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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
1 Corinthians 4

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 10-21

1 Corinthians 1:10 to 1 Corinthians 4:21. First section of the Epistle: respecting the parties, with a defence of the apostle’s way of teaching.


Introduction

CHAPTER 4

1 Corinthians 4:2. δέ] Lachm. Rück. Tisch. read ὧδε, with A B C D* F G א, min(585) Syr(586) Erp. Aeth. Arm. Vulg. It. Jerome, Aug. Ambr. Pelag. Sedul. Bede. This vastly preponderating testimony in favour of ὧδε, and its infrequency with Paul (only again in Colossians 4:9), make the Recept(587) seem the result of change or error on the part of transcribers.

ζητεῖται] A C D E F G א, min(588) have ζητεῖτε. Recommended by Griesb. But B L and all the vss(589) and Fathers are against it. A copyist’s error.—1 Corinthians 4:6. Instead of , A B C א, 31, Syr. p(590) Copt. Athan. Cyril have ; which is recommended by Griesb., and adopted by Lachm. Tisch. and Rückert. The Latin authorities have supra quam, which leaves their reading doubtful. The preceding ταῦτα naturally suggested .

φρονεῖν] is wanting in A B D* E* F G א, 46, Vulg. It. and Latin Fathers. Rightly deleted by Lachm. Tisch. and Rückert.(591) A supplementary addition, in place of which Athanasius has φυσιοῦσθαι.—1 Corinthians 4:9. ὅτι after γάρ has preponderant evidence against it, and should be deleted, as is done by Lachm. Rück. and Tisch. Superfluous addition.—1 Corinthians 4:13. βλασφ.] A C א*, 17 46, Clem. Origen (twice), Euseb. Cyril, Damasc. have δυσφ. Approved by Griesb., accepted by Rück. and Tisch. Rightly; the more familiar (for the verb δυσφ. occurs nowhere else in the N. T., comp 2 Corinthians 6:8), and at the same time stronger word was inserted.—1 Corinthians 4:14. νουθετῶ] A C א, min(593) Theophylact have νουθετῶν. An assimilation to the foregoing participle.


Verse 1

1 Corinthians 4:1. οὕτως] is commonly taken as preparatory, emphatically paving the way for the ὡς ὑπηρ. which follows. Comp 1 Corinthians 3:15, 1 Corinthians 9:26; 2 Corinthians 9:5; Ephesians 5:33, al(595), and often in Greek writers. The καυχ. ἐν ἀνθρ. before repudiated arose, namely, out of a false mode of regarding the matter; Paul now states the true mode. Since, however, there is no antithetic particle added here, and since the following epithets: ὑπηρ. χριστοῦ and οἰκον. θεοῦ sound significantly like the ὑμεῖς δὲ χριστοῦ, χριστὸς δὲ θεοῦ which immediately precede them, οὕτως is rather to be regarded as the sic retrospective (in this way, in such fashion), and ὡς again as stating the objective quality, in which the ἡμεῖς have a claim to the οὕτως ἡμᾶς λογιζ. ἄνθρ. which is enjoined. Accordingly, we should explain as follows: Under this point of view, as indicated already in 4:22 f. (namely, that all is yours; but that ye are Christ’s; and that Christ, again, is God’s), let men form their judgment of us, as of those who are servants of Christ and stewards of divine mysteries. Let us but be judged of as servants of Christ, etc., according to the standard of that lofty Christian mode of view ( οὕτως), and how conclusively shut out from this sphere of vision will be the partisan καυχᾶσθαι ἐν ἀνθρώποις! Men will be lifted high above that.

ἡμᾶς] i.e. myself and such as I, by which other apostles also and apostolic teachers (like Apollos) are meant. In view of 1 Corinthians 3:22, no narrower limitation is allowable.

ἄνθρωπος] not a Hebraism ( אִישׁ, one; so most interpreters, among whom Luther, Grotius, and others explain it wrongly every one), but in accordance with a pure Greek use of the word in the sense of the indefinite one or a man (Plato, Protag. p. 355 A, Gorg. p. 500 C, al(596)). So also in 1 Corinthians 11:28; Galatians 6:1. Bengel’s “homo quivis nostris similis” is an importation.

ὑπηρ. χ. κ. οἰκον. μυστ. θεοῦ] They are servants of Christ, and, as such, are at the same time stewards of God (the supreme ruler, 1 Corinthians 3:23, the Father and Head of the theocracy, the οἶκος θεοῦ, 1 Timothy 3:15), inasmuch as they are entrusted with His secrets, i.e. entrusted and commissioned to communicate by the preaching of the gospel the divine decrees for the redemption of men and their receiving Messianic blessings (see on Romans 11:25; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:9; Matthew 13:11),—decrees in themselves unknown to men, but fulfilled in Christ, and unveiled by means of revelation. They are to do this just as the steward of a household (see on Luke 16:1) has to administer his master’s goods. Comp as regards this idea, 1 Corinthians 9:17; 1 Timothy 1:4; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 4:10. There is no reference whatever here to the sacraments, which Olshausen and Osiander again desire to include. See 1 Corinthians 1:17. The whole notion of a sacrament, as such, was generalized at a later date from the actions to which men restricted it, sometimes in a wider, sometimes in a narrower sense.

Observe, moreover: between the Father, the Master of the house, and the οἰκονόμοι there stands the Son, and He has from the Father the power of disposal (comp on John 8:35 f.; 1 Corinthians 15:25 ff.), so that the οἰκονόμοι are His servants. Paul uses ὑπηρέτης only in this passage; but there is no ground for importing any special design into the word (such as that it is humbler than διάκονος). Comp on Ephesians 3:7.


Verses 1-5

1 Corinthians 4:1-5. The right point of view from which to regard Christian teachers (1 Corinthians 4:1-2); Paul, nevertheless, for his own part, does not give heed to human judgment, nay, he does not even judge himself, but his judge is Christ (1 Corinthians 4:3-4). Therefore his readers should give up their passing of judgments till the decision of the Parousia (1 Corinthians 4:5).


Verse 2

1 Corinthians 4:2. If we read ὧδε (see the critical remarks), we must understand the verse thus: Such being the state of the case, it is, for the rest, required of the stewards, etc., so that λοιπόν (1 Corinthians 1:16) would express something which, in connection with the relationship designed in 1 Corinthians 4:1, remained now alone to be mentioned as pertaining thereto, while ὧδε(600) again, quite in accordance with the old classical usage (see Lehrs, Arist. p. 84 ff.), would convey the notion of sic, i.e. “cum eo statu res nostrae sint” (Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 991). We might paraphrase, therefore, as follows: “Such being the nature of our position as servants, the demand to be made upon the stewards of households(601) of course takes effect.” If we abide by the Recept(602), δὲ λοιπόν must be rendered: But as to what remains, i.e. but as respects what else there is which has its place in connection with the relationship of service spoken of in 1 Corinthians 4:1, this is the demand, etc.; comp on Romans 6:10. It is a perversion of the passage to make it refer, as Billroth does, to the preceding depreciation of the supposed merits of the teachers: “but what still remains for them is, that they can at least strive for the praise of faithfulness.” The rest of the verse says nothing at all about a being able to strive; for ζητεῖται ἐν means nothing else but: it is sought at their hand (requiritur), i.e. demanded of them. See Wetstein. Hofmann’s interpretation, too, is an impossible one. He makes δὲ λοιπόν down to εὑρεθῇ to be the protasis; ἐμοὶ δὲ κ. τ. λ(604), and that running on as far as κύριός ἐστιν in 1 Corinthians 4:4, to be the apodosis: As respects that, however, which … is further required, namely, that one be found faithful, it is to me, etc. This interpretation gives us, instead of the simple, clearly progressive sentences of the apostle, a long, obscurely and clumsily involved period, against which on linguistic grounds there are the two considerations—(1) that δὲ λοιπὸν ζητεῖται would presuppose some demand already conveyed in ver 1, to which a new one was now added; and (2) that the δέ of the apodosis in 1 Corinthians 4:3 would require to find its antithetic reference in the alleged protasis in 1 Corinthians 4:2 (comp Acts 11:17; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 92 f.), namely, to this effect: to me, on the contrary, not concerned about this required faithfulness, it is, etc. Now the first is not the case, and the second would be absurd. Neither the one difficulty nor the other is removed by the arbitrarily inserted thoughts, which Hofmann seeks to read between the lines.(606)

ἵνα] is sought with the design, that there be found. Hence the object of the seeking is conveyed in the form expressive of design. That εὑρίσκεσθαι is not equivalent to εἶναι (Wolff, Flatt, Pott, and others) is plain here, especially from the correlation in which it stands to ζητεῖται.

τις] i.e. any one of them. See Matthiae, p. 1079; Nägelsbach on the Iliad, p. 299, ed. 3.

πιστός] Luke 12:42; Luke 16:10 ff.; Matthew 25:21 ff.; Ephesians 6:21, al(607) The summing up of the duties of spiritual service.


Verse 3

1 Corinthians 4:3. I, for my part, however, feel myself in no way made dependent on your judgment by this ζητεῖται κ. τ. λ(608)

εἰς ἐλάχιστόν ἐστιν] εἰς, in the sense of giving the result: it comes to something utterly insignificant, evinces itself as in the highest degree unimportant. Comp Pindar, Ol. i. 122: ἐς χάριν τέλλεται, Plato, Alc. I. p. 126 A Buttmann, neutest. Gramm. p. 131 [E. T. 150].

ἵνα] does not stand for ὅταν (Pott), nor does it take the place of the construction with the infinitive (so most interpreters); but the conception of design, which is essential to ἵνα, is in the mind of the writer, and has given birth to the expression. The thought is: I have an exceedingly slight interest in the design of receiving your judgment.

ἀνακριθῶ] “fidelisne sim nec ne,” Bengel.

ὑπὸ ἀνθρ. ἡμ.] or by a human day at all. The day, i.e. the day of judgment, on which a human sentence is to go forth upon me, is personified. It forms a contrast with the ἡμέρα κυρίου, which Paul proceeds hereafter, not indeed to name, but to describe, see 1 Corinthians 4:5.

ἀλλʼ οὐδέ] yea, not even, as in 1 Corinthians 3:2.

ἐμαυτόν] Billroth and Rückert think that the contrast between the persons properly demanded αὐτὸς ἐμαυτ. here, which, however, has been overlooked by Paul. But the active expression ἐμαυτὸν ἀνακρίνω is surely the complete contrast to the passive ὑφʼ ὑμ. ἀνακρ.; hence αὐτός might, indeed, have been added to strengthen the statement, but there was no necessity for its being so.

The ἀνακρίνειν in the whole verse is neither to be understood solely of unfavourable, nor solely of favourable judging, but of any sort of judgment regarding one’s worth in general. See 1 Corinthians 4:4-5.


Verse 4

1 Corinthians 4:4. Parenthetical statement of the ground of Paul’s not even judging himself ( οὐδὲνδεδικ.), and then the antithesis ( δέ: but indeed) to the above οὐδὲ ἐμαυτ. ἀνακρίνω.

γάρ] The element of proof lies neither in the first clause alone (Hofmann), nor in the second clause alone, so that the first would be merely concessive (Baumgarten, Winer, Billroth, Rückert, who supplies μέν here again, de Wette, Osiander), but in the antithetic relation of both clauses, wherein ἀλλά has the force of at, not of “sondern:” judge not my own self, because I am conscious to myself of nothing, but am not thereby justified, i.e. because my pure (official, be 1 Corinthians 4:2) self-consciousness (comp Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16; 2 Corinthians 1:12) is still not the ground on which my justification rests. As regards the expression, comp Plato, Apol. p. 21 B: οὔτε μέγα οὔτε σμικρὸν ξύνοιδα ἐμαυτῷ σοφὸς ἔν, Rep. p. 331 A and Horace, Ep. i. 1. 61: “nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa;” Job 27:6.

οὐκ ἐν τούτῳ δεδικ.] is ordinarily understood wrongly: “I do not is that account look upon myself as guiltless.” For the words οὐκ ἐν τούτῳ, negativing justification by a good conscience, make it clear that δεδικ. expresses the customary conception of being justified by faith (see on Romans 1:17; so rightly, Calovius, Billroth Rückert), since, on the view just referred to, we must have had ἐν τούτῳ οὐ.(612) The οὐ is as little in its wrong place here as in 1 Corinthians 15:51. Note that the δεδικαίω΄αι is to the apostle an undoubted certain fact;(613) hence we may not explain it, with Hofmann: Not thereby am I pronounced righteous as respects faithfulness in the fulfilment of my office, but only if (?) the Lord shall charge me with no neglect of duty. That would plainly make the δεδικαίωμαι problematic.

κύριος] Christ, 1 Corinthians 4:5.


Verse 5

1 Corinthians 4:5. Therefore judge nothing before the time, namely, with respect to me; not as Billroth thinks: one sect regarding another, which is inadmissible in view of the preceding ἀνακρ. με and of the whole passage, 1 Corinthians 4:3-4, which all applies to Paul. The process of thought from 1 Corinthians 4:3 onwards is, namely, this: “For my part, you may judge me if you will, I make very little of that; but (1 Corinthians 4:4) seeing that I do not even judge myself, but that he that judgeth me is Christ, I therefore counsel you (1 Corinthians 4:5) not to pass a judgment upon me prematurely.”

πρὸ καιροῦ] i.e. before it is the right time, Matthew 8:29; Sirach 30:24; Sirach 51:30; Lucian, Jov. Trag. 47. How long such judging would continue to be πρὸ καιροῦ, we learn only from what comes after; hence we must not by anticipation assign to καιρός the specific sense of tempus reditus Christi.

τι] i.e. κρίσιν τινά, John 7:24.

κρίνετε] describes the passing of the judgment, the consequence of the ἀνακρ., a manner accordant with the looking forward to the Messianic judgment. Luther, Raphel, and Wolf render: alium alii praeferte; but this runs counter to the context, for it must be analogous to the general ἀνακρ.

ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ κ.] Epexegesis of πρὸ καιροῦ: judge not before the time (judge not, I say), until the Lord shall have come. Then only is it a καίριον κρίνειν, because then only can the judgment be pronounced rightly according to the Lord’s decision. The ἄν marks out the coming as in so far problematical (depending upon circumstances; see Hartung, Partikell. p. 291), inasmuch as it was not, indeed, doubted, and yet at the same time not dependent upon subjective determination, but an object of expectant faith in the unknown future. Comp Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27; Luke 13:35; Revelation 2:25.

ὃς καί] καί is the also customary with the relative, the effect of which is to bring into prominence some element in keeping with what has gone before (Baeumlein, Partik. p. 152; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 243 [E. T. 283]). In His function as Judge, in which He is to come, He will do this also, He will light up, i.e. make manifest, what is hidden in the darkness. Respecting φωτίσει, comp Sirach 24:32; 2 Timothy 1:10; Plut. Mor. p. 931 C, and the passages in Wetstein. What withdraws itself from the light as its opposite (Hofmann, who takes καὶκαί as meaning as well, as also) is included here, but not that alone. Compare rather the general statement in Luke 8:17.

καὶ φανερ. τ. βουλ. τῶν καρδ.] a special element selected from the foregoing general affirmation. The significant bearing of what Paul here affirms of Christ at His coming is the application which the readers were to make of it to himself and the other teachers; it was to be understood, namely, that their true character also would only then become manifest, i.e. be laid open as an object of knowledge, but now was not yet submitted to judgment.

καὶ τότεθεοῦ] so that ye can only then pass judgment on your teachers with sure (divine) warrant for what ye do. The chief emphasis is upon the ἀπὸ τ. θεοῦ, which is for that reason put at the end (Kühner, II. p. 625), and next to it upon what is placed first, ἔπαινος. This does not mean praemium (so Flatt, with older expositors, citing wrongly in support of it such passages as Romans 2:29; Romans 13:3; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 2:14; Wisdom of Solomon 15:19; Polybius, 2. 58. 11), nor is it a vox media (as, following Casaubon, a(616) Epict. 67, Wolf, Rosenmüller, Pott, and others assume wholly without proof); but it denotes simply the praise, the commendation. The apparent incongruity with ἑκάστῳ is obviated by the article: the praise that appertains to him (Bernhardy, p. 315) shall be given to each,—so that Paul here puts entirely out of sight those who deserve no praise at all. And rightly so. For his readers were to apply this to him and Apollos; hence, as Calvin justly remarks: “haec vox ex bonae conscientiae fiducia nascitur.” See 1 Corinthians 4:4. Theophylact’s view, although adopted by many, is an arbitrary one: “unde et contrarium datur intelligi, sed mavult εὐφημεῖν,” Grotius (so also Bengel, Billroth, Rückert, Olshausen).

ἀπὸ τ. θεοῦ] not from men, as ye now place and praise the one above the other, but on the part of God; for Christ the Judge is God’s vicegerent and representative, John 5:27 ff.; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31; Romans 2:16, al(617)


Verse 6

1 Corinthians 4:6. δέ] pursuing the subject; the apostle turns now to the final remonstrances and rebukes which he has to give in reference to the party-division among them; in doing so, he addresses his readers generally (not the teachers) as ἀδελφοί with a winning warmth of feeling, as in 1 Corinthians 1:11.

ταῦτα] from 1 Corinthians 3:5 onwards, where he brings in himself and Apollos specially and by name, assigning to both their true position and its limits to be observed by them with all humility, and then appending to this the further instructions which he gives up to 1 Corinthians 4:5. ταῦτα is not to be made to refer back to 1 Corinthians 1:12, where Paul and Apollos an not named alone (so Baur, following older expositors).

μετεσχημ. εἰς ἐμαυτ. κ. ἀπολλώ] I have changed the form of it into myself and Apollos, i.e. I have, instead of directing my discourse to others, upon whom it might properly have been moulded, written in such fashion in an altered form, that what has been said applies now to myself and Apollos. It is on account of the contrast with others which floats before the apostle’s mind, that he writes not simply εἰς ἐμέ, but εἰς ἐμαυτόν; εἰς, again, denotes the reference of this change of form to the parties concerned. Respecting μετασχηματίζειν, to transform, comp 2 Corinthians 11:14, Philippians 3:21; Symm. 1 Samuel 28:8; 4 Maccabees 9:21; Plato, Legg. x. p. 903 E, 906 C ( ῥῆμα μετεσχηματισμένον); Lucian, Imag. 9, Halc. 5; Heliodorus, ii. p. 93. The σχῆμα, to which the word here refers, is the form in which the foregoing statements have been presented, which has been other than the concrete state of the case at Corinth would properly have involved; for he has so moulded it as to make that bear upon himself and Apollos, which more properly should have applied to others. Now, who are those others? Not the order of teachers generally (Calovius, Billroth, de Wette, Neander, et al(619)), also my own former view), for in that case we should have no change of form, but only a specializing; but rather: the instigators of parties in Corinth, with their self-exaltation and jealousy, as is clear from the following clause stating the design in view, and from 1 Corinthians 4:7 ff. It was they who split up the church and infected it with their own evil qualities. But from Paul and Apollos the readers were to learn to give up all such conduct,—from those very men, who had respectively founded and built up the church, but who by these partisans had been stamped with the character of heads of sects and so misused, to the grievous hurt of the Christian community. Baur’s explanation is contrary to the notion of μετεσχημ., but in favour of his own theory about the Christ-party: what has been said of me and Apollos holds also of the other parties; this not applying, however, to τοὺς τοῦ χριστοῦ, who are to be regarded as forming a peculiar party by themselves. Lastly, it is also a mistake (see Introd. § 1) to interpret it with Chrysostom, Erasmus, Beza, Vatablus, Cornelius a Lapide, and others: “I have put our names as fictitious in place of those of the actual leaders of parties;”(620) or to hold, with Pareus and Mosheim, that μετασχ. refers to the homely figures which Paul has used of himself and Apollos (gardeners, husbandmen, builders, house-rewards), from which the steaders were to learn humility. These figures were surely lofty enough, since they represented the teachers as θεοῦ συνεργούς! Moreover, the figures in themselves mainly could not teach the Corinthians humility; the lesson must lie in the intrinsic tenor of the ideas conveyed.

ἀπολλώ] the same form of the accusative as in Acts 19:1. A B א* have ἀπολλών. See regarding both forms, Buttmann’s ausf. Gr. I. p. 207 f.; Kühner, § 124, ed. 2.

διʼ ὑμᾶς] not in any way for our own sakes.

ἵνα ἐν ἡ΄ῖν κ. τ. λ(621)] more precise explanation of the διʼ ὑμᾶς (“instructionis vestrae causa,” Estius): in order that ye might learn on us (Winer, p. 361 [E. T. 483]), that is to say, by having us before you as an example of shunning undue self-exaltation, in accordance with what I have stated regarding our official position, duty, responsibility, etc.

τὸ μὴ ὑπὲρ γέγρ.] The elliptical: “not above what is written,” is made to rank as a substantive by the τό (Matthiae, § 280); for φρονεῖν is spurious (see the critical remarks). The suppression of the verb after μή in lively discourse is common in the classics. See Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 153; Kühner, II. p. 607; Klotz, a(622) Devar. p. 607. The short, terse μὴ ὑπὲρ γέγρ. may have been an old and familiar saying of the Rabbins (Ewald); only Paul never quotes such elsewhere.

γέγρ. is by Luther and most expositors (including Storr, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Heydenreich, Pott, Billroth, Neander) made to refer to what Paul has written in the preceding section. But Grotius hits the truth in the matter when he says: γέγραπται in his libris semper ad libros V. T. refertur. Only Grotius should not have referred it to a single passage (Deuteronomy 17:20; comp also Olshausen) which the readers could not be expected to divine. It denotes generally the rule written in the O. T., which is not to be transgressed; and this means here, according to the context, the rule of humility and modesty, within the bounds of which a man will not be vainly puffed up, nor will presume to claim anything that lies beyond the limits of the ethical canon of the Scriptures. Comp Rückert, Reiche, Ewald. And Paul could the more readily express himself in this general way, inasmuch as all the quotations hitherto made by him from the O. T. (1 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Corinthians 1:31, 1 Corinthians 3:19) exhorted to humility. It is against the context to suppose, with Cajetanus and Beza, that the reference is to the dogmatic standard of the O. T., which was not to be transcended by pretended wisdom. Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Theophylact went so far as to refer it to sayings of Christ (such as Mark 10:44; Matthew 7:1; Theodoret even adds to these 1 Corinthians 7:24), which neither Paul nor his readers could think of in connection with the habitually used γέγρ.

Without having the slightest support in the use and wont of the language (for in passages like Pindar, Nem. vi. 13, Eur. Ion. 446 (455), γράφειν has just the ordinary force of to write), and wholly in the face of the N. T. usage of γέγραπται, Hofmann brings in here the general notion of the definite measure which is ascribed, adjudged to each by God (Romans 12:3). Nor is any countenance lent to this interpretation by γράμμα in Thuc. v. 29, 4; for that means a written clause (see Krüger). What Paul means is the objective sacred rule of the Scriptures, the presumptuous disregard of which was the source of the mischief at Corinth; “ulcus aperit,” Beza.

ἵνα μὴ εἷς ὑπὲρ κ. τ. λ(625)] For one another against the other, is a telling description of the partisan procedure! The members of a party plumed themselves to such an extent on their own advantages, that one did so in behalf of the other ( ὑπέρ, comp 2 Corinthians 9:2), seeking thereby mutually among themselves to maintain and exalt their own reputation ( εἷς ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἑνός), and that with hostile tendency towards the third person, who belonged to another party ( κατὰ τοῦ ἑτέρου). Olshausen understands ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἑνός of their outbidding each other in pretensions, which, however, would require the accusative with ὑπέρ; and Winer, p. 358 [E. T. 478], renders: “so that he deems himself exalted above the other;” against which—apart from the fact that ὑπέρ with the genitive does not occur in this sense in the N. T. (see, moreover, Matthiae, p. 1360)—the immediate context is conclusive, according to which it is he only who is despised by the φυσιού΄ενος, who can be the ἕτερος (the different one); and just as εἷς stands in antithetic correlation with τοῦ ἑτέρου, so ὑπέρ also does with κατά; comp Romans 8:31; Mark 9:40. The ordinary interpretation is: “On account of the teacher, whom he has chosen to be his head,” Rückert; comp Reiche, Ewald, Hofmann. But like εἶς, so ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἑνός also must refer to the collective subject of φυσιοῦσθε, and consequently both of them together convey the same sense as ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων, only in a more concrete way. Comp 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Susann. 52; Sirach 42:24 f.; 1 Maccabees 13:28; often, too, in Greek writers.

The φυσιοῦσθαι of a εἷς ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἑνός takes place κατὰ τοῦ ἑτέρου in the jealous wranglings of mutually opposing parties reciprocally, so that each has always full room for the κατὰ τοῦ ἑτέρου (against Hofmann’s objection).

φυσιοῦσθε] the present indicative after ἵνα occurs only here and in Galatians 4:17. The instances of it, wont to be adduced from classical writers, have been long since given up. See Hermann, a(630) Viger. p. 851 f.; Schneider, a(631) Xen. Ath. i. 11. The passages, again, in Kypke and Valckenaer, where ἵνα is found with the past indicative, were wholly inapplicable here. Comp on Galatians 4:17, note; Stallbaum, a(633) Plat. Symp. p. 181 E. On these grounds Billroth and Rückert assume that Paul had meant to form the subjunctive, but had formed it wrongly; so too, before them, Bengel characterized the form as a “singularis ratio contractionis;” and Reiche also, in his Comment. crit. I. p. 152, satisfies himself with the notion of an erroneously formed contraction. As if we were warranted in taking for granted that the most fluent in language of the apostles could not be safely trusted with forming the mood of a verb in οω! Winer finds here an improper usage of the later Greek.(634) But, apart from the absence of all proof for this usage in the apostolic age (it can only be proved in much later writings, as also in modern Greek; see Winer, p. 272 [E. T. 362]), had Paul adopted it, he would have brought it in oftener, and not have written correctly in every other case;(635) least of all, too, would he have put the indicative here, when he had just used the correct subjunctive immediately before it ( μάθητε). Fritzsche (a(636) Matth. p. 836) took ἵνα as ubi, and explained: “ubi (i.e. qua conditione, quando demisse de vobis statuere nostra exemplo didiceritis) minime alter in alterius detrimentum extollitur.” At a later date (in Fritzschiorum opusc. p. 186 ff.) he wished to resort to emendation, namely: ἵνα ʼν ἡμῖν μάθητε τὸ μὴ ὑπὲρ γέγραπται φρονεῖν, ἕνα μὴ ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἑνὸς φυσιοῦσθαι κατὰ τοῦ ἑτέρου (so, too, very nearly Theodoret). But although it might easily enough have happened that ἵνα ΄ή should be written by mistake in place of ἕνα ΄ή, the consequence of that mistake would in that case necessarily have been the alteration of φυσιοῦσθαι,(637) not into φυσιοῦσθε, but into φυσιῶσθε, and the subjunctive, not the indicative, must therefore have had the preponderance of critical evidence in its favour (but it is found, in point of fact, only in 44, Chrys. ms.). The only explanation of ἵνα which is in accordance with the laws of the language, and therefore the only admissible one, is that given by Fritzsche, a(638) Matth. l.c(639); ἵνα cannot be the particle of design, because it is followed by the indicative; it must, on the contrary, be the local particle, where, and that in the sense of whereby, under which relation, so that it expresses the position of the case (Homer, Od. vi. 27; Plato, Gorg. p. 484 E Sophocles, Oed. Col. 627, 1239; Eur. Hec. ii. 102, 711, Andoc. vi. 9, al(640); also Schaefer, a(641) Soph. O. C. 621; and Baeumlein, Partik. p. 143 f.). What Paul says then is this: in order that ye may learn the ne ultra quod scriptum est, whereby (i.e. in the observance of which rule) ye then ( φυσιοῦσθε is the future realized as present) do not puff up yourselves, etc. Suitable though it would be, and in accordance with the apostle’s style (Romans 7:13; Galatians 3:14; Galatians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 9:3), that a second telic ἵνα should follow upon the first, still the linguistic impossibility here must turn the scale against it. To put down the indicative to the account of the transcribers, has against it the almost unanimous agreement of the critical evidence in excluding the subjunctive (which would be inexplicable, on the supposition of the indicative not being the original). Again, to trace it back to the origin of the Epistle by assuming that Paul made a slip in dictating, or his amanuensis in taking down his words, is all the more unwarranted, seeing that the self-same phenomenon recurs in Galatians 4:17, while the clause here, as it stands, admits of a rendering which gives a good sense and is grammatically correct.

The subjective form of the negation μή, in the relative clause, has arisen from the design cherished by Paul, and floating before his mind. Comp e.g. Sophocles, Trach. 797: μέθες ἐνταῦθʼ ὅπου με μή τις ὄψεται βροτῶν; and see Baeumlein, ut supra, p. 290; Winer, p. 447 [E. T. 603].


Verses 6-13

1 Corinthians 4:6-13. Now, what I have hitherto given utterance to in a manner applicable to myself and Apollos, has for its object to wean you from party-pride (1 Corinthians 4:6). Rebuke of this pride (1 Corinthians 4:7-13).


Verse 7

1 Corinthians 4:7. The words ἵνα μὴἑτέρου are now justified by two considerations—(1) No one maketh thee to differ; it is a difference of thine own making, which thou settest between thee and others. (2) What thou possessest thou hast not from thyself, and it is absurd to boast thyself of it as though it were thine own work. Hofmann holds that Paul in his first proposition glances at his own difference from others, and in his second at the gifts of Apollos; but this is neither indicated in the text, nor would it accord with the fact that he and Apollos are to be examples of humility to the readers, but not examples to humble them—namely, by high position and gifts.

σέ] applies to each individual of the preceding ὑμεῖς, not therefore simply to the sectarian teachers (Pott, following Chrysostom and several of the old expositors).

The literal sense of διακρίνει is to be retained. The Vulgate rightly renders: “Quis enim te discernit?” Comp Acts 15:9; Homer, Od. iv. 179; Plato, Soph. p. 253 E, Charm. p. 171 C. This of course refers, in point of fact, to supposed pre-eminence; but Paul will not describe it as pre-eminence (contrary to the common rendering: Who maketh thee to differ for the better?).

τὶ δὲ ἔχεις κ. τ. λ(644)] δέ, like that which follows, heaps question on question. See Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 169. To what Paul is pointing in the general: “But what possessest thou,” etc., their own conscience told his readers, and it is clear also from the next question, that, namely, of which they boasted, their Christian insight, wisdom, eloquence, and the like. He certainly did not think of himself and the other teachers as the source ( ἔλαβες) of the gifts (Semler, Heydenreich, Pott), which would be quite contrary to his humble piety, but: οὐδὲν οἴκοθεν ἔχεις, ἀλλὰ παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ λαβών, Chrysostom. Comp 1 Corinthians 3:5, 1 Corinthians 12:6, 1 Corinthians 15:10.

εἰ δὲ καὶ ἔλ.] again, even if thou hast received, even if thou hast been endowed with gifts, which I will by no means deny. εἰ καί is not meant to represent the possession of them as problematical (Rückert), but is concessive. Comp 2 Corinthians 4:3. See Hermann, a(647) Viger. p. 832; comp Hartung, I. p. 140 f.; Klotz, a(649) Devar. p. 519 f.

τί καυχᾶσαι κ. τ. λ(650)] οὐδεὶς ἐπʼ ἀλλοτρίαις παρακαταθήκαις μεγαφρονεῖ, ἐπαγρυπνεῖ δὲ ταύταις, ἵνα φυλάξῃ τῷ δεδωκότι, Theodoret.


Verse 8

1 Corinthians 4:8. The discourse, already in 1 Corinthians 4:7 roused to a lively pitch, becomes now bitterly ironical, heaping stroke on stroke, even as the proud Corinthians, with their partisan conduct, needed a νουθεσία (1 Corinthians 4:14) to teach them humility. The transition, too, from the individualizing singular to the plural corresponds to the rising emotion. The interrogative way of taking the passage (Baumgarten) weakens it without reason; for the disapproval of such bitter derision (Stolz, Rückert) is, in the first place, over-hasty, since Paul could not but know best how he had to chastise the Corinthians; and, in the second, it fails to recognise the fact, that he, just in consequence of the purity of his conscience, could give rein to the indignant temper amply warranted in him by the actual position of things, without justifying the suspicion of self-seeking and thirst for power (this in opposition to Rückert).

In κεκορ. ἐστέ, ἐπλουτ., and ἐβασιλ., we have a vehement climax: Already sated are ye, already become rich are ye; without our help ye have attained to dominion! The sarcastic force of this address, which shows the repulsive shape in which the inflated character and demeanour of the Corinthians presented itself, is intensified by the emphatically prefixed ἤδηἤδη and χωρὶς ἡμῶν: “already ye have, what was only expected in the coming αἰών, fulness of satisfaction and of enrichment in Messianic blessings; without our help (mine and that of Apollos, 1 Corinthians 4:6) are ye arrived at the highest stage of Messianic power and glory, at the βασιλεία!” You have already reached such a pitch of Christian perfection, are become without us such mightily exalted and dominant personages, that there is presented in you an anticipation of the future Messianic satisfaction, of the Messianic fulness of possession and dominion. Ordinarily, κεκορ. and ἐπλουτ. (comp Revelation 3:17) have been taken as referring specially to Christian knowledge and other endowments (comp 1 Corinthians 1:5), and ἐβασιλ. either as referring likewise to knowledge, the highest degree of it being meant (Vater, Heydenreich), or to high prosperity and repute in general (Calvin, Justiniani, Lightfoot, Wetstein, Flatt, Pott), or to the quiet security in which kings live (Grotius), or to the “dominium et jus statuendi de rebus Christianis” (Semler), or to the domination of the one sect over the other (Estius), or of the teacher over his party (Billroth is undecided between these two views). But all these interpretations fail to do justice to the sarcastic method of expression, although they in part correctly enough describe the state of the case, which is here ironically presented. The right view may be seen in Hofmann also. In connection with the ἐβασιλ. left without being more precisely defined, nothing came so naturally and at once to the Christian consciousness as the thought of the Messianic βασιλεία.(653) And how well this idea corresponds to the wish which follows! If, however, ἐβασ. applies to the Messianic ruling (see on 1 Corinthians 3:22; Usteri, Lehrbegriff, p. 370), and consequently to the συμβασιλεύειν of 2 Timothy 2:12, comp Romans 8:17, then in that case κεκορ. and ἐπλουτ. also, to preserve the symmetry of this ironical picture, must be understood in the sense of the Messianic consummation of all things, and must denote the being full and rich κατʼ ἐξοχήν (namely, in the blessings of the Messianic salvation), which for the Christian consciousness did not need to be particularly specified. Comp Matthew 5:6; 2 Corinthians 8:9. The perfect brings before us the state, the aorists the fact of having entered upon the possession. See Kühner, a(656) Xen. Mem. i. 1. 18. As to ἤδη, i.e. now already, see on John 4:35.

χωρὶς ἡμῶν] without whose work, in fact, you would not be Christians at all!

καὶ ὄφελόν γε κ. τ. λ(657)] and (the thought suddenly striking his mind) would that ye had indeed attained to dominion! In the later Greek writers ὄφελον is used as a particle, and joined with the indicative, 2 Corinthians 11:1; Galatians 5:12. See Matthiae, p. 1162. Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 185 [E. T. 214 f.]. γέ strengthens the force of ὄφελον; see Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 372 f.; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 55 f. The thought is: “Apart from this, that ye have without us become rulers, would that ye had at least ( γέ) become such!” Comp Klotz, a(659) Devar. p. 281 f.

ἵνα κ. ἡ΄εῖς ὑ΄ῖν συ΄βασ.] Ye would doubtless in that case, Paul deems, suffer us also to have some share (beside you) in your government! The subjunctive is quite according to rule (in opposition to Rückert), seeing that ἐβασιλ. denotes something completed from the speaker’s present point of view (have become rulers), and seeing that the design appears as one still subsisting in the present. See Klotz, a(660) Devar. p. 617 f.; Stallbaum, a(661) Plat. Crit. p. 43 B.

Observe, we may add, how the sarcastic climax ends at last with καὶ ὄφελόν γε κ. τ. λ(662) in a way fitted to put the readers deeply to shame. Comp Chrysostom.


Verse 9

1 Corinthians 4:9. γάρ] giving the ground of the foregoing wish: For the position of us apostles is to my mind such, that to us the συμβασ. would even be a thing very desirable! It is precisely the reverse of that!

In δοκῶ we have a palpable point in the statement. Comp on 1 Corinthians 7:40. Without ὅτι following, see in Kühner, a(665) Xen. Anab. v. 7. 13.

ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀπ.] does not refer simply to Paul (Calvin and others, including Schrader and Olshausen), which is forbidden by τοὺς ἀπ., but to the apostles generally. The designation τοὺς ἀποστ. is added by way of contrast to their position, in which they, instead of being at all privileged as apostles, were ἔσχατοι. Observe further, how in this passage, on to 1 Corinthians 4:13, Paul paints his picture of the apostles in colours drawn from his own personal experience.

ἐσχάτους] Predicate: as homines infimae sortis. Comp Mark 9:35; Alciphr. iii. 43; Dio Cassius, xlii. 5; Dem. 346, pen. It is joined with ἀποστ. by Erasmus, Castalio, Beza, and others, including Semler and Pott: “Deus nos, qui postremi apostoli facti fuimus, tamquam ἐπιθαν. oculis alior. sistit” (Pott). But in that case we should require to have τοὺς ἀπ. τοὺς ἐσχ., or at least τοὺς ἐσχ. ἀπ., because ἐσχ. would necessarily be the emphatic word; and at any rate, looked at generally, this would give us an inappropriate and unhistorical contrast between the experiences of the later apostles and those of the first.

ἀπέδειξεν] not: fecit, reddidit, but: He has set us forth, presented us as last, caused us to appear as such before the eyes of the world (see the following θέατρον κ. τ. λ(667)). Comp 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Plat. Conv. p. 179 C Dem. 687. 11; Xen. Oec. v. 10; Wyttenbach, a(669) Plat. Phaed. p. 72 C.

ὡς ἐπιθανατ.] as men condemned to death, so that we appear as such. How true in view of their constant exposure to deadly perils! Comp 1 Corinthians 15:30 f.; 2 Corinthians 11:23 ff. Tertullian’s rendering (de pudie. 14): “veluti bestiarios,” although adopted by Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Cornelius a Lapide, Michaelis, Schrader, and others, is an arbitrary limitation of the meaning. The correct explanation is given by Chrysostom and Theophylact. Comp Dion. Hal. vii. 35.

ὅτι θέατρον ἐγεν. κ. τ. λ(672)] serves to make good the statement from δοκῶ to ἐπιθαν.; hence it is a mistake to write , τι and connect it with θέατρ., as Hofmann conjectures should be done (“which spectacle we have in truth become to the world”). The meaning is: seeing that we have become a spectacle, etc. θέατρον is here like θέα or θέαμα, as Aesch. Dial. Socr. iii. 20; Ach. Tat. I. p. 55. Comp θεατρίζεσθαι, Hebrews 10:33; ἐκθεατρίζεσθαι, Polyb. iii. 91. 10, v. 15. 2.

καὶ ἀγγ. κ. ἀνθρ.] specializes the τῷ κόσμῳ: to the whole world, both angels and men. The inhabitants of heaven and of earth gaze upon our hardships and persecutions as on a spectacle.

The word ἄγγελοι in the N. T., standing absolutely, is never used of the good and bad angels taken together (this against Zeger, Bengel, Olshausen, al(674)), nor of the bad alone (this against Vatablus, Estius, Calovius, Wolf, and others, including Flatt and Neander), but always only of the angels κατʼ ἐξοχήν, i.e. of the good angels (comp on Romans 8:38). Where it refers to the bad angels, it always has some addition defining it so (Matthew 25:41; 2 Corinthians 12:7; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6). Hahn’s objection is a trifling one (Theol. d. N. T. I. p. 261): that the angelic world generally is meant; comp also Hofmann. Yes, but the evil angels are no longer therein; see on Ephesians 2:2. Some have thought that we must bring in the bad angels, because θέατρον involves the idea: a subject of mirth and mockery. But this is purely arbitrary. The particular interest felt by the spectators in the drama of the apostolic fortunes might be very various, and even opposite in its nature; it is not here taken into consideration at all. Theodoret says well: πᾶσιν εἰς θεωρίαν πρόκειται τὰ ἡμέτερα· ἄγγελοι μὲν γὰρ τὴν ἡμετέραν ἀνδρίαν θαυμάζουσι, τῶν δὲ ἀνθρώπων οἱ μὲν ἐφήδονται τοῖς ἡμετέροις παθήμασιν, οἱ δὲ συναλγοῦσι μὲν, ἐπαμῦναι δὲ οὐκ ἰσχύουσιν. The way in which the angels come in here, therefore, must not be regarded as simply proverbial and figurative (Baur).


Verse 10

1 Corinthians 4:10. What very different sort of people ye are from us!

μωροὶ διὰ χ.] for, because we concern ourselves about nothing else save Christ the crucified, are bent on knowing Him only, and on having nothing to do with the world’s wisdom (comp 1 Corinthians 2:2), we are foolish, weak-minded men, for Christ’s sake. Comp 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:25.

φρόνιμοι ἐν χ.] wise men are ye in your connection with Christ, sagacious, enlightened Christians! Observe, that Paul could not write again διὰ χ.; the Christian pseudo-wisdom had other motives. The nature of the irony, “plena aculeis” (Calvin), with which he scourges the worldly state of things at Corinth, does not allow us to supply anything else here but ἐσμέν and ἐστέ.

ἀσθενεῖς] weak and powerless. For in trembling and humility they came forward, making little of human agency, trusting for all success to the simple word of Christ. Ye, on the contrary, are ἰσχυροί, men of power, able to take up an imposing attitude and to carry through great things. Comp 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 13:2 ff; 2 Corinthians 10:10. By an arbitrary limitation, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Grotius, and Estius refer ἀσθ. to their sufferings: “Quia multa mala patimur, nec resistimus quod est infirmitatis,” and ἰσχ.: “Mala, si qua occurrunt, facile repellitis,” Estius.

ἔνδοξοι] celebrated, highly honoured personages; ἄτιμοι: unhonoured, despised, Matthew 13:57; Hom. Il. i. 516; Plato, Legg. 6. p. 774 B, Euthyd. p. 281 C.

In the last clause the first person is the subject of the sarcastic antithesis, because Paul means now to speak at more length regarding the apostles.


Verses 11-13

1 Corinthians 4:11-13. Down to the present hour this despised condition of ours continues uninterruptedly, manifesting itself also ( καί) in all manner of privations, sufferings, and humiliations.

The assumption that we are not to understand this ἄχρι τῆς ἄρτι ὥρας, as also ἕως ἄρτι in 1 Corinthians 4:13,(680) in a strictly literal sense, is rash, seeing that, even apart from the fact that we have no other means of knowing the precise position of Paul at that time (comp 2 Corinthians 11:27), he is speaking here not of himself alone, but of the position of the apostles in general.

γυμνητεύομεν] i.e. we lack necessary raiment. Comp on γυμνός in Matthew 25:36; James 2:15; and Theile in loc(683) The verb, as used both in this sense and of being lightly armed, belongs to the later Greek. The form γυμνιτεύομεν (Lachmann and Tischendorf), although vouched for by a majority of the codd(684), is nothing but an ancient clerical error; see Fritzsche, de conform. Lachm. p. 21.

κολαφιζ.] quite literally: we are beaten with fists. Comp Matthew 26:67; 1 Peter 2:20; 2 Corinthians 12:7. A concrete representation of rude maltreatment in general.

ἀστατοῦμεν] we are unsettled, have no abiding dwelling-place, Rufinus, Ep. 20. Theophylact: ἐλαυνόμεθα, φεύγομεν.

κοπιῶμεν κ. τ. λ(686)] we toil hard, working with our own hands. Comp as regards Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:6 ff.; 2 Corinthians 11:7 ff.; 1 Thessalonians 2:9 ff.; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; Acts 20:34; and who is in a position to deny that others of the apostles too acted in the same way? Paul includes this among the elements of their despised condition, which he adduces; and he had a right to do so, for it was such in the eyes of the world, which could not and would not recognise and honour so noble a self-denial.

λοιδορ. εὐλογ. κ. τ. λ(688)] The picture of the ignominious condition of the apostles is continued, and its effect heightened by the contrast of their demeanour. We are so utterly empty and void of all honour with others, that as respects those who revile (insult, see Dissen, a(689) Dem. de Cor. p. 294), persecute, and slander us ( δυσφημ., see the critical remarks, and comp 1 Maccabees 7:41; Aesch. Ag. 1078; Soph. El. 1182; Eur. Heracl. 600), we do not in any wise defend ourselves or seek vengeance against them (as men do who have honour to vindicate and maintain); but, on the contrary, wish good to our revilers, remain quiet and patient towards our persecutors, and give beseeching words to our slanderers.(691) Whether Paul says this in remembrance of the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27 f., which became known to him by tradition (Rückert and others), is very dubious, considering the difference of expression; but the disposition required by Jesus lived in him.

ὡς περικαθάρματα κ. τ. λ(692)] Delineation, as a whole, of the condition hitherto—from 1 Corinthians 4:11 onwards—sketched in single traits: We have become as out-sweepings of the world, i.e. our experience has become such, as though we were the most utterly worthless of existing things, like dirt which men have swept off from the face of the world. The κόσμος is the world of men (Romans 3:6; Romans 5:12), corresponding to the πάντων which follows. περικάθαρ΄α (from περικαθαίρω, to cleanse round about, on every side) means quisquiliae, what one removes by cleansing, both in a literal sense and figuratively, like our offscourings, scum (Arrian. Diss. Epict. iii. 22. 78). The simple κάθαρμα is more common; and it especially is often found in this figurative sense in Demosthenes and later writers (see Wetstein, Loesner, Obss. p. 276 f.; comp also Kühner, II. p. 26). With this rendering Erasmus, H. Stephanus, Beza, Estius, and others, including Rückert, de Wette, Ewald, Maier, Neander, Hofmann, are content, following Theodoret, Theophylact, and Oecumenius. καθάρ΄ατα, however, is likewise used to denote those who, in times of plague and other public calamities, were offered up to expiate the wrath of the gods (see Schol. a(694) Arist. Plut. 454; Bos, Exercitatt. p. 125 ff.; Munth. Obss. e Diod. p. 321 f.), and in Proverbs 21:18, περικάθαρμα corresponds to the Hebrew כֹּפֶר, while περικαθαρ΄ός, too, in Plato, Legg. vii. p. 815 C, means lustratio, and περικαθαρτήριον in Hesychius (sub voce θεώματα), a sacrifice for purification; and, on these grounds, Luther and many others (among them Pott, Olshausen, Osiander) assume that Paul refers here to that Greek sacrificial custom (see especially Photius, Quaest. Amphil. 155), and means by περικάθ. expiatory sacrifices,—the idea of “reprobate, utterly worthless men” being at the same time essentially involved, inasmuch as such men were taken for sacrifices of that nature (see Bos and Grotius). According to this view, the sense would be: “contemnimur ut homines, qui ad iram Deorum ab omnibus hominibus avertendam sacrificio offeruntur,” Pott; and Olshausen asserts, in spite of the ὡς, that Paul ascribes a certain power even to his sufferings. Now the current and constant word for the expiatory offering is κάθαρ΄α (not περικάθαρ΄α); καλάρματα, to be the true be, because Paul “ritus Graecos noverat et linguam.”">(695) but, even supposing that Paul had conceived περικαθάρματα as piacula, he would in that case have again used the Plural περιψήματα in the next clause, for περίψημα is synonymous with περικάθαρμα, and each individual would be a piaculum. If, on the other hand, he conceived περικαθάρματα as offscourings, castings away, he could very suitably interchange this phrase afterwards with the collective singular (rubbish).

πάντων-g0- περίψ-g0-.] The refuse of all. The emphasis lies on πάντων, and ὡς is to be supplied again before it. περίψημα (what is removed by wiping) being substantially the same in meaning with περικάθαρμα (see Photius, s.v., Tobit 5:18, and Fritzsche in loc(696)), has been as variously interpreted by the commentators.

ἕως ἄρτι] belongs to ἐγενήθ., and repeats with emphatic force at the close of the description the selfsame thought with which it had began in 1 Corinthians 4:11.

The torrent is at an end; now again we have the gentle stream of fatherly kindness, which, however, in 1 Corinthians 4:18 once more swells into sternness and threatening. Observe how Paul at this point abandons the comprehensive plural form ( ἡμεῖς), in order now at the close of the section to make his readers feel again, in the most impressive way, that personal relation of his to them, which he, as being the founder of the church, was entitled in truth to urge on their attention, despite of all the party-strife which had crept in.


Verse 14

1 Corinthians 4:14. οὐκ ἐντρέπων] The common interpretation is the (correct one: not putting you to shame, not in such a way as to shame you, write I this (1 Corinthians 4:8-13). The participle, however, is, not the same as an infinitive, but the meaning is: I shame you not by what I am now writing to you. See Heind. a(697) Phaed. p 249 f.; Stallbaum, a(698) Plat. Rep. p. 495 D Matthiae, p. 1289. Rückert prefers keeping to the general sense of humbling, moving greatly; but why should we, when we have in 2 Thessalonians 3:14, Titus 2:8, 1 Corinthians 6:5; 1 Corinthians 15:34, the perfectly distinctive Pauline notion of the word? Comp also Diog. L. ii. 29; Ael. V. H. iii. 17. And just because Paul feels the shaming element in his rebuke for the Corinthians, does he point out, so as to further the moral effect of his bitter words, what according to his idea his rebuke essentially is, not a putting to shame, but fatherly admonition. Bengel says well: “Exquisita ἐπιθεραπεία … Saepe quendam quasi leporem apostolus salva gravitate apostolica adhibet.”

νουθετῶ] The kindly intention of the admonition is not conveyed in the word by itself (see on Ephesians 6:4, and comp e.g. Plato, Pol. viii. p. 560 A: νουθετούντων τε καὶ κακιζόντων, Legg. ix. p. 879 D Dem. 798. 19, al(701)), but in the context. Comp Acts 20:31. Plato, Euthyd. p. 284 E: νουθετῶ σʼ ἑταῖρον. The construction is varied so as to give us not the participle again, but the indicative (as the opposite of ἐντρέπων γράφω, taken together), whereby the antithesis is made independent and so more emphatic. See Hermann, a(703) Hymn. Hom. p. 125. Kühner, II. p. 423.


Verses 14-21

1 Corinthians 4:14-21. Receive this censure (from 1 Corinthians 4:7 onwards) not as meant to put you utterly to shame, but as an admonition from your spiritual father, whom ye ought to copy (1 Corinthians 4:14-16), for which cause I have also sent Timothy to you (1 Corinthians 4:17). But Ithis by way of warning to those who are puffed up!hope soon to come to you myself; am I to come to punish, or in gentleness (1 Corinthians 4:18-21)?


Verse 15

1 Corinthians 4:15 justifies the ὡς τέκνα μου ἀγαπ. νουθετῶ.

For suppose ye have ten thousand tutors in Christ. On μυρίους,(704) compare Matthew 18:24; 1 Corinthians 14:19.

Respecting the paedagogi among the Greeks and Romans (comp אֹמֵן, 1 Chronicles 27:32; 2 Kings 10:1; 2 Kings 10:5; Esther 2:7; Rosenmüller, Morgenl. VI. p. 272), who, for the most part slaves, had it in charge to educate and give constant attendance upon boys till they came of age, see Wetstein and Hermann, Privatalterth. § 34. 15 ff. The name is here given figuratively to the later workers in the church, the ποτίζοντες (1 Corinthians 3:6-8), the ἐποικοδο΄οῦντες (1 Corinthians 3:10 ff.), in respect of their carrying on its further Christian development, after Paul (its father) had founded it, had given to it Christian life, had begotten it spiritually. Since the essential nature of the delineation here allowed of no other word alongside of πατέρας except παιδαγ., and since, moreover, Apollos also was reckoned among the παιδαγώγοις, we are not warranted in finding here expressed the idea of imperious and arrogant leadership on the part of the heads of parties (Beza, Calvin, and others, including Pott, Heydenreich, de Wette, Osiander). Compare, too, Erasmus: “paedagogus saevit pro imperio.” It is not even the inferior love of the later teachers (Chrysostom, Theophylact) that Paul wishes to make his readers sensible of, but only his rights as a father, which can be in no way impaired by all who subsequently entered the same field.

ἀλλʼ οὐ π. πατ.] sc(706) ἔχετε. The ἀλλά after a hypothetical protasis is the at of emphatic contrast, on the other hand (Nägelsbach on the Iliad, p. 43, ed. 3; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 11; Klotz, a(707) Devar. p. 93), and that, too, without a restrictive γέ, in the sense of at certe; see Kühner, a(708) Xen. Anab. vii. 7. 43.

ἐν γὰρ χριστῷ κ. τ. λ(709)] i.e. for in the life-fellowship of Jesus Christ no other than I myself has begotten you, through the gospel. Just as ἐν χριστῷ, in the first half of the verse, conveys the specific distinction of the παιδαγώγους ἔχειν; so here, and that with the emphatic addition of ἰησοῦ, it conveys that of the moral generation, which has taken place, not out of Christ, but in Him as the element of its being; and διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελ. (comp 1 Peter 1:23) is the means whereby this establishment of their existence in the Christian sphere of life has been brought about. In both these respects it differs from physical generation. The antithetic emphasis of the ἐγώ forbids us to refer ἐν χ. . to the person of the apostle: “in my fellowship with Christ, i.e. as His apostle” (de Wette, comp Grotius, Calovius, Flatt, al(712)).

ἐγέννησα] Comp 1 Corinthians 4:17; Philemon 1:10; Galatians 4:19. Sanhedr. f. 19. 2 : “Quicunque filium socii sui docet legem, ad eum scriptura refert, tanquam si eum genuisset.”


Verse 16

1 Corinthians 4:16. οὖν] since I am your father.

μιμ. μ. γίν.] become imitators of me. Paul does not add any more precise definition as to the matter (“in cura tutandae in ecclesia tum unitatis tum sanctitatis,” Grotius thinks, but without warrant in the context); but the connection of the passage, after 1 Corinthians 4:6-13, leaves no room for doubt that he has in view the discarding of conceit and self-seeking, and the putting on of humility and self-denial.

As regards the phrase μιμ. γίν., comp 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 3:17; and as regards the idea, Xen. Mem. i. 6. 3 : οἱ διδάσκαλοι τοὺς μαθητὰς μιμητὰς ἑαυτῶν ἀποδεικνύουσιν.


Verse 17

1 Corinthians 4:17. διὰ τοῦτο] namely, in order to further among you this state of things meant by μιμ. μ. γίν. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Piscator, Rückert, Maier, make it refer to 1 Corinthians 4:15 : “on this ground, because I am your father.” But that would convert 1 Corinthians 4:16, quite arbitrarily, into a strange parenthetical interpolation.

ἔπεμψα ὑμ. τιμ.] See Introd. § 2. He had already started upon his journey, but was not to arrive until after this Epistle had reached Corinth, 1 Corinthians 16:10; hence he must not be regarded as the bearer of it (Bleek).

τέκνον μου] comp 1 Timothy 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 1:2. The father sends to his children (1 Corinthians 4:14 f.) their brother, specially dear and faithful to himself, in whom, therefore, they too may have full trust. From the quite definite reference of τέκνα in 1 Corinthians 4:14, comp 1 Corinthians 4:15, we are warranted in assuming with confidence that Timothy had been converted by Paul; his conversion, since in all likelihood he was from Lystra (see on Acts 16:1), being probably comprised in the statement in Acts 14:6-7; for in Acts 16:1 he is already a Christian.

ἐν κυρίῳ] specifies the characteristic relation in which Timothy is his beloved and faithful child (comp Ephesians 6:21); for apart from the fellowship in faith and life with Christ, there is no relationship of father and son subsisting between Paul and Timothy at all. The expression is therefore not essentially different from ἐν πίστει, 1 Timothy 1:2. Comp 1 Corinthians 1:3.

ἀνα΄νήσει] for the Corinthians seemed to have forgotten it.(719)

τὰς ὁδούς ΄ου τὰς ἐν χ.] i.e. the paths, which I tread in Christ (as my sphere of activity), i.e. in the service of Christ. The aim in view ( διὰ τοῦτο) is to lead them to imitate the apostle by reminding them of the whole way and manner, in which he conducted himself in his calling alike personally and relatively; for must not the recalling of that conduct vindicate his character, so much misunderstood and depreciated in Corinth, and place it in such a light as would show it to be worthy of imitation? more especially in respect of his self-denial and humility, so far removed from the arrogance and self-seeking of the Corinthians.

καθώς] is commonly taken as defining more precisely what has been already stated in a general way, as ὡς does in Romans 11:2, Luke 24:20, Thuc. i. 1, and frequently elsewhere. See Bornemann in Luc. p. 141. But καθώς means sicut (Vulgate), like the classical καθά or καθάπερ: even as, in such fashion as.(720) We must therefore abide by the meaning of the word, and interpret: he will recall to your memories my official conduct in such fashion, as I teach in all places; i.e. he will represent it to you not otherwise than as it is everywhere exemplified in me by my capacity as a teacher, not otherwise therefore than in correspondence with the invariable method in which I discharge the vocation of my life, not otherwise, in short, than as it actually is everywhere. In this way καθώς refers not to the contents of διδάσκω, nor to the mode of preaching (neither of which would stand in a relation of practical significance to ΄ι΄. ΄. γίν.), but to the peculiarity of character as a whole, which distinguished Paul in his work as a teacher.

παντ. ἐν π. ἐκκλ.] This emphatic statement, with its double description, gives additional weight to the example to be imitated. Comp Acts 17:30; Acts 21:28.


Verse 18

1 Corinthians 4:18. As though now I were not coming to you, some are puffed up. It is likely that these boasters, who belonged more probably to the Apollonians than to the Christ-party (1 Corinthians 4:19 f.), believed and affirmed that the apostle had not the courage to appear again in Corinth (2 Corinthians 10:1); and it is to prevent their being strengthened in their delusion by the mission of Timothy that Paul now adds these remarks, 1 Corinthians 4:18-20. Hence we are not to make the new section begin here (Tertullian and Theodoret referred ἐφυσ. τινες even to the incestuous person, 1 Corinthians 5:1, and Theophylact makes it include a reference to him); on the contrary, it breaks upon us suddenly, like a thunderstorm, in 1 Corinthians 5:1.

Upon δέ as the fourth word in a sentence, see Winer, p. 519 [E. T. 699].

ὡς, as, denotes: on the assumption that; see Matthiae, p. 1320. It introduces the ground of the ἐφυσιώθ. from the point of view of those that were puffed up. Comp Kühner, II. p. 374; Lobeck, a(723) Soph. Aj. 281.

ἐρχομ.] not for ἐλευσο΄ένου (Flatt), but indicative of the subsisting relation. “Paul is not coming” was their conception, and this made them bold and boastful; φιλαρχίας γὰρ τὸ ἔγκλημα τῇ ἐρημίᾳ τοῦ διδασκάλου εἰς ἀπόνοιαν κεχρῆσθαι, Chrysostom.

τινές] as in 1 Corinthians 15:12.


Verse 19

1 Corinthians 4:19. ἐλεύσομαι δέ] the contrast emphatically put first: come, however, I will.

ταχέως] Comp Philippians 2:24; 2 Timothy 4:9. As to how long he thought of still remaining in Ephesus, see 1 Corinthians 16:8.

κύριος] to be understood not of Christ, but of God. See the critical remarks on Romans 15:32. Comp Romans 1:10; James 4:15.

γνώσο΄αι] what and how the boasters speak ( τὸν λόγον), Paul will, on his approaching visit, leave wholly without notice; but as regards the amount of energy put forth by them in producing results for the kingdom of God, of that he will take knowledge.

τὴν δύναμ.] namely, their power of working for the advancement of the βασιλ. τ. θεοῦ, 1 Corinthians 4:20. To explain it as referring to the power of miracles (Chrysostom, Theophylact; not Grotius), or to the power of their virtues (Theodoret, Pelagius, Justin), is contrary to the context. Comp what Paul says of himself in 1 Thessalonians 1:5. This practically effective might, which has for its primary condition the true power of the Spirit (of which de Wette understands it; we may recall Paul himself, Luther, etc.), was what the boasters seemed to have, but they let the matter rest at words, which were altogether lacking in the strength to effect anything. How wholly otherwise it was with Paul himself! Comp 1 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 6:7.


Verse 20

1 Corinthians 4:20. Justification of the γνώσομαι οὐ τὸν λόγον κ. τ. λ(728) by an axiom.

ἐν λόγῳ and ἐν δυνάμει describe wherein the βασιλεία has its causal basis; it has the condition of its existence not in speech, but in power (see on 1 Corinthians 4:19). Comp on 1 Corinthians 2:5. The βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ, again, is not here, as it never is elsewhere (see on Matthew 3:2; Matthew 6:10), and in particular never in Paul’s writings (neither in this passage nor in Romans 14:7; Colossians 1:13; Colossians 4:11; see on these verses), the church, or the kingdom of God in the ethical sense (Neander: “the fellowship of the divine life, which is brought about by fellowship with the Redeemer”), but the Messianic kingdom, in which, at its expected (speedy) manifestation, those only can become members who are truly believing and truly sanctified (Colossians 3:3 f.; Philippians 4:18-21; Ephesians 5:5, al(730)). But faith and holy living are not established by high-soaring speech (not by τὰ ἐν τοῖς λόγοις φαντάσματα, Plat. Soph. p. 234 E), but by δύναμις, which is able effectively to procure gain for the kingdom (Colossians 1:28 f.; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Corinthians 9:19 ff.; 2 Corinthians 10:4 f.).


Verse 21

1 Corinthians 4:21. As the conclusion of the entire section, we have here another warning useful for the readers as a whole, indicating to them the practical application which they generally were to make of the assurance of his speedy coming. Lachmann, followed by Hofmann (after Oecumenius, Cajetanus, Beza, Calvin), begins the new section with 1 Corinthians 4:21. But this appears hardly admissible, since chap. 1 Corinthians 5:1 commences without any connective particle (such as ἀλλά, or δέ, or γάρ),(731) and since, too, in 1 Corinthians 5:1 ff. there is no further reference to the speedy arrival of the apostle.

τί] in the sense of πότερον. Comp Plato, Phil. p. 52 D, and Stallbaum in loc(733) He fears the first, and wishes the second. “Una quidem charitas est, sed diversa in diversis operatur,” Augustine.

ἐν ῥάβδῳ] with a rod; but this is no Hebraism, for ἐν denotes in pure Greek the being provided with. Hebrews 9:25; 1 John 5:6. See Matthiae, p. 1340; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 284 [E. T. 330]. Comp Sirach 47:4 : ἐν λίθῳ, armed with a stone. Lucian, D. M. xxiii. 3 : καθικόμενος ἐν τῇ ῥάβδῳ. The meaning of the figurative phrase, borrowed as it is from the relation of father, is: ἐν κολάσει, ἐν τιμωρίᾳ, Chrysostom.

ἔλθω] am I to come? See Winer, p. 268 [E. T. 356]. Chrysostom puts it happily: ἐν ὑμῖν τὸ πρᾶγμα κεῖται.

πνεῦματί τε πραοτ.] not: with “a gentle spirit” (Luther, and most interpreters), so that πνεῦμα would be the subjective principle which should dispose the inner life to this quality; but: with the Spirit of gentleness, so that πνεῦμα is to be understood, with Chrysostom and Theophylact, of the Holy Spirit; and πραοτ. denotes that specific effect of this πνεῦμα (Galatians 5:22) which from the context is brought peculiarly into view. So in all the passages of the N. T. where πνεῦ΄α, meaning the Holy Spirit, is joined with the genitive of an abstract noun; and in each of these cases the connection has indicated which effect of the Spirit was to be named. Hence He is called πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας (John 15:26; John 16:13; 1 John 4:6), υἱοθεσίας (Romans 8:15), τῆς πίστεως (2 Corinthians 4:13), σοφίας (Ephesians 1:17), δυνά΄εως κ. τ. λ(735) (2 Timothy 1:7), just according as the one or other effect of His working is exhibited by the context as characteristic of Him. Respecting the present passage, comp 1 Corinthians 6:1. It is to be observed, moreover, that the apostolic rod of discipline too is wielded in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the selfsame Spirit works as a Spirit of gentleness and of corrective severity: ἔστι γὰρ πνεῦμα πραότητος καὶ πνεῦμα αὐστηρότητος, Chrysostom. Comp on Luke 9:55.

Instead of the form πραότης, Lachmann and Tischendorf have, in every passage in which it occurs in Paul’s writings, the later πραΰτης (except that in Galatians 6:1 Lachmann retains πραότης; see regarding both, Lobeck, a(738) Phryn. p. 403 f.). The change is justified by weighty testimony, especially that of A B C (although they are not unanimous in the case of all the passages). In the other places in which it is found, James 1:21; James 3:13, 1 Peter 3:15, πραΰτης is undoubtedly the true reading.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-corinthians-4.html. 1832.

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Saturday, November 16th, 2019
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