As children of one Father.
2. As co-workers in one cause.
II. EXCLUDES ALL UNDUE ASSUMPTION OF AUTHORITY — all right of dictation.
III. PROMPTS THEM TO THINK AND SPEAK KINDLY OF EACH OTHER.
(J. Lyth, . D. D.)
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