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2 Corinthians 6:6–8a

“By purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise.”

It seems clear from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians that the false apostles who troubled the church in Corinth loved to commend themselves. Apparently, they bragged of their “successes” in ministry, even boasting in themselves and comparing themselves to the Apostle Paul, looking down on him for his suffering (see 10:9–12; 11:1–12:10). Thus, it makes sense that Paul was not quick to commend himself with his own words (3:1; 5:12). Still, that did not mean Paul had nothing to commend the authenticity of his Apostolic call and ministry. In fact, many things commended him as a true Apostle of Jesus Christ, albeit indirectly. That is, Paul’s commendations were not direct statements from his own mouth but other evidences that verified his Apostolic office for those with the eyes to see them.

We saw in our last study that Paul viewed his sufferings for Christ as commendations of his ministry (6:3–5). These sufferings commended him in at least two different ways. First, since following Jesus involves taking up one’s cross (Matt. 16:24), suffering will be the lot of all those who are His true disciples. This suffering will look different from person to person, but all believers will, to some degree, suffer for the sake of Christ. If this is the case for all believers, it is even more the case for those called to be Apostles and to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Far from invalidating Paul’s call as an Apostle, suffering confirmed it.

Second, Paul’s suffering confirmed his Apostolic call in that it allowed him to be the agent through whom God revealed His power. Apostles are tasked primarily with pointing people to the Lord. If they have an effective ministry even while they suffer greatly, it proves that their power to minister belongs not to them but to the Creator (2 Cor. 4:7–12). A suffering Apostle with a powerful gospel ministry shows that the power of God is on him, thereby confirming his call.

Paul goes on in today’s passage to list other indirect confirmations of his Apostolic ministry. This time he lists qualities that are essentially the same as the fruit of the Holy Spirit (6:6–8a; see Gal. 5:22–23). He also talks about possessing “weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left” (2 Cor. 6:7), which is a metaphor for being thoroughly equipped with ethical righteousness. The Apostle’s overarching point is that his conduct is so evidently marked by the transforming power of God that he must be one of the servants of the Lord commissioned to speak on His behalf.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

There are no Apostles today. However, all Christians remain servants of the Lord, and one way that our servanthood is confirmed is that our lives demonstrate the transforming effects of the Holy Spirit. We will not be perfect before we are glorified (1 John 1:8–10), but the Holy Spirit works in the lives of all His people to conform them to Christ. Over time, we should see real change in our lives as we grow in holiness. It may come slowly, but it will be there.

For Further Study
  • Leviticus 19:1–2
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:7
  • 1 John 3:4–10

Faultless Ministry

The Consequences of Being Sent by God

Keep Reading The Doctrine of Justification

From the October 2021 Issue
Oct 2021 Issue