Fulfilling Our Ministry

KEY VERSE: “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” —II Corinthians 4:5

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: II Corinthians 4:1, 2, 7-13

THE BRETHREN LIVING at Corinth in Paul’s day were divided in their allegiance. Some claimed to be ‘of Paul’, others ‘of Apollos’, while some claimed that they were ‘of Christ’. Paul designates this the spirit of carnality, the result of partisan human reasoning. Since some in the group were claiming this unscriptural allegiance to Paul himself, it gave him an opportunity to speak out strongly against it, for none could say that he was prompted by jealousy.

There is nothing to indicate that Apollos and Peter were at all responsible for the fact that some at the Corinthian church had become their over-zealous followers. Probably they were just as much opposed to what was happening in this church as was Paul. It was simply that the brethren had not yet attained a spiritual vision that enabled them to look beyond God’s servants to the one whom they served. Paul sought to serve them in this way.

There were some there who were saying, “I am of Christ.” (I Cor. 1:12) This should have been the ideal goal, but apparently Paul also classified these as being among the carnally minded. The reason is obvious. These brethren, noting that some in the church were erroneously attaching themselves to human leaders, concluded that they would disassociate themselves from all human leadership, and look directly and solely to Christ. Doing this they then assumed an air of superiority, claiming, “I am of Christ,” with the implication that the others were not.

This was wrong—they were losing blessings from the Lord sent in the form of human teachers. Paul explained that pastors, teachers, and evangelists, as well as prophets and apostles, are God’s gifts to the church. (Eph. 4) The Lord’s people throughout the age have needed these aids, and have missed rich blessings when they have ignored them, as some in Corinth were doing. Still today some say, “I do not want any man’s opinions; I am of Christ.” What this may mean is that they do not want any man’s opinions except their own?

To be free in Christ is the ideal condition, but at times those who loudly proclaim their liberty do so because they have made liberty their creed and are so firmly bound by it that they are sectarian, and intolerant toward those who do not subscribe to their creed. Something like this occurred in Corinth.

Paul admonished the Corinthians to be followers of him. (I Cor 4:16) He wanted them to realize that this was not because he preached himself, but only Christ. He wanted them to follow his example, and to the extent that they did this they would be true followers of Jesus. Paul’s position in the church was that of a servant, but he was an inspired servant. He knew—as all true Christians have known since—that disloyalty to the truth as he taught it was disloyalty to the Lord. We should not conclude that loyalty to truth taught us by men the Lord raised up for this purpose, is sectarianism. Paul’s example of zeal was excellent, and to follow him means that we will be true followers of the Lord. Paul spoke of the Gospel of Christ as the “wisdom of God.” (I Cor. 1:24) The divine plan does indeed display a marvelous wisdom not appreciated by the worldly. But to those who are called, it is the mighty power of God in their lives, in proportion to their devotion to him. May we, like Paul, be determined not to know anything else except Christ crucified.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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