Who wrote the book of 1 Corinthians?
What about 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians…who wrote them?
That would be only partially correct.
All of these letters were written alongside of ministry friends. People like Timothy, Silas, Sosthenes, And every one of these letters says so in the first verse.
It’s the opening and closing of these books that key us in to something often overlooked. First century ministry was a team effort, not series of solo apostolic efforts.
And Paul leaves no doubt about how dear to him these co-laborers are.
Each of his missionary journeys included companions. They were not merely assistants but partners.
“So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord.” Acts 14:3
Paul may have often taken the lead as they preached, but that doesn’t mean he’s the only one that ministered. When Paul and Barnabas later had a difference of opinion, Paul didn’t pull rank on him. Acts 15:39
Additionally, Paul was comforted by his friends when they came to him, often bringing news from the churches, as well as providing camaraderie.
“But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,” 2 Corinthians 7:6
As a matter of fact, reading of the book of Acts and the New Testament letters shows us a whole network of ministry going on.
Take a look at Romans 16 if you want to see a listing of several of them. They included men and women, some who stayed in various places and others who moved as needed or circumstances demanded.
I could go on and on…
so often we hear about how lonely ministry can be.
I have to wonder if some of the reason that ministry is so lonely is because we don’t follow the New Testament example.
It’s evident that in the early church there was a network of ministry, not solo operators. They worked together, communicated to one another and comforted each other.
I’m quite thankful myself that I have so many good friends in local church ministry, particularly those in the same geographical area. Any pastor or ministry leader who doesn’t have relationships like these is missing out, in my opinion.
We aren’t alone in the local church either. I can’t find any New Testament idea that an elder wasn’t a regular part of the life of the local church in an authentic way.
The elders are supposed to be those who collectively shepherd the flock that’s entrusted to them, according to 1 Peter 5. There is, or should be, a special bond between these local church elders. If a pastor feels the need to distance themselves from their fellow elders, I suspect their loneliness is at least partially of their own making. Or an unhealthy attitude amongst the other elders.
And in the broadest sense, we serve amongst all the people of God in ministry.
Every Christian is a minister.
I recognize that perhaps not everybody is as fortunate as I am to serve in a great congregation with a great group of elders amongst a great group of fellow pastors and teachers in our area.
But I’ll say this – if you really are alone, something is very wrong.
That’s not the way of the Church Jesus established and Peter, Paul and others planted as they proclaimed Jesus.