You know that Stephanas and his household were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. Now I urge you, brothers,
I. THE VOCATION TO SPIRITUAL MINISTRY.
1. Its first condition is sincere personal adhesion to Christianity. Stephanas and his household were converted, baptized, and well instructed in the Christian faith. It was when their had become penetrated with the Spirit of Christ that they were impelled to holy and devoted service. We cannot expect men and women to become unselfish labourers for the welfare of their fellow men, until they have come under the new and Divine motive and power.
2. Christian ministries are of many and very various kinds. These vary with the capacity and opportunity of the labourers, and the necessities of those whose welfare is sought. Too limited a view of ministry is frequently taken; the fact is, that whatever service men render to their fellow men, for the sake of Christ, is a Christian ministry. Not only the preaching of the gospel, but the instruction of the young, the nursing and healing of the sick, the showing of kindness and hospitality, the supporting with generosity of benevolent undertakings, all fall into this class.
3. Services of such kinds involve both labour and cooperation. His people find a pleasure in offering to Christ, their Lord, that which costs them something. And. they delight to help one another; some leading and others following, but all setting before them the same end, and toiling in the same spirit.
4. Ministering "unto the saints" is an especial form of acceptable service. From the beginning Churches have cared for their widows, and for their poor and aged members. The household of faith has a peculiar claim upon the sympathy and affection and liberal support of the Saviour's friends.
II. THE HONOUR AND SUBJECTION DUE TO THOSE ENGAGED IN SPIRITUAL MINISTRY.
1. They should be treated with especial regard and gratitude. Paul himself honoured the good Stephanas and his like-minded wife and household, and he reminded the Corinthians that a family among themselves so distinguished in the annals of the Church, and so dear to the apostle's heart, should be esteemed highly in love for their work's sake.
2. They had a claim upon such as were in a position to render them help in the good cause. Doubtless it was the case at Corinth, as elsewhere, that the burden was too readily left upon the shoulders of those disposed to bear it. But this ought not to be. "When one man is seen working hard for Christ, his neighbour should put to himself the question, "Can I help my brother, relieve him of some pressure, or render his labour more effective?"
3. Submission is, in many cases, a duty in Christian Churches. There are those whom we should be ready not only to work with but to work under. - T.
Ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia.I. ITS HAPPINESS — united in —
II. ITS TRUE NOBILITY — precedence of —
1. Heavenly birth.
III. ITS DEVOTED SERVICE.
1. Love to the brethren.
2. Liberality of spirit.
3. Sincere attachment to the cause of Christ.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)
I. ARE DONE WITH INTENSE FEELING, as we see in the youth beginning business, the man entering on a new undertaking. Men brace themselves up for first things, and having no experience as to what strength is required, often put too much into it. Happily life is full of these first things, especially early life, and they exert a most gracious influence on us.
II. HAVE A NATURAL PRE-EMINENCE. The position and rights of the firstborn are an illustration of this. First things are felt to have a representative character. When a servant comes into a house the employers watch the first actions to see how they will frame. When a convert joins a Church the first forms in which Christian responsibility is met are closely scrutinised. Turning his mind back to their hopeful first things the apostle says to the Galatians, "Ye did run well; who did hinder you?"
III. HAVE PROMISE FOR FOLLOWING THINGS — as firstfruits have for harvest. A man's first work need not be his maximum standard, but it ought to be his minimum standard. A first result may tell of power, and power always holds the promise of what culture can make it. One convert made in a new sphere of labour holds the promise of a great ingathering.
IV. KEEP A PROMINENT PLACE IN THE MEMORY, e.g., our first school, first place of business, first love, first sickness, etc.
(R. Tuck, B. A.)
That they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.I. A VERY NEEDFUL WORK. Many of God's children are poor, and need the necessaries of life; many are afflicted, and need sympathy; many are weak, and need taking by the hand (Galatians 6:10).
II. A VERY HONOURABLE AND BEAUTIFUL WORK.
1. Angel-like (Hebrews 1:14).
III. A WORK THAT MAY BE EXERCISED IN MANY WAYS. Thus it is suited to all.
IV. A WORK THAT MERITS RECOGNITION ON THE PART OF THE CHURCH. Those so engaged should be —
1. Highly esteemed. They do much to elevate the tone of the Church; much to preserve it in peace and content; much to stimulate its zeal.
2. Encouraged. The work is trying. Those who encourage others often want much encouragement themselves.
3. Aided. This is probably what the apostle meant in ver. 16. "As they serve you, serve them."
V. A WORK VERY BENEFICIAL TO THE WORKERS. "They who water others shall themselves be watered." We grow rich by bestowing. A sure way of getting to heaven is to get others there.
(W. E. Hurndall, M.A.)
That ye submit yourselves unto suchI. ITS OBLIGATION arises out of their —
II. ITS EXTENT reaches as far as they act. —
1. In conformity with the apostolic faith; and
2. Help forward its interests.
III. ITS FRUITS.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)I. THE VOCATION TO SPIRITUAL MINISTRY.
1. Its first condition is sincere personal adhesion to Christianity (ver. 15).
2. Christian ministers are of the most various kinds. They vary with capacity, opportunity, necessity.
3. Such services involve co-operation. Some leading, others following, etc.
4. " Ministering unto the saints " is an especial form of acceptable service.
II. THE HONOUR AND SUBJECTION DUE TO THOSE ENGAGED IN SPIRITUAL MINISTRY.
1. Regard and gratitude. Paul here sets the example.
3. Submission. There are many who should be ready not only to work with, but to work under.
(Prof. J. R. Thomson, M.A.)
I. CHERISH THE HIGHEST RESPECT FOR THEM. Stephanas was one of Paul's first converts in Achaia, and his family the only one Paul baptized in Corinth, He and his were addicted to the ministries of love. Fortunatus and Achaicus had supplied to Paul what the Corinthians had neglected. The truly useful are the only truly honourable. A man is to be honoured not because of his ancestry, his office, his wealth, but because of what he is morally, and what he does generously in the way of helping the race. The philanthropist is the true prince.
II. HEARTILY CO-OPERATE (ver. 16).
1. Co-operate with useful men.
2. In your co-operation let them take the lead. They have proved themselves worthy of your co-operation.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
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