The Apostolic Model For Christian Ministry: An Analysis Of 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 -- By: Fred G. Zaspel

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 07:1 (Winter 1998)
Article: The Apostolic Model For Christian Ministry: An Analysis Of 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Author: Fred G. Zaspel

The Apostolic Model For Christian Ministry: An Analysis Of 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Fred G. Zaspel

The Corinthian church is well known for its problems, and Paul’s purpose in writing to that church is rather obvious. He had that all-too-common pastoral responsibility of fixing things. People do have a way of breeding problems, and pastors do have a way of getting into the middle of them. The problems must be solved. Error must be exposed. And God’s design for His church must be realized in real life.

What is interesting is that the apostle Paul seemed to think that all problems need the same solution: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We will see something of how Paul works this out in other contexts also, but in this first problem, the problem of divisions in the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:10ff.), Paul works out this principle in a way that is particularly instructive.

Given that the people were divided over ministers and given Paul’s attention to their mistaken emphasis on human “wisdom,” it seems that the church was dividing over the comparative impressiveness of the preacher. Perhaps they were enamored with the various styles of preaching, and so they chose which one they enjoyed most and set that up as the “best.” It is in response to this that Paul begins his discussion of the nature of the gospel ministry. Beginning in 1:17 he explains that his whole reason for being is to preach the gospel and that in such a way

so as not to draw attention to himself. He would not minister in such a way as to create a Pauline faction within the body of Christ. No, that would leave people impressed with the wrong person. And if they are impressed with the wrong person, the gospel is thereby emptied of its value, rendered useless (kenothe, v. 17).

True Christian ministry cannot form
factions or give glory to ministers. Gospel
ministry has another character altogether.
Both the form of Christian ministry and
its content are shaped by gospel truth

Further, he has come only to preach the gospel simply “because”1 this is the only message that works (v. 18). No other message can save but this one of Christ and His cross. Paul develops this thought at some length showing that the “foolishness of God” is wiser than man’s highest wisdom (vv. 19–31). Man’s highest wisdom never brought fellowshi...

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