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Partners in Ministry

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
August 25, 2021 8:00 am

Partners in Ministry

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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August 25, 2021 8:00 am

As the young church in Corinth grew in size, its membership faced new struggles on the path toward holiness, just as believers and churches do today. The Apostle Paul sent the letter we know as II Corinthians to encourage these believers to grow up in their faith. Dr. Boice illuminates all of Paul’s key points, including God’s comfort in affliction; forgiving people who have hurt us; the blessings of generosity; and why God allows thorns in our lives.

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Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet Ministry of the science of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically were in the midst of our studies in second Corinthians, not only in terms of the chapters but in terms of the outline of the book book falls into three sections on the middle section.

The shortest chapters 8 and nine make the whole day because they deal with this matter of the collection. Paul was trying to receive from the church in Corinth.

The surrounding churches as well as from churches in Macedonia, Macao and other parts of the world that he had evangelized. We looked at one aspect of that last week studying the first portion of chapter 8 were going to come to it again and our next session on this book in the concluding portion of chapter 9. Paul is still talking about the collection in the section of these chapters that we have before us tonight yet what I have been struck by as I've looked them over, could be handled in the different ways laying down principles here that have to do with giving what is struck me is most interesting as I look these over is what they reveal about Paul's sense of partnership and the ministry with others who were sharing with them at this particular period of his missionary work. This is not an uncharacteristic way for Paul to speak. We know that Paul had a great sensitivity to people he was what we would call today a people person. We don't usually think of it like that. We think of Paul being a theologian, maybe even a feisty one at that. We think of him carrying forward the Lord's battles and of course all that is true. But Paul was in addition to these things. Someone who was very much interested in individuals that we don't believe that all we have to do is read his letters sensitively and make notes the people he talks about how he talks about them and what he knew about them and what he says about the you soon find that he was very appreciative of those whom God had quite obviously raised up to be fellow workers within partners in the ministry in this great task of carrying the gospel through the known world of the day. I think for example of the book of Philippians Libyans is very casual book.

It's essentially a thank you letter because the church at Philippi had sent to help money to Paul when he was imprisoned in the is written to thank him for it in the mist of the letter the end of the second chapter. Paul has a section where HS reflects on Timothy, who would work with him for so many years and expresses his appreciation for Timothy and a man named Aphrodite as a layman, not ordained as we would say yet is Paul writes his brother's fellow workers. Fellow soldier, who he says is also your messenger, and he reminds himself and also the Philippians of all the things that that man up Aphrodite it's a done ministry himself. Paul in their name. Perhaps the most striking of all the examples of this sensitivity to people in Paul's writings is the 16th chapter of the book of Romans we think of Romans says this great theological doctrinal epistle.

And so it is when Paul gets to last chapter he just fills it with names of people that he knew about and prayed for and wanted to come in for their Christian service. I count in the first portion of this as he writes about people who are at Rome 26 individual names plus groups of people that he refers to as those of the household are established and so on. Striking thing about that is appalling.

Never been to Rome, at least not at that stage and yet he had Such close times on that church and the people were associated with it that when he came to write this letter. He could speak of Phoebe and Priscilla McQuillan on Epictetus and Mary and the drama cousin Junius and amply Otterson or Bono's and appellees in the Herodian Solon for 26 and then at the very end he does greetings from the people with whom he is living and he passes those names on to the church at Rome because he's conscious of the fact that though there separated by all those miles is people are nevertheless workers together in this great work that Lord Jesus Christ is given the church, but we have something like that in these verses here in second Corinthians 8, beginning with verse 16 on into the ninth chapter bars verse five we have Paul speaking of three brothers who were associated in this particular task of collecting the offering from the churches and eventually transporting it to Jerusalem for the ministry of the poor in the church there. He mentioned one of them by name. Titus Avenue in verse 16.

I thank God put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you is really thanking God for Titus and lender to more that for some reason it's it's a bit of a puzzle because of Paul's propensity to use name for some reason these next two are not name, but the refers to them.

Verse 18 and were sending along with them. The brother was praised by all the churches reservist of the gospel and then in verse 22 and 10 addition were sending with them. That is Titus and the brother are brother who was often proved to us in many ways and he is Allison Solon and then having spoken of those three. Paul sums it up again in verse 23 talking about Titus only gives more commendation and then our brothers about whom he says a few more positive things that's interesting.

It's worth pausing to think a little bit about these people who shared in the work with Paul and see what Paul had to say about them Titus of the first when he mentions now Titus had a long history with Paul in the ministry. Although strikingly he's not mentioned in the book of acts hard to tell why that's the case we know that he was associated with Paul in the ministry that the book of acts covers because Paul in his own writings refers Titus on different occasions. The first historical incident we have is the one Paul tells us about in Galatians. All was in a great theological tussle. In those days because there was a kind of Christian Judaism was trying to force the Jewish law upon Gentiles. The argument went to Saul very good that Christ is, yes, he is the Messiah, but you can't be saved by Christ alone and by the work of Christ alone in order to be saved. You have to add to Christ's work and keeping of the law because the law is a holy thing is been given to us by God through Moses. So all of the requirements including the ceremonial requirements of the law were advanced in the name of this particular kind of Jewish Christianity. The test case was issue of circumcision. Circumcision was the sign of the covenant and the argument would go with your to be saved. You must be within the covenant because it's a saving covenant and if circumcision is the sign of the covenant, then you must be circumcised to be say out early in Paul's ministry when Paul first set out among the Jewish and Gentile communities to bring the gospel and took Timothy with them. He had Timothy circumcised because Paul didn't want to make an issue of that. He certainly didn't want to be a positive offense when he went into Jewish community even want to be rejected because someone would find out the Timothy had received the sign of the covenant.

So we had Timothy circumcised when this became a theological issue when it was a question of being saved by circumcision or by Christ alone.

Paul refused to capitulate and on the occasion. He tells about in Galatians, he brought Titus up to Jerusalem with him do a great counsel someone as sweet and understanding his writing is a test case.

Titus was a Gentile, and the issue was to be resolved in Jerusalem must Gentiles be circumcised and Paul points out, as he tells a story that Titus was not compelled to be circumcised and therefore he himself was evidence of the degree of the Jerusalem Council to the effect that salvation is by grace alone.

Wherever Paul went wrong us. Titus was law he was proof of the way that issue was decided in the early days of the church so we know that if that's. Titus was traveling with Paul and obviously was closely associated with them in the ministry next historical information we have about them is what we have here in the Corinthian letters Titus had made several trips to Corinth because Paul was unable to go and Titus at this point was so trusted by Paul so zealous for the work that the became Paul's representative, much as Timothy was also Paul's representative apparently made to and perhaps three trips and in these verses that were studying, we read that he's about to make one more because Paul had sent Titus ahead to arrange this matter of the collection and report on some of the disorders in the church Titus and come back with a message that the disorders had been cleared up now always sending Titus ahead to complete what had been started. Perhaps a year before and then we find out about Titus again somewhat toward the end of Paul's life through Paul's letter to Titus, the bears that name this point Titus of been left on Crete just the way others of Paul's fellow workers were left in different strategic places throughout the Roman Empire in their Titus was to order the church in this Paul spells it out in the letter to them appoint elders in every place an order that the church of Jesus Christ might be established and that island area back to represent set up. Many years when we take what is said about Titus in those places as well as incidental references other places we find it. Paul thought very very highly of this young man and Harry talks about them in the letter and commends them one thing and commends them for verse 17 is his enthusiasm because he said he is coming to you with enthusiasm and on his own initiative, which saying I suppose we were writing about Titus today. The Titus was a self-starter. Anybody who has responsibility for any kind of work that involves other people is delighted when some of those people at least about all of them are self-starters very hard have to other people cranked up for the work that they ought to do.

Paul didn't have to do that with this man. Titus he was one who plunged into the work did it zealously because obviously he was serving the Lord Jesus Christ above all, that's all that Paul says about in the first time but later on in verse 23 what he mentions it again. As for Titus C.

Several other things about it, but he appreciated he said he's my partner word that uses there is cleaner loss which has to do with having things in common. It's the same word that is used for the common Greek language that coin a that was spoken throughout the Roman world was just the dialect that everybody recognized and that word is used in a variety of ways always meaning things in common or commonality of experience or a commonality of work is the word therefore that is used technically to speak of a partnership somebody who in that technical sense is bound together with another individual in a particular economic enterprise. Now Paul takes that implies it.

Titus saying he's my partner in just that since we share those things. And, I think that something Paul probably appreciated a great deal. He appreciated his enthusiasm all right you know it's quite possible to have someone who's very enthusiastic but who is going off doing something which at least is different and perhaps even is contrary or hopeful the kind of thing that you're trying to do and Paul said about Titus that Titus wasn't like that Titus had a great deal of enthusiasm, but he exercised that enthusiasm in partnership so he and Titus when they work together were somewhat like to farm animals yoked in a common yoke shoulder to shoulder, arm to arm going about the Lord's work is a marvelous thing. I don't know whether Paul learned that from experience whether he had it as a revelation from God or whether he simply reflected on the way. God often operated in Old Testament times.

It is significant that when Paul established leadership in the church is he always established a plurality of ministry you never just said well brother you're the preacher here and you carry on and let me know what happens. He always appointed elders Laurel Gary on the work of the church.

The church of Jesus Christ is not a democracy is not a monarchy, either in the sense of one individual.

Assuming the right of King ruling in anybody's king, it's Jesus and under Jesus there is this plurality of leadership the eldership of the church the way all established in the way Jesus Christ sent a pattern and Titus was one of those and he says yes and it was my fellow worker to only a partner, but he really worked with me in these things, and when I talk about somebody that I counter the privileged commands Titus is high on that list I talk secondly about the brother verse 18 and as I said, it's a bit of a puzzle why he doesn't mention this brother by name.

This is the sort of indirect reference that scholarship logs you go to the commentaries and investigate the commentaries and try to find out who this brother is why they spend more time trying to figure out who this brother is exegete in John 316 just about anybody you can think of that's associated with Paul in any way in his ministry has been proposed by someone as candidate for this brother. I don't know whether it's worth going through them all, but why not, after all were scholars to write.

I suppose that the number one candidate is look, the beloved physician who traveled with Paul often and who is the author not only of the gospel that bears his name, but also of the book of acts. This was an identification that was very strong in the early history of the church and apparently was so because of an erroneous interpretation of the verse verse 18 says and were sending along within the brother was praised by all the churches for service to the gospel, as some people interpreted that as his service to the church by providing the church with the gospel and they assume that what Paul was referring to here was Luke's gospel. Third gospel well at all sounds very good and you can find other arguments to support it in acts, you know, there are portions of the book in which Luke, the writer uses the first person plural.

We, as he tells the story it indicates that he was traveling with Paul at the time and other times he doesn't and that would indicate that he wasn't there traveling with Paul at the time. At this particular juncture in the story of acts the we drops out and some people of said well that must mean you say that Luke went off with Titus to Corinth and somebody had to write about Paul during that period doesn't use the way course, others are pointed out that did bite equally well mean that Paul had left Luke behind influence when he had gone on the Macedonia. Most scholars today think that that's probably what happened is matter of the gospel is concerned that a problem with it is as sweet try to date these books it would seem that Luke's Gospel was written after second Corinthians in any way. Paul doesn't use the word gospel in that sense, Paul talks about the gospel, but he always means the gospel of God's grace in Jesus Christ.

The proclamation of the good news ever an historical document that we use the word to refer to the Gospels, the chief we tell the story of Jesus Christ. As I say the number one candidate probably most scholars mind still is but far from conclusive thing. Some people of suggested Barnabas I Barnabas traveled with Paul in the early days had a falling out over John Mark, we don't have any indication that Paul and Barnabas ever traveled together again. That would be a good argument against the brother being Barnabas, perhaps even a stronger one is a Barnabas was in the ministry with Paul before Titus was older furthermore is called in acts of apostle Paul himself was it's hard to see Barnabas if he was older and apostle being subordinate to Titus, who is Paul writes this was obviously in charge of the delegation of that's the case, well probably we have to rule him out.

Silas is another one.

Probably Silas is that Silas administered and currently was very well known to the Corinthians is hard to understand Paul writing the Corinthians, referring to Silas was very well known to them and calling him brother much more naturally say Silas, our brother or some such thing, these names Aristarchus stop it or succumb to this and dais urban scholars were proposed. Each of those reason for that is that these men are mentioned in the 20th chapter of acts.

The fourth versus having accompanied Paul in the final distribution of the money when they finally left please Greek city states in went by ship eventually to Jerusalem and is the list of all the ones with Aaron.

It tells where they came from. There was an official delegation and they were from here. These other men were from here, and so on. Unfortunately for those proposals.

Each of these men that I just mentioned are identified as being Macedonian is from the province of Macedonia and if you look a little further on here you'll find Paul saying at the beginning of the ninth chapter that he is sending these brothers and I always got all of them together here.

All three of them including Titus he sending those brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow verse 440 many Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared. I'll be embarrassed and so will you see saying I'm sending these men ahead to get everything ready because I been boasting about you to the Macedonians and when I come bringing the Macedonians with me they could find you unprepared.

I'd be embarrassed now if these men who went before hand to make the preparation or Macedonians. The argument that Paul makes later would not make sense so I cannot been Macedonians said we have to rule that whole group.

I suppose a very good possibility is one other man who was mentioned in that list of the 20th chapter of acts famous to check us. It's interesting that he was from Ephesus. Sorta the right place at the right time. Also interesting that in Ephesians 621 in Colossians 47 Paul speaks of him and very similar terms to the terms he uses here. That of course doesn't prove the case because these words are to be used if anybody was faithful in the Lord service and yet here is a man that certainly fits the bill. I referred occasionally and almost always favorably to the commentary by Philip and computers.

This is Dr. Hughes point of view, he thinks perhaps to trick us is the man involved better-known would probably be called Luke here, man. Perhaps not so well-known might pass simply for being the brother. Whatever the case is a man that is praised also for his services. Titus was the key idea of this man.

Verse 18. He is praised by all churches for his service to the gospel that rank very high with Paul service to the gospel all sorts of things you can pray somebody for you and say well he certainly is eloquent, you can say he stands up and and talking certainly is good-looking, it's hard to take your eyes off them. You can say he certainly does know how to organize things and yet Paul very seldom ever says anything like that about any of his workers what he praises them so often poor and praises this man for is there faithfulness in serving the church of Jesus Christ. I obviously because service is of the essence of what the ministry is all about is matter of fact the same word essentially administers to serve. That's what Paul says this man did.

He also points out that he was chosen by the churches which I think is an indirect way of saying that he was a man was known for his integrity is going to handle money after all. And here were churches that teach he came from looking over their membership is at Warren saying now who is a man that we can entrust this great task. I don't know how much money this was all received and throughout this whole area of the world. I would imagine it amounted to quite some and here is a major responsibility in a man who was up to its and the judgment of the churches and others as other brother. Verse 22. In addition, we are sending with them our brother was often proved us in many ways that he is zealous same problems of identification of this man hold true is all true. The first, we don't need to go through all the possibilities again to trick us is linked with a man named from FEMA's might be that from FEMA's was this other brother, but as I say, we don't know all we know about him is that he is commended here for his seal the wrong kind of feel you know that's kind Paul had before it was converted. Paul writes about his standing in self-confidence before his conversion as he does when he writes about it to the Philippians he said before, I was converted. The role sorts of things. I was proud about one of the things I was so proud about was my seal is that I I joined the Pharisees restricts sex and is a member of the Pharisees. I wasn't just a card-carrying member I was in there with the leadership working away. I was zealous for the traditional my father that seal lead Paul astray and Julian led them to hunt down the Christians did. The mild rest of it was standing by while Stephen was executed as that kind of zeal. Yet zeal itself is not a bad thing because we can't help but feel that once Paul was converted. It didn't mean that these characteristics of his life changed. Paul didn't cease to be zealous because he became a Christian, but rather he exercised his seal of the service of Christ where before he had been exercising it in the service of Judaism is second the company of the people in whom he believed, when Paul writes about this brother II think maybe be saying something like yours.

Slick kind of man I like manner was really zealous in the Lord's work and I commend him to you for his seal. I said Paul sums it up.

Then again in that same verse 40 speaks of the brothers once more and he says there representatives serve the churches and an honor to Christ. The word representative.

There is the word apostle is not actually saying that there apostles in the technical sense, but in apostles, messenger, commission, messenger ambassador and he saying that's what these men are messengers, faithful messengers, your messengers of the church at Corinth and he says an honor to Christ the Lord uses. There is books, which is the great word glory. He says that striking is that he says these men are the glory to Christ. What hard to know just in what sense he means that when you recall what Paul says elsewhere about the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ being reflected from our faces is we turn and meditate upon him that is reflected from him to others.

I suspect that's what the has in mind here he saying these brothers are mandala spent so much time with Jesus Christ. When people look at them. They see the glory of Jesus Christ reflected in their faces. What is really talking about is the character of Christ in them was to be found the love of Jesus, the peace of Jesus, the joy of Jesus kindness of Jesus and so on.

For all the other fruits of the spirit is what he says about these brothers. These three men that he trusted with this commission involving this large sum of money from the churches at Corinth, I want you to see something else in the ninth chapter he goes on now more explicitly to talk about this service. This collection any writes about the Corinthian's themselves and encourages them to carry on with the work completing what they said they were going to do what I want you to notice is that when he turns in these verses and begins now to talk about the Corinthians in their ministry. He uses the identical words but terms that are somewhat the same as those he is used to describe the three men that he mentions at the end preceding chapter is this was utterly artless on Paul's part. Sometimes Paul is very careful with his choice of words and as you study it you realize what he's doing is deliberately bringing the word back in that he used earlier to make an association and he was brilliant in his use of words he could play on words and he could invent words and all that but that's always doing here I apply think Paul is just artless is just writing, but I see begins to ride in his mind is on the Christians at Corinth. He just inevitably begins to talk about them in the same way that he had been talking about these three faithful brothers that serve with them in the ministry writes about the service to the saints verse one in their eagerness to help first to win their enthusiasm that is stored in the action in the latter part of that verse say I think that is just a way of saying that in this matter of the ministry.

The ministry is not something that just ordained people do or even certain outstanding or distinguish blame and laboring alongside those who are ordained, but rather the ministry is something to which all God's people are called just another way of talking about spiritual gifts, saying, as Paul does when he talks about the gifts to each one of us a gift is given according to the fullness of the measure of Jesus Christ.

You may look at yourself, your training, you may say I really don't know what I can contribute.

That may be true, you may not understand now what it is you can contribute, but although that may be true, and you may say that and say adjustably #I have nothing to contribute. Because the say that is to make a liar of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul spoke for him in the pages of the New Testament were told that we all have gifts we don't know what to give.

Sorry, we don't know how to serve minutes should be our business were serious about following Christ to search out what that gift is and then begin to put it in the use in this great work of the ministry and so become partners with those who labor not only in the local church is a marvelous partnership with a local church.

We know one another and we share in the work.

Can we call upon the gifts that particular individuals hire. That is a marvelous thing.

But not only that the partnership that embraces the church worldwide.

What we're about is thereabout in England and in Africa and the Far East were doing the same thing. It's the same ministry is building the kingdom of Jesus Christ and not only that is what the church is been about an all ages going back to the days of the apostle Paul himself carrying forward throughout all of history until the Lord Jesus Christ, again just a way of saying you say that the church is the one Bonnie Jesus Christ and we not only have the privilege of being part of it. We have the responsibility of laboring within it for it's good to carry the gospel to those not yet know what it is to be a Christian is pray our father we pray that you'll take this practical study of what appeared to be very simple things and use them simply we might get on with the business which were called together as partners in this glorious ministry. We pray in the name of Jesus our Savior. Amen. You are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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