a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

The Ministry of the Apostles


Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. 2Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.

6 I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?

8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Quite apart from us you have become kings! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings, so that we might be kings with you! 9For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals. 10We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, 12and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.

Fatherly Admonition

14 I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me. 17For this reason I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18But some of you, thinking that I am not coming to you, have become arrogant. 19But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power. 21What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?


3. But with me it is a very small thing It remained that he should bring before their view his faithfulness, that the Corinthians might judge of him from this, but, as their judgment was corrupted, he throws it aside and appeals to the judgment-seat of Christ. The Corinthians erred in this, that they looked with amazement at foreign masks, and gave no heed to the true and proper marks of distinction. 214214     “Ils estoyent rauis en admiration de ces masques externes, comme gens tout transportez, et ne regardoyent point a discerner vrayement ne proprement;” — “They were ravished with admiration of those foreign masks, as persons quite transported, and were not careful to distinguish truly or properly.” He, accordingly, declares with great confidence, that he despises a perverted and blind judgment of this sort. In this way, too, he, on the one hand, admirably exposes the vanity of the false Apostles who made the mere applause of men their aim, and reckoned themselves happy if they were held in admiration; and, on the other hand, he severely chastises the arrogance 215215     “Et orgueil;” — “And pride.” of the Corinthians, which was the reason why they were so much blinded in their judgment.

But, it is asked, on what ground it was allowable for Paul, not merely to set aside the censure of one Church, but to set himself above the judgment of men? for this is a condition common to all pastors — to be judged of by the Church. I answer, that it is the part of a good pastor to submit both his doctrine and his life for examination to the judgment of the Church, and that it is the sign of a good conscience not to shun the light of careful inspection. In this respect Paul, without doubt, was prepared for submitting himself to the judgment of the Corinthian Church, and for being called to render an account both of his life and of his doctrine, had there been among them a proper scrutiny, 216216     “Si entr’eux fi y eust eu vne legitime et droite facon de iuger;” — “If there had been among them a lawful and right method of judging.” as he often assigns them this power, and of his own accord entreats them to be prepared to judge aright. But when a faithful pastor sees that he is borne down by unreasonable and perverse affections, and that justice and truth have no place, he ought to appeal to God, and betake himself to his judgment-seat, regardless of human opinion, especially when he cannot secure that a true and proper knowledge of matters shall be arrived at.

If, then, the Lord’s servants would bear in mind that they must act in this manner, let them allow their doctrine and life to be brought to the test, nay more, let them voluntarily present themselves for this purpose; and if anything is objected against them, let them not decline to answer. But if they see that they are condemned without being heard in their own defense, and that judgment is passed upon them without their being allowed a hearing, let them raise up their minds to such a pitch of magnanimity, as that, despising the opinions of men, they will fearlessly wait for God as their judge. In this manner the Prophets of old, having to do with refractory persons, 217217     “Ils auoyent affaire a des gens opiniastres et pleins de rebellion;” — “They had to do with persons that were obstinate, and full of rebellion.” and such as had the audacity to despise the word of God in their administration of it, required to raise themselves aloft, in order to tread under foot that diabolical obstinacy, which manifestly tended to overthrow at once the authority of God and the light of truth. Should any one, however, when opportunity is given for defending himself, or at least when he has need to clear himself, appeal to God by way of subterfuge, he will not thereby make good his innocence, but will rather discover his consummate impudence. 218218     “Se demonstrera estre merueilleusement impudent;” — “He will show himself to be marvellously impudent.”

Or of man’s day. While others explain it in another manner, the simpler way, in my opinion, is to understand the word day as used metaphorically to mean judgment, because there are stated days for administering justice, and the accused are summoned to appear on a certain day He calls it man’s day 219219     The word day, which is the literal rendering of the original word (ἡμέρας) is made use of in some of the old English versions. Thus in Wiclif’s version, (1380,) the rendering is: “of mannes daie;” in Tyndale’s, (1534,) “of man’s daye;” and in the Rheims version, (1582,) “of man’s day.” — Ed when judgment is pronounced, not according to truth, or in accordance with the word of the Lord, but according to the humor or rashness of men, 220220     “Selon les sottes affections, ou les mouuemens temeraires des hommes;” — “According to the foolish affections, or rash impulses of men.” and in short, when God does not preside. “Let men,” says he, “sit for judgment as they please: it is enough for me that God will annul whatever they have pronounced.”

Nay, I judge not mine own self. The meaning is: “I do not venture to judge myself, though I know myself best; how then will you judge me, to whom I am less intimately known?” Now he proves that he does not venture to judge himself by this, that though he is not conscious to himself of anything wrong, he is not thereby acquitted in the sight of God. Hence he concludes, that what the Corinthians assume to themselves, belongs exclusively to God. “As for me,” says he, “when I have carefully examined myself, I perceive that I am not so clear-sighted as to discern thoroughly my true character; and hence I leave this to the judgment of God, who alone can judge, and to whom this authority exclusively belongs. As for you, then, on what ground will you make pretensions to something more?”

As, however, it were very absurd to reject all kinds of judgment, whether of individuals respecting themselves, or of one individual respecting his brother, or of all together respecting their pastor, let it be understood that Paul speaks here not of the actions of men, which may be reckoned good or bad according to the word of the Lord, but of the eminence of each individual, which ought not to be estimated according to men’s humors. It belongs to God alone to determine what distinction every one holds, and what honor he deserves. The Corinthians, however, despising Paul, groundlessly extolled others to the skies, as though they had at their command that knowledge which belonged exclusively to God. This is what he previously made mention of as mans day — when men mount the throne of judgment, and, as if they were gods, anticipate the day of Christ, who alone is appointed by the Father as judge, allot to every one his station of honor, assign to some a high place, and degrade others to the lowest seats. But what rule of distinction do they observe? They look merely to what appears openly; and thus what in their view is high and honorable, is in many instances an abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:15.) If any one farther objects, that the ministers of the word may in this world be distinguished by their works, as trees by their fruits, (Matthew 7:16,) I admit that this is true, but we must consider with whom Paul had to deal. It was with persons who, in judging, looked to nothing but show and pomp, and arrogated to themselves a power which Christ., while in this world, refrained from using — that of assigning to every one his seat in the kingdom of God. (Matthew 20:23.) He does not, therefore, prohibit us from esteeming those whom we have found to be faithful workmen, and pronouncing them to be such; nor, on the other hand, from judging persons to be bad workmen according to the word of God, but he condemns that rashness which is practiced, when some are preferred above others in a spirit of ambition — not according to their merits, but without examination of the case. 221221     “Comme on dit;” — “As they say.”

VIEWNAME is study