13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you.
13 We, however,
By contrast, Paul’s team did not do what the false teachers did by comparing their ministries to the low standard of each other. They used a much higher criterion (1 Co 4:3-4).
will not boast beyond measure [limits],
The team did not go beyond the proper and realistic measurement or limits of their ministry. They did not claim to be more than they were. The false apostles went beyond the standard they should have used. However, the gospel team stayed within God’s assigned role for them. It is God who does the primary work in ministry (1 Co 3:9). It was not a work conjured up by their fantasies. God had used them, even in the wild city of Corinth.
but within the limits of the sphere [canon] which God appointed [assigned] us—
Paul’s team boasted in God’s providential appointment of their work (Ro 1:5). They trumpeted God working through them. God especially appointed Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles (Ga 2:8).
The Greek word for “sphere” means rule or canon; a canon is a criterion by which something is measured. Paul’s canon was what God “appointed” or assigned him to be an apostle. The Corinthian church was a measuring stick or canon by which Paul claimed the hand of God was upon him. God had used him to win them to Christ. The Bible is the canon for the Christian.
a sphere [canon] which especially includes you.
God’s assignment for the team was to work in Corinth as well as other cities. The ministry there authenticated that their ministry had veracity. They accepted the “sphere” where God placed them. They did not seek success but the will of God for them.
The believer’s canon today is the Bible.
That which is measured here is the boundaries of one’s mission field. God has a yardstick whereby He assigned a domain to every believer. Paul set the standard for ministry by something measurable. His measurement for ministry is from God Himself, not from human machinations.
Relativism is a dominant mode of thinking today. Relativism is to go without standards or a canon for living. Biblical principles make up the canon for Christian living. If the believer does not fill his mind with God’s Word and apply it to his experience, he will be put out to the sea of the flotsam and jetsam of this world’s system. He will be tossed by a plethora of values that challenge his very essence as a Christian. He will live his life with arbitrary standards; whatever preference comes along, he goes with that. He will remain a weak, immature, and flailing believer.
The canon of Scripture is the standard whereby certain books belong in the Bible, and others do not. It is the normative writings of authoritative Scripture. It is a canon in both the active and passive sense. It is both the standard of what God has said in writing and the result of church fathers assembling the 66 books of the Bible. Scriptures are thus the ultimate norm for belief and way of life for the believer.