Principles in Biblical Leadership - Part 1

Principles in Biblical Leadership - Part 1

Jun 02, 2013

By: Emilio Ramos

Passage: 2 Corinthians 8:16

Series: 2 Corinthians

16“But thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus. 17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest, he has gone to you of his own accord. 18 We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches; 19 and not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work, which is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our readiness, 20 taking precaution so that no one will discredit us in our administration of this generous gift; 21 for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”

16 Χάρις δὲ τῷ θεῷ τῷ δόντι τὴν αὐτὴν σπουδὴν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ Τίτου, 17 ὅτι τὴν μὲν παράκλησιν ἐδέξατο, σπουδαιότερος δὲ ὑπάρχων αὐθαίρετος ἐξῆλθεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς. 18 συνεπέμψαμεν δὲ μετʼ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀδελφὸν οὗ ὁ ἔπαινος ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ διὰ πασῶν τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν, 19 οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλὰ καὶ χειροτονηθεὶς ὑπὸ τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν συνέκδημος ἡμῶν σὺν τῇ χάριτι ταύτῃ τῇ διακονουμένῃ ὑφʼ ἡμῶν πρὸς τὴν [αὐτοῦ] τοῦ κυρίου δόξαν καὶ προθυμίαν ἡμῶν, 20 στελλόμενοι τοῦτο, μή τις ἡμᾶς μωμήσηται ἐν τῇ ἁδρότητι ταύτῃ τῇ διακονουμένῃ ὑφʼ ἡμῶν· 21 προνοοῦμεν γὰρ καλὰ οὐ μόνον ἐνώπιον κυρίου ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐνώπιον ἀνθρώπων.

“Paul revisits his travel plans in this passage.  This time Paul focuses on the pending delegation of brothers being dispatched to Corinth; a delegation that was probably spear headed by Titus one of Paul’s closest fellow workers in the gospel.  Paul is thankful not to be alone in this gracious work.  Titus is Paul’s fellow worker who is self motivated and is himself concerned and zealous for the Jerusalem collection.  Titus and the delegation with him were to go on ahead of Paul making sure the Corinthians did not fail in being prepared for the contribution.  Paul also mentions two other brothers in anonymity in verses 18 and 22.  These brothers were to accompany Titus and bolster support for Paul in Corinth.  Paul does not present these men without qualifying that these were quality leaders in the church who are thereby worthy of cooperation.  Paul’s first unspecified brother was zealous for the gospel and was apparently well known for engaging in the things pertaining to furthering its cause.  Paul along with these men was ultimately careful to note that their administration of this great gift was done for God’s glory.  Their ministry therefore was executed in an honorable way both before the Lord Himself and before men.”

The context of the book expands into incorporating the ministry of Titus and other fellow workers or Paul.  The focus of the passage has to do with the administration of the “gracious gift.”  These are Paul’s trusted emissaries; those who have been entrusted with the task of preparing the church to participate and contribute to the Jerusalem collection.  Paul not only states the fact that these men were being sent but also why they are being sent.  Paul feels the freedom to commend the character and qualities of trustworthy servants of God and fellow workers with him in an important ecclesiastical work.  Paul presents qualities which mark the character of useful ministers and the nature of their work.  Paul gives us several reasons why these leaders should be commended. 

1.) BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP DEMANDS GENUINE ZEAL

vv.16-17,

16“But thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus. 17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest, he has gone to you of his own accord.”

Paul begins his section on trustworthy leaders by giving thanks, “but thanks be to God” (Χάρις δὲ τῷ θεῷ).  Paul was thankful that God had supplied the church with faithful men and women who would rise to the occasion and serve in His church with conviction and integrity.  Paul often mentions the blessedness of faithful fellow workers who were serving along side of him in the ministry.  All true biblical leadership results in praise and thanksgiving because God is the one who gives such servants to the church.  God calls the servants (Acts 9.15), He gifts the servants (Eph. 4.11; Rom. 12.6), He prepares them and makes them adequate for service (2 Cor. 3.4-6).  So it ought to be that we give thanks to God for faithful ministers, pastors, fellow workers and believers who serve in any capacity knowing that such gifts comes from God.  Paul speaking of his own calling says, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,” (1 Tim. 1.12).  

As Paul dispatches the men in this passage he also points out their qualities; he begins with zeal or “earnestness” (σπουδή).  Paul has used this Greek term in the letter twice already once referring to the welcomed zeal resulting from the Corinthian’s repentance (7 .11) and the second time referring to their devotion to Paul as opposed to his opponents (7.12).  The believer’s life and especially God’s servants in ministry should be characterized by authentic zeal for the Lord modeled by Jesus himself (cf. John 2.16-17; Ps. 69.9; cf. Ps. 119.139).  Here Paul gives two aspects of Titus’ zeal that should be carefully noted.

1.1, Genuine zeal comes from God

The very first thing is that Paul credits God for giving Titus the passion he has for the good of the local church, “thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus” (Χάρις δὲ τῷ θεῷ τῷ δόντι τὴν αὐτὴν σπουδὴν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ Τίτου).  If zeal is to be genuine and enduring it must be rooted in God’s own gracious work in the heart.  Titus’ zeal did not originate from mimicking the zeal of others or being pressured into serving; his zeal was divinely imparted. 

Zeal is an explosive thing in Scripture.  Zeal is inseparable from faith!  Zeal led Abraham to obey the call of God and leave Ur (Gen. 12), Zeal drove the spies to great exploits (Josh. 2), Zeal for God’s name caused Phinehas to strike down the fornicators in the camp with a spear (Num. 25), zeal cased the prophets to lay down their lives as they cried down the sins of the people (Heb. 11.32ff.), and zeal drove Jesus to fashion a whip with which to drive out the idolatrous greed at the temple (John 2.13-17; Mt. 21.12; Mk. 11.15; Lk. 19.45-46).  But zeal must be for Christ and His glory— zeal is not an end of its self.  Horatius Bonar said:

“A believing man will be a zealous man. Faith makes a man zealous. Faith shows itself by zeal. Not by zeal for a party or a system or an opinion; but by zeal for Christ – zeal for His church – zeal for the carrying on of His work on earth.” (Looking to the Cross, Preface, 1851).

1.2, Genuine zeal comes from the heart

It was this zeal for God’s church that made Titus willing to go of His own accord.  In fact, when we study the word usage of for the word (σπουδή) “earnestness” we find a level of self-inducement when it comes to zeal or spiritual diligence (2 Pet. 1.5).  This means that as we guard our hearts and examine our hearts in Christ we make all effort to remain ablaze for Him in godly ambitions and affections.  God told the people of Israel, “there is no one who calls on Your name who arouses himself to take hold of You” (Is. 64.7).  This is Scripture’s way of calling us to fan into flame the embers of desire that God has placed in us by His sovereign hand (2 Tim. 1.6). 

Titus did not need to be manipulated; his motivation was rooted in God’s imparting to him zeal for His glory and love for His church.  Not only therefore did Titus agree to Paul’s request to go to Corinth, “For he not only accepted our appeal” (ὅτι τὴν μὲν παράκλησιν ἐδέξατο), “but being himself very earnest” (σπουδαιότερος δὲ ὑπάρχων) Titus went of his own choice.  The emphasis at this point is on Titus’ personal effort, self motivated character, and his heartfelt diligence in the gospel. 

Paul uses a rare term to describe a rare servant of God, “very earnest” (σπουδαῖος) used only four times in the NT (8.17, 22a, 22b; 1 Tim. 1.17).  It is a word that conveys total preoccupation with accomplishing the task at hand, or for obtaining eagerly what you are seeking.  Paul uses this word for another servant, Onesiphorus, who frantically searched for Paul in Rome until he found him (2 Tim. 1.17).  Titus was fanatical about this mission and he was not to be denied participation; he prevailed until it was clear that he had “gone to you of his own accord” (αὐθαίρετος ἐξῆλθεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς) — with the emphasis being on Titus’ complete unsolicited decision to go to them.  Paul stresses it was “of his own accord” (αὐθαίρετος) which is the same rare word he used to describe the sacrificial giving of the Macedonians (8.3).  Does that type of zeal characterize our servanthood today?  Would that more of God’s people would get with God until fresh zeal has arisen in our hearts. 

2.) BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP DEMANDS COOPERATION 

vv.18-19,

 18“We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches; 19 and not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work, which is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our readiness,”

This next section introduces us to a person known only as “the brother” (τὸν ἀδελφὸν).  In the providence of God and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, this “brother” has remained unidentified.  Although his name is not provided several very valuable characteristics and virtues which are helpful for leadership principles in the church are given.  This text also gives us a glimpse into the primitive ecclesiology of the apostolic age.  At the very heart of all of this planning and preparation is cooperation.  We could go so far as to say that Paul and his associates did nothing without the blessing and support of the local church.  We see this in Paul’s missionary journeys (Acts 11.19-30; 13.1-3), Paul’s letter writing (1 Tim. 3.14-16), decision making (2 Cor. 1.17), financial dealings (Phil. 4.15), and directives and commendations for other churches (1 Cor. 7.17; 14.33; 2 Cor. 8.1-6; 9.1-4).  From the very beginnings of his ministry Paul showed a strong urge to cooperate with other churches, pastors, apostles, and leaders (cf. Gal. 2.2). The brother mentioned here is actually one of two “brothers” who go unspecified in this context (8.18, 22).  The second “brother” sent by Paul had been “tested” by Paul in various ministerial situations and found to be faithful (1 Cor. 4.2).  What we are looking at here then are quality ministers, quality leaders and quality fellow workers of the apostle Paul (cf. Phil. 4.3); men from whom there is much to learn. 

This first brother is commended in two ways, his evangelical zeal and his administrative gifts.

2.1, Gospel centered zeal

We can see this brother’s qualities and his usefulness first in what may be evangelistic zeal, “in the things of the gospel (ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ).  This brother was gospel centered which is to say that his main focus was in furthering the gospel probably by preaching the gospel and laboring in evangelism and missions.  Whatever the precise nature of his involvement in gospel ministry may have been ultimately it resulted in universal praise from the church, “the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches” (τὸν ἀδελφὸν οὗ ὁ ἔπαινος ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ διὰ πασῶν τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν).  Perhaps he was a gifted preacher like Apollos, or a zealous evangelist like Philip, or maybe he was content working behind the scenes in other ways like Barnabas.  Whatever his precise background was, his zeal was undeniable and his character was commendable among “all the churches” (πασῶν τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν). 

The universal praise he received from the churches is also evidence of the fact that he was interacting with multiple churches and cooperating with them.  He had the blessing of the churches because he was a blessing to the churches.  The same kind of cooperation and commendation is seen in John’s third letter which presents a similar parallel to this context:

3 John 5–7 5 “Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; 6 and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7 For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.”  

2.2, Gospel centered gifts

This brother is also affirmed in that he seems to have been formally recognized in some fashion.  The church had determined that he was fit to accompany Paul and his other fellow workers for a very sensitive task, “not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work” (οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλὰ καὶ χειροτονηθεὶς ὑπὸ τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν συνέκδημος ἡμῶν σὺν τῇ χάριτι ταύτῃ τῇ).  The word, “appointed” comes from (χειροτονέω); a word used in Acts 14.23 for the installation of elders by Paul and Barnabas.  The church had identified his gifts, affirmed his gifts, and put his gifts to use.  It would seem that his gifts matched his character and his character matched his gifts.  We might observe this from what is said of the next unnamed brother in v.22, “whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things.” 

No doubt, the brother of v.18 had been tested in a similar way and likewise been “found diligent”, eager, and zealous (σπουδαῖος, all found in 2 Corinthians: 8.17; 8.22 x2).  Only time can test certain things about gifted brethren.  This is one reason why Paul says that an elder cannot be a recent convert (1 Tim.3.6-7).  There has to be a lengthy period of time whereby the very seasons of life can test the character of a man (Jam. 1.3-4; Rom. 5.3-4).  No amount of training, seminary education and discipleship can replace the effect life has on a person’s character especially in the Lord and “in the things of the gospel.”  

Not only did this brother have to be fit for preaching and teaching and evangelizing but also in administrating and traveling; neither of which were easy tasks.  He was called to “travel” with Paul and his companions.  He was also very trustworthy in that he was expected to be mature enough to handle the sensitive ministry of “administrating” (διακονέω) God’s money for those in Jerusalem on behalf of Paul (“being administered by us” is probably an epistolary plural see, Harris; p.600).  He was tough and tactful!  Tough because traveling in the Roman world was not easy and in terms of apostolic missions, was often perilous (cf. 12.26); tactful because the apostle and the churches trusted him to facilitate financial aid with integrity. 

The ministry that the church had appointed him to engage in was ultimately meaningful for the same reason all ministry is meaningful— because God’s glory is on the line.  Paul points to this very thing, “this gracious work, which is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself” (τῇ χάριτι ταύτῃ τῇ διακονουμένῃ ὑφʼ ἡμῶν πρὸς τὴν [αὐτοῦ] τοῦ κυρίου δόξαν).  Ministry is not simply doing acts of kindness for others; anyone can engage in humanitarian works.  Christian ministry is first and foremost vertical and Godward.  

3.) BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP DEMANDS UNIVERSAL HONOR

vv.20-21,

 20“taking precaution so that no one will discredit us in our administration of this generous gift; 21 for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”

The next mark of true leadership has to do with integrity, financial integrity in particular.  Paul is very cautious here to stress that he was seeking to do what is right so that, “no one will discredit” or find fault (μή τις ἡμᾶς μωμήσηται) in his ministry and “administration of this generous gift” (τῇ ἁδρότητι ταύτῃ τῇ διακονουμένῃ).  Paul describes the “gift” literally as abundance (ἁδρότης).  He knew what he was handling was a “generous gift” from God’s people.

This being the case he takes great “precaution” (στελλόμενοι τοῦτο).  The phrase “taking precaution” actually is closely connected to the reference to the administration of the generous gift in v.19.  The word Paul uses is complex and probably was used in somewhat of an idiomatic fashion.  The word simply means “to keep away” (see, BDAG).  Here Paul is “avoiding” (another possible translation) in “this” (τοῦτο) ministry any appearance of disgraceful and underhanded ways.  The idea is connected with the idea of administration in v.19 and with Paul’s regard for “honor” in v.21.  Thus, Paul is taking a certain course (so ESV) of action that avoids any appearance of impropriety.

Paul was the type of leader that sought universal honor in everything.  In everything he wanted to have a good reputation among both insiders and outsiders:

2 Corinthians 1:12 12 “For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.”

1 Thessalonians 2:10 10 “You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers” (Paul apparently had the same attitude towards the Macedonian churches).

Acts 23:1 1 “Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.”  (Even before civil magistrates Paul testified to his personal integrity).

3.1, Universal honor comes from consistent living

Paul here makes the issue of horror clear.  His honor was not just lived out in the spiritual world where he could cite his personal devotion to God, his personal study life, prayer life and personal piety; he also saw the value of pursuing honor before man.  This is precisely what God has called His people to do.  When God confirmed His covenant bond with Abraham he called him to a holy life which was designed to distinguish him from the rest of the world:

Genesis 17:1 1 “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.”  

Paul gives the twofold reason why he used such precaution in ministry.  He had “regard” (προνοέω) for that which was “honorable” (καλός) both “in the sight of the Lord” (ἐνώπιον κυρίου) and “in the sight of men” (ἐνώπιον ἀνθρώπων).  To have regard meant that he had foresight, that he was thoughtful and mindful of the repercussions of his actions (cf. Rom. 12.17). 

Paul’s emphasis here is certainly that which was “in the sight of men”; however, he does not fail to mention the greatest accountability of all before “the Lord” (κυρίου) (cf. 1 Cor. 4.1-5).  Paul was careful therefore not to have his ministry “discredited” (μωμάομαι) by some charge of financial impropriety.  And that really ought to be the heart attitude of every believer in every area of our lives.  Christians realize that what we do in the presence of God and in the presence of men will have the same ultimate effect; blessings if we obey and curses if we disobey.  The covenant principle that seems to always extend to our everyday lives were certain blessings are experienced if we live honorable lives before God and man and certain negative consequences for dealing dishonestly in our God ordained spheres of influence. 

This is what made these men so commendable— they lived under God’s gaze and pursued honor with all men (cf. Rom. 12.18; 2 Cor. 1.12b; Heb. 12.14; Mt. 5.9; Rom. 14.19; Gal. 6.10).  Paul passed down this same principle of living honorably to the rest of the churches:

1 Thessalonians 4:9–12 9 “Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.”


Sermon notes are personal pastoral notes and not intended for grammar perfection. If you have questions about certain parts, please contact us.