Thursday, 25 June 2015
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. 2 Corinthians 2:17
Paul’s words in this verse reflect a horrifying truth concerning false teachers; they were present even at this extremely early point in church history. He has to actually contrast himself to them because of their numbers which are hoi polloi – “the many.” In other words, the majority of those proclaiming the word of God were hucksters. It should be noted though that this could be anyone proclaiming portions of the Jewish canon because this was “the word of God” at that time. The New Testament didn’t yet exist.
Therefore, they could intentionally be proclaiming Christ incorrectly, proclaiming a false Christ, or they could otherwise be engaged in some misuse of the Scriptures which existed. And the reason for this type of misuse of Scripture was because there was profit in it. They were “peddling the word of God” The word used here is kapéleuó. It is found only here in the New Testament and it means “properly, to act as an unscrupulous merchant, i.e. ‘a huckster‘ who profits by ‘peddling the Word of God’ for personal gain.”
Involvement in religion has always been an easy way to benefit off of others. If someone is an eloquent orator, a smart businessman, or a cunning deceiver, he can make a great deal off a religious presentation. This is because a desire to know more about such things is instilled in all of us. If the right buttons are pushed, the cash will generally flow out from the target with ease.
However, there is a contrast to this which is teaching the word of God out of “sincerity.” Paul notes that this was the intent of himself and those with him. They determined to teach “as from God.” This means of teaching is often far less rewarding from a monetary standpoint because it involves an effort in thinking that most don’t want to engage in. Proper theology is actually hard work for an individual to assimilate. Most people would rather be taught what to believe and then follow through with that belief regardless of its truth because it is easier to swallow and often goes down smoothly.
Paul wanted nothing of this. Instead he said that “we speak in the sight of God in Christ.” He knew to whom he was accountable and he feared what not speaking the truth meant. Others, lacking a fear in the true God, said what tickles the ear because it was easy, profitable, and bore the ability to wield control over others. Paul, being “in Christ,” rather determined to preach the truth of God in a sincere fashion, knowing that there was a greater reward ahead for both himself and for those whom he instructed.
Life application: Unfortunately, great orators often gain large audiences regardless whether they actually teach the word of God in truth or not. If they sound authoritative, they can pretty much say anything and reap a great harvest of very poor grain. It is up to each person to be discerning and to study and show himself approved concerning what is assimilated into his repository of accumulated theology.
Heavenly Father, it seems that too many preachers have found a niche in the world through great oration, flashy presentation, or charming manners. And yet, an evaluation of what they say to the people leaves much to be desired in the area of sincerity concerning Your word. It breaks my heart to see people follow after untruths which sound good, but which are incorrect. And so Lord, I would ask You to open the minds and hearts of Your people to be diligent in checking what they hear and sticking closely to what You have laid out for us in Your superior word. Amen.