In these words our apostle further manifests his fidelity and integrity in preaching the gospel, by showing that he sought to advance Christ, and not himself, in preaching of it.
Here note, 1. The duty practised by St. Paul: We preach. How mean and ignoble soever this office of preaching is esteemed by some men, who value not their own nor other men's souls, and therefore no wonder that they undervalue the means of making them happy; yet will the faithful ministers of Christ magnify this part of their office, not by pomp and state, not by scorn and superciliousness, as thinking it beneath them to preach, but by an humble and painful attendance upon the ministry which they have received of the Lord; and will dipsense the word with evidence and perspicuity, with faithfulness and sincerity, with power and authority, with courage and boldness, and with exemplariness of conversation; not preaching angelical sermons, and leading diabolical lives.
Observe, 2. The subject matter of the apostle's preaching: Not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.
But when may persons be said to preach themselves?
Ans. When they make themselves the authors of their own ministry, running before they are sent, and are self-created preachers: when they make themselves the matter of their preaching, venting their own passions, and prejudices and private opinions instead of the doctrine of Christ; and when they make themselves the end of their preaching, aiming rather at pleasing others, and profiting themselves, than at the glory of God, and the good of men's souls.
But what is it to preach Christ? We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.
Ans. When he is the author of our ministry, and we receive our mission from him; when we make him the object of our preaching; when the subject-matter and substance of it is Jesus Christ, either explicity or reductively; and when we make him the end of our preaching, designing to promote the honour and interest of Christ by our ministry, that his people may be gathered, his body edified, his saints perfected, his enemies subdued, his gospel propagated, and he finally admired in all them that believe.
Observe, 3. In what capacity the apostle looked upon himself in the church of Christ; not as a lord, but as a servant: Ourselves your servants. There is an honour belonging to Christ's ministers; but verily that honour consists in service which we owe to the church of Christ: servants we are to the souls of men, but not to the humours of men; at the same time that we are servants to them, we are to rule over them, and they are to obey, and submit unto us as those who watch for their souls. Therefore it is added, servants for Jesus' sake; that is, servants in order to the promoting of his honour, and his church's interest: We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.