Loyal and Faithful Laborers
1 Cor. 16:15-24
I’m not expecting to be able to write a number of messages in this last chapter of this beautiful
epistle of the Apostle Paul. However, the more I read the verses the more I can think and the more I
can expound the message which the Holy Spirit wants to convey to us not only for our learning but
also for our applying God’s Word in our lives. Several names have been mentioned here so we will
take a look at them.
Illustration 1: Glamour is not Greatness
Let it never be forgotten that glamour is not greatness; applause is not fame; prominence is not
eminence. The man of the hour is not apt to be the man of the ages. A stone may sparkle, but that
does not make it a diamond; people may have money, but that does not make them a success.
It is what the unimportant people do that really counts and determines the course of history. The
greatest forces in the universe are never spectacular. Summer showers are more effective than
hurricanes, but they get no publicity. The world would soon die but for the fidelity, loyalty, and
consecration of those whose names are unhonoured and unsung. – James R. Sizoo
I. Stephanas (1 Cor. 16:15-16)
A. A member of the church at Corinth, whose family were among those the apostle had
baptized (1Co 1:16; 16:15,17).
B. Stephanas and his family were the first fruits of Corinth. Paul describe them as a
family that “they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints”.
C. The word addicted means “to arrange in an orderly manner” to appoint, determine,
ordain, set. In other words, they have devoted themselves to the Lord by serving
Him and the church faithfully without any second thoughts.
1. They are willing and available.
2. They were not afraid to stand alone and show they are different.
3. They follow the Lord completely.
4. They never give up on their commitment
D. Paul is asking the entire church at Corinth to be like minded and be submissive to
them, treat them with respect, be suitably influenced by them, and be like
Stephanas and his family by being just as addicted, just as committed to the ministry
and to labor earnestly.
Illustration 2: Hudson Taylor
It was a stormy night in Birmingham, England, and Hudson Taylor was to speak at a meeting at the
Seven Street schoolroom. His hostess assured him that nobody would attend on such a stormy night,
but Taylor insisted on going. “I must go even if there is no one but the doorkeeper.” Less than a
dozen people showed up, but the meeting was marked with unusual spiritual power. Half of those
present either became missionaries or gave their children as missionaries; and the rest were faithful
supporters of the China Inland Mission for years to come. Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and
Preachers, W. Wiersbe, p. 242.
II. Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus (1 Cor. 16:17-18)
A. Paul was thankful for the encouragement and assistance he had received from the
church through these three faithful brothers in Christ.
B. It was customary and right for the churches to support missionaries like Paul (1 Cor.
9:14; Phil. 4:14 -16; Titus 3:13-14). The support not only meets the physical needs of
the missionaries and preachers but it also refreshes and encourages their spirits (1
C. These men were to be acknowledged for their refreshing of the apostle. They were
like good news from home, as Paul laboured in another land.
III. Aquila and Priscilla (1 Cor. 16:19)
A. These two were a dedicated husband-and-wife team whose lives and ministries
intersected and intertwined with Paul’s. The apostle met them at Corinth because,
like Paul, they were tentmakers (Acts 18:1-3). This godly couple had been expelled
from Rome because Aquila was a Jew; but that was only part of God’s providence to
get them to Corinth where they could assist Paul.
Priscilla must have been a remarkable woman. This couple’s names occur in the New
Testament six times, and in four of these instances, Priscilla’s name stands first. (The
best texts put Priscilla first in Acts 18:26.) We get the impression that she was the
stronger of the two, a devoted leader and witness. They worked together in serving
the Lord and helping Paul.
When Paul moved from Corinth to Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla packed up and
moved their business with him and assisted in founding the church in that needy city
(Acts 18:18). So capable were they that Paul left them to oversee the ministry while
he returned to Antioch. It was while they were at Ephesus that they assisted Apollos
in better understanding the truth of the Gospel.
B. Aquila and Priscilla started churches in their home in Ephesus and in Rome (1 Cor.
16:19; Rom. 16:3-5). The early church had no buildings. They met in homes. This was
1. Lack of money
2. Need for secrecy, since Christianity became an illegal religion in the Roman
Empire at a very early time.
3. The need for an appearance of legality since the early churches organized like
Roman social societies
4. The house church concept begins in Acts 2:46; 5:4. It is continued and developed
in Romans 16:5,23, Col. 4:15; Philemon 2.
5. This does not mean that a church must meet in a home to be scriptural. To the
contrary, if a church grows like it usually does when the gospel is aggressively
preached to every creature (Mk. 16:15) it will need a larger facility than a private
home. Further, in order to do all of the training and other things necessary to
fulfil the Lord’s Great Commission (Mat. 28:19-20) a church will need its own
facility so that it can hold meetings at various times during the week and not be
restricted by the habits and necessities of a private home.
IV. Final Greeting (1 Cor. 16:20)
A. Greet one another with a holy kiss” This form of public greeting (kissing on one or
both cheeks) and sign of fellowship can be seen in the OT in Exod. 4:27. It can be
seen in the Gospels in Mark 14:45. It became standardized in the early church (cf.
Rom.16:16; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26; 1 Pet. 5:14), which followed the pattern of
the Synagogue. Men kissed men and women kissed women. It came to be abused by
some Christians and misunderstood by unbelievers and was dropped by the early
church. Its modern equivalent western would be a warm handshake or hug.
B. Anathema Maranatha means “let him be accursed; our Lord cometh”. (“Anathema”
is Aramaic and means “accursed”. “Maranatha” is Greek and means “our Lord
comes.”). This is the final reminder from Paul that there are just two classes of
people. Those who love the Lord and those who do not. The later are destined for
destruction (2 Thess. 1:7-9). This is urgent due to the imminent coming of the Lord.
C. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you (1 Cor. 16:23).
1. Paul reminds the believers at Corinth that the grace of Christ was available. Here
he is referring both to the saving grace whereby we are made right with God and
the serving grace whereby we are enabled to obey God. Paul desired that they
walk in the strength of that grace and glorify it in their actions.
2. Paul’s standard salutation was to extend the grace of Jesus Christ to his readers
(Rom. 16:24; 1 Cor. 16:23-24; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 6:18; Eph. 6:24; Phil. 4:23; Col.
4:18; 1 Th. 5:28; 1 Tim. 6:21; 2 Tim. 4:22; Tit. 3:15; Phile. 25).
D. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen (1 Cor. 16:24).
1. This is the final thing that Paul says to the church at Corinth. Note that he
expressed his love to all of the members of this church in spite of the carnal
attitude and actions of some of them toward him.
2. This love is not a natural human love; it is the love that is found only in Christ
Jesus. The world loves its own, but only through Christ can we love those that
mistreat us and that do not love us in return (Mat. 5:44-48).
3. We see that Christian love does not ignore sin and error. It is not tolerant of
things that are wrong. In this epistle Paul was very direct and plain-spoken
against the error that was in the church at Corinth, but he concludes by
reminding them that he is speaking the truth in love.
Illustration 3: South Pole Expedition
The word “maranatha” is a Syriac expression that means: “our Lord comes.” It was used as a
greeting in the early church. When believers gathered or parted, they didn’t say “hello” or “goodbye,”
but “Maranatha!” If we had the same upward look today, it would revolutionize the church.
Oh that God’s people had a deepening awareness of the imminent return of the Savior!
While on a South Pole expedition, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left a few men on Elephant
Island, promising that he would return. Later, when he tried to go back, huge icebergs blocked the
way. But suddenly, as if by a miracle, an avenue opened in the ice and Shackleton was able to get
through. His men, ready and waiting, quickly scrambled aboard. No sooner had the ship cleared the
island than the ice crashed together behind them.
Contemplating their narrow escape, the explorer said to his men, “It was fortunate you were all
packed and ready to go!”
They replied, “We never gave up hope. Whenever the sea was clear of ice, we rolled up our sleeping
bags and reminded each other, ‘The boss may come today.’”
The hymn writer Horatius Bonar exhorted us “to be ready for the last moment by being ready at
every moment…so attending to every duty that, let Him come when He may, He finds the house in
perfect order, awaiting His return.” The trump may sound anytime. How important for us as
Christians to be “packed and ready to go!”
As you leave home today, don’t say good-bye—say “Maranatha. Our Daily Bread
This ends our study in the first book of the Corinthians. I hope that it has been a blessing
to all of you. I may have missed some points and for that I apologize. In the near future if
the Lord wills maybe, I will see those things and be able to teach them. My prayer is that
what we have learned here no matter how little will be put into practice and applied to
our lives and we joyfully wait for the coming of the King of Kings and Lord of Lord, our
Saviour and great Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ.