World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
4. Apostles of Christ
1Let a man so account of us, as of ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2Here, moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3But 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. 4For I know nothing against myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God. 6Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written; that no one of you be puffed up for the one against the other. 7For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? but if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it? 8Already are ye filled, already ye are become rich, ye have come to reign without us: yea and I would that ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. 9For, I think, God hath set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, both to angels and men. 10We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye have glory, but we have dishonor. 11Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; 12and we toil, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things, even until now. 14I write not these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15For though ye have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I begat you through the gospel. 16I beseech you therefore, be ye imitators of me. 17For this cause have I sent unto you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, who shall put you in remembrance of my ways which are in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in every church. 18Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will; and I will know, not the word of them that are puffed up, but the power. 20For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. 21What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
1Co 4:1-21. True View of Ministers: The Judgment Is Not to Be Forestalled; Meanwhile the Apostles' Low State Contrasts with the Corinthians' Party Pride, Not That Paul Would Shame Them, but as a Father Warn Them; for Which End He Sent Timothy, and Will Soon Come Himself.
1. account … us—Paul and Apollos.
stewards—(Lu 12:42; 1Pe 4:10). Not the depositories of grace, but dispensers of it ("rightly dividing" or dispensing it), so far as God gives us it, to others. The chazan, or "overseer," in the synagogue answered to the bishop or "angel" of the Church, who called seven of the synagogue to read the law every sabbath, and oversaw them. The parnasin of the synagogue, like the ancient "deacon" of the Church, took care of the poor (Ac 6:1-7) and subsequently preached in subordination to the presbyters or bishops, as Stephen and Philip did. The Church is not the appendage to the priesthood; but the minister is the steward of God to the Church. Man shrinks from too close contact with God; hence he willingly puts a priesthood between, and would serve God by deputy. The pagan (like the modern Romish) priest was rather to conceal than to explain "the mysteries of God." The minister's office is to "preach" (literally, "proclaim as a herald," Mt 10:27) the deep truths of God ("mysteries," heavenly truths, only known by revelation), so far as they have been revealed, and so far as his hearers are disposed to receive them. Josephus says that the Jewish religion made known to all the people the mysteries of their religion, while the pagans concealed from all but the "initiated" few, the mysteries of theirs.
2. Moreover—The oldest manuscripts read, "Moreover here" (that is, on earth). The contrast thus is between man's usage as to stewards (1Co 4:2), and God's way (1Co 4:3). Though here below, in the case of stewards, inquiry is made, that one man be found (that is, proved to be) faithful; yet God's steward awaits no such judgment of man, in man's day, but the Lord's judgment in His great day. Another argument against the Corinthians for their partial preferences of certain teachers for their gifts: whereas what God requires in His stewards is faithfulness (1Sa 3:20, Margin; Heb 3:5); as indeed is required in earthly stewards, but with this difference (1Co 4:3), that God's stewards await not man's judgment to test them, but the testing which shall be in the day of the Lord.
3. it is a very small thing—literally, "it amounts to a very small matter"; not that I despise your judgment, but as compared with God's, it almost comes to nothing.
judged … of man's judgment—literally, "man's day," contrasted with the day (1Co 3:13) of the Lord (1Co 4:5; 1Th 5:4). "The day of man" is here put before us as a person [Wahl]. All days previous to the day of the Lord are man's days. Emesti translates the thrice recurring Greek for "judged … judge … judgeth" (1Co 4:4), thus: To me for my part (though capable of being found faithful) it is a very small matter that I should be approved of by man's judgment; yea, I do not even assume the right of judgment and approving myself—but He that has the right, and is able to judge on my case (the Dijudicator), is the Lord.
4. by myself—Translate, "I am conscious to myself of no (ministerial) unfaithfulness." Bengel explains the Greek compound, "to decide in judgments on one in relation to others," not simply to judge.
am I not hereby justified—Therefore conscience is not an infallible guide. Paul did not consider his so. This verse is directly against the judicial power claimed by the priests of Rome.
5. Disproving the judicial power claimed by the Romish priesthood in the confessional.
Therefore—as the Lord is the sole Decider or Dijudicator.
judge—not the same Greek word as in 1Co 4:3, 4, where the meaning is to approve of or decide on, the merits of one's case. Here all judgments in general are forbidden, which would, on our part, presumptuously forestall God's prerogative of final judgment.
manifest … hearts—Our judgments now (as those of the Corinthians respecting their teachers) are necessarily defective; as we only see the outward act, we cannot see the motives of "hearts." "Faithfulness" (1Co 4:2) will hereby be estimated, and the "Lord" will "justify," or the reverse (1Co 4:4), according to the state of the heart.
then shall every man have praise—(1Co 3:8; 1Sa 26:23; Mt 25:21, 23, 28). Rather, "his due praise," not exaggerated praise, such as the Corinthians heaped on favorite teachers; "the praise" (so the Greek) due for acts estimated by the motives. "Then," not before: therefore wait till then (Jas 5:7).