1 Corinthians 16:15, 16
I beseech you, brothers, (you know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia…
As the family that had first in Achaia received the gospel, Stephanas and his household were regarded by the apostle with peculiar interest and affection. The manner in which they are introduced in this passage is highly instructive and suggestive.
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)