1 Corinthians 16:10-16 - “No Lone Rangers 1”
Translation and Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the
Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS 07 Feb 2010
10. Now, if
Timothy happens to come,
to see that he be fearless toward y’all,
he is working in the work of the Lord, just as I also am.
is not anyone therefore who should make him out to be a nobody,
send him forward in peace in order that he might come to me,
I am waiting with the brothers for him.
12. Now, concerning
the brother Apollos:
encouraged him many [times] in order that he might go to y’all with the
he was not at all [of] a will that he should go now,
he will go whenever it is a good time.
standing fast in the faith;
to be strengthened;
let everything about you continue to happen in love.
15. Now, you know
the household of Stephanas,
it is a first-fruit of Achaia,
they organized themselves for service to the saints –
that you also be organized under these guys and any who is a co-worker and
Quotes from When People are Big chapter 12
Call is broader than Jesus and me.
Promises of God are for you and your children and …
Our call to Christ, the head of the church.
Self reliance = mental instability in Asia!
How often do we consult, pray with others?
Don’t generalize hurt from one party to whole
Isolation leads to fear of people; Participation
with church is freedom!
We can’t “go into all the world”, “pray without
ceasing”, help all the widows, and teach all the men, women, and children
alone. We can only engage the calling of the church as a community!
O.T. Day of Atonement was forgiveness for whole
community (Deut 6).
Promises were to whole community for obedience
Sin of one person brought curse on whole community
(Achan, Josh. 7:11)
No one in church should wonder what their spiritual
gifts are – tell them!
During the Lord’s Supper, discern the body, think
Warning: Community is for God’s glory, not for
As we look at Paul and his ministry in 1 Cor 16, we see that
he is not working alone, he is very much connected to a whole community of
people. I want to highlight three of these people mentioned in vs. 10-16 today,
then next week pick up on four more mentioned in the final verses of the
chapter. The three for this week are Timothy, Apollos, and Stephanas. Who were
these guys, and what can we learn from Paul’s interaction with them?
1. Timothy - Disciple & partner in ministry
Timothy was the son of a faithful Jewish mother and
a Gentile father who may not have been involved in Timothy’s life.
Home was in Lystra, and Paul converted him during
his first missionary journey. Paul may not have had any children of his own,
and Paul became like a father to Timothy.
On his second missionary journey, Paul picked
Timothy up in Lystra (Acts 16:1) and took him on the rest of his journey, so
Timothy was there with Paul when the church was
planted in Corinth (Acts 18:5, 19:22).
On the third missionary journey, Paul took Timothy
with him again, so Timothy had been with him in Ephesus, but Paul sent Timothy
ahead to Macedonia along with Erastus. Timothy may have visited Corinth on that
trip, but I’m not sure. It appears he did wait for Paul in Macedonia and Paul
met up with him and they travelled together through the rest of the third
On the fourth journey, he was in Rome with Paul for
at least a time, since his name is on some of the letters Paul wrote from Rome
– Philippians and Colossians.
Timothy probably delivered the letter to the
Philippians for Paul. In Phil 2:19-22, Paul said, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to
send Timothy shortly to you… for I have no man likeminded, who will care truly
for your state, for they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ.
But you know the proof of him, that, as a child serves a father, so he served
with me in furtherance of the gospel.”
Later on, Timothy settled in Ephesus to be a pastor
there, and Paul wrote pastoral letters to coach him then (2 Tim 1:4).
Timothy was a young man who was a disciple of
Here we have an important example: Disciples are an
important part of Christian community.
Do you have any disciples? If you have children,
If you don’t have any disciples, begin by making
one of someone around you – ask God to help you see who it should be. We are
all called to fulfill Matthew 28:18ff – “…Make disciples…”
Look for someone who is real FAT: Faithful,
Available, and Teachable.
The issue: Graciousness with an inexperienced leader
The problem with disciples is that they are inexperienced,
so they feel awkward as they begin to join you in ministry to others.
In Timothy’s case there was apparently some reason to be
In 1 Cor 4:17, Paul said he was going to put
Timothy in a challenging role of leadership: “…I have sent Timothy to you, who
is my child, beloved and faithful in Christ, who will remind y’all of my ways…”
Can you imagine this young Christian walking up to
this dysfunctional church and saying, “Now, you’d better shape up because Paul
does things like this and you’re doing it like that!” I’d be intimidated if I
In 1 Tim 4:12, Paul exhorts Timothy not to be
intimidated as a leader by the fact that he’s young.
There may have also been some social reasons to
feel inferior as a low-class Lystrian among snobbish Corinthians (Chrysostom,
To counteract this awkwardness of an inexperienced
leader, Paul issues three commands:
- See to it that he be fearless toward you – make him feel
safe around you, not threatened by enemies, poverty, or complaints from
the church people.
- Don’t despise him
- Send him forth
Paul writes to the Corinthians in such a way as to hold
Timothy up in honor:
- “Timothy is doing God’s work just the same as I am”
- Timothy should be treated just as you would treat me – as
I said in v.6 that I expect you to “send me forward” with food, money,
travelling companions, and transportation, so I expect that you will send
Timothy forward too with the same courtesies.
- Furthermore, Timothy is precious and valuable to me. So
valuable, that I would put my ministry on pause to wait for him to join
me. If I think he is that valuable, you should too!
- See how he builds Timothy up as a young leader?
- Our church is always going to be a training ground for
church leaders because of the university and the fort next door, so we
need to be careful to follow Paul’s instructions for their sake:
- “See to it that [they] have no fear:” In more than one
church I’ve attended, there have been guys that packed concealed weapons
for the very purpose of being able to protect the congregation and the
pastor from violence.
- But it’s more than just threats of violence that might
unsettle an inexperienced leader:
- See to it that our church leadership feels secure enough
and respected enough that they can hold you accountable to obey God
without fear of getting sacked,
- secure enough in the support of their congregation that
they are not afraid to confront evil in society at large either.
- Don’t look down on young, inexperienced guys who are just
- And let us be diligent to be good senders. We’re going to
send a lot of graduates and soldiers out into the world, let’s be sure
that they are equipped with everything they need to minister!
Who was Apollos?
- Apollos was a Jew from Alexandria, Egypt (Acts 18:24).
- He was well-studied in the O.T. scriptures and was a
- He travelled to Ephesus to bring spiritual revival to the
Jews there, and while there, encountered Aquila and Priscilla, Christians
who had been converted by Paul in Corinth and who had moved to Ephesus. Aquilla
nd Priscilla took Apollos into their home and told him about Jesus.
Apollos became a Christian as a result and became an evangelist himself.
- He went to Corinth and pastored the church that Paul had
just planted there (Acts 18:27-19:1, 1 Cor 3:6).
- Some people liked his preaching more than Paul’s, but it
became a problem when they tried to separate themselves from the people
who still appreciated Paul (I Cor 3:4-7).
- At some point, Apollos returned to Ephesus and met up with
- Far from feeling threatened by the Corinthians’ love for
Apollos, Paul actually encouraged Apollos to go back and pastor them
- Apollos, however, refused. Why? The consensus of Bible
scholars is that Apollos feared his presence would further divide the
church in Corinth, so he said NO to Paul for the good of the church there.
- Paul apparently managed to talk Titus into going instead
(giving the same “urging” he had given Apollos - 2 Cor 12:18)
- Apollos continued to travel and minister to churches,
including a visit to help Titus in Crete later on (Titus 3:13) and even
later going back to Corinth apparently after Paul had ironed things out
there (according to Jerome).
- As a peer, Paul could exhort Apollos, but did not have
authority over him. Apollos could say no.
- As a peer, Paul was not threatened by Apollos, even though
he knew some people in the church liked Apollos’ style in teaching and
- Who are the peers like that in your life? Who can you have
an argument with and walk away undisturbed?
- We would all do well to have peers in our life that we can
- Fellow parents that we can compare notes in child-raising
- Fellow workers in ministry projects that we can work together
- Fellow professionals that we can rub shoulders with.
Issue: Wise, independent action
- The problem is that when we are in a group of peers, we’re
all-too-easily tempted to be copy-cats or people-pleasers. It’s all too
easy to follow the crowd with whatever they’re doing.
- It takes a real man to handle the freedom of being among
peers and continue to be guided by the internal compass of the Holy
- It must have taken a real man to say NO to Paul, but
that’s what Apollos did.
- The imperatives in vs.13-14 may or may not have been
related in Paul’s mind to this, but in my mind, I see a clear relationship
between these commands and the challenge of maintaining wise, independent
action among peers:
- “Watch/be alert,”
“Stand fast in the faith”
- like a guard constantly scanning the horizon for enemies
(such as those within the church who don’t love the Lord in v.22),
- avoiding distractions and excesses that would dull our
alertness. Stay awake!
“Be manly,” which includes being courageous (NIV), brave
(NKJV), and mature (Arnold)
- Not just stubborn, but clinging steadfastly to Jesus as
your savior and not groping around for something else to comfort and save
- Galatians 5:1 …Christ set us free; stand fast
therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage.
- Phil. 1:27 …stand fast in one spirit, with one soul
striving for the faith of the gospel
- Php 4:1 ASV Wherefore, my brethren beloved and longed
for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my beloved.
- This is the only place this verb occurs in the N.T., but
it can be found in the Greek translation of the O.T. in:
- Joab’s pep talk to the Israelite army which was
surrounded by the Ammonites on one side and the Syrians on the other. 2Sa
10:12 Be of good courage, and let us play the man for our people, and for
the cities of our God: and Jehovah will do what seems good to Him.
- Psalm 27:14 Wait for Jehovah: Be manly and let your
heart be strengthened; Yes, wait for Jehovah. (cf. Ps.
Be charitable – (v.14) “let everything you do be done in
- The voice of the original Greek word is not active, but
rather passive, and could be translated, “Be strengthened/strengthen
yourselves.” The implication is that our strength does not come from
ourselves but from outside of ourselves – from God.
- Exodus 15:2 Jehovah is my strength and song, and He
has become my salvation...
- Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very
present help in trouble.
- Psalm 68:35 …The God of Israel gives strength and
power unto his people…
- Eph 6:10 be strong in the Lord, and in the strength
of His might.
- 1 Peter 4:11 …if any man serves, let him serve as of the strength
which God supplies...
- Selfishness was the cause of all the problems mentioned
in 1 Cor – being puffed up with pride, sectarian disputes, lawsuits, sexual
sin, despising weaker brothers, boasting over spiritual gifts, and
neglecting to give the money they had pledged.
- This reminder to love reminds us of the treatise on love
in chapter 13 and ties together the message of the book.
- The fact that you are in church today indicates that you
are willing to associate with peers who are brothers and sisters in
- Dig in with them; confess sin to them; ask them to hold
you accountable to God’s standards of righteousness;
- compare notes with them on best practices for maintaining
a healthy marriage
- or best practices for raising kids
- or best practices for working or studying to the glory of
- Even talk to people outside your family or church
tradition, read books and listen to speakers and find out what other
- However, stay alert to God and don’t budge from what the
- Be courageous enough to be different from your peers and say
- Be willing to hold convictions even if they don’t have the
- And yet, let love guide your every move around your peers.
There is always a balance between being so nice that you have no spine and
no conviction and, on the other hand, being so arrogantly manly and
offensive that you make yourself odious. “Let all be done in love.”
Who was Stephanas?
- Stephanas and the people living in his household are
called the “first-fruit” of Achaia in v.15.
- This word was used last in chapter 15 where Christ was
spoken as the “first-fruit” from among the dead.
- The NIV & ESV interpret the Greek word for
“firstfruit” as “first converts,”
- This is a reasonable interpretation, especially since the
word seems to be used that way in Rom 16:5 of the “first [person] to come
to Christ in Asia.”
- Since Paul had preached
in Athens before Corinth, this would make Stephanas perhaps one of the
Aeropagites who became a Christ-follower and perhaps followed Paul to Corinth.
- It would also indicate that this conversion was not done
individually, but as an entire household, including Stephanas’ wife and
children as well as his slaves. This may seem strange to us individualistic
Americans, but it is not such a strange concept in the rest of the world.
- Some, (such as Chrysostom) instead interpret “firstfruit”
as the result of Paul’s ministry which was “best” and showed the most
promise and had endured the longest. “They took the lead in good works” as
A.T. Robertson put it.
- Whatever the case, Paul mentioned back in 1:16 that he had
baptized this household, so I assume that no local church leadership was
yet in place to baptize the people in this house – they were some of the
first baptized in Corinth as the church was just beginning to form there.
- They immediately became devoted to ministering to/serving
the saints/the people in the church. Chrysostom noted that they not merely
ministered but “set themselves to minister” indicating a chosen path of
devotion in which they are always busy.
- The only other thing we know about this exemplary man is
that Stephanas and a couple of other guys made a trip to Ephesus to visit
Paul in Ephesus, as we’ll see in v. 17, representing the church to Paul
and then returning to Corinth.
- The fact that Paul exhorts the church in v.16 to submit to
a man like Stephanas makes me think Stephanas was an elder in the church.
- Who baptized the others in Corinth if Paul says he did not
in chapter 1? Perhaps local leadership like Stephanas did.
- The word “labor” which Paul uses at the end of v.16 seems
to be used as a term to describe the work of ministry carried on by elders
and apostles in the church:
- Paul has already used it to describe the apostolic work
he did in 4:12 and 15:10, but he also applies it specifically to elders
in local churches:
- 1Thess. 5:12 But we beseech you, brethren, to show
recognition to the men who labor among you, and are over you in
the Lord, and admonish you;
- 1 Tim. 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted
worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and
- So I think it is reasonable to consider Stephanas an elder
in the church at Corinth.
Issue: Submission to church leadership
How easy it is to avoid submitting to authority. We don’t
want to get tied down or obligated to commitments. Our flesh fears giving up
the freedom to be careless and sinful and so it naturally avoids accountability.
That’s why my little girls hide when they steal a cookie – they want to eat it
away from the gaze of parental authority.
And yet, in God’s providence, it doesn’t work when there are
“too many chiefs and not enough Indians.” That’s why Paul singles out an
exemplary man with a good track record of faithfulness and issues this command:
- “submit to such men as these”
- There is a play on words that is hard to translate into
English, but the Greek word for “devoted themselves” in v.15 is actually
the same root as the command in v.16 “submit yourselves,” so the
progression goes from an extraordinary man and his family who “organized
themselves” to serve God’s people in the church to the people in the
church “organizing themselves under” the leadership of that man and his house.
- cf. Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and
submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall
- Authority for leadership is earned through humble service,
not official titles, charismatic personality, or a large bank account.
(Jack Arnold) Are you willing to work hard for the body of Christ?
- If so, I’d like to welcome you to come to the Friday
morning steering committee meetings. The purpose of this meeting is to
prepare men to be candidates for eldership in this church.
- “Great leadership and great following… would solve all
church problems” (A.T. Robertson) If you are leadership material, let’s
work on making you a great leader! If you are not called to be a leader in
the church, what will it look like for you to be a great follower?
- Stephanas’ household is a home-centered model of ministry
where an entire family is serving the Lord together in the context of a
- I am so thrilled to see the various households in this
church each developing their own unique ministries.
- “Never underestimate the power of a whole family
committed to doing ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jack Arnold)
- EXAMPLE: The impact of one family: John & Lois Kyle,
friends of my family.
After a very successful business career, John went into missions. Now he mentors
younger missionary leaders worldwide through the Senior Leadership
Show Photo of their 2009
Reunion. Here’s what their children & grandchildren are up to:
1. One is married and doing mission work in China. One of her children is working
with Teach for America in Spokane WA
2. Another is married and is a mission leader at Food For The Hungry in
Arizona and has children serving as missionaries in China and Honduras.
3. Another is married and living in Manhattan, NY, where he leads the
Global Church Planting Program of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. His son works
in the U.S. headquarters of Mission to the World, and he has two daughters, one
of which married a C-130 Navigator in the TN Air National Guard, and the other
is helpmate to a pastor at Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church.
4. John and Lois’ fourth is a daughter who is married and serves with
Jungle Aviation and Radio Service in NC and has a daughter who manages and
apartment complex there.
That could be you, or you could
even surpass that in a couple of decades!
1. Christianity is not for Lone Rangers.
2. Ask God to give you those Disciples like Timothy, those Peers like
Apollos was to Paul, and those authorities in your life like Stephanas was to
the church in Corinth.
3. I encourage you to enter into the network of relationships that is the