Saturday, 30 August 2014
If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 9:2
It can be inferred from these words of Paul that there were people who had come to Corinth and accused Paul of not being a true apostle. Some have speculated that it was from the camp of Peter, but this is unlikely, unless it was at a time before Peter fully grasped the nature of Paul’s ministry. In his second epistle, Peter wrote the following words concerning Paul. They conclusively show that he believed in and supported Paul’s apostleship, including the authority of his letters which he actually places on the same level as all other Scripture –
“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:14-16
Whoever it was who was attempting to undermine Paul’s authority, he gives his own defense here to show that his ministry is a valid one. Beginning with “If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you.” So what if others don’t accept his status as an apostle? This shouldn’t matter at all to those in Corinth because those in Corinth were brought to Christ through his ministry. If they had called on Christ after hearing his words, then their actions validate that he was a minister of Christ. One cannot lead someone to Christ if they are talking about someone other than Christ!
In substantiation of this, he continues by saying, “For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” Their conversion is the proof needed that he is, in fact, an apostle. He has already shown that he meets all of the requirements of being an apostle. Using that status, his work resulted in their conversion and thus “sealed” those necessary requirements of the office; they were a convincing demonstration of his apostolic authority. The “seal” (or Greek sphragis), is a seal, signet ring, or impression of the seal or ring which attests to the validity of what was conveyed. His words show that they are the attestation of his office, one that was sure and irrevocable.
Understanding this seal in the Corinthians, we can then rightly deduce that Paul’s words are valid for doctrine, reproof, and correction. His letters, included in the pages of Scripture, are fully authoritative and they have been attested to by those who came to Christ through his ministry. Like Peter’s comments about Paul above, the Bible is a self-validating document. It is a marvel and a treasure and it gives us the certainty that we are on the right track in the pursuit of our faith.
Life application: If you come to a time of doubt in your faith, the best place to go is to the Bible. The more you open it and read it, the surer you will be of He whom you have trusted. God has organized it in such a way that it will resolve your doubts, edify your walk, and correct your thinking. Be content in the fact that you have properly trusted in God’s provision when you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ!
Well Lord, another day is here and I’m still waiting on Your return. Instead of worrying about that, I will rejoice in it. You have shown that I have another day to tell others about Your goodness. I won’t waste it speculating on whether you’ll be back tomorrow or the next day. Instead, I’ll use the time You have granted in the way in which You intended… to glorify You, to give You praise, to tell others about Your offer, and to faithfully work in the job in which You have placed me. You’ll be back at the right moment. Until then, I am content to wait. Amen.