It seems that there were some in Corinth who were questioning Paul’s authority and leadership. Their idea of an apostle was that he was a person who lorded it over others and made sure that everyone knew he was the master. In contrast, they saw Paul as being far too soft and weak (see also 2 Cor.10:7-11:15). Our Lord Jesus Christ made it absolutely clear that he had not come to earth “to be served, but to serve” (Mt.20:28). If that is the pattern for the Master, how can any Christian seek for anything different! And yet, the idea of a leader as a servant is so foreign to the thinking of the world, that worldly patterns of leadership easily infiltrate the church today.
An apostle was one who had seen the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul can therefore claim to be an apostle because he had seen Christ in his vision on the road to Damascus. The apostle’s task was to pray, to preach and to teach (see Acts 6:4). Paul refused to insist upon any human rank or status, and, unlike the Corinthians, did not demand his “rights”.