Summary: The glory of Christ is witnessed in what many consider to be the pedestrian. The people of God, serving as the hands of Christ, the eyes of Christ, the mouth of Christ, are the glory of Christ.

“As for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.” [1]

Reading the Word one Sunday morning, I was arrested by something Paul wrote in his Second Letter to the Christians in Corinth. The Apostle has been urging the Corinthian congregation to be generous as they collected gifts designated for the relief of Jewish believers who were then suffering. Jerusalem was experiencing a famine, and the Christians of the city were in great difficulty because the civic authorities were using this natural disaster as an excuse to discriminate against followers of The Way. Therefore, believers throughout the world were receiving offerings designated for relief of the famine for their brothers and sisters.

Paul would be sending workers who were designated to receive the gifts that the churches in Achaia were expected to provide. These men would then carry the gifts to Jerusalem where the elders would distribute them to those who were starving. The Apostle had been boasting of the generosity they could expect to find in Corinth. Now, he wanted to assure the church of the authenticity of those he would send. Paul would be sending Titus, whom he commends as his “partner and fellow worker” in seeking the gifts that the Corinthians had received.

Then, as I read the latter part of this 23rd verse, I noticed something I had passed over many times before while reading these verses. I was aware that Paul had written that accompanying Titus would be some men who were messengers of the churches. It is his description of those men that arrested me, compelling me to reflect on those whom the churches choose to represent them. Paul says these men were “the glory of Christ.”

We become pretty blasé about those with whom we share worship week-by-week. Seriously, how do you think of those sharing this service with you? Do you see them as friends? Certainly, I would hope that to be the case. Perhaps you see your fellow worshippers as people engaged in the same daily activities that are characteristic of your life. I mean, they live pretty much as you live and conduct their daily routines in a manner not dissimilar from your own life. Nevertheless, what is likely not prominent in your understanding of your fellow worshippers is their identity given by the Lord Himself as “the glory of Christ.” And I would hope that you are included in that assessment as one who is counted among people as “the glory of Christ.”

Those chosen by the congregation, individuals who share the Faith of Christ the Lord and carry out the routine ministries that ensure the expectations of the assembly are carried out, are to be seen as “the glory of Christ.” I wonder whether we see with the eyes of the Saviour, and especially whether we see His glorious work in the lives of otherwise common people with whom we share this holy Faith. I wonder whether we truly value the rich privilege that is ours in sharing worship in this place with people that are now revealing “the glory of Christ.”

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE REDEEMED — “Our brothers…” The Apostle is not talking about super Christians when he speaks of these individuals whom he calls “the glory of Christ;” he is speaking of men who are followers of the Son of God, just as he is a follower of the Son of God. In making this statement, Paul was not merely praising a few individuals, he was glorifying God who works in the lives of those whom we might otherwise call average Christians.

To be certain, the brothers in view in Paul’s letter were specifically chosen by the churches to represent them. He calls them “messengers,” according to the translation I am using. This is a fascinating translation. It is not wrong; in fact, this is the translation of choice found in numerous other translations, such as the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, the NET BIBLE, and the CHRISTIAN STANDARD BIBLE, going back many generations. The word that is translated “messengers,” is the Greek word apóstolos. If you listen carefully, you will hear our English word “apostle.” These men were “apostles” of the churches.

The word apóstolos appears seventy-nine times in the Greek New Testament; it is translated “apostle” or “apostles” seventy-four of those times when it appears. We understand who is in view, and we have a general understanding of the role of those identified as the Lord’s Apostles. Interestingly enough, the word does not always refer to the Twelve or to Paul; on occasion, the word refers to others. Twice, Paul used the word in a derogatory sense in referring to men he identified as “super-apostles.” He was referring to individuals who were puffed up with their own self-importance; they held an exaggerated view of their own person. However, there are some occasions when the actual meaning of the word was intended when it was used.

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