Being a True Apostle of Jesus Christ

Being a True apostle of Jesus Christ

(2 Corinthians 4: 1-6)

The purpose of St. Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians was to defend himself and the Gospel from the claims of false apostles rising in Corinth. The reading from the beginning of Chapter 4 is only a glimpse of St. Paul's efforts to reveal to the Corinthians the falsehood they are subject to. St. Paul alludes in v. 1 to "this ministry" which by looking at the previous chapter, we see is the "ministry of the Spirit" , that of the New Covenant. St. Paul reminds us that we have this New Covenant because "we have received mercy"  and therefore "we do not lose heart".  We must not forget that the New Covenant granted to us through Jesus Christ to save us from the wages of sin are not a result of our merit but rather the embodiment of the loving kindness of our Creator. St. Paul reminds the Corinthians of this great gift of mercy as the source for his strength to endure the challenges placed before him. While the Old Covenant was for the people of Israel, the New Covenant through Jesus Christ offers the gift of salvation to all who choose to accept it. As he says in v. 3 "those who are perishing" are those who refuse the mercy of God and thus the Gospel remains veiled to them by their own doing. He goes on to say in v. 4 that their minds "the god of this age has blinded" ; those who turn away from God are consumed by desires of the world and led into deceit and falsehood by Satan. 

In v. 2 St. Paul speaks to the character that true believers should posses, that one should renounce the "hidden things of shame", one should not "handle the word of God deceitfully"  and therefore be able to commend themselves to "every man's conscience in the sight of God". The false apostles in Corinth were hypocrites and deceivers but St. Paul challenges us to be so pure of heart that we may be able to stand in holiness and be a true witness for Christ in front of every man. It is easy for us to become a false witness, to portray ourselves in a holy manner in certain situations while holding onto and manifesting our sins in secret.

The most significant distinction between the false apostles and St. Paul is seen in v. 5 "For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake".  The false apostles sought to discredit St. Paul and elevate themselves over him. St. Paul rebukes this motivation by reasserting that the purpose of his work is not to glorify himself but rather to glorify Christ Jesus the Lord. This serves as a warning for us as believers and a litmus test for us to consider in this day and age. The warning is for those who serve in any capacity to constantly evaluate what our motivation is and it should always be to bring glory to God so that we do not become like a false apostle. Secondly, when we hear  any message claiming to proclaim the Word of God, the first thing to determine is whether it is abundantly clear the speaker seeks to glorify himself or God. Let us pray that God grant us the discernment to not be led astray by the false apostles of this age. 

In this short passage St. Paul teaches us several things. The first, to be mindful of the mercy of God that has offered us a means to reconcile ourselves to God and that by rejecting that gift we are willfully blinding ourselves to be led astray by Satan. Second, that we should stand as true believers in front of man and God without falsehood in our hearts. Lastly, that we must always remember that any service or ministry that we do is for the glory of God and not ourselves. Let us pray as we meditate on this passage that we may be true apostles of Jesus Christ as St. Paul was.

Questions for Reflection

1) What are the hidden things of shame that you have not renounced in your life that keep you from being a true witness of Christ?

2) Have you had moments in your life where you realized your sole motivation for serving in a ministry was not to bring glory to God?