1 Corinthians 4
1 - 2
So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries. Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.
Paul is like a servant who is taking care of someone's house for them. He wants to show that he and Apollos are not going to start different groups in the church and work against each other.
A good servant does not care if he has to explain what he is doing to his boss because he knows he has not done anything wrong and does not have to worry about what other people say as long as his master is happy with him.
And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own? Luke 16:12
3. As for me, it matters very little how I might be talked about by you or by any human ruler. I do not even trust my own judgment about myself.
We have not been called to speak against each other or to act as if we know what somebody else should be doing. We are not able to judge ourselves correctly. We will either be too easy or too hard on ourselves.
In Your light we see light. Psalm 36: 9
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and very wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9
4. My conscience is clear, but that does not prove that I am right. It is the Lord Himself who will test me and decide.
There are people that are always speaking against themselves and they are depressed. We need to say, “I did my best, so I just leave the rest to the Lord.”
Job also said, “I do not know of anything that I have done wrong.” Job 27:6
David said, “Show it to me Lord.” Psalm 139:23-24
5. So do not make judgments about anyone before the Lord returns. For He will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.
What someone else does is none of our business. If they are doing something that they should not do, we are supposed to pray for them. If they do not listen to what the Lord is saying to them, they will answer for it on the judgment day. On that day the Lord will not ask us our opinion. “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Matthew 7:1
6. Dear brothers and sisters, I have used Apollos and myself to show you what I have been saying. If you pay attention to what I have quoted from the Bible, you will not think that one of your leaders is more important than another.
Do not add to what the Bible says so that you will not be so proud against each other.
Through pride comes nothing but arguments. Proverbs 13:10
7. For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God has not given you? If everything you have came from God, why are you so proud as if it was not a gift?
Stop and think about this: everything you know has come from God and other people who showed it to you. Do not act as if you thought of it yourself.
8. You think you already have everything you need. You act like you are already rich. You have begun to act as kings in God’s kingdom without us! I wish you really were kings already, for then we would be kings with you!
Paul is showing them how stupid these things are. Kings look down on others, so are you now teaching your teachers? It is too bad that you are wrong about all this because then we apostles would not have to suffer anymore.
9. Instead, I sometimes think God has put us apostles on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victory parade, condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the entire world—to people and angels alike.
Roman armies used to have a parade after they took prisoners. They were leading them to be thrown to the lions. The original language here says, "it is like people are watching us at the theater."
10. Giving away our lives to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are already crowned as kings, but we are laughed at.
Do not laugh when your enemies fall; do not be happy when they stumble. For the LORD will turn his anger away from them onto you. Proverbs 24:17 – 18
11 – 13
Even now we go hungry and thirsty, and we don’t have enough clothes to keep warm. We are often beaten and have no home. We are very tired as we work with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who laugh at us.
We answer with friendship when evil things are said about us. We are treated like the world’s garbage, right up until now.
There is an evil teaching in our churches today which says that God wants us to have lots of money, houses, cars, and everything we could ever need. These teachers say that if we do not have these things it is because we are not walking with the Lord and we do not have enough faith.
Paul did not have these things and that should be a good enough answer to these lies. First of all, this teaching is a plan to make the rest of us look bad because we do not have all the nice things that these teachers are stealing from the church. Anyone who reads the Bible carefully can see that this teaching is a lie.
Second of all, this kind of teaching is a big joke to the people of the world. They are not stupid and they can see what these teachers are doing.
14. I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children.
The warning is that the things that are happening to Paul might happen to you someday
15 – 16
For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I brought the Gospel to you. So I urge you to imitate me.
Who else, but a real Pastor, is praying for you and searching the Scriptures for you and it is willing to be there twenty-four hours a day for you?
17. That’s why I have already sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go.
The book of Acts shows us that Timothy brought Erastus with him. Acts 19:22
Some of you have become proud, thinking I will not visit you again. But I will come—and soon—if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these proud people just talk big or if they really have God’s power.
Some of them were saying, "Paul is too afraid to come here so he sent Timothy.”
We find out later that Paul was not able to go to Corinth, and they used this against him.
You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my plans without thinking about what I am able to do? 2 Corinthians 1:17, 1 Corinthians 16:8.
20. For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.
Be careful of talking as if you know what you are doing instead fill yourself with the Bible and do everything only through the power of the Lord.
Not by being strong, or by having power, but by My Spirit. Zechariah 4:6
21. Which do you choose? Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit?
Paul did go back Corinth and the church gave him a gift which he delivered to Jerusalem.
When the riot [in Ephesus] was over, Paul sent for the believers and encouraged them. Then he said good-bye and left for Macedonia. While there, he encouraged the believers in all the towns he passed through. Then he traveled down to Greece, [in Corinth] where he stayed for three months. Acts 20: 1 - 3