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Posts Tagged ‘1 Cointhians’

Because we are fashioned as embodied creatures, we live an embodied life and are shaped, damaged, and nurtured principally by other embodied people. They have names and faces.

Sometimes they lead us close to our Maker. Sometimes they provide such direction and sustenance that we cannot imagine life without them.

Or truth beyond them.

The apostle Paul reckons with the fidelity that grows deep attachments between servants of the gospel and those fellow travelers whom they serve. Yet he will not allow that attachment to become exclusive.

So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (1 Corinthians 3:21–23 ESV)

The remarkable fact about Paul’s words is that he, of all men, is not reluctant to argue his apostolic prerogatives. He is no shrinking violet when it comes to recognizing and asserting that the God of Israel speaks through him. Paul is not one for false modesty.

It’s all the more striking, then, that he will not have the Corinthian believers ‘boast in men’. All the life and truth that God pours through Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or other bruised luminaries of the early church is theirs. They need not choose a human patron to the exclusion of others, in fact they must not.

Such ‘men’ are critical. There would be no embodied Corinthian church of Jesus Christ without the limping, embodied service of such leaders.

Yet they are—at a deeper level—irrelevant, a paradox that Paul is not reticent to declare.

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