Paul Testifies to the Marks of the Ministry Part 1
2 Corinthians 6:1-4 “We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Giving no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses” KJV
Paul now after declaring such a lofty truth to these Corinthian believers and to us immediately warns them and us of the peril and extreme danger in taking lightly the grace of God offered through the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul uses the English word beseech which is translated by the Greek word parakaleo which is a verb used here with meaning to beg, plead, entreat, implore, and to pray for them. Paul wanted to drive home his deep and passionate concern he must have had for some of their souls, not wanting to see any of them neglect or overlook or disregard this one and only method and manner of being made right with Almighty God by virtue of what Christ had become for sinful men (2 Corinthians 5:21). Paul did not want to see the plan of God through Christ work on the Cross and his plea as Christ Ambassador be all for nothing by virtue of them receiving or accepting God’s Grace in vain or kenos meaning one who boasts of his faith as a transcendent possession, yet is without the fruits of faith; faith which results in nothing, faith that is fruitless, faith without effect, faith of no purpose, and faith that is empty.
Paul quotes the message that God the Father spoke through the Prophet Isaiah to these Corinthian believers to emphasize the importance of this message or ministry of reconciliation he has been given for their sakes as Isaiah said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘In a favorable time I have answered You, And in a day of salvation I have helped You; And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages’” (Isaiah 49:8). The point being made here in the words spoken by Isaiah and revisited here by the Apostle Paul is that God the Father has opened up a door (John 10:9) as the only way that sinful men and women can enter in and be made right or righteous in His Sight, therefore, it is extremely urgent that His Offer be accepted and received genuinely now or else it will pass many by. Paul declares that it is his one and great desire to be true to God the Father through what our Lord Jesus Christ has done as he is enabled by the Holy Spirit to carry out this ministry of reconciliation he has been employed in giving no offence or proskope meaning to cause others to stumble or to lead others into error or sin and thereby bring disgrace, disrepute, and discrediting to the ministry damaging its reputation in the world. Paul instead wants his life to be approved or to exhibit in everything he does being a true minister of God in much patience or hupomone meaning steadfastness, constancy, and endurance; exemplifying himself as a man with the characteristic of one who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.
Paul also wanted his life and the ministry of reconciliation he put such a high value on (because it was given to him by God) to hold up under afflictions or thlipsis meaning distress, pressure, and oppression which Paul had more than his share of throughout the years. Paul also learned from our Lord Jesus Christ how to hold up under necessities or anagke meaning hardships imposed by virtue of circumstances, as he declared with these words he wrote to the Philippian believers when he said, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction” (Philippians 4:10-14).
Paul also navigated his way in his ministry through many distresses or stenochoria meaning a more heightened state of extreme afflictions and dire calamities, disasters, tragedies, and great losses not always that of a material form as meant by the previous word anagke but distresses or stenchoria Paul uses here surely was brought on by such examples in his life as when he declared, “But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow” (Philippians 2:25-27) or also when Paul declared this truth and fact in writing to Brother Timothy while languishing in a cold dungeon in Rome, “Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching. At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them” (2 Timothy 4:9-16).
“The gospel is a word of grace sounding in our ears; but it will be in vain for us to hear it, unless we believe it, and comply with the end and design of it. And as it is the duty of the ministers of the gospel to exhort and persuade their hearers to accept of grace and mercy which are offered to them, so they are honoured with this high title of co-workers with God. They must work; and must work for God and His glory, for souls and their good: and they are workers with God, yet under Him, as instruments only; however, if they be faithful, they may hope to find God working with them, and their labour will be effectual.” Matthew Henry
“The Christian life for the Apostle Paul was one filled with joy and full of glory, but at the same time it was one of excruciating physical pain, emotional pain, grief, and sadness that filled him up always because many men and women he knew and loved did receive God’s Grace ‘in vain’ and that was more distressing, afflicting, and heartbreaking to him than all the beatings he endured put together.” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…