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Paul's paradigm for ministry in 2 Corinthians: Christ's death and resurrection

Ashley, Evelyn (2006) Paul's paradigm for ministry in 2 Corinthians: Christ's death and resurrection. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The Christian congregation in Corinth found Paul's weak presentation of the gospel and his approach to ministry to be scandalous. Recently arrived apostles reinforced and accentuated attitudes the congregation had already imbibed from contemporary Corinthian culture. As a result many in the congregation were less than satisfied with Paul's manner of speech, his apparent lack of charismatic qualities, his refusal to accept money from them, his lack of commendatory letters, and his lifestyle that was characterised by suffering, affliction, opposition and weakness.

However, Paul's criteria for evaluating ministry, and by implication God's criteria, were significantly different from those of the Corinthian congregation. Key verses such as 2 Cor 1:9; 3:5; 4:7; 6:7; 12:9 and 13:4 indicate that Paul maintained that Christian life and ministry generally, and apostolic ministry in particular, must be carried out through divine power, not human power. His apostolic ministry was valid because it was exercised as God's representative, in God's presence (2:17), with God as judge (5:10) and as a result of God's mercy (4:1), not as a result of his own power, authority, eloquence or charismatic presence.

The theological underpinning for Paul's approach to ministry is found in 13:4 where Christ who was crucified as a result of weakness, but lives as a result of God's power is the model for Paul who shares in his weakness, but in ministry to the Corinthians, also lives as a result of God's power. Paul's model for ministry was one of dependence on God. This is most clearly demonstrated in the affliction he experienced in Asia where he despaired of life itself, but in the process learned to rely on God who raises the dead. Thus his suffering, weakness and affliction, far from being disqualifiers for ministry, were in fact, demonstrations of his authenticity as a minister whose competency came from God and not from himself (3:6).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Supervisor(s): Moore, Richard
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