1 Corinthians 4
The Apostles’ Ministry
4:1 One1 should think about us this way – as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 4:2 Now what is sought in stewards is that one be found faithful. 4:3 So for me, it is a minor matter that I am judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4:4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not acquitted because of this. The one who judges me is the Lord. 4:5 So then, do not judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will2 bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts. Then each will receive recognition3 from God.
4:6 I have applied these things to myself and Apollos because of you, brothers and sisters,4 so that through us you may learn “not to go beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of the one against the other. 4:7 For who concedes you any superiority? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as though you did not? 4:8 Already you are satisfied! Already you are rich! You have become kings without us! I wish you had become kings so that we could reign with you! 4:9 For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to die, because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to people. 4:10 We are fools for Christ, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, we are dishonored! 4:11 To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, poorly clothed, brutally treated, and without a roof over our heads. 4:12 We do hard work, toiling with our own hands. When we are verbally abused, we respond with a blessing, when persecuted, we endure, 4:13 when people lie about us, we answer in a friendly manner. We are the world’s dirt and scum, even now.
A Father’s Warning
4:14 I am not writing these things to shame you, but to correct you as my dear children. 4:15 For though you may have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, because I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 4:16 I encourage you, then, be imitators of me. 4:17 For this reason, I have sent Timothy to you, who is my dear and faithful son in the Lord. He will remind you of my ways in Christ,5 as I teach them everywhere in every church. 4:18 Some have become arrogant,6 as if I were not coming to you. 4:19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord is willing, and I will find out not only the talk of these arrogant people, but also their power. 4:20 For the kingdom of God is demonstrated not in idle talk but with power. 4:21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline7 or with love and a spirit of gentleness?