Recognition (1 Cor 16:15-18)

I beseech you, brethren, (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,) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth. I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.” (1 Corinthians 16:15–18, KJV)

When I answered God’s call to pastor the church in New Hampshire, I went there knowing very little about the church, other than what I discovered by speaking with their leadership team, the search committee, and former pastors who I called on the phone. I also did some demographic research on Portsmouth and the surrounding area. I knew something of the church’s present ministries, its financial history, and size, nothing more. When I arrived, I did learn more about its history. The church was the first Southern Baptist church in New England and from it many other churches had their start.

Sometime after arriving, I attended the State Convention. I was recognized along with other new ministers new to the convention, which was the standard protocol for this annual meeting. At some point in the meeting, they had an award to present. I sat there during the introduction to this new award and listened. I was shocked when they called out the name of my church and asked me to come up to receive the award. It was an award for church planting in New England.

To say the least, I was a bit embarrassed as everyone applauded and I walked up to receive the award. For I had basically done very little in the church to that point and had absolutely nothing to do with the work the church had done to plant other churches. You do not often find preachers at a loss for words, but I was totally unprepared for that moment. Even if I had been part of the church’s church-planting effort, I believe I would have still struggle with receiving recognition, at least I hope so.

In this Passage, Paul speaks of a man named “Stephanos.” He mentions him and two others, Fortunatas and Achaicus, with accolades. Stephanos and his household were the first converts in Achaia. He commended then for their service to the believers. Paul also mentioned that the three men came to him in Ephesus from Corinth and likely brought Paul correspondence from the Corinthian church. He greatly rejoiced in seeing these men as they refreshed his spirit. Paul used these types of servants as an example of those who should be acknowledged in the church stating, “therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.

The verb translated as “acknowledge,” in the text is epiginosko, which means to know thoroughly, to recognize and by implication to acknowledge (Strong G1921). The ESV translated the verse, “Give recognition to such people” (1 Corinthians 16:18, ESV). The point seems to be that Paul wanted the entire body of believers to understand who these men were and recognize them as servants who made a difference. So, it must not be wrong to recognize those who are serving the Lord.

However, while it in not wrong to recognize those who serve diligently, it would be wrong to steal the glory from God who gives the strength and ability to do good works for Him. Those recognized cannot glory in the moment, but must reflect the glory heavenward for God is the one who makes all good things possible. Neither the church who recognizes a servant nor the servant should rejoice in themselves, but rather give glory to God.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: