Ministers Must be MildFebruary 27, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
Tags: 1 Corinthians 4, Christian ministers, Christian ministry, commentary on 1 Corinthians, following Jesus, ministry, servant leaders, servant leadership, Sunday School lessons on 1 Corinthians
In I Corinthians 4 the Holy Spirit used the Apostle Paul to teach that Christian ministers must be managers. Paul went on, through the literary device of holy sarcasm, to show that ministers must also be meek. Then he got literal again.
I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
I Corinthians 4:14-15
It is as if Paul was saying, “Despite my harsh and mocking tone in the previous thoughts, I do – I really do – have a special love for you. And you, of all people, should know that I’m not out to shame you, trick you, or lead you astray.”
Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
I Corinthians 4:16
How would such a statement be received today? We are used to Christian leaders (at least orthodox Christian leaders!) emphasizing that only Christ Himself should be our role model, and that men, no matter how blameless or holy they may appear, are unworthy of imitation. However, what Paul says here (being infallible Scripture) is sound. Christian ministers do need to be striving to be able to say this honestly, first of all to our kids, and, for those of us called to servant leadership in a local church body, as leaders in our churches: “Follow me – as I follow Christ.”
For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
I Corinthians 4:17
Timothy was not Paul’s biological son, but his “spiritual son,” probably having been brought to Christ and personally discipled by him. Paul made a point of saying that Timothy has been “faithful in the Lord,” carrying on the theme of the primacy of faithfulness in ministry. Timothy would remind the Corinthian Christians that Paul was in Christ, and that, as such, he could be and should be followed. The Holy Spirit could inspire Paul to appeal to his own consistency without fear of contradiction.
Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.
I Corinthians 4:18
This was a very pointed accusation – threatening even – as if Paul was saying, “You talk big when I am not around, but I’m coming to face you in person.”
But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
I Corinthians 4:19
He alludes to God’s sovereignty (“if the Lord will“), and makes it clear that the Knows should be able to recognize the Know-Nots, as he proposes a showdown, almost Elijah-style, for any who would question the Lord’s power upon him.
For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
I Corinthians 4:20
This means not in word ONLY, and, more specifically, not in professions only, but in the power of transforming Truth.
What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?
I Corinthians 4:21
This is the practical equivalent of a dad warning rowdy children in the backseat of the car on a long trip, “Don’t make me come back there. I will pull this car over. I can get everyone an Icee or ice packs. Pucker or duck. Hugging or mugging.