Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:…
They were all actively engaged in preaching the gospel, but they were not actuated by the same motives.
I. THE DIFFERENT SPIRIT OF THE TWO CLASSES OF PREACHERS. "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will." The one class were actuated by a genuine good will to Christ and his apostle. The other class were actuated by envy and discord. They envied the popularity of the apostle among the Gentile Churches, and showed a disagreeably quarrelsome temper. They were evidently Judaists who could little brook the overthrow of the Mosaic institute and Jewish commonwealth which seemed to be involved in the triumph of the apostle's gospel. Yet they preached Christ.
II. THE MOTIVES OF THE TWO CLASSES. "The one do it of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel; but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds." Notice:
1. The pure motive of one class - love - which ought to be the spring of all gospel action. Love to Christ, love to the truth, love to the souls of men, ought to be the abiding motive of all preachers. These brethren had special regard for the apostle on account of his destined place in the evangelization of the world.
2. The impure motive of the other class - a base partisanship designed to make the apostle's bonds more galling. There are allusions to this fierce party spirit among the Judaists in most of the apostle's writings, aggravated as it often was by intense bitterness to the apostle.
3. Yet both classes preached Christ. The language of the apostle is applied to both classes. It is sad to think of men preaching Christ from bad motives, especially where Erich motives may imply a tinge of doctrinal imperfection in the method of preaching him. Yet the Lord accepts the services of weak, imperfect, sinful men in his vineyard.
III. THE JOY OF THE APOSTLE AT THIS WIDESPREAD ACTIVITY OF THE TWO CLASSES.
1. It might appear more natural for him to denounce these Judaists with words of sharp rebuke. Perhaps his own enforced inactivity as a preacher may have led him to rejoice in the Christian labors of men who knew Christ "only after the flesh."
2. His joy shows a large and forgiving nature. "What then? only that in every way, whether with masked design or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." The conduct of the apostle teaches us:
(1) That the preaching of Christ is higher truth than the secondary questions of polity and worship which often cause dissension among Christians.
(2) That Christians ought to rejoice in the successes of other Christians who follow different methods of doctrine or polity.
(3) That it is right to condemn the base motives or unworthy insincerities that sometimes mingle with good work.
(4) That we ought to show special consideration to those who preach Christ of good will, and eschew all sorts of by-ends and manoeuvres. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: