Summary: Christians have a long-standing tradition of being confused about church leadership and the identity of the Christian lay person. The Corinthian church experienced this problem even in the middle of the first century! Who are we?
[Note: this sermon was so long -- or my preaching of it -- that I was only to cover my first point in 1/2 hour]
Paul on the Defense: 2 Corinthians Intro
(2 Corinthians 1:1-2, textual)
1. Paul plants the church in Corinth (about 51 A.D.)
2. Paul writes I Corinthians (about 54 A.D.)
3. Timothy and Stephanas have a positive ministry correcting problems
4. The "Super Apostles" (false) arrive with letters of recommendation from a church
5. Paul visits Corinth and has a "painful" (harsh) visit
6. Paul writes a "severe" letter (lost) to confront ongoing problems, delivered by Titus
7. Paul meets Titus in Macedonia and reports the Corinthians were responsive
8. Paul writes 2 Corinthians about 56 A.D.
Paul is on the defense in 2 Corinthians. Paul had that to deal with agendas just as almost every church has to deal with: "I'm of Apollos, I'm of Peter" etc.
But he had a lot of other problems, too. Because of his self-defense in 2 Cor., we can deduce the following accusations were made against Paul at Corinth:
• Paul was not qualified to be an apostle or was an inferior one
• He had never known Jesus during Jesus' earthly ministry, therefore inferior
• He did not carry letters of recommendation from an established church
• He was fickle and made promises that he did not keep
• He taught that Christians could live lawlessly and said bad things about Torah
• Paul's teaching and presence did not evoke religious feelings or awe
• If Paul were truly professional, he would accept financial support from the Cor.
• Paul had health issues and was often poor, thus out of God's favor
• He was harsh when he wrote, but weak and weasel-like in person
• Paul loved to brag about himself
• He did not have deep experiences with the Spirit nor supernatural visions
• His teachings were unclear, not relevant, impractical, and beyond understanding
• Paul liked attention but was not very dedicated; he had bad motives
• He was all head and no heart; he was not gentle and was weak in love
Ben Witherington suggests that 2 Corinthians 2:17 is the key verse.
Paul had to defend his right to authority in the culture that founded democracy, the Greek culture, with people who thought their opinions counted as much or more than his.
Main Idea: Christians have a long-standing tradition of being confused about church leadership and the identity of the Christian lay person. The Corinthian church experienced this problem even in the middle of the first century! Who are we?
I. God-called Ministers Are His GIFT to the Church (1:1)
A. Called by the will of God, not just LED (I Corinthians 1:1)
"Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother…"
• IMO, a calling means who you are is mandated by God (called); a commission
• A leading refers more to what you do… (desires a good thing)
• I Corinthians 9:16 is a good taste of how it feels to be called, "For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel."
B. Paul was set apart from BIRTH (Galatians 1:15)
"But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace …"
• When I went to Moody, I thought I was preparing for vocational ministry
• Now I realize my entire life was a preparation…
C. God gifts the church with CALLED men (Ephesians 4:11-13)
"And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ."
1. We will find out later that Paul would not take finances from Cor. –attitude
2. They wanted him to be a hired hand they could control, not God's servant whom they would support; he refused to play that game
D. Sometimes that CALLING becomes apparent later (I Timothy 5:17-18)
"The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, 'YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,' and 'The laborer is worthy of his wages.'”
Tony Evans writes: "Make no mistake about it. No matter how big a church's staff may be, there is always a primary leader who has been invested by God with authority and responsibility. This leader is not a despot, and he is accountable to the body of elders…There has to be a place where the buck stops, and there has to be a leader who leads the way in formulating and implementing the church's vision… "(p. 971, Theology)