You Are Proof of Our Ministry   Leave a comment

We took a break for the holiday, but now we’re back to continue the study of 2 Corinthians.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? We don’t need letters of recommendation to you or from you as some other people do, do we? You yourselves are our letter, written on our heartsknown and read by everyone, revealing that you are a letter of Christdelivered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living Godnot on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts.

Now we have such confidence in God through Christ. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but  our adequacy is from God, who made us adequate to be servants of a new covenant not based on the letter but on the Spiritfor the letter killsbut the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Image result for image of sawing off a branch you're sitting onIt was a common practice in the ancient world to expect a letter of recommendation from another person or group of people detailing their qualifications to do whatever it was they were coming to do. It’s similar to how we present a resume at a job interview. Of course, today, we often present a cover letter and resume by email before the interview, but in Paul’s day, they lacked mass communication. The Didache, a collection of early Christian writings, reveals that letters of recommendation were common in the early Christian world. If a teacher or evangelist came to a town where they were not known, it was common for them to bring a letter from another congregation, recommending the spiritual qualifications of the individual. This was necessary as even Lucian, the pagan satirist, noted that any con-artist could rip off Christians because they were so hospitable, inviting, and trusting.

Up to this point, Paul argued that the legitimacy of his apostolic ministry was based on his sufferings. The Messiah suffered, and what is true of Him is true of His people. Paul’s sufferings demonstrated the source of his ministry. That was a good argument as far as it went.

Now Paul switched his argument to answer the ongoing challenges to his authority. He now argued for the validity of his ministry based on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, using a line of reason that continues through to Chapter 4 verse 6,  in which he compared and contrasted the Old and New covenants as a way to demonstrate the difference between his type of ministry and that of others.

Image result for image of sawing off a branch you're sitting onThose in Corinth who were challenging Paul’s legitimacy were evidently claiming that some of the material in 1 Corinthians in which Paul defended his ministry, was serving as his attempt to recommend himself. They were likely claiming that Paul could only recommend himself and had no such verification from anyone else. He was not, according to their arguments, an apostle at all. That probably brought up some bad memories about how he was not accepted when he first began preaching. A bit sensitive, Paul responded with sarcasm when he asked if his defense of his ministry in chapters 1 and 2 sounded like another self-recommendation. In the ancient world, letters of recommendation showed that someone lacked their own evidence to back up the claims they were making. They were a substitute for credibility. Paul shouldn’t have needed that because the existence of the Corinthian Church is his letter of recommendation. The Corinthian Christians themselves were the source of his credibility. If they were the verification of his ministry, then the inherent question is, were they acting like it? What would people know of Paul based on the way they were acting? Paul basically told them that what was true of them was true of him. Thus, if they questioned his legitimacy and his ministry, then they called themselves and their faith into existence. If Paul was not a legitimate apostle, then they had just cut off the branch their faith rested on.

Paul referenced two well-known Scriptural references in verse 3: Exodus 34:29-35, the account of Moses and the stone tablets, and Jeremiah 31:31-34, the promise of the new covenant that would be written on the hearts of God’s people. Paul contrasted the Old Covenant with the New, promised Covenant, saying that his ministry was the fulfillment of the promise — a ministry empowered by the Holy Spirit and written on the hearts of people. Paul’s God had promised a time when He would give a covenant that would be written on hearts, not stone tablets. Paul’s ministry was the fulfillment of that promise, and so could not be defined by written letters. He was making a connection between the need for letters and the Old Covenant Law.

Rather than questioning his legitimacy, the Corinthians should have realize that Paul’s recommendation, which was the Corinthian Church, showed him to be quite legitimate and competent. Paul had confidence not only in his own ministry, but in the church at Corinth. This confidence didn’t build him up or  say anything wonderful about Paul the man. Every aspect of Paul’s ministry came from God. It was God Who chose Paul and made him fit for duty as a minister of the New Covenant. Just as God called men like Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and made them sufficient despite their insufficiency, so He did the same for Paul. In contrast, the Old Covenant law was expressed in writing and was not kept by men, leading to their death. Now, Paul’s ministry was sufficient because it was powered by the Spirit that empowers God’s Word, which should be obeyed from the heart.

 

What's Your Opinion?

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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

Jacquie Biggar-USA Today Best-selling author

It's All about the Romance 💕💕💕

Not Very Deep Thoughts

Short Fiction and Other Things

Homestead on the Range

Abundant Living in Flyover Country

Ediciones Promonet

Libros e eBooks educativos y de ficción

the dying fish

Book info, ordering, about me etc. in upper right

STRAIGHT LINE LOGIC

Never underestimate the power of a question

Healthy Ebooks

Healthy tips to live more & better!

Mikes Film Talk

Entertainment, Films, Books, Television

Radical Capitalist

Anti-State. Anti-Left. Pro-White.

PushUP24

Health, Fitness, and Relationships is a great way to start living again.

MG WELLS

✪ Enjoy The Journey!

ouryoungaddicts.wordpress.com/

Too many young people are becoming addicted to drugs/alcohol. OYA is a community of parents and professionals sharing experiences, resources and hopes on the spectrum of addiction, treatment and recovery.

%d bloggers like this: