That we know of, no church gave Paul more trouble than the one at Corinth. Largely, this was because of its worldliness. Though Paul had brought the gospel to them and established the congregation there, and though they owed their relationship to Christ to Paul, many in the congregation regarded him as unworthy of either their support or cooperation. He didn’t fit their image of success.
It boggled Paul’s mind.
The modern response would have been to write them off as a group, cut out the members who were still loyal to Paul, and establish another “faithful” congregation across town.
It is not how Jesus would have done it, and it is not how Paul did it. No matter how they acted, the Corinthians were God’s people and the Spirit of God dwelt in them. Jesus suffered for them. Following Jesus’ example, Paul could do no less.
At the end of chapter two, he introduces a figure he will return to twice more in this book: that of the suffering servant. He pictures Jesus as a successful Roman general, triumphing over his enemies. His triumph results in others’ loss. They become his captives. Some will see it as the dawn of a new and better day. Others will see it as the death of hope. But all are his captives.
These Corinthian Christians, focused on worldly success, are also Christ’s captives. They can see themselves as they see Paul, or they can see themselves as Paul sees himself. Either way, they are still Christ’s captives.
How do you see yourself as Christ’s captive? It will largely determine how you respond to Jesus: either with joy and service . . . or regret and disobedience.