Book Review – The Glory of the Ministry: Paul’s Exultation in Preaching

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Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at

Reviewed Edition – Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977 reprint of 1911 edition. 243 pp., paperback.

This volume by A. T. Robertson (1863-1934), the greatest of American New Testament Greek scholars, is a running exposition of 2 Corinthians 2:12-6:10. Why this section of this book? Because in this section Paul lays bare his heart and experience as a preacher and apostle with all of its struggles, trials, failures, successes, glories and privileges. In this exposition Paul, and Robertson, speak to the heart and circumstances of the preacher of the Gospel. Here we find a sympathetic ear which knows the pressure and trials of the ministry, and successfully navigated them all. Every preacher can find much of value personally in these pages.

Some notable quotes from The Glory of the Ministry by A. T. Robertson

“It is now a good many years since the beauty of Paul’s apologetic for preaching in 2 Corinthians 2:12-6:10 made its first appeal to me. As much that has entered my life, it was the close study of the Greek text with a class in Greek exegesis that first gripped my heart with this noble panegyric on the ministry of the servants of Jesus Christ. It is not mere rhapsody on Paul’s part, but a magnificent exposition of the preacher’s task from every point of view. I have made it my duty and joy to present this lofty spiritual interpretation of the minister’s work to succeeding classes of theological students.” p. 7

“My life is constantly with ministers. I know much of the struggles, ambitions, hopes, joys, and disappointments of preachers of the Gospel, both young and old. The lines have not fallen in pleasant places for all of them. They are subject to much misunderstanding. Modern and public opinion is distinctly critical, if not at times harsh, towards the minister. It is not always easy in an unsympathetic atmosphere to preserve the right spirit and to see things as they really are. I have written this book out of love for preachers of the Gospel of Jesus.” pp. 7-8

“Few sadder experiences come to the preacher than to see the work of his heart crumble away after he has left it. Almost all of the modern preacher’s difficulties confronted Paul in the work at Corinth. He could not shake off ‘that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches.’ The pressure was like a nightmare that weighed upon him unceasingly. The anxiety ate into his soul like corroding rust. Paul knew how to preach: ‘In nothing be anxious.’ But it is easier to preach than to practice.” p. 16

“It is a great mistake for any preacher to reach a final conclusion in his moments of despondency.” p. 37

“Get into close grip with Christ, if He is tugging at your heart to put you into the ministry. If Christ puts you in, you will stay in and you will not be sorry, but count it your chief glory to have been counted worthy of that high dignity.” p. 38

“It is easier to see the hand of God after we have passed through a crisis.” p. 41

“The pinnacle upon which Paul places the preacher is not one of officialism in any sense. He is the man of high spiritual prerogative and privilege, not the man of ecclesiastical station. He is the man who looks in the face of God and comes to talk with the people as prophet, not as priest or ecclesiastic.” p. 54

“It is the highest crown of the minister that he is called so often into the closest fellowship with the Eternal God. There is, of course, no special ministerial approach to the Throne of God, but his very work itself draws him into communion with God. A preacher may not live up to his rich privilege, but it is there for him.” p. 56

“Sometimes a preacher is sorely tested when he sees another minister go far beyond him in usefulness and popular favor.” pp. 71-2

“The minister will need to keep himself close to God if he is to fight against the mighty forces of reaction and radicalism… . The preacher of Christ today needs constant renewal of his spiritual life to avoid this empty professionalism into which Judaism had sunk… . A ministry of growing power must be one of growing experience.” pp. 78, 79

“It is bad homiletics as well as bad religion when a preacher is full of himself, for he is sure to reveal it in numberless ways.” p. 110

“The more Paul saw of Jesus the more dissatisfied he became with himself.” p. 139

“The preacher is surely placed in an embarrassing position when he becomes the target of personal criticism from people who are themselves anything but perfect. He is not able to stand up and speak for himself, if he has the spirit of humility and knows how frail after all he is. There is exquisite suffering in many a minister’s heart as a result of cutting, heartless criticisms of his person, his speech, his life.” p. 145

“People sometimes forget that preachers are subject to temptation and innocently throw temptations across their path. To speak plainly, preachers may fall victim to silly women, to love of money, and to love of praise.” p. 149

“We come to our wit’s end and find God there.” p. 155

“Paul does not look on suffering as an accident, but as a matter of divine appointment that thus the fullness of the life of Christ may be presented to men… . It is part of the equipment of every preacher that he enter the valley of the shadow of death. Only thus is he qualified to bind up broken hearts, to give a sympathetic heart to those who need that more than mere words.” p. 157

“A man with profound conviction will not so much be hunting for something to say as be eager for an opportunity to say what fills his mind and heart.” p. 159

“Paul has a contempt for mere intellectualism divorced from experience. The preacher should be constantly engaged in ‘Great Reading,’ the reading of great books, and not be frightened by the bugbear of simplicity into making his sermons thin and watery. But no amount of reading nor intellectual brilliance will take the place of thorough conviction and sincerity.” p. 159

A man’s intellectual and spiritual decay comes when he ceases to study, to work, to exercise, to grow.” p. 164

“It is better to wear out than to rust out, though there is no special call for one to hurry up the process of decay.” p. 164

“The minister without ambition will accomplish nothing for God or man, only let his ambition not be the feverish restlessness to get another man’s place and an unwillingness to do a full man’s work where he is.” p. 182

“No man preaches his sermon well to others if he doth not first preach it to his own heart” (quoting John Owen), p. 185

“There is no blessing promised to the lazy or careless or self-satisfied preacher.” p. 210

“It is true that men will find excuses anyhow for not accepting Christ as Saviour, but the minister must see to it that they have no real ground of complaint in his life, if it be possible to avoid it.” p. 217

“It is a sad business to dwell upon the careers of those who once stood forth as beacon lights of truth, whose light went out in darkness and even in disgrace. It cannot be justly objected if the press make a feature in the news columns of those ministers whose lives so fearfully belie their professions and proclamations. It makes every lover of Christ wince with pain and hang his head in shame.” p. 218

“One of the keenest regrets of life is the thought that this or that unsaved soul might have been led to Christ but for the faults that he saw in us as men and ministers of Christ. So thus it behooves us all, as Paul urged, to walk circumspectly.” p. 220

“The minister’s letter of recommendation to his flock is his life. That is the one which they will read in preference to the sermon or to the Bible. The minister’s life is an open book to his people and to the world. It is vain for him to bid men do as he says, not as he does.” pp. 222-3

Douglas K. Kutilek Bio

Doug Kutilek is the editor of, which opposes KJVOism. He has been researching and writing in the area of Bible texts and versions for more than 35 years. He has a BA in Bible from Baptist Bible College (Springfield, MO), an MA in Hebrew Bible from Hebrew Union College and a ThM in Bible exposition from Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). His writings have appeared in numerous publications.

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Dean Taylor's picture

personally helped me through some really tough times. I stumbled on it looking for commentaries on 2 Corinthians. ATR opened up my understanding of this section of 2 Corinthians as Paul's testimony of the pain that goes with ministry. I found great encouragement in Robertson's unfolding of this passage. I've read over it repeatedly, marked it up extensively, and given it out to others in ministry. Five stars. 


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