Monday, June 2, 2014

Essay 6—Closing Remarks—(6.b) Leadership and Admonitions

Outline: 033-E6.b-Leadership and Admonitions
Passage: 1 Corinthians 16:15-24
Discussion Audio (1h07m)

Paul continues winding down the letter. In these last few paragraphs Paul brings up Stephanas and his example. He sends greetings from the Christians in Asia Minor, and then from himself.

Paul exhorts the Corinthians to recognize and follow Stephanas as a Christian leader among them. Not because Stephanas exhibits traditional leadership characteristics such as vision, ambition, or gregariousness, but because he has, over time, demonstrated his willingness to love and serve his fellow brothers and sisters. The rallying cry for Christians is not “follow the one who leads” but rather, “follow the one who serves.” Not only Stephanas, but his entire household is commended as those whom the Corinthian Christians ought to follow and support. This would include Stephanas, his wife, and household servants, slaves, and freedmen. Christian leadership is not limited to those whom society, culture, or tradition regards as “leadership worthy,” or to those that a formal hierarchy or organization appoints, but to anyone who demonstrates self-giving service. Neither is this service is not limited to social assistance type work, but to any service gifted by the Spirit (including teaching and preaching).

The last few sentences are greetings to the Corinthians. In spite of all the problems found in the Corinthian church, Paul loves them. He desires that genuine reconciliation come about amongst the feuding parties. The Christian community is one, in spite of all the problems and differences.

Essay 6—Closing Remarks—(6.a) Finance for Ministry

Outline: 032-E6.a-Finance for the Ministry
Passage: 1 Corinthians 15:58-16:14
Discussion Audio (1h07m)

The closing of the First Epistle covers a few miscellaneous topics. The first two regards financing and travels. These two topics feature in the first half of chapter 16.

The topic of financing is not about general giving or collections, but about some specific needs. The first need is one that regards the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. Paul’s desire is that through participation in bringing relief to Jerusalem, the Jewish and Gentile Christians will come to a better understanding of one another, that they are one in Christ, and that they are not at odds.

The second need is for Paul himself. He desires to travel to new areas, but needs financing to do so. He expects the Corinthian church to help him in this respect. Earlier he had to defend his refusal to accept pay for ministry, but here he is requesting aid. The difference? While ministering in a location, he is able to work and fund himself, but while traveling he is unable to do so. In addition, acceptance of pay means some degree of control over him by those paying him. On the other hand acceptance of travel funds (especially if his destination is not disclosed) hold no strings over his ministry.

The third need is for Timothy. Paul is sending Timothy to Corinth, but he tells the Corinthians that it is their responsibility to send Timothy back.

All of this comes from Paul’s missiology. First, those funding the missionary do not get a say in how or where ministry happens. Second, the first step for a missionary is to come in need to those whom he or she ministers. Third, the people who have enjoyed the benefits of a missionary have a responsibility to send her or him back.

Looking at Paul’s missiology I sense that there is a significant difference between his principles and modern mission principles. Modern missions goes in well-funded, primarily to give, and funders want to know how and where their funds will be used. Maybe this isn’t all bad, but maybe there are some things missions can learn from how Paul practiced it.