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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 4

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A Steward Must Be Found Faithful First Corinthians Four

Here Paul gave some very specific instructions as to how he, the other apostles of our Lord and other ministers of the gospel should be looked upon. Even though apostles and gospel preachers are to be loved and appreciated by the people to whom they have brought the gospel they are only to be looked upon as servants. Preachers or ministers of the gospel are stewards of God and it is their responsibility to be found faithful.

Paul wanted it understood that an apostle or the preacher is not what is important. However, the honorable work of delivering God's message is a great work. He fully understood that his task was to please God in his preaching and his work. With our focus on God our hearts will stay humble; men that overly value themselves or other men soon fall because of their pride.

Many temptations and problems come to those that value themselves to highly. They reject the gospel and the apostles or preachers that delivered it unto them. They begin to pass pre-mature judgments that man has no right to be involved with. A sinner snatched from destructtion by the grace of God is not in a position to pass prideful judgment on anyone. The good in our lives is goodness received from God.

The apostles had suffered greatly in order to bring the gospel to the world. This suffering and shame was endured in order that many might be begotten through the gospel. These men suffered poverty and contempt that the gospel might reach the masses of humanity. Even though these brethren were cast off by the world they were precious to God because they were His faithful stewards. Paul should have been looked upon with respect by the Corinthians. He was their spiritual father. There were problems in the church at Corinth that just had to be corrected. Paul sent Timothy to try to help them deal with these matters. He also planed a visit himself if the Lord willed it to be so. His desire was to come in love and correct the problems; he could use the rod of correction as Peter did with Ananias if necessary. However, that was not his desire.

Verses 1-6

A challenge concerning preachers 1Co_4:1-6 : First Corinthians four is a contrast between the "faithful" and the "faithless" stewards of God. Paul said that he, his fellow apostles and other gospel preachers were "ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God." They were not great men that the church should divide over. They were merely inferior servants under Christ doing His appointed work. They were "stewards of the mysteries of God." The "Mysteries of God" refers to the doctrine of salvation for the world by the precious blood of Jesus.

As the church divided over preachers they would pass their judgment on the various men involved. Some of their judgment would likely be unfavorable because these brethren did not seek their own glory; instead they sought the glory of God and the salvation of lost souls. Paul did not choose to be involved with man's self appointed judgment; rather he was willing to leave himself in the hands of God for judgment. Paul was not conscience of any evil in his life yet he was well aware that final judgment must be left to God.

Paul said that although he knew nothing that he was guilty of he could not pronounce him innocent before God. He knew that he had to leave that matter with the Almighty. The faithful apostles would have praise from God at judgment because they stood as faithful stewards. Paul did not directly use the names of those causing the division at Corinth. Instead he used the name of Apollos and his own name in order that the brethren could get an understanding of the harm done by division.

Verses 7-13

A caution against sinful pride 1Co_4:7-13 : The faithless stewards were acting like they were the source of the good things they possessed. These faithless stewards were filled with destructive pride. In sarcasm Paul rebuked them saying, "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." ( 1Co_4:8 )

In contrast with the pride and position of the faithless steward the faithful steward was made a "spectacle to the world." The godly steward was looked upon as a fool. ( 1Co_4:10 ) He was often physically weak. ( 1Co_4:10 ) He was despised by the world. ( 1Co_4:10 ) The faithful steward was hungry, thirsty and without proper clothing. ( 1Co_4:11 ) At times the faithful steward was treated harshly and was homeless. ( 1Co_4:11 ) These great stewards of God did backbreaking labor and even blessed their enemies. Through all of this they were looked upon as the world's garbage. ( 1Co_4:12-13 ) God had another view of them. He saw them as "Faithful Stewards."

Verses 14-16

A charge regarding their spiritual father 1Co_4:14-16 : Paul wrote these things to the Christians at Corinth to remind them that he was their father in the faith. He had led them to the Lord. He did not write to shame them but to warn them. They were his beloved, spiritual children. Paul cautioned the brethren not be drawn aside to pretend apostles from those that had actually shared the gospel with them. Many were trying to teach or instruct the Corinthians that had no parental feeling for them.

Paul instructed the Corinthians, "be ye followers of me." Paul called on these brethren to mimic or imitate him as he claimed them as spiritual children. He lived for God and he likewise wanted them to live for God.

Verses 17-21

A command for Timothy to come 1Co_4:17-21 : Paul sent Timothy unto them that they might learn how to imitate him. Their imitation of Paul simply meant that they followed the way of Christ. Timothy was Paul's son in the faith and his closest co-worker. What Paul expected of the church at Corinth was the same that he had expected from all the churches that he had helped to establish. The Word of God is the same for all mankind where ever they are, in whatever generation they live.

Some of the teachers at Corinth were acting very haughty because they did not believe Paul would revisit Corinth. Paul wanted to put to the test those that claimed to be teachers sent from God. If they were what they claimed to be they would be able to verify their teaching with powerful signs. Teachers sent from God were able to demonstrate the truth of their message by miracle. Paul could come to them with the gentleness of a father or he could come with the rod. We see, from the cases of Ananias and Sapphira that the apostles had the power to inflict awful punishments on the disobedient.

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/1-corinthians-4.html. 2014.
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