The Objectives of Change, Factors of Transformation, and the Causes of Results: The Evidence of Paul’s Corinthian Correspondence -- By: Eckhard J. Schnabel
Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 26:2 (Fall 2005)
Article: The Objectives of Change, Factors of Transformation, and the Causes of Results: The Evidence of Paul’s Corinthian Correspondence
Author: Eckhard J. Schnabel
TRINJ 26:2 (Fall 2005) p. 179
The Objectives of Change, Factors of Transformation,
and the Causes of Results:
The Evidence of Paul’s Corinthian Correspondence
Eckhard J. Schnabel is Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.
It is my task to describe and analyze the objectives of change, the factors of transformation, and the causes of results in Paul’s letters to the Corinthian Christians.1 Since Paul was a missionary and a pastor, I will describe the available evidence for two areas: for Paul’s objectives as a missionary preaching to Jews and Gentiles, seeking to lead them to faith in Jesus Messiah and Lord, and for his objectives as a pastor of a local church who seeks to consolidate Jewish and Gentile believers in their faith and in the transformation of their lives as believers who live in a pagan society.
In order to provide a framework for our analysis of Paul’s approach to missionary and to pastoral work, it will be helpful to outline the apostle’s understanding of himself and of other missionaries and teachers. Paul explains his self-understanding as a pioneer missionary in 1 Cor 3:5–15.2 The problem that Paul discusses concerns Corinthian Christians who believe that sophia (“wisdom”) is a decisive reality for the spirituality of Christians and congregations and a fundamental criterion for evaluating the effectiveness of Christian preachers and teachers. This kind of thinking prompted Christians in Corinth to champion different teachers of the church, causing the formation of groupings within the church and provoking divisions. Paul’s arguments reveal his convictions about his work as a missionary.
Paul understands himself as a “servant” (diakonos; 1 Cor 3:5). Since Apollos and other teachers who have been or who are active in the church are also diakonoi, all high-handedness concerning missionary work and all self-interest concerning successful church
TRINJ 26:2 (Fall 2005) p. 180
work are rendered impossible.3 Paul knows himself to be bound to God and to Jesus Christ, which excludes the possibility that he or anyone else might rule over the church or within the church. Paul’s identification of preachers and teachers as “servants” turns the frame of reference of Greco-Roman society and its notion of social prestige upside down. This is a deliberate and consistent emphasis of Paul: all apostles, missionaries, and pre...
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