Pastoral Concerns, part 1
In this passage, Paul uses the imagery of a wedding ceremony to describe the relationship of the church to Christ. Verse 2 – Paul has “betrothed” the church “to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Paul’s hope is to retain the purity of the church until it is presented to Christ at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
However, something at the church was causing Paul much concern—notice verse 3a – “for I fear.” He was concerned about the spiritual status of the church. False teachers had crept in and were deceiving the people. These false teachers were corrupting the minds of the people, turning them away from the Gospel into error. That is a major problem, and that’s what Paul is concerned about.
Just like Paul is concerned about false teachers in the church at Corinth, many pastors are concerned about false teachers that may be influencing their churches. A church needs to be discerning enough to prevent false teachers from gaining access and authority with it.
Vs. 1 is an introductory comment that expresses Paul’s frustration with the church. Paul wishes that they would put up with him as well as they put up with the false teachers. He uses the word “to bear with, put up with” (ἀνέχομαι) three times in these few verses. He wishes that they would bear with him (.1a); they are bearing with him (.1b); he wishes that they would not bear with the false teachers (.4end).
The “little folly/foolishness” that he mentions here refers to his own self-defense in response to the accusations against him. Most of the letter is a defense of himself and his actions. He feels foolish in having to defend himself or mention his accomplishments, but he feels that he has to defend himself against his critics. The false teachers have been promoting themselves, and so Paul has to talk about himself a bit to refute these accusations. The Corinthians tolerate a lot of foolishness from the false teachers, so they should be able to tolerate a little foolishness from Paul.
The issue here is toleration—whom do we put up with? Whom do we allow to have an influence in the church? We should allow only those who stand for and teach the biblical Gospel. We should not tolerate or bear with those who teach error and falsehood—especially error regarding Jesus and the Gospel. We should have no tolerance for error on these subjects.
The text reveals several common pastoral concerns. These are serious, grave fears that plague many pastors. As we look at these concerns, we must make sure that we are not contributing to any of these pastoral fears. You don’t want to be the basis of these fears/concerns for the pastor. In fact, you should want do the opposite of being a concern in these areas.