This is not the first time in his writing that Paul saw fit to "give his testimony" (2 Cor 10—12; Phil 3:4-11). When he chose to do so, however, he seems to have had a good reason. What is most interesting in this is how he starts with the importance of Christ in his life. Even if there is a hint of personal defense in his presentation, it is a defense built on the work of Christ.
First, strength for Christian life and ministry comes from Christ. Paul's ministry was marked by the manifestation of spiritual "power"—his work brought results, but he does not explain them on the basis of his seminary education, up-to-date methods or personal charisma. Instead, he credits and thanks Christ for empowering him.
Second, the right to participate in ministry is established solely by Christ. Paul's thanksgiving extends to the consciousness of having been considered faithful to be appointed to his service. Such faithfulness is borne out only by actual ministry, and Paul clearly felt that his own record bore witness to Christ's selection of him. But there is a sense in which this particular trait, faithfulness or trustworthiness, ought to be evident initially in those who would serve the Lord (see below on 3:1-13; 5:17-25). The false teachers mentioned above, regardless of the promise they might have shown at first, had proved themselves unfaithful.
Paul's ministry was sustained by and originated in Christ. We who would share Paul's goals and vision for life and ministry must also share his complete dependence on Christ.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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