Principles in Biblical Leadership - Part 2
Text and Exposition
22“We have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things, but now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ. 24 Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.”
22 συνεπέμψαμεν δὲ αὐτοῖς τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν ὃν ἐδοκιμάσαμεν ἐν πολλοῖς πολλάκις σπουδαῖον ὄντα, νυνὶ δὲ πολὺ σπουδαιότερον πεποιθήσει πολλῇ τῇ εἰς ὑμᾶς. 23 εἴτε ὑπὲρ Τίτου, κοινωνὸς ἐμὸς καὶ εἰς ὑμᾶς συνεργός· εἴτε ἀδελφοὶ ἡμῶν, ἀπόστολοι ἐκκλησιῶν, δόξα Χριστοῦ. 24 τὴν οὖν ἔνδειξιν τῆς ἀγάπης ὑμῶν καὶ ἡμῶν καυχήσεως ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν εἰς αὐτοὺς ἐνδεικνύμενοι εἰς πρόσωπον τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν.
“This passage introduces another unnamed brother who is also described as possessing powerful virtues which commend him to the churches and qualifies him as one of Paul’s personal delegates. The brother is distinguished for his resolute character a character that had been tested on multiple occasions and always found consistently faithful. Concerning the Corinthian’s involvement in the collection, this brother’s zeal only increased because of his confidence in the churches willingness to contribute. Titus also is brought in again as another wonderful example of a true, genuine and honorable leader. Paul may have had so much to say about Titus had he begun to commend him further. Paul describes Titus in very personal ways. Titus was Paul’s partner and fellow worker among the Corinthians and no doubt among other countless churches. The two unnamed brothers are succinctly described as messengers of the church who glorify Christ because of their great perseverance and labor in the gospel. Paul is eager to exhort the church to receive such honorable leaders among them. They are to acknowledge who they are and demonstrate their love for them by publically affirming, receiving and honoring these men so that their love will show that Paul’s boasting was not in vain.”
PRINCIPLES OF BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP, PART 2
As the apostle Paul presents yet another unnamed brother he nevertheless continues to list various virtues attached to the reputation of these men. Titus forms something of an inclusio in this entire pericope (beginning and ending Paul’s thought). With this new section, Paul gives further descriptions of these men which yield additional valuable principles for biblical leadership. In these verses Paul gives us the things a godly leader must be and must do as well as the congregational response in the face of biblical leadership.
1.) DILIGENT TO LEAD
22“We have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things, but now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you.”
The delegation Paul sends out consists of three faithful and trustworthy men. These men were great assets to the church and to Paul as well. These men were handpicked by Paul himself and were men of proven character (cf. Phil. 2.19-22). Like Timothy, Titus and these men were men that were sent precisely because they could be entrusted to stand in Paul’s place to be his emissaries and to communicate Paul’s own heart to the churches regarding the Jerusalem collection. Paul would only send those whom he had approved as faithful servants of God who he himself could trust:
Philippians 2:22–23 22 “But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father. 23 Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me;”
It was upon Paul’s assessment and affirmation of Timothy’s “proven worth” (δοκιμή) that the language of “sending” commences, “therefore I hope to send him.” The same held true for these men as well. In Philippians Paul speaks of Timothy as the time tested man of God who goes in his stead; here Paul elaborates a bit further as to how such men became the leaders Paul could trust. No doubt this second unnamed “brother” (τὸν ἀδελφὸν) like Titus was also such a leader for, as the text implies, he had been subject to thorough scrutiny, “our brother, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things” (τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν ὃν ἐδοκιμάσαμεν ἐν πολλοῖς πολλάκις σπουδαῖον ὄντα). The emphasis here is not so much on the nature of the scrutiny but on the positive results of the test, “found diligent” (σπουδαῖον ὄντα) means that his zeal proved to be authentic.
However Paul was careful to point out that this brother, who may have needed the endorsement, was tested on many levels an multiple occasions (πολλάκις) and past the test regarding “many matters” (ἐν πολλοῖς) so ESV. By pointing out the fact that he had been tested “often” it points to the intervals of time where occasion after occasion made it possible for this brother’s character to be tested. Paul describes the approval of this brother’s character as one that had been “found diligent” (σπουδαῖον ὄντα). And again, Paul underscores the fact that his diligence was only compounded because of his “confidence” (πεποίθησις) in the Corinthian church i.e. that they were ready to contribute in the collection. The church has a way to embolden its leaders— through its obedience!
True leaders always persevere in leading. Paul says of simple but profoundly about those who are called to lead that their gift be made perfect in being diligent to lead, “he who leads, with diligence” (Rom. 12.8). The ESV translates the phrase as a matter of “zeal”, “the one who leads, with zeal.” People are drawn to zeal particularly in leaders. God has ordained it that way. Many of the people in Scripture who were given great diligence and zeal for the things of God were leaders in one capacity or another; these men are proof of that (cf. 3 John 7). Paul himself is characterized as extremely zealous— zeal he would later shift towards Christ (cf. Gal. 1.15; Phil. 3.7-8).
Faithful leaders must be diligent and zealous to lead God’s people and take up the work of the kingdom of God with enthusiasm and joy (cf. 2 Cor. 1.24). Leadership must emanate with bright zeal and resolute diligence that people can count on. The word “diligent” itself can also have the meaning of “eagerness” as in the case with Titus in v.17. Not only is there zeal in true leadership, diligence and being intentional about leading but an eagerness to lead as well; a willingness to meet challenges and rise to the occasion. To draw out the implication of this a bit further one could look at the negative side i.e. lacking diligence. The occasion with John Mark serves as a good example not of apostasy, but in failure in leadership. There is no question that Paul had the right perspective for at the time of the second missionary journey in Acts 15; Mark was not fit to lead:
Acts 15:36–39 36 “After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. 38 But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.”
It could also be argued from the text that Paul made the right choice at the time since Luke is careful to point out that it was Paul and Silas who the church “committed… to the grace of the Lord” (Acts 15.40). Not only did they have the churches interest in mind (and that might be the difference) but they also had the fruit to substantiate God’s blessing. Thus, we could say that unlike Titus and these two unnamed brothers, John Mark failed the “test” (at least for now cf. 2 Tim. 4.11). To see just how important good leadership is, this classic and now infamous division between Paul and Barnabas surrounded this issue of a lack of diligence, zeal, commitment, and eagerness.
2.) DEVOTED TO LABOR
23“As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ.”
Part of the reason Paul wrote about these men was to commend them and assure the Corinthians of their authority and purpose. Paul was being very cautious to point out who was involved in the “administration of this generous gift” (8.20) and that they were trustworthy men. These men were trustworthy on their own merit and character but also because of the role they played alongside of Paul. For example Paul is careful to point out that “Titus” (Τίτος) was his “partner” (κοινωνὸς) and “fellow worker” (συνεργός) among them (εἰς ὑμᾶς, literally “for you” possibly communicating advantage). When Paul says “among you” (εἰς ὑμᾶς) it probably stood for the fact that Titus was to be seen as a blessing for the churches greater good.
Paul manifold description of Titus and of the two brothers is indicative of the devotion to work of the gospel that marked these men’s lives. First, Paul describes Titus as his “partner” (κοινωνὸς) i.e. one who literally fellowships with him in the ministry of the gospel. This word also indicates the spiritual relationship among leaders. Paul and Titus really only had one thing in common— the gospel. These were two very different men, with two very different personalities, and two different backgrounds. Nevertheless they were united by the grace of God and shared a sweet partnership in the gospel of God. They were singular in passion though different in personality.
The second term is one of Paul’s favorites, “fellow worker” (συνεργός). In fact, there is an entire theology in Paul regarding this term. Its not just that apostles were fellow workers, but Paul uses the term to refer to his close associates as well (“Timothy” Rom. 16.21; “Epaphroditus” Phil. 2.25; “Philemon” Philem. 1).
In fact, both men (Phil. 4.3), and women (Rom. 16.3; Phil. 4.3) who were devoted to the furtherance of the gospel are labeled as fellow workers. Sometimes Paul uses the word to refer to whole group of his brethren at once (cf. Philem. 24). Abstractly, when a person is laboring in this way he/she is actually a fellow worker for the sake of the kingdom. In Colossians, Paul mentions his Jewish brethren: Aristarchus, Barnabas’s cousin Mark, Jesus who is called Justus who he qualifies as “fellow workers for the kingdom of God” (συνεργοὶ εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ) (Col. 4.10-11). Paul describes himself as a “worker” (συνεργός) with the church for the purpose of producing joy among its members (2 Cor. 1.24). This theology is also used by other apostles as well e.g. John speaks of our association with the gospel as being “fellow workers with the truth” as we support evangelism in the local church (3 John 8).
Ultimately, the theology of a “fellow worker” reaches its greatest association when Paul on two occasions describes himself and Timothy as fellow workers with God:
1 Thessalonians 3:2 2 “and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith,”
1 Corinthians 3:9 9 “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
Every good leader leads with the understanding that ultimately it is for God whom we labor and it is God himself who labors with us. Because of this connection, the third word that Paul uses in relation to these men, “our brethren” (ἀδελφοὶ ἡμῶν), deals with the nature of their work; “messengers.” Another reason that we should see these verses as commending and even authorizing this delegation is because of Paul’s use of the conjunction “if” (εἴτε). The conjunction preempts any questions they may have regarding this delegation. Paul answers this possible query with this powerful description, “as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ” (εἴτε ἀδελφοὶ ἡμῶν, ἀπόστολοι ἐκκλησιῶν, δόξα Χριστοῦ.). Paul’s commendation is both ecclesiastical and Christological.
2.1, The labor of a godly leader is Ecclesiastical
We can see that this is the case with these men who are described as “messengers of the churches” (ἀπόστολοι ἐκκλησιῶν). The use of (ἀπόστολοι) does not suggests that these men are apostles in the technical sense; those who have seen the Lord Jesus (see, Harris; p. 611). Paul was not bestowing apostolic authority upon these men (something he was not able to do anyway) rather Paul was presenting their good standing among the other churches.
Paul does not describe these men as apostles of Christ but as apostles of the churches. This difference is slight but significant. Just as Paul as an apostle would have derived his ministry, authority, and commission from Christ himself; these men were sent by, for, and to the churches as an extension of Paul who was an apostle of Christ directly commissioned by Him (e.g. Rom. 1.1; 1 Cor. 15.5, 7; 1 Cor. 9.1; 15.9-11; 2 Cor. 1.1; Gal. 1.1; Jude 17). As Harris notes, “these men were… envoys belonging to, sent by, and representing the churches” (Ibid). Paul will later make it clear that it is the false teacher that disguises himself as “an apostle of Christ” (11.13; see also 11.5). To use the term; these men were “apostles” of the church in a non-technical fashion. At the heart of Paul’s comment however is the ecclesiastically oriented nature of the mission of these men. These were men who shared Paul’s heart for the church (cf. Phil. 2.18-20) — a fact attested by “the churches” (ἐκκλησιῶν) themselves (possibly a reference to the Macedonians).
2.2, The labor of a godly leader is Christological
The nature of their labor is also Christological. Paul shifts to the results of these men’s ministry and character. Because of their work they are to be regarded as “a glory to Christ” (δόξα Χριστοῦ). Not as the ESV, “the glory of Christ” which may be misleading (the anarthrous construction should be brought out here). The point is that these men because of their churchmanship, their integrity, and their zealous leadership glorify Christ whom they serve (cf. 2 Tim. 1.3). Because they glorified Christ in their leadership, Paul could readily commend them as ministers who could be trusted. John MacArthur rightly points out:
“Showing the high caliber of men to which the early church entrusted money, Paul called the three a glory to Christ. There could be no higher commendation, and those who lived to bring glory to Christ would not bring shame to His name and His church.” (MacArthur; p.307).
3.) DESERVING OF LOVE
24“Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.”
In these biographical passages, Paul has given several aspects of Biblical leadership. We have looked at the diligence of the leader, the devotion and labor of the leader but here Paul focuses on the churches obligation towards the leaders who are deserving of love and public affirmation. One of the reasons that people struggle so bad to respect the leadership of any church is the lack of integrity in the leadership over financial matters. But the integrity of these men elicits love.
Paul begins by suggesting that such affirmation and loving reception should be done “openly” (πρόσωπον) that is, publically. Paul uses an interesting word at the end of the verse (not at the head of the verse as most EVV) for emphasis πρόσωπον which literally means “face to face” with the churches. Godly leaders deserve public affirmation. Love for these men needed to be more than spoken, it needed to be demonstrated to the rest of the churches, “show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.”
The “love” (τῆς ἀγάπης) of the Corinthians for these leaders had to be demonstrated (ἐνδείκνυμι) in a tangible way as “proof” (ἔνδειξιν) that these men were received in a way worthy of God (cf. 3 John 6). So much work has been done by exegetes to bring out the meaning and even etymology of the words being used here, namely (ἔνδειξιν) and (ἐνδεικνύμενοι). Paul was looking for tangible or public proof of love; thus, “show them” (NASB). The NASB is putting the emphasis on the verb “to show” (ἐνδείκνυμι) which speaks of bringing something to the attention of other people (BDAG). The Corinthians were to show the rest of the churches the demonstration of their love for these men (εἰς αὐτοὺς), their respect for their work, and their cooperation with their leadership in order to proof their own character, purity, and support for the collection. (Note: the participle ἐνδεικνύμενοι takes on imperatival force in this context, see Harris; p.613).
This display of love will result in further cooperation in the church as they make good on Paul’s own “boasting” (καύχησις) on their behalf. Paul was hoping the church would walk “lock step” with the rest of the “churches” (τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν) in this matter and make good on the positive things he had spoken to the other churches about the Corinthians; especially that they would have received such an envoy and be ready to contribute to the Jerusalem collection. The church’s readiness could only be enhanced by the way they treated their leaders. This exhortation to the Corinthians is part of an entire NT theology on honoring and loving the leaders God had ordained for His church (1 Tim. 5.17; Tit. 2.15).
But we should also consider the facts which make such men worthy of double honor, worthy of respect, and worthy of love and support. Reflecting on the faithfulness of yet another of Paul’s close ministry partners in Epaphroditus who was also another exemplary leader in the church; Paul says:
Philippians 2:28–30 28 “Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you. 29 Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.”