“The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains;”
Verse 15 marked three motives for preaching the gospel. Verse 16 assigns three more negative motives.
“The former preach Christ from selfish ambition”
Christ is preached but from the motive of “selfish ambition.” These words in Greek originally meant a person who works for hire. To many, to work for hire was demeaning because a man worked for his own interests. Instead of working for the good of the group, this person worked for himself. Also, it was used in a political sense; it has the idea of party making. It denotes pursuing political office by unfair means. This person would plot and scheme to reach his ends, with intrigue the name of the game.
This is a person who is out for his approbation. He operates on power lust. This motivation causes strife, contention, and discord. It is an expression of hostility. It is the desire to fight back. These people had a spirit of rivalry; they had an argumentative nature.
“Sincerely” means “pure”—in this context, pure intentions. To not be pure is to blend something impure with something pure. These teachers had a pure message but added something unclean to it. It is an arresting idea that God can bless the gospel preached from impure motives. Later, Paul said that he rejoiced that the gospel was preached by these people (v.18).
When we give the message of Jesus Christ with impure motives, it is like mixing gas and water. To put a gallon of gas into the tank of your car is one thing; to place a gallon of water into it as well is another. To preach the gospel is one thing; to preach the gospel with impure motives is another. Impure motives were placed into the pure gospel. This dilutes the gospel to some extent. It distorts its power because what is preached does not line up with the way it is preached.
Some people do not preach the gospel with pure motives; they are malicious with their message.
Some people do not preach the gospel with pure motives; they are malicious with their message. Recipients of this malice need to be people with a caliber of soul.
Do you put yourself at the mercy of malice? Are you independent of people who try to hurt you?