Many political leaders and business leaders are pleased when they become more powerful or more important. Church leaders should have a very different attitude*. They can be glad even about the loss of their power, when other people serve God better as a result. That is because church leaders must not work for their own wealth, honour and importance. Instead, church leaders work for God; and they work to help other people to know God better.
So, Paul was not praying that Corinth’s Christians would respect him. Instead, he was praying that God would make them perfect. We can see what he meant by ‘perfect’ from his previous use of a similar word in 1 Corinthians 1:10. There, Paul was writing about the opposing groups that had formed in their church. Those groups argued much with each other. Paul appealed that the church should be ‘perfect’ with the same opinion. In other words, he wanted them to ‘join’ with the other Christians, and not to be separate groups that constantly argued. We could say that God needed to ‘repair’ their church; it was as if it had broken apart. Paul was praying for God to do that.
Paul uses that word again in 2 Corinthians 13:11. There, we could translate it: ‘repair yourselves’. His advice in that verse is very similar to what he wrote previously. The Christians should try to avoid arguments; they should show love and they should respect each other. If they did that, their church would be strong again; and Paul would be pleased about them.
* See complete article for these Bible references.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.