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5. For we preach not ourselves Some make this to be an instance of Zeugma, 449449 Zeugma is a figure of speech, in which two subjects are used jointly (the term being derived from ξεύηνυμι to join) with the same predicate, which strictly belongs only to one. — Ed. in this manner: We preach not ourselves to be lords, but God’s only Son, whom the Father has set over all things, to be the one Lord. 450450 “Auquel le Pere a baillé superintendance sur toutes choses;” — “To whom the Father has given superintendence over all things.” I do not, indeed, find fault with that interpretation, but as the expression is more emphatic (εμφατικωτερα) and has a more extensive signification, 451451 “Comme ainsi soit que la facon de parler est de plus grand poids, et s’estend plus loin;” — “As it is a form of expression that has greater weight, and is more extensive.” when it is said, that one preaches himself. I am more inclined to retain this interpretation, especially as it is almost unanimously approved of. For there are other ways in which men preach themselves, than by arrogating to themselves dominion, as for example, when they aim at show, rather than at edification — when they are desirous in any way to have distinction — when, farther, they make gain of the gospel. Ambition, therefore, and avarice, and similar vices in a minister, taint the purity of his doctrine, so that Christ has not there the exclusive distinction. Hence, he that would preach Christ alone, must of necessity forget himself.
And ourselves your servants. Lest any one should mutter out the objection—”But in the mean time you say many things respecting yourself,” he answers, that he desires nothing farther, than that he should be their servant. “Whatever things I declare respecting myself (so loftily, and boastfully, in your opinion) have this object in view — that I may in Christ serve you advantageously.” It follows, that the Corinthians are excessively proud and ungrateful, if they reject this condition. Nay more, it follows, that they had been previously of a corrupt judgment, inasmuch as they had not perceived his holy affection.
Here, however, all pastors of the Church are admonished as to their state and condition, for by whatever title of honor they may be distinguished, they are nothing more than the servants of believers, and unquestionably, they cannot serve Christ, without serving his Church at the same time. An honorable servitude, it is true, this is, and superior to any principality, 452452 “Plus heureuse que toutes les principautez du monde;” — “Happier than all the principalities of the world.” but still it is a servitude, so that Christ alone may be elevated to distinction — not encumbered by the shadow of a single rival 453453 “N’estant nullement empesché par l’ombre de quelque autre qui luy seroit donne pour compagnon;” — “In no degree hindered by the shadow of any other, that might be given him as a companion.” Hence it is the part of a good pastor, not merely to keep aloof from all desire of domineering, but to regard it as the highest pitch of honor, at which he aspires — that he may serve the people of God. It is the duty of the people, on the other hand, to esteem the servants of Christ first of all on the ground of the dignity of their Master, and then farther on account of the dignity and excellence of their office, that they may not despise those, whom the Lord has placed in so illustrious a station.