as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed;
In verses 9 and 10, we have more paradoxes. The Christian life is not an easy way of living; it demands our all. It is not the American way of life or a simple life, but it is a vibrant life.
as unknown [obscure], and yet well known;
The team experienced popularity and rejection. They were unappreciated by some but appreciated by others. Paul’s team was never summoned to Rome to speak at the august Senate assembly. They were not celebrities in the Roman Empire. They were not popular but viewed as obscure nonentities. They were not in ministry for power, lust, or false ambition. Their ministry did not depend on success or obscurity issues. Their only interest was the will of God for them. Whether God gave them obscurity or success made no difference to them because they operated on higher values.
as dying, and behold we live;
Some viewed the team as dying, yet others saw them as living. They had new life in Christ. This is a trial that comes from dangerous living. We face danger, but we do not know how it will turn out; yet they lived for the Lord. These men had such capacity of soul that no matter what came their way, they had stability of soul. This enabled them to never give up; they never quit the ministry. God continually intervenes with providential intervention to those who risk their lives for Him.
as chastened, and yet not killed;
The team was persecuted by beatings, yet their persecutors did not kill them. They lived dangerous lives. In the book of Acts, there were nine attempts on Paul’s life. Every time he stepped foot in Jerusalem, someone tried to kill him for preaching the gospel, not for an attempt to overthrow the government.
“Chastened” means to be trained by discipline. This is a family of God issue. God is in the process of teaching believers to orient rapidly to His will during discipline. That will enable them to step back into fellowship with God quickly. In this case, God turns discipline into a blessing for the Christian even if the suffering continues.
“Not killed” indicates that God continues to have a purpose for the believer after discipline. The believer does not wallow in guilt and regret. He accepts the discipline and moves on. He can adapt to the grace of God quickly. The option is to live in the flesh with a rejection of God’s mercy, or to accept God’s grace and mercy and move to higher ground spiritually.
Those in ministry will be both loved and despised.
Every person in ministry experiences both appreciation and personal attacks. Each person in ministry must decide whether he or she wants to be evaluated by men or God. Our ministry will stand in sharp contrast to different groups.
God runs a tight ship with those in His family. When we were without Christ, we had latitude in how we lived. However, God chastens or disciplines those He loves (He 12:6,7). Those in the household of faith have different standards, goals, and purposes. God gives every Christian divine discipline to train him or her in the faith. Our parents taught us so that we would amount to something; God prepares us to amount to what He designed for us. He desires to correct us to put us on the right track. We are children of the King; we are to live like sons and daughters of the King. It is beneath the dignity of a child of the King to live at a standard below His expectation. That is why some of us live in God’s woodshed more than others. Some of us are slow learners; we have to learn the same lessons over and over.
Anything transient will ultimately pass from the scene. Only eternal values will last. The only thing that counts ultimately is what God thinks of our ministry.