1 Corinthians, #5, chapter four

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8/17/2010 - pastorlorraine
    1 Corinthians #5– Chapter 4

1 Corinthians 4
Apostles of Christ
 1  So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2  Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3  I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4  My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent.   It is the Lord who judges me.

    It is interesting that Paul says that even though his conscience is clear, that does not automatically make him innocent.  It’s true, isn’t it, that we are wonderfully able to overlook our own faults or to make excuses for them.  People  say things like, “I did say that and I’m sorry, but really if you think about it, it wasn’t so bad.  Some people say a lot worse than that.”  People judge themselves against other people, but Paul says that it is God who is the final judge of all.  So shouldn’t we then seek to measure ourselves next to God, not next to human beings?  

    Paul writes that men should think of them as servants of Christ.  They have been given certain privileges, they are trusted to bring the gospel to those who have not heard.  If it is your job to guard the priceless and irreplaceable crown jewels in the Tower of London, you have a big responsibility.  The job is not for some undependable person of low moral character.  Paul understands this.  He is a loyal servant of Jesus Christ.  How he carries out his work will be judged one day by the Lord who is judge of all humankind.

    What do you think Paul meant when he said, “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent.”

1 Corinthians 4:6-7

 6  Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. 7   For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

    Paul warns the Corinthians that they are not relying on Scripture alone, meaning the O.T. Scripture, instead they are listening to secular wisdom and the oratory of great speakers.  The famous orators would perfect their public speaking so that the tone and manner of their voices would captivate the minds of their listeners.  They might not understand what was being said, but they loved the way it sounded. Political speakers can be like that too.  The best speakers don’t often make the best public officials, and the worst speakers sometimes make the best.  

    Paul said that if they would stick to the Old Testament Scriptures, and to what was preached by the apostles,  they would be less likely to put their trust in one man over another.  It was a matter of pride for them to say they were a follower of some great speaker.  Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that the important thing was to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

    Paul wants to know why they are boasting and acting superior to others.  He reminds them that every gift they have received comes from Christ, not because of anything they have done.   In 2 Cor. 10:17 Paul writes,    "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  That’s how Paul feels.  Everything he has comes to him because of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1Corinthians 4: 8-11  
8  Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you!  9  For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. 10  We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!
11  To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.

    This is one of those times when Paul is speaking with irony, almost sarcastically. He and the other apostles are fools, but the Corinthians are wise.  Paul and the others are weak, but the Corinthians are strong.  They are honored, but Paul is dishonored.  Paul and the apostles suffered greatly, but the Corinthians don’t seem to be suffering at all.  For Paul his suffering is a badge of honor, it is part of his witness for Christ.  While the Corinthians brag about themselves and how great they are, Paul brags only about Jesus Christ.

    Paul thought of himself as one who “proclaimed.”  He proclaimed who Jesus is.  He is  truly God, he is the Jewish Messiah, he is King Jesus, he is the future judge and ruler of the world.  Paul proclaimed the Christ, and it was up to those who heard the message to receive him.  He did not look for rewards for his ministry, rather he was willing to suffer hunger, thirst, beatings, homelessness etc. for the sake of his Lord. In fact, Paul was honored to be thought worthy of suffering for his Lord.

1 Corinthians 4:12-13
12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

    Gee, how great it is to be a Christian!  I get to be the scum of the earth!  Think about Paul’s ethics.  Work hard and don’t be afraid to get callouses on your hands or dirt under your fingernails.  If someone curses you, bless them.  If you are persecuted, put up with it.  If someone slanders you, respond to them with kindness.   And in exchange for doing all that you will be thrown onto the garbage pit of the world.   But is that all?     No, because Jesus is preparing a better place, a heavenly home more beautiful than anything we can imagine.  And we can imagine quite a lot because we have seen the beauties of this earth.

1 Corinthians 4:14-17
14  I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17  For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

    Paul lives what he preaches.  He doesn’t just talk, he walks the walk, and Timothy is a witness that what Paul says is true.  Paul considers himself a spiritual father to those to whom he revealed the gosple of Jesus Christ.

1Corinthians 4: 18-21
18  Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19  But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have.  20  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.  21  What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?