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1st Corinthians CHAPTER 4

THIS chapter is a continuation of the subject discussed in those which go before, and of the argument which closes the last chapter. The proper division would have been at verse 6. The design of the first six verses is to show the real estimate in which the apostles ought to be held as the ministers of religion. The remainder of the chapter (1 Co 4:7-21) is occupied in setting forth further the claims of the apostles to their respect in contradistinction from the false teachers, and in reproving the spirit of vain boasting and confidence among the Corinthians. Paul 1 Co 4:7 reproves their boasting by assuring them that they had no ground for it, since all that they possessed had been given to them by God. In 1 Co 4:8, he reproves the same spirit with cutting irony, as if they claimed to be eminently wise. Still further to reprove them, he alludes to his own self-denials and sufferings, as contrasted with their ease, and safety, and enjoyment, 1 Co 4:9-14. He then shows that his labours and self-denials, in their behalf, laid the foundation for his speaking to them with authority as a father, 1 Co 4:15,16. And to show them that he claimed that authority over them as the founder of their church, and that he was not afraid to discharge his duty towards them, he informs them that he had sent Timothy to look into their affairs, 1 Co 4:17, and that himself would soon follow; and assures them that he had power to come to them with the severity of Christian discipline, and that it depended on their conduct whether he should come with a rod, or with the spirit of meekness and love, 1 Co 4:21.

Verse 1. Let a man. Let all; let this be the estimate formed of us by each one of you.

So account of us. So think of us, the apostles.

As of the ministers of Christ. As the servants of Christ. Let them form a true estimate of us and our office—not as the head of a faction; not as designing to form parties, but as unitedly and entirely the servants of Christ. See 1 Co 3:5.

And stewards. Stewards were those who presided over the affairs of a family, and made provision for it, etc. See Barnes "Lu 16:1".

It was an office of much responsibility; and the apostle by using the term here seems to have designed to elevate those whom he seemed to have depreciated in 1 Co 3:5.

Of the mysteries of God. Of the gospel. See Barnes "1 Co 2:7".

The office of steward was to provide those things which were necessary for the use of a family. And so the office of a minister of the gospel, and a steward of its mysteries, is to dispense such instructions, guidance, counsel, etc., as may be requisite to build up the church of Christ; to make known those sublime truths which are contained in the gospel, but which had not been made known before the revelation of Jesus Christ, and which are, therefore, called mysteries. It is implied in this verse,

(1.) that the office of a minister is one that is subordinate to Christ—they are his servants.

(2.) That those in the office should not attempt to be the head of sect or party in the church.

(3.) That the office is honourable, as that of a steward is. And,

(4.) that Christians should endeavour to form and cherish just ideas of ministers; to give them their true honour; but not to overrate their importance.

{*} "mysteries" "revealed truths"

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