The Household of Stephanas: Firstfruits of Achaia

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EXCERPT Sometimes I will see this little ditty on the marquee of a church: “The family that prays together – stays together.” There is a lot of truth to that statement. I suspect that it was true of the household of Stephanas. Not only did they pray together, but they also poured their lives into serving the church at Corinth together.

Introduction

Stephanas and his household are mentioned in only two passages in Paul’s first epistle to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:16; 16:15-18), and a member of the family is hinted at in one verse in the book of Romans (16:5b).  Yet these passages tell us quite a bit about this active family in the city of Corinth.  Probably no family in the Early Church did more for the Apostle Paul and their local church than this family, yet they were not fully appreciated for the work that they were doing among the saints at Corinth.  The lack of appreciation, I would like to suggest, was due to the Corinthians’ prejudice against non-Corinthians within the church.  Paul appealed to the believers in the church at Corinth to give them due recognition.

In the local church, have you ever observed that there are two kinds of people: those who are living only for themselves and their ambitions and agendas and those who are selflessly serving others, expecting nothing in return?  Have you observed those who are always suspicious of “outsiders” and those people who are not quite like them; versus those who wholeheartedly welcome anybody and everybody who walks through the front door?  If so, you are not the first and you won’t be the last. Because we all have a sin nature, people have not changed over the millennia.  Our sin nature creates the same problems in churches today that the Apostle Paul saw and addressed in his day.  By examining the way the Apostle Paul understood, addressed, and resolved similar problems in the Church’s earliest days, we can bring timeless Biblical wisdom and truths to our own church problems.

In this study, the self-centeredness of the Corinthian believers will be examined (Paul calls it carnality), and we will ask why it was difficult for the Corinthian church to accept the selflessness of the household of Stephanas, who were not originally from Corinth, and what the solution is to this problem.

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