Brick by brick, Paul is building his answer to those critics of the gospel and of himself. In the last chapter, Paul had stated the clearness of the gospel in contrast to the symbols and shadows of the institutions of Moses. In the gospel we are permitted to gaze upon the unveiled glories of God and His eternal purpose in Christ.
In this chapter, Paul is dealing with the consequences of labouring in such a glorious ministry. The word therefore in verse one indicates a conclusion being drawn.
I. TO BE CALLED TO THE MINISTRY IS A MERCY.
It is not only a ministry of mercy but is itself a mercy.
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief,1 Timothy 1:12-13.
1. It is a mercy to be called to labour with God. For we are labourers together with God, 1 Corinthians 3:9. We are brought into His company, a sharer of His plans and vision, a partaker of His strength. By no means are the exclusive privileges of the minister. Every believer may do so but it is essentially linked to the office of the minister.
2. It is a mercy to thus labour for the good of others. There is no good that may be done for men like that done under the gospel. The Saviour’s ministry is illustrative of the mercies. Luke 7:22. There is not an aspect of a society’s ills but will be benefitted by the gospel.
3. Engaged in such a merciful pursuit will minister mercy to our souls. Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?1 Cors 9:7.
The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruit, 2 Timothy 2:6.