7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
1901 ASV Translation:
7 or ministry, let us give ourselves to our ministry; or he that teacheth, to his teaching;
8 or he that exhorteth, to his exhorting: he that giveth, let him do it with liberality; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.
I. Paul's Focus Upon the Grace-Gifts.
A. His "selectivity".
B. His fundamental understanding.
C. His instruction.
1. Critical to understanding is the issue of "definitions"; thus, we must be sure we understand to some degree that which Paul addresses and not be taken in by those who would distort the definitions in order to take advantage of others.
2. Those who have the ability to "prophesy" are to "prophesy" according to the "apportioned faith" given to them.
3. Those who have the ability to "minister" are to so "minister".
a. The issue(s) of "ministry".
1) Paul uses the word here translated "ministry" three times in this letter and the translators of the Authorized Version opt to translate it differently each time. In 11:13 they choose to translate it "office". In 12:7 we see the word "ministry". In 15:31 they give us "service".
2) In 11:13 Paul uses "ministry" as a description of his status as "apostle of the Gentiles". He says he "magnifies" his "office". His meaning is that he is deliberately elevating his position as the apostle of the Gentiles to "provoke" his fellow-Jews to a greater and more legitimate "zeal" for God. By using "office", the translators let us know that they are thinking in terms of "the office of apostle". An implication of this translation is that the translators think Paul is dealing with "authority" because he is dealing with his "apostleship" (an enormously "authoritative" status). However, this is not likely. Paul was not adverse to addressing "authority" when his readers needed to understand that they could believe him and could not legitimately oppose him, but that is not the case in 11:13. What is the case is this: Paul was exalting his "outreach to Gentiles" because such action was odious to the self-righteous, Gentile-hating, legalists of the Jews. It was his "apostolic" doctrine that God was willing to save Gentiles, but it was his expression of God's willingness to serve the Gentiles' need for salvation that was to "provoke" his fellow-Jews. In other words, it was his "service" to the Gentiles (not his "authority" in doctrine) that was to provide any Jew who was not too caught up in "God as Authority" a reason to give his message a hearing (his concept of provocation). Thus, it is the character of God as a "gracious servant" that had the hope of getting "Jews" to believe his Gospel, not the character of Paul as an "authority" of God.
3) In 15:31 the issue is Paul's "service" to the saints in Jerusalem in the form of a large collection that he made from the churches he had founded among the Gentiles (see Acts 19:21 and the context of Romans 15:25-26). Clearly, here, the issue is not "authoritative office", but helpful service in the form of tangible financial help because of a time of famine.
4) Conclusion(s): the "grace-gift" of "ministry" is not an "office", but an ability to offer practical help to those in difficult straits. As such, it takes on many forms because the circumstances of "difficulties" are many and varied. And, because of this large variety and the unlikelihood of anyone being able to cover all of those bases, Paul urges the exercise of the grace-gift "in the ministry". In other words, those who have the gift of "ministry" most likely have certain areas of expertise called "the" ministry that they have been given. Paul called his gift of apostleship an exercise of "ministry". In this sense, every gift is an extension of the large concept of "ministry". However, the identification of a grace-gift called "ministry" implies that it covers a different area than other grace-gifts. Thus, apart from other special aptitudes of the Spirit, "ministry" is the ability to address a particular niche of need that is not addressed by any other "gift".
b. The placement of "ministry" in Paul's "selective" list of functions of the body.
1) Paul started his list with "prophecy".
2) Immediately on the heels of this "gift" comes "ministry. Why?
a) It follows "prophecy" and precedes "teaching". The former has to do with the unveiling of secrets and the latter has to do with explaining the implications of such secrets. Between those two notions sits "ministry".
b) It seems likely, then, that Paul views "ministry" as the proper outworking of every unveiling of God's secret wishes and the proper basis for all "explanation" of such. In other words, it is the practical aid given to those in serious difficulty that pulls the veil off of the eyes of those who cannot see the secret will of God and that gives fuller understanding of those secrets to those who hear the prophecies but do not see their implications in concrete ways. Every prophecy, without exception, has a "benefit" attached for those who "believe" but it is only by those who can extend "benefit" that prophecy and teaching come into their own. God is, essentially, a Servant Life-Giver; i.e., a "Minister". Thus, every utterance and the explanation of every utterance is going to exist in that context.
4. The list runs through "teaching", "exhortation", "giving", "ruling", and "showing mercy".