Summary Of Second Corinthians By St. Gregory Of Nazianzus
Christ Lutheran Church is currently studying St. Paul's 2nd Letter to the Corinthians in the Sunday morning Pastor's Class at 9:00 AM. Please see this very fine summary of that letter by one of the greatest of the great church fathers, Gregory of Nazianzus.
What Paul did with the Corinthians, so nicely depicted by Gregory, is exactly the work of the Lutheran pastor today. His work is to teach the Law and the Gospel. Not just teach it as knowledge but to apply it to his flock. Sometimes he must be gentle, and sometimes severe; sometimes he afflicts, and sometimes comforts. But to comfort, console, absolve and strengthen the penitent is always his chief aim.
This is what a Lutheran parish Calls and pays a pastor to do. If both pastor and people have the right expectation things go well, even when admonition is needed, because they are both aware of the love with which it is exercised. But if the wrong things are expected, then there will be friction. And so let us learn from Gregory of Nazianzus's commentary how the pastor and the church work for the blessing of all.
"Consider by St. Paul’s example how important a matter is the care of souls … The manifold character of his ministry. Consider his loving-kindness and, on the other hand, his strictness and the combination and blending of the two in such way that his gentleness should not weaken nor his severity exasperate… On behalf of some he gives thanks; others he upbraids. Some he names his joy and crown; others he charges with folly. Some who hold a straight course he accompanies, sharing in their zeal; others who are going wrong he checks. At one time he excommunicates; at another he confirms his love. At one time he grieves; at another rejoices. At one time he feeds with milk; at another he handles mysteries. At one time he condescends; at another he raises to his own level. At one time he threatens a rod; at another he offers the spirit of meekness. At one time he is haughty toward the lofty; at another lowly toward the lowly. Now he is least of the apostles, now he offers a proof of Christ speaking in him; now he longs for departure and is being poured forth as a libation, now he thinks it more necessary for their sakes to abide in the flesh. For he seeks not his own interests, but those of his children whom he has begotten in Christ by the Gospel.
This is the aim of all his spiritual authority, in everything to neglect his own in comparison with the advantage of others. —
Gregory of Nazianzus, 329-390 AD
In Defense of His Flight to Pontus. II, 52, 54-56