ISSUE 2: THE MINISTRY OF AN APOSTLE We continue today…
ISSUE 2: THE MINISTRY OF AN APOSTLE
We continue today with the second issue which Apostle Paul addressed to the Church in Corinth. You can check for the first issue Paul addressed on my wall, to get the clearer picture of this post.
Part of the duties of an Apostle is that he governs! He is a church builder, a forerunner, a guide, a father. He is responsible for the wellbeing of believers placed under him to nurture and groom in a particular territory; he puts checks and balances where necessary, and he restores order in the body of Christ within his sphere. This was what Paul was doing in this his letter.
This chapter is however, divided into three sections:
✓ Verses 1-8: The error in comparing ministers
✓ Verses 9-13: The Cross of Ministry
✓ Verses 14-21: Restoring order in the Body
THE ERROR OF COMPARING MINISTERS
1 Cor. 4:1-8 (The Message)
1. Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we aren’t. We are servants of Christ, not His masters. We are guides into God’s most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them.
2. The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge.
3. It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don’t even rank myself. Comparisons in these matters are pointless.
4. I’m not aware of anything that would disqualify me from being a good guide for you, but that doesn’t mean much. The Master makes that judgment.
5. So don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in. When He comes, He will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of — inner motives and purposes and prayers. Only then will any one of us get to hear the “Well done!” of God.
6. All I’m doing right now, friends, is showing how these things pertain to Apollos and me so that you will learn restraint and not rush into making judgments without knowing all the facts. It’s important to look at things from God’s point of view. I would rather not see you inflating or deflating reputations based on mere hearsay.
7. For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing?
8. You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle. Without bringing either Apollos or me into it, you’re sitting on top of the world — at least God’s world — and we’re right there, sitting alongside you!
The entire bible originally wasn’t written in chapters and verses, it was written as long Hebrew and Greek scrolls with no punctuation marks. It was the Council of Rome (Catholic Church officials and theologians) that canonized only the Holy Spirit-inspired Bible (what we have today amongst Pentecostals), into chapters and verses in AD 382. Because for me, the first few verses of this chapter should have been in chapter three, since they carry the same message as chapter three. However, these verses account Paul’s continuation of his polemic view, of his ministry, in contrast to the comparison made by the brethren between him and Apollos.
Paul began by stating how accountable and accurate in preaching preachers must be, how simple and humble they must be, and how preachers must not be worshipped by their spiritual children. He also reiterates his position – stating how pointless it is to be ranked (King James Bible used “judged”) by them; because the Corinthian brethren didn’t just chose their preferred preacher between Paul and Apollos, they actually compared or ranked the duo. I wonder which ranking system they used.
“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” 2Cor. 10:12 (KJV).
THE CROSS OF MINISTRY
1 Cor 4:9-14 (THE MESSAGE)
9. It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket. We’re something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street.
10 We’re the Messiah’s misfits. You might be sure of yourselves, but we live in the midst of frailties and uncertainties. You might be well-thought-of by others, but we’re mostly kicked around.
11. Much of the time we don’t have enough to eat, we wear patched and threadbare clothes, and we get doors slammed in our faces,
12. And we pick up odd jobs anywhere we can to eke out a living. When they call us names, we say, “God bless you.”
13. When they spread rumors about us, we put in a good word for them. We’re treated like garbage, potato peelings from the culture’s kitchen. And it’s not getting any better.
Here Paul explained clearer to them what the life of a Preacher entails: their attitude and conduct in ministry, their livelihood ventures, their accompanying perils even in the face persecution, etc. The life of a believer is a life sentenced to both victories and persecutions, and both gain and loses; for Christ’s sake. Jesus assured us of this truth (John 16:33).
May God have mercy on all those who speak evil of God’s true servants in ministry; such persons are ignorant, and don’t have an idea of what these men of God go through for the Gospel’s sake. This section isn’t a justification for fake preachers like “Indaboski” etc, to be parading around.
The truth is, there are fake ministers of God around, and speaking about their misdeeds isn’t wrong at all. On the other hand, speaking ill about God’s true servants, is wrong – wrong because you’re accusing someone wrongly; but scripturally, there isn’t any curse from God for doing so; else Jesus would have said so.
On His way to Calvary the Jews said all manner of ill things against Him but He did nothing to them. The apostles and Paul too were persecuted for the Gospel’s sake. Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego were persecuted for the Lord. All these believers had the same attitude when persecuted. Paul said when men persecuted him like they did to Jesus he’ll say to them: “God bless you.” If it’s some ministers today that are insulted, they’ll start raining curses – just as Elisha did to those little kids. Any gospel that excludes the believer from persecution is a fake gospel.
“And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.” (Luke 21:16-17).
RESTORING ORDER IN THE BODY
1 Cor 4:14-21 (AMP)
14. I do not write this to shame you, but to warn and counsel you as my beloved children.
15. After all, though you should have ten thousand teachers (guides to direct you) in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the glad tidings (the Gospel).
16. So I urge and implore you, be imitators of me.
17. For this very cause I sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord, who will recall to your minds my methods of proceeding and course of conduct and way of life in Christ, such as I teach everywhere in each of the churches.
18. Some of you have become conceited and arrogant and pretentious, counting on my not coming to you.
19. But I will come to you [and] shortly, if the Lord is willing, and then I will perceive and understand not what the talk of these puffed up and arrogant spirits amount to, but their force ( the moral power and excellence of soul they really possess).
20. For the kingdom of God consists of and is based on not talk but power ( moral power and excellence of soul).
21. Now which do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of correction, or with love and in a spirit of gentleness?
As stated earlier, part of the duties of an Apostle is that he restores order to the Body of Christ under his oversight by putting checks and balances. Apollos whom Paul handed the oversight of the Church to, after he left for missionary journey at Asia, was obviously doing something else other than accurate discipleship – he had left the discipleship manual Paul gave him, and was working with something else.
All though Paul didn’t give us the specifics of what Apollos did there, but he sure revealed the kind of disciples Apollos raised – believers who were grandiosely arrogant and grandiloquently fustian in their speech and conducts… “Some of you have become conceited and arrogant and pretentious” (1 Cor. 4:18, AMP).
So in Paul’s slant in restoring order, he sent his tested and loyal spiritual son, Timothy to take over the oversight of the Church and to enforce the original landmark of Christ which Paul patterned for them.
“For this very cause I sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord, who will recall to your minds my methods of proceeding and course of conduct and way of life in Christ, such as I teach everywhere in each of the churches”(1 Cor. 4:17, AMP).
There are many good, sound and accurate preachers of God around, and every believer ought to have them in his quiver (either in print or audio formats), and feed from them every day. Sadly, what is common today is that some believers only listen to their pastors or GOs. Naturally, we don’t eat only one type of everyday, else we’ll malnourish; hence we eat balanced diets. Academically, students don’t offer only one subject in schools, we offer many subjects for one class – for us to be balanced mentally. Spiritually too, we ought to feed from these accurate men of God daily, for our spirits to be balanced. On the other hand, while Paul expressed his approval of them having so many teachers, even up to ten thousand of them if they so desired, he stated that they have only one spiritual father – himself. He alone had oversight over their souls.
We believers too are at liberty to attend meetings of other ministries, listen to messages of other ministers, and read books of other ministers (we must never be cajoled into a religious box of listening to your GO alone); but we must have one spiritual father whom we submit ourselves to spiritually – they have spiritual oversight over our souls, which they give account to God always. A believer without a spiritual father is believer that won’t go farther in life.
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17 KJV).
God bless you!