Tuesday, August 14, 2012

John Brown on Paul the Apostle and Office

In preparing to preach through Galatians, I am reading several commentaries on this great book which Martin Luther referred to as "my Katherine Von Bora," including John Brown's classic 1853 exposition in the Geneva series reprinted by Banner of Truth.  Brown's work is brimming with sharp insights.

Here are some of Brown's comments on Paul's claim to his extra-ordinary apostolic office in Galatians 1:1 and his application to how the minister might view his ordinary office:

Christians, and especially Christian ministers, ought not to be ambitious of distinctions, nor very forward in claiming, in every case, the respect which properly belongs to them; but when their usefulness is endangered by men endeavoring to rob them of their authority which belongs to their office or character, it is a false modesty which would keep them back from asserting their rights.  Paul was a modest man; but he would not silently allow any man to deny or extenuate the official authority with which Jesus had invested him (p. 19).

I may be allowed to remark by the way, that though there is a most material difference between the Apostle Paul and ordinary Christian ministers, yet there is a sense in which it may even be said of them, if they are what they ought to be, that they are not "of men," neither "by man."  There are too many who are ministers of men, who have no authority but what men gave them, and no message to deliver but what men have taught them.  These men may be ministers of the Roman church, or of the Greek church, or of the English church, or of the Scottish church, but they are not ministers of Christ (pp. 20-21).

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