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Ministers of Christ ; not of man; whose main business therefore is not to please man, but God-compare verse 1 Corinthians 4:3 -and who are not to be set up as the heads of parties.
Stewards of the mysteries of God ; stewards were appointed by the head of a family to provide for them and superintend their concerns. So the apostles were appointed by God to provide needful instruction for his spiritual family-to preach to them the truths of the gospel, called mysteries because they had before been comparatively unknown.
Fidelity to God and to the souls of men, in rightly dispensing the truths of the gospel, and in enforcing them by a uniformly holy and consistent example, is required of all ministers of Christ.
Judged of you ; in regard to my fidelity as Christ’s steward.
I judge not mine own self ; he was not to be approved or condemned in the day of judgment according to his own decision, any more than that of his fellow-men.
I know nothing before the time ; namely, when the Lord shall come to judgment, as immediately afterwards stated. In the mean time they were not to decide upon and condemn the character of one another.
Hidden things of darkness ; those which are not seen by men.
Counsels of the hearts ; desires, intentions, and motives.
Have praise of God ; for all that he has done well. The apostle states only one side of the judgment-the approval of those who have been faithful to Christ. The condemnation of the unfaithful is implied in this.
Our own judgment or that of men is not a sure or safe test of our fidelity. We may not see any violations of duty, and yet He who is omniscient may see many. Hence we have need to pray, each for himself, Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me; and lead me in the way everlasting.
These things ; what I have said about glorying in men.
In a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos ; to illustrate the facts and evils of their divisions into parties, he had named only Apollos and himself as set up for leaders among them. This he did to avoid giving offence by naming others who were ambitious of such a distinction.
For your sakes ; that they might see their folly and renounce it.
In us ; by my thus putting Apollos and myself as examples.
Above that which is written ; that they should not think of men as any other than as they are described in the Bible, nor glory in them as leaders of separate divisions, or heads of different denominations of the Lord’s people.
Who maketh thee to differ? as to talents, condition, character, or influence.
Receive ; from God.
Why dost thou glory ; in thyself or other men? For whatever excellence any one has, he is indebted to the grace of God; and he has no just cause to glory in himself, or to be gloried in by others.
Full-rich ; in their own estimation.
Reigned as kings without us ; they imagined themselves possessed of great spiritual riches, knowledge, and power; able without the help of the apostles to succeed and prosper in their own way.
Ye did reign ; that ye were indeed as spiritually rich, great, powerful, and prosperous as you imagine.
That we also might reign with you ; then the apostle and his associates might rejoice with them in their fulness of spiritual blessings, instead of being distressed at their divisions.
Last ; assigned to the lowest place as it regards shame and suffering, as if we were the vilest of men; "the filth of the world," and "the offscouring of all things," verse 1 Corinthians 4:13 .
Appointed to death ; doomed to the endurance of trials and martyrdom.
A spectacle ; of conflicts and sufferings.
We are fools ; accounted fools by those who boast of their wisdom.
For Christ’s sake ; because we devote ourselves faithfully to the work of preaching Christ crucified, and seek only his honor.
Ye are wise in Christ ; in your own esteem. It is not safe to judge of character by outward condition or by the opinion which persons form of themselves. They may imagine that they are spiritually rich, increased in goods, and have need of nothing, when in fact they are poor, and in want of all things. Revelation 3:17 .
To shame you ; the apostle’s severity had not for its object to overbear the Corinthians and put them to shame, but to correct their errors, as children dear to him.
I have begotten you ; his preaching was the means of their regeneration; and as their spiritual father, it was proper for him to reprove, rebuke, and exhort them with affectionate plainness.
Be ye followers of me ; imitate my example as your spiritual father.
My ways ; of teaching and living, in which he proposes himself as their example.
Some are puffed up ; elated with their imaginary importance and power, as if Paul would not dare to come to them.
Will know ; make trial of their power to withstand his teaching and influence.
The kingdom of God ; the reign of God in the hearts of men and in the church.
Is not in word ; or continued by pompous declaration and vain boastings.
But in power ; it consists in the power of God as manifested both in miraculous gifts, and in the awakening, enlightening, and renewing influences of the Holy Spirit operating through his preached word.
What will ye? would they, by disregarding his instruction, make it needful to visit them with discipline; or would they, by complying with those instructions, open the way for him to commend them and share in their joy? Christian discipline should be maintained in all Christian churches. If any of their members are guilty of immorality, and cannot by the proper use of other means be reclaimed, it is the will of God that they be excluded from the church. Matthew 18:15-18 ; 1 Corinthians 5:4-5 ; 1 Timothy 1:20 .
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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany