I Corinthians 4:6-13

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Text: I Corinthians 4:6-13

PAUL'S APOSTOLIC EXAMPLE

INTRODUCTION:

Paul had received reports from those of Chloe's household that all was not well within the congregation at Corinth. Although this church had been blessed with spiritual gifts more abundantly than any other church, the church was in disarray. There were divisions in the church which needed to be addressed. Unity was lacking (1:10 - 4:21).

The church needed to be unified and in one accord for God to bless it. There were two causes for these divisions: 1) a misconception of the message (1:18 - 3:4) and 2) a misconception of the ministry (3:5 - 4:5). Paul concludes this section by showing how God's servants should be properly evaluated (4:6-21).

The Corinthian believers have been wrong in being puffed up for one of God's servants against another (4:6) because God is the One Who has made them all and gifted them with their unique abilities and spiritual gifts. They have no reason to boast about anything they have done because all their talents, abilities, and possessions have been given to them by God (4:7). Paul employs irony or sarcasm to show the Corinthian believers their lack of spirituality (4:8-13). Paul admonishes them to be followers of him, the only father they have in Christ (4:14-16). For this cause Paul is dispatching Timothy to Corinth to remind them of his ways (4:17). Although some may think that Paul will not come to Corinth, he is planning to come. They need to understand that the proof is in the performance and not in the talk (4:18-19). God's rule is in power which Paul, as an apostle, has; but these arrogant individuals in Corinth do not have this power (4:20). Paul closes the chapter by asking if they prefer him to come with a rod to deal harshly with things or to come in love and to deal gently with them (4:21).

I. IT IS WRONG TO BE PUFFED UP FOR ONE AGAINST ANOTHER - 4:6-7

I Corinthians 4:6-7 - 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. 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?

In verses 6-7 Paul explains that he has written regarding himself and Apollos in order that the Corinthian believers not be puffed up for one against another. They have been wrong in doing this.

In verse 6 these things refers to what Paul has been writing regarding the divisions in the church at Corinth beginning in I Corinthians 1:11 and continuing through 4:5.

Brethren is brothers and treats the believers in Corinth as fellow believers and fellow members of the family of God.

I have in a figure transferred is I transferred or I applied; and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

To myself and to Apollos is unto myself and Apollos, two of the ones over whom the believers in the church at Corinth had divided.

For your sakes is because of (or on account of) you, i.e. because of you believers in the church at Corinth.

Verse 6 indicates that it is possible that the names of Paul, Apollos, Cephas (or Peter), and Christ were not the actual names of those who were the heads of the divisions in the church in Corinth. These names may have been substituted for the real names of the leaders in order to illustrate the problem without glamorizing the leaders and in order to soften the comments so as not to make a bad situation even worse.

That (i.e. in order that or for the purpose that) ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written is the first of two purpose clauses modifying the verb translated I have in a figure transferred.

Ye might learn is you (Corinthian believers) might learn.

In us means in Paul and Apollos.

Not to think (i.e. to be thinking) of men above that which is written tells the readers what the Corinthians need to learn.

Of men refers to the idolizing of human leaders and the dividing of the church in Corinth over them. Of men suggests that the translators regarded this statement as a general principle, as including Paul and Apollos, but going beyond Paul and Apollos.

Above that which is written is understood in the sense of beyond what has been written.

The tense of is written implies that it is an existing situation which is the result of a previous action. These things are in a state of having been written.

Paul is referring to what is Scriptural. Limiting their own thoughts about Paul and Apollos (or others) to their being servants of Christ who had been entrusted with the mysteries of God would put a stop to this sort of hero worship which was dividing the church at Corinth.

That (i.e. in order that or for the purpose that) no one of you be puffed up for one against another also describes I have in a figure transferred. It is understood as showing intended result.

No one of you is literally not one of you Corinthian believers.

Be puffed up means continue being puffed up (i.e. being made proud or being made arrogant).

For (i.e. on behalf of) one against another is literally for the one against the other (of a different sort).

The before one implies that this one is a particular person, and the context indicates that its reference is either to Paul or to Apollos, as representative heads of two of the divisions in the church at Corinth.

This makes the meaning of another to be the other one.

Another implies another of a different sort. Although Paul and Apollos were both servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God, they were not alike. They were unique as individuals. Each had his own gifts and his own personality and served the Lord faithfully in accordance with his own gifts.

I Corinthians 4:7 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?

God is the One Who has made them all and gifted them with their unique abilities and spiritual gifts. They have nothing to their credit about which they might boast because all their talents, abilities, and possessions have been given to them by God.

For seems understood in an inferential sense as certainly, by all means, so, or then.

Paul then turns his reasoning on the Corinthians with, Who maketh thee to differ from another? This question is designed to show the Corinthian believers that they had no reason to be glorying, boasting, or taking pride in themselves.

Who is singular and inquires regarding the individual who was responsible for the Corinthian believers differing one from another. It was clearly someone other than themselves, and the implication in the context is that it was God.

Maketh . . . to differ is differentiates or is differentiating.

Thee is you (singular) and treats the Corinthian believers as a representative individual.

From another has been supplied by the translators.

And introduces a second question, likewise intended to show the Corinthian believers that they have no reason to be glorying, boasting, or taking pride in themselves: what (i.e. what thing) hast thou (i.e. do you have) that thou didst not (i.e. which you did not) receive? The implied answer is, Nothing.

The implication is that the Corinthian believers have no talents, abilities, or possessions of their own which they did not receive from someone else, and this Someone Else is God. Everything they have has come from a source outside of themselves. Therefore, they have no room for boasting in what they have.

Paul then asks, Now if thou didst receive it (i.e. and in view of the fact that you did receive it), why (i.e. for what reason) dost thou glory (i.e. are you boasting), as if thou hadst not received it? You had nothing to do with what someone has given you. There is no place for boasting in what someone has given you except to give credit to the one who has given it to you.

II. GOD'S WAYS ARE NOT MAN'S WAYS - 4:8-17

In verses 8-13 Paul employs irony or sarcasm to show the Corinthian believers their lack of spirituality.

I Corinthians 4:8-13 - 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. 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. 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. 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

In verses 8-13 Paul employs irony or sarcasm in an effort to show the Corinthian believers their lack of spirituality.

Now (i.e. already or by this time) ye are full (i.e. you are satiated or you have enough). Here it is used in a figurative sense to mean you have all you could wish; and its tense indicates an existing state of being, which is indicated by the translation ye are full.

Now (i.e. already or by this time) is repeated for emphasis. Ye are rich is literally you became rich or you were made rich and has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

For the third time in this verse ye (i.e you (plural) is used of the Corinthian believers. Ye have reigned as kings is you reigned as kings or you ruled as kings, and it has likewise been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

Without us suggests without Paul and Apollos.

And (perhaps, indeed, in fact, yea, verily, or certainly) I would to God is O that indeed or would that indeed and is used of unattainable wishes.

Paul's unattainable wish is that ye did reign, the same word translated have reigned as kings in the previous phrase; but here it has not been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

Paul's purpose in wishing that the Corinthian believers rule as kings is that we (i.e. Paul and Silas) also might reign with you, i.e. in addition to you Corinthian believers reigning as kings, we might rule as kings with you.

I Corinthians 4:9 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.

God's ways are not man's ways. It seems that He has appointed the apostles (including Paul) to death. They have become a spectacle or play for the world, angels, and men to watch. Verse 9 provides the reason Paul wishes the Corinthian believers really did reign as kings in order that he and Apollos might reign with them. It is: I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last.

I think is I am believing, I am thinking, I am supposing, or I am considering.

God is God the Father.

Hath set forth is made, rendered, or appointed; and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

Us is defined by the apostles and puts Paul on a par with the twelve apostles.

Last indicates how or where God has appointed the apostles.

As it were is simply as or like.

Appointed to death is condemned to death and describes us the apostles.

For introduces the reason Paul thinks God has set forth the apostles as those appointed to death: we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

For is the word ordinarily translated because.

We refers to the apostles including Paul.

Are made is became or have become.

A spectacle is a play, i.e. what one sees at the theater.

Unto (i.e. to) the world, and to angels, and to men indicates the ones for whom the apostles have become a spectacle or play.

The world is used here in the sense of the beings above the level of animals and is specified by and (i.e. both) to angels, and to men.

Angels seem to be the messengers of God rather than the fallen angels.

Men refers to humanity in general.

I Corinthians 4:10 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.

In verse 10 Paul continues to employ irony or sarcasm to show his readers in Corinth their lack of spirituality. The apostles are fools for Christ's sake, weak, and despised; whereas, the Corinthian believers regard themselves as wise in Christ, strong, and honorable.

We refers to the apostles, including Paul.

Fools means foolish or stupid.

For Christ's sake is because of Christ or for the sake of Christ.

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to we are fools for Christ's sake.

Ye (i.e. you Corinthian believers) are wise in Christ is in contrast to we (are) fools and speaks of how the Corinthian believers viewed themselves in contrast to the apostles. Wise is sensible, thoughtful, or prudent.

We is again used in reference to Paul and the apostles.

Weak means feeble.

But introduces another mild contrast: ye (i.e. you Corinthian believers) are strong (i.e. mighty or powerful).

Paul continues with ye (i.e. you Corinthian believers) are honourable (i.e. honored, distinguished, or eminent).

But introduces still another mild contrast.

We is again emphatic and refers to Paul and apparently also to the other apostles. Are despised is are dishonored.

I Corinthians 4:11 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;

In verse 11 Paul continues to employ irony or sarcasm to show his readers in Corinth their lack of spirituality. The apostles are enduring hunger, thirst, being poorly clothed, beatings, and homelessness.

Even unto this present hour suggests that these things reported in this verse have been going on for some time and are continuing at the time Paul writes I Corinthians.

We includes Paul and the rest of the apostles.

Both . . . and . . . and . . . and . . . etc. are used for emphasis.

Hunger, thirst, are naked, are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place are used to describe Paul and the other apostles. All are present-tense verbs whose action indicates a continuing situation, describing what is taking place at the time Paul is writing I Corinthians.

We hunger is we are hungry.

(We) thirst is we are thirsty or we are suffering from thirst.

(We) are naked means we are poorly clothed.

(We) are buffeted means we are being struck with the fist (i.e. being beaten or being cuffed).

(We) have no certain dwelling place means we are unsettled (i.e. homeless or vagabonds).

I Corinthians 4:12 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

In verse 12 Paul continues to employ irony or sarcasm to show his readers in Corinth their lack of spirituality. Although the Corinthians are wise, strong, and honorable (verse 10), the apostles are working with their own hands and enduring verbal abuse and persecution.

And labour is and we are working hard (i.e. toiling, striving, or struggling) and implies the weariness which accompanies the hard work.

Working with our own hands indicates how Paul and the apostles were laboring.

Being reviled (i.e. although verbally abused).

We bless implies that Paul and the apostles call down God's blessings on the ones who have reviled them.

Being persecuted is although we are persecuted.

We suffer it means we endure (i.e. bear with or put up with).

I Corinthians 4:13 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

In verse 13 Paul completes his use of irony or sarcasm to show his readers in Corinth their lack of spirituality. Although the Corinthians are wise, strong, and honorable (verse 10), the apostles are defamed and treated like dirt.

Being defamed is although we are defamed. By defamed Paul means our reputations are injured, we are slandered, or we are reviled. It is the same word translated blasphemed when used of God or the things of God.

We intreat, where we includes Paul and the other apostles, is we appeal to (i.e. urge, exhort, or encourage). In this context it may mean we try to console (i.e. conciliate or speak to in a friendly manner).

We are made, where we again includes Paul and the other apostles, is literally we became; and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action in the sense of we have become.

As the filth of the world is as the world's off-scourings. It is a term which is used of what is removed as a result of thorough cleansings, such as dirt or refuse; and it is plural.

As a result of what Paul and the apostles are made, they are the offscouring (i.e. dirt) of all things unto this day (i.e. unto now or up to the present time).