The Ministry of Apostles
4 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.
I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?
1 Corinthians 4 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”1 Corinthians 4:1
Stewards of the mystery of the Gospel. Those who have embraced Christ hold a responsibility. This starts with our faithfulness. As Paul is addressing the Corinthians, he is making it clear they hold a responsibility just like them: we are all servants of Christ.
The term in Greek he uses is most fascinating. Usually, the word servant used in the New Testament is designated to that of a common slave. This word actually means a subordinate servant who functions as a free individual. It is one who acts under direction and asks no questions, without hesitation. He adds this description a steward: One who was the manager of a household. So you combine both of these, the steward was a slave but in relations to other slaves he was the steward of the Master.
“…the steward’s responsibility concerned the family, providing food for the household, seeing it was served at proper times and in proper quantities. He received all the cash, spent when necessary and kept exact accounts he would lay before the master.”Adam Clarke
Most fascinating. As stewards then of the mysteries of God – we are called to manage and distribute the truth of God he’s entrusted with us.
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”Luke 12:48
Responsibility comes with our commitment to Christ. Faithfulness is part of that as we walk and live before others whom He’s entrusted to us.
1 Corinthians 4 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Paul doesn’t mince words with the church at Corinth. They had a very obvious pride issue.
Humble Servant. Paul reminds them he is a servant of Christ and a steward of the mystery. He was given the responsibility of being a humble manager of the Gospel. (v. 1-2)
Stop Judging. Paul states very plainly that he doesn’t care for their judgment of him. Apparently, there were some Corinthians who didn’t like him. He gave them the truth, and ultimately, his conscience is clear because God will be his final judge. (v. 3-4)
Everything Is A Gift. Paul reminds the Corinthians that everything given by God is a gift. Like spoiled brats, the Corinthians were opening these presents from God and then boasting about what they received. It brings to mind children who open gifts at Christmas and then go around flaunting the gift as if they are superior to everyone else. (v. 7)
You’re Arrogant. In a scathing rebuke, Paul sarcastically heaps worldly praise on the Corinthians. In other words, “I would guess by your arrogance that all of you have reached the pinnacle of spiritual greatness!” (v. 8)
Go Ahead, Enjoy Your Kingdom. Paul isn’t done with his sarcasm just yet. He points out that while the Corinthians are boasting about themselves, Paul and his team will be serving Jesus in humility. They will embrace suffering, even to the point of becoming “the scum of the world” for the sake of Christ. (v. 10-13)
Finally, Paul writes that these strong warnings are meant to draw them to repentance, not to shame them. He urges them to consider the cost of following Christ. Some in the Corinthian church believed Paul would never come back to hold them accountable for their actions. To this attitude, Paul again gives a strong warning…
Which do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in a spirit of love and gentleness?1 Corinthians 4:21 GNB
Paul had no patience for divisive people. We shouldn’t either. He outlined the truth of the Gospel and did it in a way that glorified God.