1 Corinthians 16:10-16
Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he works the work of the Lord, as I also do.…
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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.