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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?


21. What will ye? The person who divided the Epistles into chapters ought to have made this the beginning of the fifth chapter. For having hitherto reproved the foolish pride of the Corinthians, their vain confidence, and their judgment as perverted and corrupted by ambition, he now makes mention of the vices with which they were infected, and on account of which they ought to be ashamed — “You are puffed up, as though everything were on the best possible footing among you, but it were better if you did with shame and sighing acknowledge the unhappiness of your condition, for if you persist, I shall be under the necessity of laying aside mildness, and exercising towards you a paternal severity.” There is, however, still more of emphasis in this threatening in which he gives them liberty to choose, for he declares that it does not depend upon himself whether he shall show himself agreeable and mild, but that it is their own fault that he is necessitated to use severity. “It is for you,” says he, “to choose in what temper you would have me. As for me, I am prepared to be mild, but if you go on as you have done hitherto, I shall be under the necessity of taking up the rod.” He thus takes higher ground, after having laid claim to fatherly authority over them, for it would have been absurd to set out with this threatening, without first opening up the way by what he said, and preparing them for entertaining fears.

By the term rod, he means that severity with which a pastor ought to correct his people’s faults. He places in contrast with this, love, and the spirit of meekness — not, as though the father hated the sons whom he chastises, for on the contrary the chastisement proceeds from love, but because by sadness of countenance and harshness of words, he appears as though he were angry with his son. To express myself more plainly — in one word, a father always, whatever kind of look he may put on, regards his son with affection, but that affection he manifests when he teaches him pleasantly and lovingly; but when, on the other hand, being displeased with his faults, he chastises him in rather sharp terms, or even with the rod, he puts on the appearance of a person in a passion. As then love does not appear when severity of discipline is exercised, it is not without good reason, that Paul here conjoins love with a spirit of meekness There are some that understand the term rod to mean excommunication — but, for my part, though I grant them that excommunication is a part of that severity with which Paul threatens the Corinthians, I at the same time extend it farther, so as to include all reproofs that are of a harsher kind.

Observe here what system a good pastor ought to observe; for he ought of his own accord to be inclined to mildness, with the view of drawing to Christ, rather than driving. This mildness, so far as in him lies, he ought to maintain, and never have recourse to bitterness, unless he be compelled to do so. On the other hand, he must not spare the rod, (Proverbs 13:24,) when there is need for it, for while those that are teachable and agreeable should be dealt with mildly, sharpness requires to be used in dealing with the refractory and contumacious. We see, too, that the Word of God does not contain mere doctrine, but contains an intermixture of bitter reproofs, so as to supply pastors with a rod For it often happens, through the obstinacy of the people, that those pastors who are naturally the mildest 269269     “Qu’on pourra trouuer;” — “That one could find.” are constrained to put on, as it were, the countenance of another, and act with rigor and severity.

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