“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 –
It is an unfortunate truth that not all who preach and teach the gospel message do so with integrity. In fact, Paul declared there to be many “…peddling the word of God…”, whom he labeled as “…deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13). With some in Corinth casting doubt on the apostle’s legitimacy, he affirmed that he was not among the gospel peddlers. Let us consider Paul’s conduct with the word of God as evident through three characteristics he makes mention of.
The apostle Paul clearly states that he administered the word “…as of sincerity…” He cautioned the Philippians, “Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: the former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:15-17). Oh, that we would have the utmost sincerity in ministering the word, and not be as those who “…subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain” (Titus 1:11).
Though it is required in a faithful servant of the Lord, sincerity, by itself is insufficient. With sincerity and great zeal for God, Paul formerly persecuted the church (1 Timothy 1:13; Acts 22:4; 26:9, 11). Thus, in addition to his “…simplicity and godly sincerity…” (2 Corinthians 1:12), Paul confirms the sure source of his speech. Though some may “…speak great swelling words of emptiness…” (2 Peter 2:18), the message Paul preached was “…from God.” He spoke the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ. In his first epistle to the Corinthian church, Paul instructed, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37).
Further validating his work with God’s word, Paul declared the authority by which he spoke. His preaching and teaching were “…in the sight of God in Christ.” This same apostle commanded the people of Colosse, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). The prophet Micah makes the wonderful statement, “…all people walk each in the name of his god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD your God forever and ever” (Micah 4:5). To speak, act or walk “…in the name of the Lord…” is to do so as authorized by Him. If someone speaks in the name of justice, he speaks such things as are just. If one speaks “…in the name of the Lord…”, he speaks such things as are from the Lord.
Let us determine to be imitators of Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1). May we be sincere in faith, upholding the word of God with an honest heart. Furthermore, when we speak, may we “…speak as the oracles of God…” (1 Peter 4:11). And may we ever act within the authority of Christ, for He Himself declared, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).