Summary: Worthy of double honor! Paul encourages the Corinthian Church to honor them for they are worthy to be acknowledged for their faithfulness in the ministry; for their remarkable love for Christ and His servants.
Sermon: Worthy of Double Honor
Scripture Text: 1 Corinthians 16:13-18
Introduction: The Scripture gives us unusual insight into the inner workings of the Church at Corinth. It is likely that these men Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus delivered the letter to Paul from the Corinthian church, with questions and pressing concerns. 1Corinthians is Paul’s response and special advice to the church. Stephanas is the leader, and as well as Fortunatus and Achaicus, servants in his household were able to give Paul an accurate picture of the Church’s spiritual condition. These men were all esteemed leaders in the church. You may recall, they have the distinction of being Paul’s first converts in Corinth. They were among the few that Paul baptized himself. Even though the church’s environment was less than ideal, these men proved themselves to be able and faithful laborers in the gospel and for the church. They remained faithful to Paul at a time when many were questioning Paul’s authority and ministry.
In chapter 16, Paul gives stern warnings and several instructive exhortations. The church is cautioned to be watchful. We too should be watchful over the creeping in of false doctrine and improper behavior. The history of the Christian church reveals that these twin enemies of the church are always at work to undermine Christ’s kingdom. Many churches today, as in Paul’s day have little patience for doctrine. They rationalize that if you have faith in Jesus, it’s alright regardless of what you act like, look like or talk like in the world. Indeed, the world has become our model and dictate the standards for how we ought to live as Christians and as the church. This is the same trap that the Corinth Church fell into, is threatening the church today. Always, the church must examine itself in light of Scripture.
One reason why many Christians and churches have moved off the path of orthodox Christianity is their fear of becoming legalistic and cold-spirited. Some Churches in their zeal for being correct, have lost the spirit of love, both for their own brethren and for their neighbors of the world. Whatever we do must done in love.
The name Stephanas is may not be well-known to many Christians today, but what he and his household did for the Lord during this time was well-known to God and greatly benefitted the Church. The very name Stephanas honestly suggests that they were worthy to be acknowledged and be crowned for the glory of God. Their conversion to Christ is a remarkable part of Christian history in Achaia. Their love for the Lord had touched many lives and their godly commitment has surely inspired many believers in every generation. May we find this lesson helpful as we take a closer look concerning their inspiring testimony. Prayerfully, the Holy Spirit will guide us through as we intently study the Word of God. Notice first (1) This family was the First Fruits of Achaia - Corinthian Christians (2) They were personally baptized by Apostle Paul (3) They were a ministry-minded Family: They set themselves to the ministry of the saints and worked hard with Apostle Paul. They gave encouragement to God’s servants and were a great help in the ministry. (4) Their visit and conversation refreshed Paul’s spirit.
Therefore, Paul encourages the Corinthian Church to honor them for they are worthy to be acknowledged for their faithfulness in the ministry; for their remarkable love for Christ and His servants. The household of Stephanas is the kind of Christian family we really need in our ministries today. They are the kind of people who are not seeking for fame, popularity and riches, but looking for the advancement of the spreading of the Gospel of Christ. We have many God-given families in our local Churches whose presence and labor of love are not forgotten by God and should not be forgotten by us. Let us pray that the Lord may give us more families like the household of Stephanas to help us in our God-given ministries.
Paul’s next remarks allude to this matter of showing due love. “15 Now I urge you, brothers—you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— 16 be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. 17 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, 18 for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such men.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).