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Study Notes on 1 Corinthians 4

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1 Corinthians 4

Can be a tricky chapter. Go slow, context counts.

4 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Goes with end of last chapter. Mystery = gospel. Steward, LOTR, watching over until the King returns.

2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

More in Titus 1 / 1 Tim. 3. Faithful can meaning full of faith or someone that you can put your faith in, someone that’s trustworthy.

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

Read 3-5 together. Verses 3-5 about judging, can’t take out of context. 1 Cor. mentions judge/judging more than any other NT book except maybe Acts (judgment seats etc.).

V 3, contradict 1 Cor. 11:31-32? NO! Different judging. The word doesn’t always mean same thing and we should judge or not judge some things. In 1 Cor 11 is about judging ourselves for communion, for sin, right with God. Gotta have/study whole bible.

Must be read in context of the previous chapters where there are factions in the church between Paul, Apollos, etc. “I judge not mine own self” as far as how good he is, and that’s seen in next two verses and v 7. Paul isn’t ranking himself against others. We shouldn’t either.

He didn’t care if they preferred Apollos of Cephas, or didn’t like him personally or loved him, the glory belongs to God. That should always be our attitude. I don’t care if you don’t like me or my church whatever, I care that you follow Christ.

4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

He has no idea how he “ranks”, how good he is. We aren’t justified by our own evaluation of ourselves. Am I reading the bible enough? Praying enough? God makes that call. So we should strive to get rewards like last chapter talks about.

5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

Don’t make broad, black or white judgments on people or follow certain people thinking they are great. We don’t know everything about them, we don’t know how they act when we aren’t looking. Still within the context of divisions in the church Apollos/Paul etc.

We have no idea what rewards some people will earn. Maybe they did everything with wrong motive, maybe “praise of men not praise of God; have their reward.” (Matt. 6:2) We can’t elevate people too much.

1 Cor 5, scolds them for not judging and kicking a guy out

1 Corinthians 6:3 judge angels….

1 Cor. 7:25 I give my judgment…..

1 Cor. 10:15 judge what I say

So on…..

6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

For the example of being divided in the church, Paul only used his crew as examples rather than calling out people in the church.

7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

Why would any one of you be proud or puffed up? What do you have that you weren’t given? Do you soulwin? Because you were taught that. Are you tall? Fit? A teacher? Were you taught to teach? Etc….

8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

Kind of difficult verse, most understand this as sarcasm. He’s scolding the church for being puffed up and thinking they were kings and big shots.

As if he had said, "Now you think yourselves so full and rich in all kinds of knowledge, that you despise your spiritual fathers, myself and Apollos, who first converted you to the faith; we are looked upon as dull fellows, not worthy to be named in the same day with your new admired teachers. You advance yourselves as much above us, as a king is above his own subjects. I wish with all my heart your happiness were real, that we might be sharers in it; but verily I fear that you are only puft up with notions: I fear ye have little except in conceit, and there you have a great deal too much."

9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

So these next few verses (thru 13) talks about the conditions the apostles are experiencing, and while the Corinthians think they are great, maybe they should be a little concerned that their state of being puffed up is so different from those sent out by God.

Their suffering and death was a certainty. Spectacle = theater; set on a world stage being watched.

10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.

On YOUR account, or FOR you by the will of Christ, they are fools according to the world by being willing to suffer.

More sarcasm, And the design was to show them how foolish was their self-confidence and self-flattery, and their attempt to exalt themselves.

11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;

Hunger, thirst, poor clothing, beaten, homeless.

12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

Labor: 2 Thess 3:8-10. They just take it! 1 Cor. 6:7 …just take it… 2 Timothy 3:12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

Blasphemed, intreat = probably to seek God that their persecutors would repent, and they are regarded as filth.

14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

Not to shame or taunt, but to encourage you to live a more holy life. He is warning them of pride.

15 For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

They had teachers in the church that they created divisions over, but Paul asserts his authority that they are believers because of him.

Galatians 6:17 “From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

Because of that, he says, listen to me, imitate me. Follow me in that I follow Christ. He’s giving them an example. See next verse….

17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

So Paul is sending Timothy to help them out, to correct some things.

18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.

The church has some vain confidence. They are arrogantly self-sufficient, didn’t think Paul would really come and scold them.

19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

“I will examine those who are full of themselves”, not by their smooth talking but by whether the Spirit is in them.

20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

The power of the gospel to save and transform lives, the power to guide/lead a church.

21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

Ball is in their court!

Paul’s first visit to Corinth was in AD50 and is described in Acts 18:1-18.

Some time later, probably around AD55, it seems he made another visit to Corinth, foreshadowed in 1 Corinthians 4:19 16:5-8. It is often described as his “painful visit” because of Paul’s later comment in 2 Corinthians 2:1

His third visit is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:14; 13:1 and described (briefly) in Acts 20:2-3 This was probably in AD57.


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