Thursday, June 23, 2011

We Must Preach

 1 Corinthians 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

16 ἐὰν γὰρ εὐαγγελίζωμαι, οὐκ ἔστιν μοι καύχημα· ἀνάγκη γάρ μοι ἐπίκειται· οὐαὶ γάρ μοί ἐστιν ἐὰν μὴ εὐαγγελίσωμαι.

Here Paul is making an argument about why ministers should be paid for their work, but that he waived those rights. He uses the phrase ἀνάγκη γάρ μοι ἐπίκειται, which involves a passive construction. There is nothing to unpack beyond how the ESV puts it. The word literally means that something has been put on. I think of it like a burden placed on an animal or on someone's shoulders. There is a weightiness to this charge.

Paul goes so far as to call woe upon himself if he does not preach the gospel. Clearly he considers this to be important. Of course, he was the Apostle Paul; therefore, it was vital for him to preach the gospel. Right?

That is true of Paul, but it is also true for you and me if we are followers of Christ. This is not a task given just to the "ministers" of the gospel. It is given to all Christians. We tend to like our professionals to do work for us. An advanced society is like that our of necessity. I don't know anyone who slaughters and butchers his own meat. I don't know anyone who grows all of his own vegetables. I don't know anyone who processes his own flour. I've never met anyone who physically built his own house (at least not in America). An advanced society has moved to the point of specialization so that we buy and sell products and services.

However, that does not apply to the ministry of the gospel. There is no such thing as a professional. There is in the strictest sense in that some men serve in gospel ministry full-time and get paid to do so, but really there is no distinction between "clergy" and "laity" when it comes to evangelism. We all have different gifts and we all will speak more effectively to different people, but we are all called to gospel ministry.

In other words, woe to any of us if we do not preach the gospel!

No comments: