As we continue looking at Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, we’ll begin to see his view of ministry. But in order to understand clearly, we must strip away our “Christianization” of some important words.
Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:4-6
If you read my last post, then you know the context of this passage. Paul is talking about his confidence that his ministry is life-changing. The Corinthian church was proof of that.
He makes it clear that his ability to accomplish this was not from himself. It was God working through him. God made him competent.
Paul describes this work as being a minister of a new covenant. That’s where we have to be careful in how we understand what he’s saying.
The covenant we have in Christ is the same one God gave to Abraham (Galatians 3:16-18). But now in Christ, it’s been refreshed, which is what the Greek word, new, means in that verse.
Now we get to one of our problem words – minister. This is the Greek word, diakonos. This word means a household servant. It’s someone who does what their master tells them to do.
Paul is clear that he and his ministry team are servants of this covenant with Christ. But more than that, they’re servants of the Spirit of this covenant.
There’s a difference between the letter of the covenant and the Spirit. That word, letter, means something that’s written down. I believe that this includes what we call the New Testament in our Bibles.
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe that the New Testament is the Holy, Authoritative, and Infallible Word of God. I’m not trying to diminish its place in the life of a believer.
However, if I turn the New Testament into a law, then I’m falling into the same trap of legalism that Israel did. I serve Christ through the Holy Spirit. The Bible simply serves as the guide to bring me to Christ (John 5:39-40).
The apostles understood this truth. They knew who they served. It was brought out when they needed to start a ministry to the widows of Jerusalem.
So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
They had a choice either to be a servant of the Word of God or servant of the widow’s ministry. They chose to pray and then to serve the Word that they heard from the Holy Spirit during their time of prayer.
When did being a minister change from being a servant of the Holy Spirit to become an authority over church people? We need to get back to our first calling.
We must spend time with the Holy Spirit, hearing His voice. Then be obedient to do what He desires.
Question: What does the word, minister, mean to you?
© 2020 Nick Zaccardi