Looking back on my journal, it’s apparent that I’ve been repeatedly drawn to a certain family mentioned in the closing thoughts of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Here’s the passage that consistently jumps off the page . . .
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–be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such men. (1Corinthians 16:15-18 ESV)
This morning I thought I’d share some thoughts on this passage that I wrote back in 2009. Got me thinking again about be wholeheartedly focused on what God’s called each of us to do within the Body of Christ. Here’s how the thoughts rolled out on April 22, 2009 . . .
Ok . . . so I know you need to be careful about “shopping” through different versions of the Bible to find the word or phrase that captures what you, in advance, want to get across. But I do think there is some value in reading a number of translations in that different translators will emphasize different nuances. Such is the case this morning as I wrapped up my readings in 1Corinthians . . . I found an “emphasized nuance” that I wasn’t necessarily looking for . . .
Often you read the last verses of the last chapters of Paul’s letters kind of like the credits rolling by on a screen after a movie . . . you see the names, but they just flash by and you barely take notice. But these “end-of-letter” credits are God-breathed too, and so, it might make sense once in awhile to slow down and take note of who God has determined should be mentioned by Paul. May I introduce to you, Stephanas and his household. Mentioned only in this letter, it appears that they were among Paul’s first converts in the region (1Cor. 1:16) . . . and it appears they had a pretty cool “addiction.”
Yeah . . . so this is where I pull out the old King James Authorized Version translation . . .
” . . . 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.” (1Cor. 16:15b AV)
Stephanas and his family had “addicted themselves” to serving God’s people! Most of the other translations say, “they devoted themselves” to the service or ministry of the saints. But, I have to admit, when I came across the AV translation it grabbed me . . . the whole idea of being addicted to God’s call on our lives . . . and even more the idea of being addicted to helping out God’s people! What an “addiction” to feed!
The Greek word behind the translation is only found 8 times in the NT . . . only once translated “addicted” or “devoted” . . . having the idea of “to assign a place” . . . “to set oneself” . . . “to appoint oneself” . . . basically it’s about determining to “give ‘er!” And what more noble pursuit than serving God’s people. Tending fellow sheep . . . helping out the under-shepherds . . . caring for one another . . . meeting needs . . . providing encouragement . . . building up others . . . practicing hospitality . . . what an addiction! Such was the focus and pursuit of the household of Stephanas.
And the fruit of their labor? Refreshed spirits! “For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.” (1Cor. 16:18) Yup, enter weary and beaten up saints . . . exit rested and revitalized children of God . . . batteries re-charged . . . bounce back in their steps. Paul, the frontline warrior, was boosted by these “back office” ministers of God’s grace . . . and not him only, but, it seems from Paul’s letter, many of the saints in Corinth had benefited from Stephanas’ addiction. “Such men deserve recognition!” Amen . . . good on you, Stephanas . . . and your household!
Oh, that we as His people would all have a ministry to weary saints . . . it’s part of the body building thing. But even more, that we as His people would know the particular service He has called us to and that we would be addicted to it . . . devoting ourselves toward it . . . focused and purposefully fulfilling our sphere of service by His grace and for His glory. That we would all be addicts! Gotta’ like the Authorized Version this morning . . . amen?
Father, thanks for allowing my eye to catch this reference to Stephanas in my reading this morning . . . thank You for refreshing my spirit through Your word . . . and encouraging me on being addicted . . . to pursue my “addiction” for Your glory . . . amen!!!