23 Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth. 24 Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.
Paul returned to the charge against him that he was inconsistent in his dealing with the Corinthians. Here he gave an additional reason for his not coming when he said he would.
Paul returned to his reason for changing his itinerary. Previously he gave theological reasons for the change, and at this point he provided the situational reason.
I call God as witness against my soul,
Paul made an oath before God to establish his true motivation. His change in itinerary had to do with God’s will.
that to spare you I came no more to Corinth.
Paul’s reason for not coming to Corinth when he said he would was to spare the church from discipline (1 Co 4:19-21; 2 Co 13:2). He wanted to allow the church an opportunity to repent of their rebellion against his authority. He did not want to humiliate them.
Not that we have dominion over your faith [emphatic],
The motivation for sparing the church of discipline was not to assert “dominion over” them. He did not operate by power lust toward the Corinthian church.
but are fellow workers for your joy;
The purpose of not coming to Corinth was to bless the church, not condemn them.
for by faith you stand.
Christians stand firm in their Christian life by faith. The believer makes his stand on the gospel by believing it (Ro 11:20; 1 Co 15:1). Steadfastness of our faith is necessary for our joy. Paul had authority in matters of discipline but not over the issue of faith. There was no need to correct the faith of the Corinthians, but they needed correction in their actions.
The leader of a local church is not a dictator but a servant.
The pastor of the local church has authority over his congregation, but he also must love them (2 Co 2:4; 12:15). Paul spared the Corinthian church from discipline; he did not want to humiliate them. The pastor’s role requires this kind of balance; that is, to exercise authority and love simultaneously. He did not want to dominate them nor neglect them. Faith does not require bondage to a man. Christians have no master but God and His Word (Ezek 34:4). Christian leaders today need this kind of balance.
Our faith does not rest on what men say but what God said. It is not men we believe, but God. Men are only the means of delivering the message.