First Corinthians – Part 10
Last time we examined the 3rd chapter of 1st Corinthians, this brought to light the unity of what God was seeking to perform during the Acts and reminds us in this age that to form divisions contrary to his word will only result in a work of the flesh. We need food in season and must leave the milk if we are to grow and be a useful servant of the Lord.
This week we will start on chapter 4 where Paul invokes Irony to deal with the arrogant and fleshly stance of the Corinthians. This brings out the real state of the apostles in contrast to the christians at Corinth and especially the work and ministry of Paul.
After the great reminder not to glory in men because “all things” are “yours” and ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s Paul carries the thought further:
1 ¶ Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Οὕτως ἡμᾶς λογιζέσθω ἄνθρωπος, ὡς ὑπηρέτας Χριστοῦ καὶ οἰκονόμους μυστηρίων Θεοῦ. (1Co 4:1 TBT)
The verb is “to reckon” or “to count” is here in the imperative λογιζέσθω, let a man — any human ἄνθρωπος , reckon us (the apostles) as the ministers of Christ — these were helpers and servants, Paul goes further and says that they should be reckoned as “stewards of the mysteries of God”. The word for stewards, οἰκονόμους is derived from two words oikos and nomos, “house” and “law” , they were household managers of the mysteries of God. God reveals mysteries to selected persons who become managers of them. Paul was given many mysteries, but the one which has great import to the household we are a part of is that given to him post acts 28 while he was a prisoner of the Lord. The word for mystery “musterion” occurs 27 times (5 difft forms) in the NT — below you can see the concordance beginning at Matt 13 and ending at Rev 17. If we examine the list it becomes very clear that Paul has much to say about “mystery” 20/27 (74%) of the usage goes to Paul and of Paul’s usage 8/20 (40%) are in his Acts and 12/20 (60%) in his post Acts epistles. The stewardship of the mysteries was a key responsibility of the apostles and Paul in particular.
2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
The faithfulness of a steward of course is paramount — the mysteries of God had to be revealed at the right time and context. They needed to be preserved for posterity and are instrumental in perfecting the christians understanding of God’s purposes.
3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
ἐμοὶ δὲ εἰς ἐλάχιστόν ἐστιν ἵνα ὑφ᾽ ὑμῶν ἀνακριθῶ, ἢ ὑπὸ ἀνθρωπίνης ἡμέρας· ἀλλ᾽ οὐδὲ ἐμαυτὸν ἀνακρίνω. (1Co 4:3 TBT)
Paul considers it a “very small” thing to be judged by the Corinthians or ὑπὸ ἀνθρωπίνης ἡμέρας, literally “by man’s day”, where “man’s” in the greek text is an adjective which describes the day — the day when man judges, It is man’s time, of course God will have his day! Paul has little concern for this kind of judgment his life is mediated by Christ and his conduct lawful in the site of God. He then says a startling thing — “nor do I judge myself” — the mood changes from passive to active “I be judged by you” to “I judge myself” and explains this in the next 2 verses
4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐμαυτῷ σύνοιδα, ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἐν τούτῳ δεδικαίωμαι· ὁ δὲ ἀνακρίνων με Κύριός ἐστιν. (1Co 4:4 TBT)
5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
ὥστε μὴ πρὸ καιροῦ τι κρίνετε, ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ ὁ Κύριος, ὃς καὶ φωτίσει τὰ κρυπτὰ τοῦ σκότους, καὶ φανερώσει τὰς βουλὰς τῶν καρδιῶν· καὶ τότε ὁ ἔπαινος γενήσεται ἑκάστῳ ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ. (1Co 4:5 TBT)
He concludes in verse 5 “and then shall every man have praise of God”. This reminds us that aforementioned judgment is for the saved — they will praise God after it. Paul does not even judge himself because he knows nothing of God’s truths by himself (including the hidden wisdom of God — hidden to the carnal Corinthian Christians) — in verse 7 he points out that what anyone has he or she received, so there is no place for boasting. This does not mean that you have been cleared from any mishandling of truth and conduct – “yet am I not hearby justified”. The Lord will give that final judgment. Does this mean that we should in no wise judge? Of course not — Paul is bringing judgment to the Corinthians — what Paul is here addressing is the “hidden things of darkness” and “councils of the heart” which are sometimes very subtle and impossible for the carnal and even Paul himself to discern. Note that a different form of the verb “to judge” is used compare 4:3,4, there is anakrinw and here krinw. The idea, is that the former means to conduct an investigation and the latter to come to a conclusive judgment. These investigations of the world are common to man’s day but spiritual truths related to councils of the heart and hidden thoughts must be left to the final judge.
6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
Ταῦτα δέ, ἀδελφοί, μετεσχημάτισα εἰς ἐμαυτὸν καὶ Ἀπολλὼ δι᾽ ὑμᾶς, ἵνα ἐν ἡμῖν μάθητε τὸ μὴ ὑπὲρ ὃ γέγραπται φρονεῖν, ἵνα μὴ εἷς ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἑνὸς φυσιοῦσθε κατὰ τοῦ ἑτέρου.
What are “these things”? These examples of conduct have been “transferred” or transformed (see Phil.3:21, 2Cor.11:13-15) by Paul to himself and Apollos. What does this mean? Essentially it means that the groups that were made by miscrients (unknown and unnamed by man but God knows) in the Corinthian assembly set up a bad context for Paul and Apollos yet Paul transformed this to himself and Apollos that the Corinthians might learn not to think of men above that which is written. Even Paul could not judge himself regarding councils and other such things and allowed that through the misguided “Paul” and “Apollos” groups an example could be set forth not to take any person above that which was written. An incorrect association made by the miscrient leaders in the church now is used by Paul through his transformation as a teaching moment.
7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
7 τίς γάρ σε διακρίνει; τί δὲ ἔχεις ὃ οὐκ ἔλαβες; εἰ δὲ καὶ ἔλαβες, τί καυχᾶσαι ὡς μὴ λαβών; (1Co 4:6-7 TBT)
These people had received much — they could quite easily have believed that they were in the Kingdom with all of its signs and wonders and powers of the Holy Spirit.