Second Timothy 2:15 says that Timothy should present himself “approved to God, an unashamed workman, cutting straight the word of the truth.” This indicates that some of the believers who know the truth should learn to be workmen in carpentry to cut the word of the truth straight, that is, to unfold the word of God in its various parts rightly and straightly without distortion.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:7 Paul says, “But we were gentle in your midst, as a nurse would cherish her own children.” The Greek word rendered nurse, trophos, sometimes means a mother; hence, it may denote a nursing mother (see Gal. 4:19). Cherishing includes nourishing. Therefore, this word not only includes nourishing but also includes tender care.
Even though Paul was a brother, he considered himself a nursing mother. Surely, he had no thought of position, dignity, or authority. The thought of being a nursing mother is very different from the thought of dignity or position. What position does a nursing mother have? What rank, dignity, or authority belongs to her? Her dignity consists in nourishing and cherishing her children, in taking care of them in a tender way.
The word “cherish” is lovely, a word of utmost tenderness. Paul regarded himself as a cherishing one, not merely as one who serves. He certainly did not control the believers. Neither did he merely serve them. Rather, he cherished them. His care for them was full of tenderness.
First Thessalonians 2:11 says, “Even as you know how we were to each one of you, as a father his own children, entreating you and consoling and testifying.” The apostle was strong in stressing what or how they were (1 Thes. 1:5), for what they were opened the way to bring the new converts into God’s full salvation.
In 2:11 Paul likens himself to a father exhorting his children. In cherishing the believers as their own children, the apostles considered themselves nourishing mothers. In exhorting them, they considered themselves fathers.
In 1 Corinthians 4:15 Paul says, “Though you have ten thousand guides in Christ, yet not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” Guides give instructions and directions to the children under their guardianship; fathers impart life to their children whom they beget. The apostle was such a father. He had begotten the Corinthian believers in Christ through the gospel, imparting the divine life into them so that they became children of God and members of Christ.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:10 tells us, “According to the grace of God given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid a foundation, but another builds upon it.” In Matthew 16:18 the Lord says He will build His church; yet here the apostle says he is a builder, even a wise master builder. This indicates that the Lord builds the church not directly but through His ministers, even through every member of His Body, as revealed in Ephesians 4:16. Although in 1 Corinthians 3:6 and 7 the apostle admits that he is nothing, he frankly and faithfully makes clear here that by the grace of God he is a wise master builder who has laid the unique foundation, Christ, for others to build upon.
(Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 099-113), Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)