The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Corinthians

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1 Corinthians 4

1Co 4:2

Cited from Num 12:7: "My servant Moses... faithful in all my house..." Cp 2Ki 12:15; Mat 25:21.

FAITHFUL: Or "trustworthy" (RSV).

1Co 4:3

I CARE VERY LITTLE IF I AM JUDGED BY YOU OR BY ANY HUMAN COURT: The first indication, in these letters to Corinth, that Paul is being denigrated by various enemies, even those in the ecclesias.

1Co 4:4

"I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted" (RSV).

1Co 4:5

But see 2Th 3:6; Heb 4:12.

TILL: See Lesson, AN, Conditional deferment.

"Until I come": put this money to work (Luk 19:13); judge nothing (1Co 4:5); proclaim Lord's death (1Co 11:26); be sincere, without offence (Phi 1:6,10); listen to word (2Pe 1:19); hold fast (Rev 2:25).

HE WILL BRING TO LIGHT: Joh 3:19: men love darkness because their deeds are evil.

WHAT IS HIDDEN IN DARKNESS: That is, the motives of the individual -- which cannot be judged.

1Co 4:7

WHAT DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU DID NOT RECEIVE?: "The prideful individual nullifies Divine grace because he or she does not see the need for it. By whatever measure they have falsely valued themselves: be it works or knowledge or wealth or whatever, they have greatly overestimated themselves in the face of their Creator. The Pharisee, despite all of his knowledge of the Scriptures, did not understand who and what he was, but prayed instead saying, 'God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are...' [Luk 18:11]. The Pharisee did not see himself as a sinner -- which was absurd. It is only when we see our utter worthlessness that we attain value in the eyes of God. As James puts it, 'Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up' (Jam 4:10)" (KT).

1Co 4:8

YOU HAVE BECOME KINGS -- AND THAT WITHOUT US!: "If all the emphasis of our view of the Gospel is not to be laid upon the ultimate possession of a piece of land in a literal kingdom, it is equally not to be laid entirely upon the present aspects of forgiveness and remission of sins. One of the characteristics of the highly 'charismatic' but factious church of Corinth was its delight in 'present possession', with a consequent loosening of the hold upon belief in judgement, the true importance of the breaking of bread, the resurrection of the body and the future life everlasting" (RDO 81,82).

1Co 4:9

LIKE MEN... IN THE ARENA: Doomed gladiators in the contests of the arena. "Men sentenced to death" (RSV). "Condemned to death in the arena" (NEB).

SPECTACLE: "Theatron" = a place of public show. Also in Act 19:29,31.

1Co 4:10

Biblical "fools": The rich fool (Luke 12:20). The unbelieving fool (Psa 53:1). The self-righteous fool (Pro 28:26). The scornful fool (Pro 14:9). The righteous "fool" (1Co 4:10).

They lived in comfort and honor and talked grandly of "wisdom", while Paul, who had led them to Christ, suffered in disrepute.

1Co 4:13

"We apostles are like the rubbish in the streets, everybody's whipping boys; so it has always been, and so it is still" (Findlay).

1Co 4:14

Vv 14-21: Paul has authority to rebuke.

1Co 4:15

GUARDIANS: "Guides" (RSV), or "instructors" (KJV). "Paidagogos": a boy-leader, ie a servant whose office it was to take the children to school. Also in Gal 3:24,25.

1Co 4:17

TIMOTHY, MY SON: A very young man still -- prob 22 or 23.

WHO IS FAITHFUL IN THE LORD: Examples of faithfulness in service: Samuel (1Sa 3:20); David (1Sa 22:14); the temple overseers (2Ki 12:15); the workers (2Ch 34:12); Hananiah (Neh 7:2); Abraham (Neh 9:8); the treasurers (Neh 13:13); Daniel (Dan 6:4); Timothy (1Co 4:17); Epaphras (Col 1:7); Tychicus (Col 4:7); Onesimus (Col 4:9); Paul (1Ti 1:12); Moses (Heb 3:2,5); Gaius (3Jo 1:5); Jesus Christ (Rev 1:5); Antipas (Rev 2:13).

Cp Luk 16:10; 2Ch 31:12.

IN CHRIST: A way of life, not a legal term. Cp Joh 14:26: the work of the Holy Spirit, Comforter (cp idea, 1Th 3:2).

1Co 4:19

IF THE LORD IS WILLING: 1Co 16:7; Act 18:21; Jam 4:15.

1Co 4:20

Paraphrase: "The kingdom of God is not only what you say, but also (and especially) what you do!"

1Co 4:21

GENTLE: See Lesson, Gentleness.

SPIRIT: That is, disposition.

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