Christian Conduct

Christian Conduct

“Christian Conduct”
(1 Corinthians 16:13-18)
Series: Chaos & Correction (1 Corinthians)

Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson

•I invite you to take your Bibles and join me in 1 Corinthians, chapter 16 (page 776; YV).

We’ve been preaching verse-by-verse through the book of 1 Corinthians. And we are now at the conclusion of this letter. Next week, the Lord permitting, we will finish our study of the letter.

This morning we are studying six verses near the end of chapter 16, verses 13 through 18. In these verses, the Apostle Paul, writing around AD 55, is writing to the church he had planted in Corinth during his second missionary journey just a few years earlier. So he is the founder of the church and has been writing to this church in order to correct a number of things as well as to encourage.

You’ll remember the letter to the Corinthians may be divided largely into three sections: Divisions, Disorder, and Difficulties. There are divisions in the church (chapters 1-4), there is disorder in the church (chapters 5-6), and there are difficulties in the church–theological difficulties that Paul addresses in chapters 7 to the end.

So we come now to this little text, this passage of six verses beginning in verse 13 where Paul gives the church some very practical encouragements. What he says here in these verses provide for us a bit of instruction on Christian conduct; how to behave. We must always remember that while Paul is addressing the church in Corinth, the Bible also addresses the church in Kentucky. So as much as this letter is written to Corinthian Christians, it certainly applies to Kentuckian Christians.
•Please stand in honor of the reading of the Word of God.

13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.
14 Let all that you do be done with love.
15 I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints—
16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.
17 I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied.
18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.



Years ago when I was in middle school I became well acquainted with what was called the “progress report.” The progress report was given quarterly to students and I feel sure that these reports are still around as they give opportunity for the teacher to report a student’s progress for the benefit of the student as well as the student’s parents.

These progress reports were scored based on the three benchmarks of satisfactory, needs improvement, and unsatisfactory. The first letter of each word was what each teacher wrote onto the report. And so you’d either have an “S,” an “N,” or a “U.”

So what you wanted, of course, was a progress report that had all S’s on it. In fact, that was the thing you hoped to brag about to your fellow students. A kid asks, “What you get?” and you’d say, “All S’s!” And if a teacher was especially pleased with your progress, she might even give you an S+ or an S++. That was something.

I dreaded the progress report. I’m glad to say that my brain eventually finished growing and that I became mature later in life and gained a tremendous appreciation for education. But when I was younger, these things could ruin a weekend for you.

My folks were especially not pleased if I brought home anything less than an “S” in conduct. There was always that category. You had the expected categories that measured your academic progress and then you had this one that measured your behavior. How is the student behaving in class? How is his conduct? To get an “N,” needs improvement or worse a “U,” unsatisfactory—well, this was not good.

I remember a schoolmate named Peter who used to say at the beginning of the day we would get the progress report, Peter would always say, “Well, this the day we either take the short way home, or the long way home, or we don’t go home at all.”

I thought of the progress report as I studied this passage. These verses alert us to principles of Christian conduct. If you had to rate your own Christian conduct, how would you do in light of these verses? I suppose there may be some areas we’d like to give ourselves an “S,” satisfactory, and perhaps other areas we would give ourselves an “N,” needs improvement and, if we were really being honest, there’d be an area or two where we’d have to give ourselves a “U,” unsatisfactory.

So I want to go back through this passage again, a little slower now as we study the text and consider what it teaches about Christian conduct. In my notes this week I wrote down a couple of main headings that helped me break down the passage. Maybe these will help you. If so, you may wish to write them down. First Paul teaches us to:

Follow Godly Exhortations [13-14]

To exhort is to strongly encourage or urge someone to do something. That is what Paul is doing in verses 13 and 14. He is strongly encouraging and even urging Christians to behave a certain way. We know that because these verbs he uses are in the imperative mood. The imperative mood is used not when suggesting something, but demanding or even commanding something. Think of an exclamation mark at the end of the imperative mood.

It was always easy for me to remember the imperative mood because my mother used to say to me, “It is imperative that you clean your room!” Well, I knew she wasn’t suggesting that I clean my room, but rather demanding, even commanding that I clean it—and sooner rather than later.

Four imperatives in verse 13:

13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.

Here’s a subpoint for verse 13:

Truly Live for Christ (13)

This is what Paul is teaching here by stringing along these four imperatives.

13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Truly live for Christ.

Let’s focus on each of these. First, “Watch!”

Watch is the Greek gregoreite, which sounds like, “Gregory.” If you named your child Greg or Gregory, you named him watchful. It comes from this word, gregoreite.

In this context, “Watch” refers to being aware of, looking out for, guarding against something. Keep your eyes open. Beware the enemy.

The context of this letter suggests that the enemy is namely all of the bad behaviors of the Corinthians previously addressed and corrected by Paul. Guard against divisiveness, that which was addressed early on in the very first few chapters. Guard against disunity and division.

Guard against the tendency to live a me-centered life. “Look at me. What will the church do for me.” Don’t do that. Watch. Watch out for that. Live an others-focused life. Remember Paul’s teaching about our words as well as our ways. “Don’t do anything that would cause another to stumble,” he had said back in chapters 8 and 10. Watch. Guard against divisiveness. Second imperative in verse 13:

“Stand fast in the faith.”

The idea here is, “Don’t compromise.” Don’t bend to the culture. Taken together with the previous word, “Watch,” Paul may be saying, “Keep your eyes open to anything unbiblical, including false teachings, false doctrines.”

Stand fast in the faith. Beware of those who deny biblical doctrines.

As recently as the last chapter we read Paul’s statement beginning chapter 15, verse 1, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I received and in which you stand (1 Corinthians 15:1).” In which you stand fast in the faith.

Be firm in believing and defending the full gospel.

Is this call to stand fast in the faith any less important in our culture today? What with all of the theological and moral compromise every time we pick up the newspaper or read online the latest unraveling of morality. We are faced incessantly with the demands for so-called same-sex marriage—when marriage itself is a biblical institution created and defined by God alone. What God has defined in the opening chapters of Genesis, no man has right to re-define. Stand fast in the faith—in love, yes—but do stand fast in the faith.

Be firm in believing and defending the full gospel.

I love the gospel, don’t you? I love to meditate on the fact that we Christians are justified, declared righteous by God. I love to mediate on the fact that we Christians are accepted by God not on the basis of our performance, but solely on the basis of the infinitely perfect righteousness of Christ. I love that God loves me perfectly in Christ.

When I sin, He’ll never love me any less. It keeps me from despair. And when I do right, He will never love me any more. It keeps me from legalism. God loves me constantly, consistently, perfectly in Christ Jesus. I love being positionally secure “in Christ Jesus.” I love glorious union with Christ! I love that when the Father says to the Son, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well-pleased,” that He includes me in that loving embrace. I love the gospel.
Stand fast in the faith.

Two more imperatives in verse 13: Be brave and be strong.

Be brave is translated in the KJV as, “Quit you like men.” That’s the old English of the 17th century. We don’t use that word that way anymore, “Quit” or “Acquit” yourselves, behave yourselves, or act this way. That’s what it means. Act like men.

That’s literally how the imperative is worded in the original. Act like men. The word in Greek is the word from which we get man. Act like men. It’s not a sexist thing. It’s simply conveying what most of us know to be true. That men are to act like men. Which means men are to be brave. Act like men. Be brave.

Ever watch those funny home video programs? I like watching those practical jokesters who film a guy being caught unawares by a fake spider or snake on the floor, or maybe someone jumps up out of a box and startles a guy. And the guy screams like a girl and shakes and everything. One of the reasons those clips are so funny is because these men are acting very uncharacteristically. In that moment, they don’t look much like a man! And they can be forgiven for such a thing in the moment, but Paul is talking about a lifestyle here and he’s talking about it in relation to the Christian faith.

Be brave and be strong in relation to your life in Christ. It’s similar to the idea of standing fast in the faith, but connotes the idea of addressing problems in the church.

Be brave and strong as you address sin. Remember that the church had ignored matters of church discipline and restoration. Remember the guy back in chapter 5, the guy who was living with and being intimate with his father’s wife? The Corinthians knew about that sin, but failed to address it. They may have failed to address that sin because they feared the fallout that might come as a result.

Christians must be brave and be strong as we address problem areas with the correction of God’s Word. Let’s not forget what we have learned here about purity in the church and holding one another to our church covenant, a beautiful document not so much to be adorned on the wall of a church building or inside of a hymnal, but to be lived out, to lovingly correct, warn, pray for, encourage, correct, one another.

Watch. Stand fast in the faith. Be brave. Be strong.

These are helpful reminders of Christian conduct, aren’t they? The Bible helps us remember what is vital that we continue faithful to live for Christ.

Most of you know before I was in the ministry I worked for seven years as a parole officer, supervising convicted felons in North Georgia. It could be a dangerous job and so I carried a state-issued, Glock 40 caliber semiautomatic handgun. And every year, I had to travel to the training center south of Atlanta in order to re-qualify to carry that gun. So every year I drove down to Forsyth and fired my weapon at a target in order to re-qualify.

Why do you think I had to do that every year? I had done it once before, wasn’t that enough? No, it wasn’t. If we don’t review the fundamentals, we may get a little rusty and overconfident. We may stop doing things by the book. And it could prove disastrous.

Similarly, as we live for Christ, we may get a little rusty. We may get overconfident in our Christian walk. We may stop doing things by the Book, the Bible. The practical benefit of a “daily devotion” is to be daily in the Word. We review what we’ve learned in the Bible. We reinforce our understanding of its truths as we live for Christ.

Watch. Stand fast in the faith. Be Brave. Be strong—and—Let all that you do be done with love. That’s verse 14:

14 Let all that you do be done with love.

Second subpoint:

Truly Love in Christ (14)

Another imperative. Five total now. Verse 13: “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” And now verse 14:

14 Let all that you do be done with love.

Which means, of course, that it is possible to do good things without love. You can serve others without loving them. You can work in the church and pat yourself on the back and do so with an air of false humility—doing it all without love.

Remember the love chapter, which chapter? Chapter 13. Remember Paul’s strategical placement of the love chapter between what he had said in chapters 12 and 14? He was addressing the Corinthians misuse of spiritual gifts. He was telling them it really doesn’t matter how well you teach or speak if you do so without love.

Let all that you do be done with love.

So what does it matter if you have these tremendous gifts from God, but have not love?

Some of you may be surprised to know there have been a few folks over the years who have visited our church, persons whom I felt led to share that I honestly did not feel they would be happy here.

One guy visited our church a couple years ago and sent a long email criticizing our church, our staff, and criticizing me. He said our folks had not followed-up enough with him. Of course, we had followed up, just not as much as he had desired. He had given his business card to some of our members and he said they had not contacted him.

Well, in his critical email he didn’t ask at all about our church family, who had been sick, who was in the hospital, who had been on the mission field, who may have died, or how the church family was faring. He did not seem so much to be interested in others; he seemed interested only in promoting himself and having his own needs met.

Our church’s lack of following up to suit his desires was just one of many other criticisms about our people, our facilities, and his letter even included a hint about how his gifts and talents were the answer to many of our problems.

I replied with a short, yet kind email sharing that I believed he would probably be happier elsewhere and that I knew many of the pastors in our area and could recommend another church. He sent back another email full of more criticism, but you see he was not really interested in this family. There was no love in that letter. There as a lot of stuff he said he could do, but there was little evidence of love.

Verses 13 and 14 go together. We may have great gifts of service, great things we can do, but we must do the things of verse 13 with “the” thing of verse 14.

And we must have the courage to stand up for what is right, to not compromise, to call out sin and so on, yet we must do so in love. Verses 13 and 14 go together. Paul and Christ both put these together in their own lives. Paul preached the truth, but also did so in love. Our Lord preached hard things, but He did so in love.

So, Follow Godly Exhortations. The other side of the coin, second main point:

II. Follow Godly Examples [15-18]

Three people are mentioned in verses 15 through 18: Stephanas—and his household—and Fortunatus and Achaicus. These three are godly examples worthy of our emulation as we live for the Lord. It’s always good to have others to set examples for us. Here are a couple sub-points as we consider these godly examples. First:

Be one who edifies others (15-16)

Stephanas is a guy who led his family to be about the business of edifying others. Remember what Paul had said back in 1 Corinthians 14:26, “Let all things be done for edification.” Do things not to tear down the church, but to build up the church. Verse 15:

15 I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints—

Paul mentioned “the household of Stephanas” first in the opening chapter of 1 Corinthians, in 1 Corinthians 1:16 Paul said that he had “baptized the household of Stephanas.”

Verse 15 here, he also refers to Stephanas and his household as, the “firstfruits of Achaia” means the “first converts” in the southern region of the Greek peninsula. They were the first to come to know Christ and be saved from their sin.

And Paul says Stephanas and his family, last part of verse 15, “they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” The KJV has, “They have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” That’s an interesting way to think about it. That’s a good addiction to have—addicted to building up others, addicted to building up the church. Paul adds in verse 16, then:

16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.

In other words, Stephanas and his household are good examples to follow. So listen to them, learn from them. He says in verse 16, “Submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.”
There’s probably a wordplay going on here, something like, “They have devoted themselves to the service of the saints; I urge you to put yourselves at the service of them.”

The idea is, “Respect them and follow them and others like them. And while you’re at it, emulate them. Follow their godly example: Be one who edifies others.


Be one who encourages others (17-18)

17 I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied.

Paul is encouraged by the coming of these three: Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus. Apparently, these three were the ones who carried and delivered to Paul the letter the Corinthians had written to him. Remember from back in Chapter 7, verse 1, where Paul says, “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me?” And then he answered their questions.

So apparently these three guys carried the letter from Corinth and hand-delivered it to the Apostle Paul at Ephesus. And Paul is like, “Man, when these guys showed up, they encouraged me so much I rejoiced in their coming!”

How do people respond when you walk into the room? “I’m glad he’s here!” Or, “I’m glad he’s gone!”

Paul says in the end of verse 17, “What was lacking on your part they supplied.” Among the many possible things of which Paul was lacking from the Corinthian church that could be supplied by these three fellows, the most obvious would be their encouragement. That’s especially clear in the next verse, verse 18:

18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.

These guys were an encouragement. Paul says in verse 18, “They refreshed my spirit.” It’s the same word our Lord uses to describe the rest He freely gives to those who receive Him. He says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Rest. Same original word as “refreshed” here in verse 18.

Solomon says in Proverbs 11:25, “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

There’s a ministry here, you know. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Of course we don’t refresh others with a view to our own refreshment, a self-centered master plan, you know. But this is a beautiful byproduct of the ministry of encouragement. Encourage others and you yourself will be encouraged.

Do you tend to get down and out during the holidays? Lonely? Depressed? Do you need vision and clarity? One of the greatest things you can do to be lifted out of darkness, is to let your light shine before others. Refresh others. Encourage others. Speak good words to others and about others. Write them. Mail them in a card. Call others. Message them. Refresh others.

What a thing to be said of another Christian! “They refreshed my spirit and yours.” JB Phillips paraphrases it, “They are a tonic to me and to you.”

So Paul adds, last part of verse 18, “Therefore acknowledge such men.”

“Acknowledge such men” carries the idea of appreciating them. The ESV, “Give recognition to such people.”

And as we draw to a close, will you allow me to acknowledge you, to recognize you, to refresh you? I mean it when I say that you are a wonderful people to pastor. I love each and every one of you and I am grateful to serve as your pastor.
•Let’s stand for prayer.


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