Paul's Confidence in the Corinthians: Part 3 of 3 (series: Lessons on 2 Co.)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

The question asked in verse 16 is who is sufficient for these things? One might expect the answer, “No man.” But Paul implies in this verse that the apostles are sufficient. Not in themselves, nor by their own resources (2 Cor. 3:5){11]; but Paul like every true apostle is sufficient. The many, that is, the false apostles who have been troubling the Corinthians (2 Cor. 11:13){12], are not. They are hucksters, peddlers. They think of personal advantage and profit (2 Cor. 11:20){13]; they adulterate God’s Word, the message of salvation, to suit their interests (2 Cor. 11:4){14]; and so Paul applies to them the figure of the unscrupulous petty tradesman or peddler who thinks only of using every tricky means to make financial profit. In contrast, the ministry of Paul and his apostolic comrades stands the test; they can be trusted with the life and death issues of the gospel.
a) They are sincere; integrity and loyalty to God rule their motives and methods.
b) They are sent from God and get their message from Him.
c) They give their Christian witness knowing that they speak in God’s presence and so are known to Him and responsible to Him.
d) They speak in Christ; their lives are linked with his, and they do their work in His Spirit and with the Power God gives through Him.

Peddlers are petty merchants who sell their wares from door to door. I remember as a child that my mother bought encyclopedias from a door-to-door salesman and brushes from the Fuller Brush man. It is an occupation that has all but disappeared in our day. But here, Paul seems to suggest that there is dishonesty on the part of these peddlers. The apostle is thinking of men who use cunning to persuade people to buy cheap and adulterated goods. They are not concerned either with the quality of the goods or with the real interests of their customers. Some preachers are only clever salesmen, doing good business for themselves. Their stake in the truth they preach is not the good of their hearers, but the advancement of their own reputation. Paul insists that the preacher must be sincere without mixed motives, and seeking no personal gain. He cares only for the reputation of Christ. He must be a channel of truth, not an exhibitionist who puts himself in the forefront. He will present the truth unadulterated by specious ideas of his own, by political bias, or merely patriotic enthusiasm. He will not appeal to the self-interest of his hearers, but to their interest in the kingdom of God. Only a preacher’s utter sincerity combined with truth will deliver him from unworthy motives, and from the self-consciousness, the timidity, the doubt and the discouragements that spring from self-concern. He must do his work in the sight of God. Integrity in truth can come in no other way. To know that God is watching will keep us from “handling the Word of God deceitfully” (2 Cor. 4:2).

This is the entire plan of the Christian ministry. We are not to corrupt the Word of God or distort it or make merchandise of it, but to give it out in sincerity as the Spirit of God reveals its truth to us.

Scripture Reference and Special Notes
{1](1 Cor. 16:5) Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia).
(2 Cor. 1:16)
{2] to pass by way of you to Macedonia, to come again from Macedonia to you, and be helped by you on my way to Judea.
{3](2 Cor. 1:23) Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth.
{4] (Acts 16:8) So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.
{5] (2 Cor. 7:5-7) For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. 6 Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.
{6](2 Cor. 8:16) But thanks be to God who puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus.
{7](Philem. 1, 9) Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, 9 yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you--being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ--
{8] (Rom. 1:1) Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God
{9](Rom. 15:16) that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
10 (Eph. 5:2) And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
{11] (2 Cor. 3:5) Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,
{12] (2 Cor. 11:13) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.
{13] (2 Cor. 11:20) For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.
{14] (2 Cor. 11:4) For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted--you may well put up with it!
{15] (Acts 14:27) Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
{16] (1 Cor. 16:9) For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
{17] (Col. 4:3) meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains,

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