Following a summary reminder that takes in all of 4:6-15 (Watch your life and your doctrine closely. Persevere in them), Paul describes the end result of the good minister's efforts in Christ as salvation: you will save both yourself and your hearers.
But isn't this rather shortsighted? Not at all. Salvation is indeed the goal, but it must be properly understood. In biblical parlance it signifies a process of development that begins with belief in Christ (conversion) and the gift of new life in the Spirit (regeneration) and will end (our glorification) with the return of Christ. In this life we experience the process of salvation as stages of growth in "Christlikeness," "putting on the new self" (Col 3:11), working out our salvation (Phil 2:12); and many things can impede growth. Essential to growth, however, is the ministry of God's Word in preaching and teaching in the church, from which we draw spiritual nourishment, as well as the modeling of godliness by the more mature for those younger in the faith. Important, too, for the salvation process (especially for the Christian leader) is faithfulness in carrying out the calling of God. Effective ministry is ministry in which the Word of God is applied to individual lives and to all situations in life.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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