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December 6, 2014

First Corinthians – Part 11


Last week we looked at 4:1-7. This was a passage about not taking people above that which was written.  

6  (AV) 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. (1Co 4:6 TBT)

Paul had transferred the examples created by the miscrient persons of the Corinthian assembly (who formed divisive groups) to serve  more noble and humbling examples as they were transformed to himself and Apollos. This week we will move the discussion forward as we get further into chapter 4.


Chapter 4:7-21

Verse 7 appropriately begins with a paragraph mark and begins a section where Paul uses at times strong Irony to amplify his introductory questions of verse 7. Three questions are found here.

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 4:7 TBT)

Any differences in what you are and have are really given to you by someone else, your knowledge came through others, you received it (took hold of it from someone else) – the last question and its immediate build up sets the stage for what is coming “now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” — now — given that you receive it why glory AS IF thou hadst NOT received it? The glorying was a pretence and a show and a sham. The word “to glory” is kauca,omai—1. intrans. boast, glory, pride oneself Ro 2:17, 23; 1 Cor 1:31; 4:7; 13:3; 2 Cor 10:13, 15–17; 12:5; Gal 6:13f; Phil 3:3; Js 1:9; 4:16.—2. trans. boast about 2 Cor 7:14; 9:2; 10:8; 11:16, 30. The word is use in the following places in 1 Corinthians:

1Co 1:29  That no flesh should glory <2744> in his presence.
1Co 1:31  That, according as it is written, He that glorieth <2744>, let him glory <2744> in the Lord.
1Co 3:21  Therefore let <2744> no man glory <2744> in men. For all things are yours;
1Co 4:7  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 <2744>, as if thou hadst not received it?

They had no real basis to glory – their basis was a shaky foundation of pretense making out that what they have was from them.

8  Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

Here Paul starts on his irony as he develops their “glorying” – ye have reigned “as kings” not in truth but on the basis of their pretense. Remember these Corinthians had the gifts of the spirit, they could quite easily point to these as a confirmation that they did indeed reign as Kings. Paul shows that in fact they didn’t reign for he says “I would to God ye did reign” — “that we also might reign with you” — a contrast now is set up with the state of the corinthians who in pretense reigned as kings and the reality of the apostles who were set forth “last”.

9  For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. 
9  δοκῶ γὰρ ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀποστόλους ἐσχάτους ἀπέδειξεν ὡς ἐπιθανατίους· ὅτι θέατρον ἐγενήθημεν τῷ κόσμῳ, καὶ ἀγγέλοις, καὶ ἀνθρώποις. (1Co 4:9 TBT)

They were made a theatre, θέατρον — a spectacle! The theatre would often be an open structure in ancient times seating several thousand people (see Act 19:29).

10  We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
11  Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;

This was the apostles reality. A very sobering and striking contrast to the Corinthians.

12  And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
13  Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. 
13  βλασφημούμενοι παρακαλοῦμεν· ὡς περικαθάρματα τοῦ κόσμου ἐγενήθημεν, πάντων περίψημα ἕως ἄρτι. (1Co 4:13 TBT)

In verse thirteen we note that “being defamed” comes from βλασφημούμενοι “being blasphemed” — the apostles were ministers of the mysteries of God yet had to endure the indignity of being defamed and treated as naught. Their reaction was the opposite, so hard to do and so difficult to maintain “in the flesh” it is impossible. They were made as the filth of the world. The word “filth” comes from περικαθάρματα (only here) what is purged out, offscouring comes from περίψημα (dirt or what is rubbed off):

“The Athenians, in order to avert public calamities, yearly threw a criminal into the sea as an offering to Poseidon; hence the term became used for an expiatory offering, a ransom, for our child, i.e. in comparison with the saving of our son’s life let it be to us a despicable and worthless thing. It is used of a man who in behalf of religion undergoes dire trials for the salvation of others.” (From online bible)

Note that like many portions of the scripture there is a time element either said or implied “unto this day”. During man’s day they suffered but one day they shall be resurrected and glorified.

14 ¶  I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.
15  For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
16  Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

Paul’s attitude was not one of attempting to shame the Corinthians but rather to warn and change their conduct. It is interesting to see how he took them to this new deportment — Paul is setting up his place as one of the Fathers. As such he is to be followed.

In America we have “founding fathers” a phrase that will bring critism of sexism and other views that are in many cases anti christian in origin. The phrase apparantly was coined in connection with the founding leaders by Senator Warren G Harding of Ohio (Bernstein: The Founding Fathers Reconsidered) in a speech to the republicans in June 7, 1916. 

To be an American is to believe in the truths that have been placed into the declaration of independence, constitution and its ammendments. What Thomas Jefferson said were self evident truths in 1776 have unfortunately diminished in importance and are now not so “self evident” within the thinking of present day American society. The effects of a socialized educational system and liberal (a term re-made like “gay”) agenda have refashioned the founding generation to be either evil or of little pragmatic value so that in 2014 we have a president that shows little respect for the Fathers and a ruling government that seems determined to make America of little import in this world. What is American exceptionalism? Surely it is in the structure and beliefs articulated by the founding fathers. Thats what makes America different thats what made America great.  

Paul was not an American but he was a founding father to the Acts churches and he was to be followed.  

Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

Rebellion to the the fathers will bring fruit unfortunately very bitter fruit.

17 ¶  For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

Timothy, a spiritual son of Paul was sent to the Corinthians in oerder to bring them into remebrance of Paul’s ways. These ways Paul taught everywhere in every church. These fundamental ways of Paul were common to the Acts period — not simply an isolated set of teachings. Right division brings is the economy of the time.

18  Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.
19  But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

This is an interesting thing that there were some who were puffed up because they believed that Paul would not come to them. In verse 19 he reminds them and assures them that he will come and is not resorting simply to words — speaking specifically to those who are puffed up he says I will know not the speech but the power! The kingdom is not in word but in power! This is amplified in verse 20 and shows that the apostles and Paul the Father was not to be messed with for he is quite willing to use his apostolic “power”.
20  For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
21  What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

The last verse again reminds us that Paul wanted love and meekness — the rod was there but was not his first choice.


If you rebel against God’s appointed examples and extra-special teachers (The Fathers) then you can only expect trouble! Paul was a Father — not the only one in the Acts for the Corinthians had not “many” Fathers — therefore they had more than one — Paul of course was a very special one and a newly added one. 

In America we have founding Fathers politically — they set forth an example — they laid a political foundation which has been a wonderful experiment that will last if we stand for liberty and justice and the self evident truths that the founders enshrined in the founding documents – they are ours if we claim them and demand our God given freedoms. 

There is an even more important truth here however and that is that God has an appointed apostle for this age — the apostle PAul who was dispensed “the Mystery”. We as good stewards MUST treasure these truths, teach,  live and claim them as we rightly divide the word of truth.




From the Study: First Corinthians