For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
Isn’t it glorious to have a milkshake? There are so many different kinds to choose from. You can drink a sweet one with ice cream, a creamy one with fruit, or a healthy one with protein mix. But one thing is certain when it comes to milkshakes, their ingredients and overall purpose is to satisfy you (minister to you) and fill you.
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
It is my purpose in this interpretation to explain in detail the necessary emptying and filling that takes place within the ministry of the apostle. I will liken this process to the preparation of a milkshake. In order for a milkshake to fulfill its purpose, the ingredients must exist; and then those ingredients must be blended properly. In this interpretation I will explain how the ministry of an apostle is much like the ministry of a milkshake. I am going to place special emphasis on the blending process because it is the characteristic of the blending process that makes a milkshake a milkshake.
Why is it called an Apostle Milkshake and not a Pastor Milkshake or a Teacher Milkshake or a Prophet Milkshake?
I will first discuss the concept of the milkshake in relation to a pastors and teachers calling.
Even though a teacher and a pastor have the ability to abide within the revelation of God and receive from the mysteries of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7) their abiding process and their discernment (knowledge within this mystery, Ephesians 3:4) is limited. Take a look at the example of scripture above. You can clearly see that it is both the apostle and prophet that are given a healthy revelation into the mystery of Christ. This is knowledge that Peter declares, “Angles desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12). Furthermore it is obvious from the scripture that the principalities and powers in the heavens don’t yet understand these mysteries until the church declares them, mostly by the revelation given through the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:10). An apostle’s call or ministry is to abide within the revelation of the mystery of Christ to the intent that they might eventually work out a dutiful knowledge within that mystery (Ephesians 3:4). To faithfully abide within this mystery is to exist within a spiritual battleground (2 Kings 9:11-13, 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, Daniel 7:28, 8:17, 8:27, Romans 13:1, Matthew 11:12), and this type of expectation is required only of the apostle and prophet (Luke 12:47-48, 1 Corinthians 4:1).
If you understand the usefulness of the pastor in regard to his calling and the usefulness of an apostle in regard to his calling then the differences become clearer. With regard to the authority an apostle is given within a congregation let’s take a close look at the family environment. The mother and father are the heads of the household (Exodus 20:12). It is their responsibility to raise their children and to Shepard their children much like a pastor is to raise up a congregation and Shepard a congregation (a covering if you will). But what if the children decide to rebel, what if the parents have done the best they can do and the children simply become unruly, or in the Pastor’s case, the congregation of God becomes apathetic or disinterested. It then becomes time to call in the authority (Deuteronomy 21:20). Now remember the apostles primary purpose is to edify the church by abiding in the mystery of Christ but if a church becomes sick then the apostle’s role as an authoritarian will take precedence. It is a Pastor’s job to be a mother and father figure to their congregations and it is an apostles job to be the authority if need be (1 Corinthians 4:21), yet always the correct type of authority (Luke 22:24-26, 2 Corinthians 10:1, 10:8-13, 13:10). In today’s society if a child becomes unruly then the police are called and the police’s authority overrides the parent’s authority. It’s the same concept. It is the pastor’s responsibility to raise his congregation, just like it would be a parent’s job to raise their children, but if for whatever reason the congregation begins to have serious problems, then it is time to call in the spiritual police (apostles) in order for righteousness to be reestablished (2 Corinthians 12:12, 13:10). This example simply means what it means. Both the apostle and the pastor have their role to play. The parents and pastors are responsible to Shepard and teach their families properly and the apostles, if problems arise, will become the authority to keep the peace and to balance any unrest. The apostles have not been raised up to become the spiritual police, their primary desire and purpose is to edify the church through revelation, but this example describes the parental role the apostles will automatically assume if spiritual unrest occurs. In this case an apostle, because of their unique discernment into the wisdom of God, will supplant the pastor’s parental role and become the father figure based on the authority God has given them (2 Corinthians 13:10). You might ask, “What does authority have to do with an Apostle Milkshake?” I will later explain how an apostle’s responsibility as an authoritarian is actually what ushers in the process of the apostle becoming a milkshake.
Regarding a pastor or teacher’s specific calling in relation to their congregation, their primary purpose is to teach what has been revealed unto them. It is not common for a pastor or teacher to abide within the revelation of Christ and then to expound on that revelation. Let’s take the science of math for an example. There are many math teachers in the world, but none of them introduced math to our world. None of them were the source of math’s concept. The teachers who teach math are simply dissecting and then teaching the science that has already been revealed. It is the same with pastors and teachers. Pastors and teachers do not introduce the revelation of God, the concepts of the bible did not come from them, but they are the ones who teach regarding these revelations. Now, the apostles and prophets on the other hand, do become the ones who receive the revelation of God and then introduce revelations to the Church (directly to the pastors/teachers). Apostles wrote all the books of the New Testament. Today, it is the duty of the modern day apostles and prophets to abide within the revelation of the mystery of Christ so that revelation can be introduced. This in turn gives pastors and teachers revelation in which to instruct the people. Basically God hands the apostles and prophets the blueprints for His Church. The apostles and prophets in turn instruct the pastors and teachers regarding the blueprints and then everybody gets to work. The writer of the book of Hebrews (Peter I believe, because he was called to minister the gospel unto the circumcision – Galatians 2:7) also talks about the meat of the word (Hebrews 5:12-14). This meat symbolizes the nutrients that are necessary in order for spiritual maturity to exist. An apostle or prophet will supply the meat of the word (blueprint or revelation of God) and the pastor and teachers will then cut up the meat (instruct/minister regarding the revelation of God or basically follow the blueprint) and ensure the congregation is getting fed or essentially, being built properly. The pastors will indeed have certain wisdom and discernment (1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 John 2:27) to flavor these revelations and gear them toward their congregations but their main purpose is to strategize and organize and compile what has been reveled to them (or given to them via the blueprint).
I want to emphasize that a pastor and teachers primary responsibility is to make sure their flock is safe and well cared for (fed/built). When a pastor has an entire congregation relying on him for life long direction then he simply doesn’t have the time to abide within the mystery of Christ. To make a long story short, you show me a pastor who is effectively abiding within the mystery of Christ and still has the time and energy to control, maintain and grow his entire congregation and I will show you superman. Between counseling and directing services and caring for individual members a pastor would shortchange his congregation if he spent time trying to abide in the mystery of Christ. That’s what apostles are for (Acts 6:2-4), and that’s also why apostles aren’t given much responsibility within a pastor’s congregation, because it would suck the life out of the apostle, and this is not his responsibility (Acts 6:1-4). An apostle’s job is to abide within the revelation of the mystery of Christ and to edify the Church body via this revelation, and it is a pastor or teachers job to Shepard their individual congregations within that revelation. We need to respect the differences within each other’s ministries and gifts (1 Corinthians 12:12-20, 25-30) and then honor God by using those ministries and gifts according to his purposes (Ephesians 4:8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, Romans 11:29, 12:3-8).
Now let’s seek the differences in relation to a prophets calling.
First of all, what is the main difference between an apostle and a prophet? There are a few. Basically an apostle is a prophet who has been glorified by God. God called Moses “more than a prophet.” (Numbers 12:6-8) Basically Moses’ calling as a leader prophet (deliverer) in the Old Testament could be likened to the calling of an apostle in the New Testament. This is because Moses was not only in tune with God the Father, as any prophet should be, but he had also been granted special leverage and authority with man (Genesis 32:28) because of his intimate relationship with God (Numbers 12:7-8). When is comes to the discussion between the difference of an apostle and a prophet it is very important to discern directly from the bible as well as directly from the Spirit of God. This is because the bible clearly states that there is a distinct difference between an apostle and a prophet (Ephesians 4:11), but then offers us little clear revelation as to what that difference is.
An apostle is one who has been granted power and authority into the Spirit of God (Ephesians 3:1-13) and has additionally been granted power and authority within the administrative duties of the church (God and Man)(Acts 6:1-6). An apostle is basically a prophet who, if need be, becomes an administrator over churches, people, situations and circumstances. A prophet, on the other hand, has been granted power and authority into the things of God solely (Only God) (Ephesians 3:1-13). Here’s the major difference and partial reason why. The Word of God that an apostle and prophet speak is the authority. Did you get that? Let me repeat it again. The word of God that an apostle and prophet speak is the authority. This means a prophet only has authority with God, and not with man. The only authority a prophet has is the word of God that he speaks. There is no additional authority a prophet has when it comes to man. You might ask, “Well, then why do prophets seem to have such authority? Why does everybody listen and look up to the prophets and basically respect them like they have some kind of special authority…?” Because they’re wrong! A prophet’s job is to edify the congregation and church through the Word of God which by itself becomes the sole authority. A prophet has no authority simply because no one is accountable to him (no person relies upon him). When a prophet speaks a revelation the congregation becomes accountable to the word of God that the prophet speaks, but never to the prophet himself. The prophet himself is accountable to God but no church member is reliant upon him. Because no church member is reliant upon him then he has no leverage into any of the church member’s lives. Because he has no leverage into any of the church member’s lives then he is never directly responsible for any of them. A people’s reliance upon a person is what creates accountability (and authority) within that person. Children’s reliance upon their parents is what creates a parent’s responsibility, accountability and authority toward their children. If the children grow up (at the age of 18) and no longer rely upon their parents, then there remains no more accountability, responsibility or even authority on the parent’s part (according to the law). In essence, since the prophets have not been given any God ordained authority over the people, then the people will never rely upon the prophets. Since the people will never rely on the prophets, then by default the prophets will never become accountable, responsible or even have any kind of authority over the people… simply because no reliance exists. If the prophet messes up, God will judge him dearly (Ezekiel 33:1-20), but because no reliance exists, which is actually what creates leverage (accountability) in the first place, then there never exists any authority that the prophet will need over the congregations.
An apostle, on the other hand, is one who has been granted power and authority into the Spirit of God (Ephesians 3:1-13) and has additionally been granted power and authority into the administrative duties of the church (Acts 6:1-6). What this means is that an apostle has plenty of authority and consequent accountability when it comes to the rule over the congregations. I am not going to go into detail concerning the apostles calling in relation to the administrative duties of the church but I am going to clarify exactly how an apostle becomes an Apostle Milkshake and how this process correlates with accountability in regards to the apostle’s God ordained administrative authority.
So how exactly does an Apostle become an Apostle Milkshake?
The deluding and blending of the milkshake is both the mix of the apostle abiding in the mystery of Christ as well as the apostles individual character, witness and testimony. These are two different parts. The apostle abiding within the mystery of Christ symbolizes the milk and the apostle’s overall individual character symbolizes the other ingredients (ex. fruit, yogurt, ice cream, protein powder). These two ingredients combined and blended create the milkshake.
Let’s decipher it a little more. An apostle is called to abide within the revelation of the mystery of Christ; this abiding symbolizes the milk. An apostle also has his own individual character and witness and testimony that he brings, this symbolizes the other ingredients (ex. fruit, yogurt, ice cream, protein powder). In order to make a milkshake you need both sets of ingredients. God’s calling on the apostle is no different. He needs the apostle to stay true to his calling by both abiding within the revelation of the mystery of Christ as well as by laying down his own personality, witness and testimony upon the alter of sacrifice, (Romans 12:1) thus accomplishing Gods perfect will. You can’t make a milkshake with only milk and God can’t make an apostle with only the revelation of God. God needs a man to heed the call by faith (Romans 12:6) and then to bring his consecrated emotions upon Gods alter so God can have access to the other ingredients that are vital for the milkshake (The apostle’s desires, opinions and self-will crucified). Once God has a man who has chosen to bring these other ingredients to the table then God will be faithful to supply the milk of the revelation of the mystery of Christ. This milk will fill the apostle and then, because of the apostle’s obedience by faith (Galatians 5:24), God will begin dissolving the apostle (crucifying the self) along with the revelation of God in him (milk) in order to create the perfect Apostle Milkshake. You might ask, “Okay, so I understand the apostle’s self-will and character being crucified symbolizes the other ingredients and the milk added is the essential revelation of God, but what about all this dissolving stuff and what’s this for exactly?”
(Words of Paul the apostle)
1 Corinthians 15:31
I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
1 Corinthians 4:9-13
For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
2 Corinthians 12:15
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
Jesus Christ’s ministry was to die on this earth. His life’s ministry was a continual dissolving process in which he obeyed and abode within the revelation of God (John 12:49, 8:29). Many times in the bible we are told that Jesus’ body symbolized bread and that his blood symbolized wine (Mark 14:22-25, John 6:53-55, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Jesus knew these elements contained sustaining nutrients our spiritual bodies would need if we chose to abide in him (John 15:4-7). Paul the apostle was a minister who was given or dissolved in his life’s service to the Lord (Philippians 2:17, 2 Timothy 4:6). Every day, and on some days more than others, Paul was blended and became an Apostle Milkshake so the people could partake (Philippians 1:7, Romans 15:27). His life, a testimony to Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 2:1-5) along with his decision to abide within the Spirit of Christ (Philippians 3:8-12), became the perfect ingredients to dissolve that the people might be edified (filled up). But how exactly did God dissolve Paul and what became the witness that the people received from this dissolving?
2 Corinthians 12:15-21
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile. Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you? I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps? Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.
Notice here in the last verse. Paul was going to be humbled for the people’s transgressions. Because of the people’s transgressions God was going to allow a special blending of Paul right in front of them so that they could feed and receive edification through Paul’s ministry, which at that time would have been to become a milkshake.
Understand that the minister was going to suffer for the people’s rebellion. This concept is similar to Jesus suffering for our rebellion (Romans 8:36). Just like Jesus became bread and wine for the people a dissolved Paul, who told the Corinthians earlier “be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ,” would become the people’s spiritual nutrients/witness (Apostle Milkshake) so that the feeding frenzy of repentance could begin. Let’s take a look at this example from the book of Ezra.
Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations (sins), even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied. Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice. And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God,
Here the Priest Ezra has humbled himself greatly because of the sin of the people. The Spirit of Christ, which was with/upon Ezra (Numbers 14:24/11:17), became incredibly grieved over the people’s transgressions. Basically this is the same situation as Paul’s. Paul symbolically stated that God would “humble me among you” (2 Corinthians 12:21). But what he really meant is that the grievance of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) would rest upon him because of the sin of the people and that he would bemoan and wail the spirit’s grievance upon him. This was the humbling Paul was referring to and this is exactly what happened with Ezra. Notice what happened as a result of Ezra humbling or grieving or bemoaning the people’s sins.
Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down
before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of
The people repented. As soon as the Spirit upon Ezra was grieved
and as soon as Ezra decided to humble himself and back the Spirits grievance,
the Spirit of God’s conviction fell upon the people (John 16:8). It is also interesting to note what the
scriptures say regarding Ezra’s preparation for leading this particular people. The bible says that Ezra was a “ready scribe”
(Ezra 7:6). This word ready in the Greek
means, “Prepared.” Ezra was not only a
scribe who was established in God’s word, he was a “ready” or a prepared or
consecrated minister who had been specially prepared to dissolve for God’s
people. God indeed dissolved Ezra and
when the people received the fruits of this drink it led to repentance. This process is exactly what Paul said might
happen with him in
2 Corinthians 12:21
…And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.
Paul knew that if the
The Two Purposes of Dissolving
This dissolving process allows two major things to happen, and as you will see, these two things are summed up quite nicely in scripture.
1 This process allows the apostle to fulfill and grow within his ministry.
2 This process creates edifying spiritual food for the people to receive.
2 Corinthians 12:15
…And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
This is the verse that we are going to dissect and this is also the verse that began Paul’s discourse regarding the humbling he might undergo as a result of the peoples transgressions. Notice what Paul says. He is ready to spend and be spent.
Being Spent (The apostle fulfilling his ministry)
1 For Paul to be brought low and to become humbled and to become an Apostle Milkshake because of the peoples sins would symbolize him being spent (Apostle fulfilling his ministry).
2 For Paul to be brought low and to become humbled and to become an Apostle Milkshake so that the people could see their own sinfulness would symbolize him spending (people receiving spiritual food).
When you spend money on a
gift for someone then that benefit is for whom?
It’s not for your benefit; it’s for the person who is receiving the
gift. Paul was spending himself for the
people, for their benefit, that they might see their sinfulness. On the other hand, when Paul became spent
this was not for the people but was Paul’s obligation to God. If you were to say “I spent time at
this person’s house because there was a need,” then this was an obligation you
choose to undergo. You were spent
because you felt obligated and you felt there was a need. It’s the same thing with Paul’s potential
I am going to use one last example to emphasize this aspect of ministry in relation to the people receiving (or the apostle’s spending of himself for the people). When Jesus Christ died for our sins two things happened. He spent himself (obligation to God the Father) and the people received the gleanings of what he did spend (Himself – for the Salvation of the world – John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Isaiah 9:6-7). Here is an interesting question. When Jesus died on the cross, did he do it for the world’s sins or because it was his Fathers will? If you really understand scripture then you understand Jesus did not die primarily for the world’s sins, he died because it was his Father’s will (Matthew 26:39, John 5:30, 4:34, 6:38, 8:25-29). It’s the same with Paul the apostle. For him to be spent, which was his obligation to his entrusted ministry (Galatians 1:1, 1:9-10), was his primary obligation and duty. The gleanings the church would receive would be the result of what he did spend but his primary purpose and obligation was to minister unto God (1 Samuel 3:1, 2 Timothy 4:8). Let’s take a look at the latter end of the verse.
2 Corinthians 12:15
…And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
This is what Paul
said. The more abundantly I love you,
the less I be loved. This verse could rightly
be translated, the more abundantly I love you, the less I am appreciated… but
still, what does this verse mean? Well,
let’s compare it to Jesus dying on the cross.
When Jesus suffered and died on the cross, did man appreciate him at
that exact moment? No, In fact man hurled insults at him and mocked him
(Matthew 27:39-44, Mark 15:29-32, Luke 23:35-37). At the exact moment Jesus was in
Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
Many times when Paul the apostle would shine his light brightly (love the people by abiding in and preaching the consecrated truth) they would not welcome it (the truth) or him (his sacrifice) with open arms. This is simply because man is exceedingly sinful and when faced with a greater revelation of God will almost always rebel. But that is okay. This is precisely why God has called the apostle to become a dissolved milkshake for the people, because of the revelation they understand and bring (2 Corinthians 12:7-21). I will now explain how this dissolving process will lead to spiritual edification for the people.
Spending (Edification for the people)
The second purpose or benefit that comes as a result of the apostle becoming dissolved into an Apostle Milkshake is that the people receive something spiritual to digest. You might say, “I understand the process and how an apostle is dissolved for the people to drink, but I am still confused regarding the process and why it is necessary?” You need to look at it from an edifying/spiritual standpoint. The milkshake is created so the people can become edified (spiritually built up). It is a very difficult process to become a milkshake. It is a process God requires foremost of the apostle for the edification of the Church (1 Corinthians 4:9-13). This is actually a required calling for the apostle (2 Corinthians 12:15). You might say, “Okay, so why of an apostle but not of other Christians, it seems like this is a humbling process everyone should go through?” Every Christian goes through this type of humbling to a degree. But because the apostle’s have been given the leverage and authority into the spiritual realms and are accountable toward the spiritual administrative duties of the church, and it is them, by and large, when they yield this authority for edification because of their knowledge within the mystery of Christ, that give God something to offer to the people. Basically this portion (or cup, Matthew 20:22-23, 26:39) becomes the apostles burden, because an apostle abides within the mystery of Christ, and they have learned (Ephesians 3:3-4), for edification purposes, how to become a more complete milkshake for the people… and also why a milkshake is so desperately needed. You might ask, “How have they learned a milkshake is needed, or even how to become a more complete milkshake for the people?” Because the apostle has learned how important it is for them to dissolve (die, 1 Corinthians 15:31, 2 Corinthians 12:7-21).
2 Corinthians 10:1, 10:8-13, 13:10
Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you…For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters. For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present. For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you (Ephesians 3:1-9).
Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.
1 Corinthians 4:14,18-21
I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved
sons I warn you… Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. But
I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of
them which are puffed up, but the power. For the
1 Thessalonians 2:6-7
Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:
What needs to be understood first and foremost is that an apostle has been trained how to become an efficient milkshake for the edifying of the body of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:6). Because they learn and abide within the revelation of the mystery of Christ, who alone became the grand milkshake for us all (1 Corinthians 10:17), they have been taught (Galatians 1:12) how to yield up their authority for edification. Notice in the verses above Paul was saying to the Church that he indeed had the authority of Christ (An apostle’s authority over the church) but that he would only use this authority for edification. About 99% of the apostle becoming a milkshake is the apostle yielding up his authority for edification purposes. You might ask, “What do you mean, yield up?” Basically the apostle, very wisely, gives up his rights and the authority he has been granted in Christ so that others might see and learn that he indeed has become a servant of all (Judges 8:1-3). It is like a restaurant owner who has been given full authority over the entire staff. He sees the staff is discontent and complaining. But rather than using his authority as an owner, he instead decides to take the lowliest job in the restaurant for a long duration… perhaps a dishwasher or a busboy. You see, he leads by example. Once the staff watches and sees that the owner is content in his place, working hard and not complaining, it becomes harder for them to complain. But there is another blessing in choosing thus. His decision will ultimately inspire them all.
Make no mistake about it, Paul had good reason to be upset with the church (just like that restaurant owner had good reason to become upset). The above scriptures even bear witness to Paul’s frustrations of wrongdoing. But… had he just shown up with his rod and started beating everybody, then his methods would not have inspired anyone, and more importantly, the process would not be honored by Christ’s Spirit at all (Ephesians 4:30).
And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he (Jesus) said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash
one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Edification comes when two things happen. When the truth is mingled with the right kind of witness. Paul had the truth on his side but if he came to the people as a disciplinarian instead of as an obedient Christ-like servant then the people would not have been edified (the Holy Spirit would not have honored his labor). Edifying happens when the people learn what they need to learn by the right kind of witness. Paul, in his very respectable wisdom, was patient with the people, giving the Holy Spirit a chance to work on their hearts and giving the people ample time to see their own sinfulness without forcing the rod of correction upon them. Paul knew if a people were given time to see their own sinfulness separate from his rod of correction, then this would result in the people repenting out of a conscious understanding that they had indeed sinned. The Holy Spirit, in their conscience, baring witness to that sin. If Paul had ignorantly used his rod of correction immediately, and the people had repented as a result, then their repentance would not have been the result of a conscious understanding of their sinfulness (via the Holy Spirit) but as the result of Paul’s forced humbling. In essence, the people would never learn effectively because instead of learning to heed the Holy Spirit’s conviction in their hearts (Ezra 10:1-4), and then consequently humbling themselves as a result of that conviction, the people would immediately become reliant upon Paul’s rod of humbling (and they would play dumb in the future – perhaps even building more walls so they could not see). The people would never learn how to accuse or examine themselves within the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5, 1 Corinthians 9:27, ). This ignorant use of power would bring no edification to the people of God. Please don’t misunderstand, sometimes the rod is necessary, but an apostle who is exercised in the Spirit of Christ has gained (Galatians 5:22-26, Ecclesiastes 3:10) a servant like heart to know exactly when to use this authority and for what reasons (2 Corinthians 10:1, 10:8-13). I have examined the entire New Testament, and I have found that it was an apostle’s last resort or desire to use the rod of correction on his fellow brethren.
There are two more verses of scripture I would like to compare and contrast in order to solidify the validity of this interpretation.
2 Corinthians 13:9-10
For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection. Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.
It was the Spirit of Christ that created within Paul the apostle and John the Baptist the desire for others to increase and receive glory while at the same time their importance and their glory would decrease. On a very symbolic scale this has everything to do with the fact that John the Baptist and Paul the apostle were totally secure with who they were in God (1 Corinthians 4:3, Mark 9:50) but on a very realistic scale it had everything to do with the overall plan of Christ. We are all here to help others believe in their Christ ordained bodily function (ministries) (1 Corinthians 12:25). Once an apostle becomes so strong and so secure and so confident with who he is in Christ, then it becomes their time to die so that others can feed from their witness, testimony and faith (their deposit, Matthew 25:14-30). Paul understood this. He took one look at the church and understood his dissolving was their lifeline. His faith would be their strength and his ministry would become their food (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul knew the only way to turn his testimony into spiritual food for the people would be by decreasing, becoming weak and dying daily (becoming an Apostle Milkshake). Take a look again at what Paul said…
…For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.
Paul was saying, “We have no problem yielding up our authority for your edification, so long as you become perfect. We will suffer with you, we will be patient with you (James 5:10-11), we will tell you just the right things at just the right times (Isaiah 50:4, Proverbs 15:23), we will decrease for you… all for edification and all that you might learn to live, perfectly unto God.” Paul had no problem becoming an Apostle Milkshake (a sacrifice) so that the people could have strength to live unto God. This was Paul’s sacrifice (Colossians 1:24), this was Paul’s commitment to Christ (2 Corinthians 1:5-6) and this was his duty as a minister of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:18-23). But the only way for Paul to become an Apostle Milkshake was for him to learn, through the revelation of God (2 Corinthians 12:7-21), that he needed to become food for the people. The edification that came as a result of the correct authority within Paul’s judgment taught him to understand exactly when to increase and when to decrease. Paul was able to become an Apostle Milkshake because he knew exactly when to die and when to abide, when to yield up authority and when to reserve the right to exercise judgment, when to forbear and when to council. All of this Godly wisdom was learned as he abode within the revelation of the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:1-9). This Godly wisdom eventually became the people’s edification and not their destruction. Paul learned how to be blended, how to be poured out, and how to be consumed all so that the people would be nourished and so that edification would come to the church (Philippians 4:11-13). It takes more than just a willing heart; it takes a sacrifice (Philippians 2:17), a commitment (2 Peter 4:19), a steadfastness (2 Corinthians 1:7), an endurance (2 Timothy 2:10), a God given ministry (Galatians 1:11-12, John 3:30), all in order that an apostle might one day learn to abide within the revelation of the mystery of Christ and become beneficial as an Apostle Milkshake. This is what Paul fought for (1 Corinthians 9:22-27), and because of his endurance and faithfulness… the church became greatly edified, blessed and enriched by his deposit (Matthew 25:14-30).