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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(1 Corinthians: Chapter 4)

4:1 {Ministers of Christ} (\hupēretas Christou\). Paul and all
ministers (\diakonous\) of the New Covenant (1Co 3:5) are
under-rowers, subordinate rowers of Christ, only here in Paul's
Epistles, though in the Gospels (Lu 4:20 the attendant in the
and the Acts (Ac 13:5) of John Mark. The {so}
(\houtōs\) gathers up the preceding argument (3:5-23) and
applies it directly by the {as} (\hōs\) that follows. {Stewards
of the mysteries of God}
(\oikonomous mustēriōn theou\). The
steward or house manager (\oikos\, house, \nemō\, to manage, old
was a slave (\doulos\) under his lord (\kurios\, Lu
, but a master (Lu 16:1) over the other slaves in the
house (menservants \paidas\, maidservants \paidiskas\ Lu
, an overseer (\epitropos\) over the rest (Mt 20:8).
Hence the under-rower (\hupēretēs\) of Christ has a position of
great dignity as steward (\oikonomos\) of the mysteries of God.
Jesus had expressly explained that the mysteries of the kingdom
were open to the disciples (Mt 13:11). They were entrusted with
the knowledge of some of God's secrets though the disciples were
not such apt pupils as they claimed to be (Mt 13:51; 16:8-12).
As stewards Paul and other ministers are entrusted with the
mysteries (see on ¯1Co 2:7 for this word) of God and are
expected to teach them. "The church is the \oikos\ (1Ti 3:15),
God the \oikodespotēs\ (Mt 13:52), the members the \oikeioi\
(Ga 6:10; Eph 2:19)" (Lightfoot). Paul had a vivid sense of the
dignity of this stewardship (\oikonomia\) of God given to him
(Col 1:25; Eph 1:10). The ministry is more than a mere
profession or trade. It is a calling from God for stewardship.

4:2 {Here} (\hōde\). Either here on earth or in this matter. It
is always local. {Moreover} (\loipon\). Like \loipon\ in 1:16
which see, accusative of general reference, as for what is left,
besides. {It is required} (\zēteitai\). It is sought. Many MSS.
read \zēteite\, ye seek, an easy change as \ai\ and \e\ came to
be pronounced alike (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 186). {That a man
be found faithful}
(\hina pistos tis heurethēi\). Non-final use
of \hina\ with first aorist passive subjunctive of \heuriskō\,
the result of the seeking (\zēteō\). Fidelity is the essential
requirement in all such human relationships, in other words,
plain honesty in handling money like bank-clerks or in other
positions of trust like public office.

4:3 {But with me} (\emoi de\). The ethical dative of personal
relation and interest, "as I look at my own case." Cf. Php
1:21. {It is a very small thing} (\eis elachiston estin\). This
predicate use of \eis\ is like the Hebrew, but it occurs also in
the papyri. The superlative \elachiston\ is elative, very little,
not the true superlative, least. "It counts for very little with
me." {That I should be judged of you} (\hina huph' humōn
. Same use of \hina\ as in verse 2. For the verb
(first aorist passive subjunctive of \anakrinō\) see on ¯1Co
2:14f. Paul does not despise public opinion, but he denies "the
competency of the tribunal" in Corinth (Robertson and Plummer) to
pass on his credentials with Christ as his Lord. {Or of man's
(\ē hupo anthrōpinēs hēmeras\). Or "by human day," in
contrast to the Lord's Day (_der Tag_) in 3:13. "_That_ is the
tribunal which the Apostle recognizes; a _human_ tribunal he does
not care to satisfy" (Robertson and Plummer). {Yea, I judge not
mine own self}
(\all' oude emauton anakrinō\). \Alla\ here is
confirmatory, not adversative. "I have often wondered how it is
that every man sets less value on his own opinion of himself than
on the opinion of others" (M. Aurelius, xii. 4. Translated by
Robertson and Plummer)
. Paul does not even set himself up as
judge of himself.

4:4 {For I know nothing against myself} (\ouden gar emautōi
. Not a statement of fact, but an hypothesis to show the
unreliability of mere complacent self-satisfaction. Note the use
of \sunoida\ (second perfect active indicative with dative
(disadvantage) of the reflexive pronoun)
for guilty knowledge
against oneself (cf. Ac 5:2; 12:12; 14:6). {Yet} (\all'\).
Adversative use of \alla\. {Am I not hereby justified} (\ouk en
toutōi dedikaiōmai\)
. Perfect passive indicative of state of
completion. Failure to be conscious of one's own sins does not
mean that one is innocent. Most prisoners plead "not guilty." Who
is the judge of the steward of the mysteries of God? It is the
Lord "that judgeth me" (\ho anakrinōn me\). Probably, who
examines me and then passes on my fidelity (\pistos\ in verse

4:5 {Wherefore} (\hōste\). As in 3:21 which see. {Judge
(\mē ti krinete\). Stop passing judgment, stop
criticizing as they were doing. See the words of Jesus in Mt
7:1. The censorious habit was ruining the Corinthian Church.
{Before the time} (\pro kairou\). The day of the Lord in 3:13.
"Do not therefore anticipate the great judgment (\krisis\) by any
preliminary investigation (\anakrisis\) which must be futile and
incomplete" (Lightfoot). {Until the Lord come} (\heōs an elthēi
ho kurios\)
. Common idiom of \heōs\ and the aorist subjunctive
with or without \an\ for a future event. Simple futurity, but
held forth as a glorious hope, the Second Coming of the Lord
Jesus as Judge. {Who will both bring to light} (\hos kai
. Future indicative of this late verb (in papyri also)
from \phōs\ (light), to turn the light on the hidden things of
darkness. {And make manifest} (\kai phanerōsei\). (Ionic and
causative verb \phaneroō\ from \phaneros\. By turning on
the light the counsels of all hearts stand revealed. {His praise}
(\ho epainos\). The praise (note article) due him from God (Ro
will come to each then (\tote\) and not till then.
Meanwhile Paul will carry on and wait for the praise from God.

4:6 {I have in a figure transferred} (\meteschēmatisa\). First
aorist active (not perfect) indicative of \meta-schēmatizō\, used
by Plato and Aristotle for changing the form of a thing (from
\meta\, after, and \schēma\, form or habit, like Latin _habitus_
from \echō\ and so different from \morphē\ as in Php 2:7; Ro
. For the idea of refashioning see Field, _Notes_, p. 169f.
and Preisigke, _Fachworter_). Both Greek and Latin writers
(Quintilian, Martial) used \schēma\ for a rhetorical artifice.
Paul's use of the word (in Paul only in N.T.) appears also
further in 2Co 11:13-15 where the word occurs three times,
twice of the false apostles posing and passing as apostles of
Christ and ministers of righteousness, and once of Satan as an
angel of light, twice with \eis\ and once with \hōs\. In Php
3:21 the word is used for the change in the body of our
humiliation to the body of glory. But here it is clearly the
rhetorical figure for a veiled allusion to Paul and Apollos "for
your sakes" (\dia humas\). {That in us ye may learn} (\hina en
hēmin mathēte\)
. Final clause with \hina\ and the second aorist
active subjunctive of \manthanō\, to learn. As an object lesson
in our cases (\en hēmin\). It is no more true of Paul and Apollos
than of other ministers, but the wrangles in Corinth started
about them. So Paul boldly puts himself and Apollos to the fore
in the discussion of the principles involved. {Not to go beyond
the things which are written}
(\to Mē huper ha gegraptai\). It is
difficult to reproduce the Greek idiom in English. The article
\to\ is in the accusative case as the object of the verb
\mathēte\ (learn) and points at the words "\Mē huper ha
gegraptai\," apparently a proverb or rule, and elliptical in form
with no principal verb expressed with \mē\, whether "think"
(Auth.) or "go" (Revised). There was a constant tendency to
smooth out Paul's ellipses as in 2Th 2:3; 1Co 1:26,31.
Lightfoot thinks that Paul may have in mind O.T. passages quoted
in 1Co 1:19,31; 3:19,20. {That ye be not puffed up} (\hina mē
. Sub-final use of \hina\ (second use in this
with notion of result. It is not certain whether
\phusiousthe\ (late verb form like \phusiaō, phusaō\, to blow up,
to inflate, to puff up)
, used only by Paul in the N.T., is
present indicative with \hina\ like \zēloute\ in Ga 4:17 (cf.
\hina ginōskomen\ in 1Jo 5:20)
or the present subjunctive by
irregular contraction (Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 203, 342f.),
probably the present indicative. \Phusioō\ is from \phusis\
(nature) and so meant to make natural, but it is used by Paul
just like \phusaō\ or \phusiaō\ (from \phusa\, a pair of
, a vivid picture of self-conceit. {One for the one
against the other}
(\heis huper tou henos kata tou heterou\).
This is the precise idea of this idiom of partitive apposition.
This is the rule with partisans. They are "for" (\huper\) the one
and "against" (\kata\, down on, the genitive case) the other
(\tou heterou\, not merely another or a second, but the different
sort, \heterodox\)

4:7 {Maketh thee to differ} (\se diakrinei\). Distinguishes thee,
separates thee. \Diakrinō\ means to sift or separate between
(\dia\) as in Ac 15:9 (which see) where \metaxu\ is added to
make it plainer. All self-conceit rests on the notion of
superiority of gifts and graces as if they were self-bestowed or
self-acquired. {Which thou didst not receive} (\ho ouk elabes\).
"Another home-thrust" (Robertson and Plummer). Pride of
intellect, of blood, of race, of country, of religion, is thus
shut out. {Dost thou glory} (\kauchasai\). The original second
person singular middle ending \-sai\ is here preserved with
variable vowel contraction, \kauchaesai=kauchasai\ (Robertson,
_Grammar_, p. 341)
. Paul is fond of this old and bold verb for
boasting. {As if thou hadst not received it} (\hōs mē labōn\).
This neat participial clause (second aorist active of \lambanō\)
with \hōs\ (assumption) and negative \mē\ punctures effectually
the inflated bag of false pride. What pungent questions Paul has
asked. Robertson and Plummer say of Augustine, "Ten years before
the challenge of Pelagius, the study of St. Paul's writings, and
especially of this verse and of Ro 9:16, had crystallized in
his mind the distinctively Augustinian doctrines of man's total
depravity, of irresistible grace, and of absolute
predestination." Human responsibility does exist beyond a doubt,
but there is no foundation for pride and conceit.

4:8 {Already are ye filled?} (\ēdē kekoresmenoi este?\). Perfect
passive indicative, state of completion, of \korennumi\, old
Greek verb to satiate, to satisfy. The only other example in N.T.
is Ac 27:38 which see. Paul may refer to De 31:20; 32:15. But
it is keen irony, even sarcasm. Westcott and Hort make it a
question and the rest of the sentence also. {Already ye are
become rich}
(\ēdē eploutēsate\). Note change to ingressive
aorist indicative of \plouteō\, old verb to be rich (cf. 2Co
. "The aorists, used instead of perfects, imply indecent
haste" (Lightfoot). "They have got a private millennium of their
own" (Robertson & Plummer) with all the blessings of the
Messianic Kingdom (Lu 22:29f.; 1Th 2:12; 2Ti 2:12). {Ye have
reigned without us}
(\chōris hēmōn ebasileusate\). Withering
sarcasm. Ye became kings without our company. Some think that
Paul as in 3:21 is purposely employing Stoic phraseology though
with his own meanings. If so, it is hardly consciously done. Paul
was certainly familiar with much of the literature of his time,
but it did not shape his ideas. {I would that ye did reign} (\kai
ophelon ge ebasileusate\)
. More exactly, "And would at least that
ye had come to reign (or become kings)." It is an unfulfilled
wish about the past expressed by \ophelon\ and the aorist
indicative instead of \ei gar\ and the aorist indicative (the
ancient idiom)
. See Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 1003, for the
construction with particle \ophelon\ (an unaugmented second
aorist form)
. {That we also might reign with you} (\hina kai
hēmeis humin sunbasileusōmen\)
. Ironical contrast to \chōris
hēmōn ebasileusate\, just before. Associative instrumental case
of \humin\ after \sun-\.

4:9 {Hath set forth us the apostles last} (\hēmas tous apostolous
eschatous apedeixen\)
. The first aorist active indicative of
\apodeiknumi\, old verb to show, to expose to view or exhibit
(Herodotus), in technical sense (cf. 2Th 2:4) for gladiatorial
show as in \ethēriomachēsa\ (1Co 15:32). In this grand pageant
Paul and other apostles come last (\eschatous\, predicate
accusative after \apedeixen\)
as a grand finale. {As men doomed
to die}
(\hōs epithanatious\). Late word, here alone in N.T. The
LXX (Bel and the Dragon 31) has it for those thrown daily to the
lions. Dionysius of Halicarnassus (_A.R_. vii. 35) uses it of
those thrown from the Tarpeian Rock. The gladiators would say
_morituri salutamus_. All this in violent contrast to the kingly
Messianic pretensions of the Corinthians. {A spectacle}
(\theatron\). Cf. Heb 11:33-40. The word, like our theatre,
means the place of the show (Ac 19:29,31). Then, it means the
spectacle shown there (\theama\ or \thea\), and, as here, the man
exhibited as the show like the verb \theatrizomenoi\, made a
spectacle (Heb 10:33). Sometimes it refers to the spectators
(\theatai\) like our "house" for the audience. Here the
spectators include "the world, both to angels and men" (\tōi
kosmōi kai aggelois kai anthrōpois\)
, dative case of personal

4:10 {We--you} (\hēmeis--humeis\). Triple contrast in keenest
ironical emphasis. "The three antitheses refer respectively to
teaching, demeanour, and worldly position" (Robertson and
. The apostles were fools for Christ's sake (2Co 4:11;
Php 3:7)
. They made "union with Christ the basis of worldly
wisdom" (Vincent). There is change of order (chiasm) in the third
ironical contrast. They are over strong in pretension. \Endoxos\,
illustrious, is one of the 103 words found only in Luke and Paul
in the N.T. Notion of display and splendour.

4:11 {Even unto this present hour} (\achri tēs arti hōras\).
\Arti\ (just now, this very minute) accents the continuity of the
contrast as applied to Paul. Ten verbs and four participles from
11-13 give a graphic picture of Paul's condition in Ephesus
when he is writing this epistle. {We hunger} (\peinōmen\), {we
(\dipsōmen\), {are naked} (\gumniteuomen\), late verb for
scant clothing from \gumnētēs\, {are buffeted}
(\kolaphizometha\), to strike a blow with the fist from
\kolaphos\ and one of the few N.T. and ecclesiastical words and
see on ¯Mt 26:67, {have no certain dwelling place}
(\astatoumen\) from \astatos\, strolling about and only here save
Anthol. Pal. and Aquila in Isa 58:7. Field in _Notes_, p. 170
renders 1Co 4:11 "and are vagabonds" or spiritual hobos.

4:12 {We toil} (\kopiōmen\). Common late verb for weariness in
toil (Lu 5:5), {working with our own hands} (\ergazomenoi tais
idiais chersin\)
instrumental case \chersin\ and not simply for
himself but also for Aquila and Priscilla as he explains in Ac
20:34. This personal touch gives colour to the outline. Paul
alludes to this fact often (1Th 2:9; 2Th 3:8; 1Co 9:6; 2Co
. "Greeks despised manual labour; St. Paul glories in it"
(Robertson and Plummer). Cf. Deissmann, _Light, etc._, p. 317.
{Being reviled we bless} (\loidoroumenoi eulogoumen\). Almost the
language of Peter about Jesus (1Pe 2:23) in harmony with the
words of Jesus in Mt 5:44; Lu 6:27. {Being persecuted we
(\diōkomenoi anechometha\). We hold back and do not
retaliate. Turn to Paul's other picture of his experiences in the
vivid contrasts in 2Co 4:7-10; 6:3-10 for an interpretation of
his language here.

4:13 {Being defamed we intreat} (\dusphēmoumenoi parakaloumen\).
The participle \dusphēmoumenoi\ is an old verb (in I Macc. 7:41)
to use ill, from \dusphēmos\, but occurs here only in the N.T.
Paul is opening his very heart now after the keen irony above.
{As the filth of the world} (\hōs perikatharmata tou kosmou\).
Literally, sweepings, rinsings, cleansings around, dust from the
floor, from \perikathairō\, to cleanse all around (Plato and
and so the refuse thrown off in cleansing. Here only
in the N.T. and only twice elsewhere. \Katharma\ was the refuse
of a sacrifice. In Pr 21:18 \perikatharma\ occurs for the
scapegoat. The other example is Epictetus iii. 22,78, in the same
sense of an expiatory offering of a worthless fellow. It was the
custom in Athens during a plague to throw to the sea some wretch
in the hope of appeasing the gods. One hesitates to take it so
here in Paul, though Findlay thinks that possibly in Ephesus Paul
may have heard some such cry like that in the later martyrdoms
_Christiani ad leones_. At any rate in 1Co 15:32 Paul says "I
fought with wild beasts" and in 2Co 1:9 "I had the answer of
death." Some terrible experience may be alluded to here. The word
shows the contempt of the Ephesian populace for Paul as is shown
in Ac 19:23-41 under the influence of Demetrius and the
craftsmen. {The offscouring of all things} (\pantōn peripsēma\).
Late word, here only in N.T., though in Tob. 5:18. The word was
used in a formula at Athens when victims were flung into the sea,
\peripsēma hēmōn genou\ (Became a \peripsēma\ for us), in the
sense of expiation. The word merely means scraping around from
\peripsaō\, offscrapings or refuse. That is probably the idea
here as in Tob. 5:18. It came to have a complimentary sense for
the Christians who in a plague gave their lives for the sick. But
it is a bold figure here with Paul of a piece with

4:14 {To shame you} (\entrepōn\). Literally, shaming you (present
active participle of \entrepō\)
, old verb to turn one on himself
either middle or with reflexive pronoun and active, but the
reflexive \heautois\ is not expressed here. See on ¯2Th 3:14.
The harsh tone has suddenly changed.

4:15 {To admonish} (\nouthetōn\). Literally, admonishing (present
active participle of \noutheteō\)
. See on ¯1Th 5:12,14. {For
though ye should have}
(\ean gar echēte\). Third-class condition
undetermined, but with prospect of being determined (\ean\ and
present subjunctive)
, "for if ye have." {Tutors} (\paidagōgous\).
This old word (\pais\, boy, \agōgos\, leader) was used for the
guide or attendant of the child who took him to school as in Ga
3:24 (Christ being the schoolmaster) and also as a sort of tutor
who had a care for the child when not in school. The papyri
examples (Moulton and Milligan, _Vocabulary_) illustrate both
aspects of the paedagogue. Here it is the "tutor in Christ" who
is the Teacher. These are the only two N.T. examples of the
common word. {I begot you} (\humas egennēsa\). Paul is their
{spiritual father} in Christ, while Apollos and the rest are
their {tutors} in Christ.

4:16 {Be ye imitators of me} (\mimētai mou ginesthe\). "Keep on
becoming (present middle imperative) imitators of me (objective
." \Mimētēs\ is an old word from \mimeomai\, to copy, to
mimic (\mimos\). Paul stands for his rights as their spiritual
father against the pretensions of the Judaizers who have turned
them against him by the use of the names of Apollos and Cephas.

4:17 {Have I sent} (\epempsa\). First aorist active indicative.
Probably Timothy had already gone as seems clear from 16:10f.
Apparently Timothy came back to Ephesus and was sent on to
Macedonia before the uproar in Ephesus (Ac 19:22). Probably
also Titus was then despatched to Corinth, also before the
uproar. {In every church} (\en pasēi ekklēsiāi\). Paul expects
his teachings and practices to be followed in every church (1Co
. Note his language here "my ways those in Christ Jesus."
Timothy as Paul's spokesman {will remind} (\anamnēsei\) the
Corinthians of Paul's teachings.

4:18 {Some are puffed up} (\ephusiōthēsan\). First aorist
(effective) passive indicative of \phusioō\ which see on verse
¯6. {As though I were not coming to you} (\hōs mē erchomenou mou
pros humas\)
. Genitive absolute with particle (assuming it as so)
with \mē\ as negative.

4:19 {If the Lord will} (\ean ho kurios thelēsēi\). Third-class
condition. See James 4:15; Ac 18:21; 1Co 16:7 for the use of
this phrase. It should represent one's constant attitude, though
not always to be spoken aloud. {But the power} (\alla tēn
. The puffed up Judaizers did a deal of talking in
Paul's absence. He will come and will know their real strength.
II Corinthians gives many evidences of Paul's sensitiveness to
their talk about his inconsistencies and cowardice (in particular
chs. 2 Co 1; 2; 10; 11; 12; 13)
. He changed his plans to spare
them, not from timidity. It will become plain later that Timothy
failed on this mission and that Titus succeeded.

4:21 {With a rod} (\en rabdōi\). The so-called instrumental use
of \en\ like the Hebrew (1Sa 17:43). The shepherd leaned on his
rod, staff, walking stick. The paedagogue had his rod also.
{Shall I come?} (\elthō;\). Deliberative subjunctive. Paul gives
them the choice. They can have him as their spiritual father or
as their paedagogue with a rod.

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(1 Corinthians: Chapter 4)