18For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed,
19in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
20And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation;
21but as it is written,
“THEY WHO HAD NO NEWS OF HIM SHALL SEE,
AND THEY WHO HAVE NOT HEARD SHALL UNDERSTAND.”
The first concept Paul affirms here is christ working through him, not him working with Christ. It’s an important distinction that we continue to realize it is all God’s work, none is our own. This is the level we need to reach as Christians. It isn’t about us going out and doing things for God and He tags along. No, it’s about us laying down our lives, surrendering to God’s will, and Him working through us. Once we reach that level, we need to constantly and consistently recognize Him as the worker and ourselves as simply the tool.
Notice how Paul ends verse 18 word and deed. We aren’t obedient simply by what we say, or just by what we do. Rather, it’s a combination that exemplifies complete obedience to God’s word. Without one or the other, we are just viewed as hypocrites.
I like Paul’s description of having fully preached the gospel. It makes me think of those times where we decide to cough up one or two memorized bible verses in order to defend our own righteousness. Also linked to word and deed referenced in the previous verse, I see that Paul here is explaining that he did his best to thoroughly preach the Gospel, driven and empowered by the Spirit.
Paul revisits a concept he already mentioned in his letter, and that is of only planting the seed. He talks about preaching to those who have never heard the Gospel. Remember previously, we talked about how we try so hard to convince people. How we develop arguments, almost taking on the sake of their salvation into our own hands and we lose sight of God’s sovereignty and attempt to save someone ourselves, when it isn’t our place. Our job is simply to plant the seed, whether by speech, actions, or both (which is usually the case). http://tinyurl.com/4d4dugw
This was Paul’s mission, to plant the seed wherever he could. As the other letters will show in the new testament from Paul, he has become known as an authority of the Gospel and we will see his mission transform, since he has covered as much ground as possible.