by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4 May 4, 2014 Dayton, Texas
4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts
5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God [is] witness:
6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor [yet] of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 but even as we have been approved of God to be intrusted with the gospel, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God who proveth our hearts.
5 For neither at any time were we found using words of flattery, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness;
6 nor seeking glory of men, neither from you nor from others, when we might have claimed authority as apostles of Christ.
I. The Roots of Paul's Motivation.
A. Tested by God.
1. That God had Paul in mind for his task before his conversion is clear from the Acts/Galatians records of God's statements about Saul of Tarsus, so we have to have this in the mix when we look at Paul's comments.
2. That God does not put men into the apostolic service lightly is clear, however, from this text: the "apostle" must be tested and approved. This is Paul's term (translated "allowed" in the AV and "approved" in the ASV).
a. This word is variously translated, but it, like all words, has a root that allows itself to be applied to various contexts and, thus, is translated to suit those contexts.
b. The root seems to be a clear-eyed discernment (even, perhaps, to the depth of joints and marrow, depending upon the Person involved; Hebrews 4:12) that, then, leads to "approval", "allowance of some involvement", etc.) When the ability to see clearly is compromised by ignorance or some other mitigating factor, the word strongly implies a series of "tests" wherein the thing being "discerned" is brought to light (2 Corinthians 8:22).
c. In Paul's case, God is the "Discerner" so that He may say that one will be something before he/she is ever "tested" and "approved". But, that does not mean that the tests will be by-passed (1 Peter 1:6-7). Even Jesus was "proven" in the wilderness before He was led into His ministry by the Spirit.
d. Judas was chosen by Jesus to be in the inner circle of apostles, but he consistently failed the tests that came his way, succumbing to the temptation to steal and to betray. Thus, he was "dis-approved".
3. This is an example of God's "Relational Universe" at its best: men trusting God through test after test, and God trusting those men to be what He has appointed them to be.
B. Entrusted with the Gospel.
1. The word is the passive voice of the typical word for "to believe".
a. In the active voice, the word means to be convinced of a "truth" to the point that one will make decisions and take actions on the basis of that "truth".
b. In the passive voice, the word means that the person in view is "believed". God "entrusted" the Gospel to Paul because he had passed the tests of motivation given in the preceding and following verses. Paul did not use "error", or "deadly lies", or "false appearances" to preach the Gospel, nor did he use "flattering speech", or "have an underlying goal of acquisition at the expense of those to whom he preached", or "seek glory from those to whom he preached". He was "trusted" after the fact of his periodic testing.
2. There is some indication in Acts and Galatians that the other apostles were not as thoroughly committed to the purity of the Gospel because they allowed a deadly form of heresy to exist and be taught in the Church in Jerusalem until Paul went up there and confronted them about it (there were those in that Body that taught the necessity of circumcision and law-keeping). There is also the notable failure of Peter in Antioch which required of Paul that he confront him publicly for his hypocrisy.
II. The Outcome of the Testing.
A. Paul "spoke".
B. His speech was that of one who did not seek to please men, but, rather, to please God Who did the testing/approving of the heart.
1. Paul returns to the "testing/approval" terminology by describing "the God" as the "One Who tests the hearts of us". This clearly reveals that Paul is addressing the process by which a person is "approved" for a given task: a series of "tests" to reveal the level of commitment involved. Insufficient "commitment" will result in rejection.
2. At the core of the "tests" is "the heart" as the core of one's values: what is it that is held to be valuable above the competition? In this case, Paul's interest in "glory" and its "roots" (men, or God). God-pleasing is supposed to always be more valuable than men-pleasing (Galatians 1:10).