Verse 18. "Not he that commendeth himself" - Not the person who makes a parade of his own attainments; who preaches himself, and not Christ Jesus the Lord; and, far from being your servant for Christ's sake, affects to be your ruler; not such a one shall be approved of God, by an especial blessing on his labours; but he whom the Lord commendeth, by giving him the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit, and converting the heathen by his ministry. These were qualifications to which the false apostle at Corinth could not pretend. He had language and eloquence, and show and parade; but he had neither the gifts of an apostle nor an apostle's success.
1. DR. WHITBY observes that the apostle, in the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th verses, endeavours to advance himself above the false apostles in the three following particulars:- (1.) That whereas they could show no commission to preach to the Corinthians, no measure by which God had distributed the Corinthians to them as their province, he could do so. We have a measure to reach even to you, ver. 13.
(2.) That whereas they went out of their line, leaping from one Church to another, he went on orderly, in the conversion of the heathens, from Judea through all the interjacent provinces, till he came to Corinth.
(3.) Whereas they only came in and perverted the Churches where the faith had already been preached, and so could only boast of things made ready to their hands, ver. 16, he had laboured to preach the Gospel where Christ had not been named, lest he should build on another man's foundation, Rom. xv. 20.
2. We find that from the beginning God appointed to every man his promise, and to every man his labour; and would not suffer even one apostle to interfere with another. This was a very wise appointment; for by this the Gospel was not only more speedily diffused over the heathen nations, as we have already remarked, but the Churches were better attended to, the Christian doctrine preserved in its purity, and the Christian discipline properly enforced. What is any men's work is no man's in particular; and thus the work is neglected. In every Church of God there should be some one who for the time being has the care of it, who may be properly called its pastor; and who is accountable for its purity in the faith, and its godly discipline.
3. Every man who ministers in holy things should be well assured of his call to the work; without this he can labour neither with confidence nor comfort. And he should be careful to watch over the flock, that no destroying wolf be permitted to enter the sacred fold, and that the fences of a holy discipline be kept in proper repair.
4. It is base, abominable, and deeply sinful, for a man to thrust himself into other men's labours, and, by sowing doubtful disputations among a Christian people, distract and divide them, that he may get a party to himself. Such persons generally act as the false apostle at Corinth; preach a relaxed morality; place great stress upon certain doctrines which flatter and soothe self-love; calumniate the person, system of doctrines, and mode of discipline, of the pastor who perhaps planted that Church, or who in the order of God's providence has the oversight of it. This is an evil that has prevailed much in all ages of the Church; there is at present much of it in the Christian world, and Christianity is disgraced by it.