1 Corinthians Chapter 4
1 So let a man think of us as Christ's servants, and stewards of God's mysteries.
2 Here, moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you, or by man's judgement. Yes, I don't judge my own self.
4 For I know nothing against myself. Yet I am not justified by this, but he who judges me is the Lord.
5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each man will get his praise from God.
6 Now these things, brothers, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to think beyond the things which are written, that none of you be puffed up against one another.
7 For who makes you different? And what do you have that you didn't receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
8 You are already filled. You have already become rich. You have come to reign without us. Yes, and I wish that you did reign, that we also might reign with you.
9 For, I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last of all, like men sentenced to death. For we are made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and men.
10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You have honour, but we have dishonour.
11 Even to this present hour we hunger, thirst, are naked, are beaten, and have no certain dwelling place.
12 We toil, working with our own hands. When people curse us, we bless. Being persecuted, we endure.
13 Being defamed, we entreat. We are made as the filth of the world, the dirt wiped off by all, even until now.
14 I don't write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.
15 For though you have ten thousand tutors in Christ, you don't have many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, I became your father through the Good News.
16 I beg you therefore, be imitators of me.
17 Because of this I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in every assembly.
18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you.
19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord is willing. And I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power.
20 For God's Kingdom is not in word, but in power.
21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
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1 Corinthians Chapter 4 Guide
Christian teachers are "ministers of Christ." That defines their responsibility. They are "stewards of the mysteries of God." That defines their work. What dignity does this double statement suggest?
In view of this, to Paul it was "a very small thing" what judgment men might form of him. The Lord at His Coming will pronounce the judgment. It would seem as though this faithful steward of the mysteries of God feared lest the very impetuous sweep of his anger against the folly of the schism-makers would be misunderstood, and he hastens to write tender words as he closes this section. His purpose is not to shame them, but to admonish them. They are his "beloved children."
Looking back over the argument, it is clearly seen that the final test of wisdom is always power. Herein is the difference between the "wisdom of words" and "the wisdom of God." The "wisdom of words" has no moral lift in it. On the other hand, the "wisdom of God is manifested in the "Word of the Cross." By that 'Word men are not merely mentally illumined, they are morally saved. Put the teachers of psychology or philosophical systems down in the midst of corrupt Corinth, or in later cities, with their own writings as the textbooks, and how much can they do to lift the burden, break the chain, quench the passion, and out of a ruined humanity reconstruct a divine manhood? Put down in the same city a Salvation Army lassie who utterly lacks all words of wisdom, but who lives and prophesies the "Word of the Cross," and watch the issue. The result of power is the true test of wisdom.
From "An Exposition of the Whole Bible" by G. Campbell Morgan.