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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?


7. For who distinguisheth thee? The meaning is — “Let that man come forward, whosoever he be, that is desirous of distinction, and troubles the Church by his ambition. I will demand of him who it is that makes him superior to others? That is, who it is that has conferred upon him the privilege of being taken out of the rank of the others, and made superior to others?” Now this whole reasoning depends on the order which the Lord has appointed in his Church — that the members of Christ’s body may be united together, and that every one of them may rest satisfied with his own place, his own rank, his own office, and his own honor. If one member is desirous to quit his place, that he may leap over into the place of another, and invade his office, what will become of the entire body? Let us know, then, that the Lord has so placed us in the Church, and has in such a manner assigned to every one his own station, that, being under one head, we may be mutually helpful to each other. Let us know, besides, that we have been endowed with a diversity of gifts, in order that we may serve the Lord with modesty and humility, and may endeavor to promote the glory of him who has conferred upon us everything that we have. This, then, was the best remedy for correcting the ambition of those who were desirous of distinction — to call them back to God, in order that they might acknowledge that it was not according to any one’s pleasure that he was placed in a high or a low station, but that this belonged to God alone; and farther, that God does not confer so much upon any one as to elevate him to the place of the Head, but distributes his gifts in such a manner, that He alone is glorified in all things.

To distinguish here means to render eminent. 227227     “Rendre excellent, ou mettre en reputation;” — “To render eminent, or exalt to fame.” Augustine, however, does not ineptly make frequent use of this declaration for maintaining, in opposition to the Pelagians, 228228     The reader will find a variety of passages of this tenor quoted from Augustine in the Institutes, volume 1. — Ed. that whatever there is of excellence in mankind, is not implanted in him by nature, so that it could be ascribed either to nature or to descent; and farther, that it is not acquired by free will, so as to bring God under obligation, but flows from his pure and undeserved mercy. For there can be no doubt that Paul here contrasts the grace of God with the merit or worthiness of men. 229229     “Comme estans ehoses contraires;” — “As being things opposite.”

And what hast thou? This is a confirmation of the preceding statement, for that man cannot on good ground extol himself, who has no superiority above others. For what greater vanity is there than that of boasting without any ground for it? Now, there is no man that has anything of excellency from himself; therefore the man that extols himself is a fool and an idiot. The true foundation of Christian modesty is this — not to be self-complacent, as knowing that we are empty and void of everything good — that, if God has implanted in us anything that is good, we are so much the more debtors to his grace; and in fine, that, as Cyprian says, we must glory in nothing, because there is nothing that is our own.

Why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it? Observe, that there remains no ground for our glorying, inasmuch as it is by

the grace of God that we are what we are,
(1 Corinthians 15:10.)

And this is what we had in the first chapter, that Christ is the source of all blessings to us, that we may learn to glory in the Lord, (1 Corinthians 1:30, 31,) and this we do, only when we renounce our own glory. For God does not obtain his due otherwise than by our being emptied, so that it may be seen that everything in us that is worthy of praise is derived.

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