Skip to main content

1 Corinthians 4:6-21

You can read the text here.

Paul's opening volley concerning status seeking comes to a close in this section, focusing on the issue of judgment again. He knows that Paul and Apollos will be judged by God for the quality of their ministry, as will the Corinthian leaders. That is why Paul will not go on beyond "what has been written," the foolish message of God's wisdom promised in the Old Testament and revealed in the cross.[1] Human judgment is meaningless in the grand scheme of things and Paul is trying to lead by example so the Corinthians will stop posturing. After all, the status that really matters they possess as a gift from God, by his grace.[2]

Now, in biting irony, Paul accuses the Corinthians of inflated self-worth and posturing. If only they were as great as they projected themselves as, for then Paul and Apollos would certainly be great along with them! In fact the opposite is true in the eyes of the world. Paul and Apollos are as lowly as the worst criminal about to fight to the death in the arena. The Corinthians are of high status (so they say and think) but the ones they follow are despised by the world. Following these teachers will only ruin their chances of status, not help it![3] But that is the way of the cross, the pattern their Lord set.

Paul isn't trying to shame them. He knows they love him and this is a harsh rebuke; he is trying to shake them to bring them to their senses. Paul knows the path to the only status that matters, he urges the Corinthians to follow his example (which includes suffering and lowliness by the world's standard). Timothy's job is to help them on that journey by teaching and visibly displaying the Pauline lifestyle that is practiced in the church everywhere. They want Paul to visit badly, and he will, but he does not want to have to come and discipline them, he wants a pleasant visit. But if he has to he will challenge those who divide the church and have an inflated self-worth. Do they really have the spiritual power they claim?


------------------------------
[1] 'what is written' most likely refers to Scriptural citations from earlier in the letter which focus on the God's wisdom in opposition to human wisdom. So both Thiselton and Ciampa and Rosner.

[2] In Barclay's taxonomy this would be an emphasis on grace being unconditioned (note I said unconditioned not unconditional).

[3] Except of course for the status that matters, being a co-heir with Christ.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Commentary Series Overview

When I write commentary reviews, one of my main goals is to assess how well the commentator hit the intended audience of the commentary and utilized the format of the commentary. This often necessitates cluttering up the post discussing issues of format. To eliminate that, I thought that I would make some general remarks about the format and audience of each of the series that appear in my reviews. Terms like liberal, conservative, etc. are not used pejoratively but simply as descriptors. Many of you are familiar with Jeremy Pierce's commentary series overview. If you don't see a particular series covered here, check out his post to see if it's reviewed there. I am making no attempt at covering every series, just the series that I use. Additionally, new series (such as the NCCS) have been started in the five years since he wrote his very helpful guide, so I thought that it might not be completely out of order to have another person tackle commentary series overviews. This…

Paul's Argument in Galatians 3:15-29

15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. 19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. 21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! Fo…

Doctor Who: Rose Tyler - Traitor?

The end of season four was very, very controversial. When I first saw it, I felt cheated. I was angry. The more I think about it, the more I think I see what Russell Davies was doing. He is too good of a writer and the show is too carefully crafted for him to screw up Rose's character and the end of a four season storyline. So while the ending isn't strictly part of our series, it is tangentially related, and I've agonized over that scene in Bad Wolf Bay so much that I have to write about it. :)

To briefly set things up, near the end of the final episode of season four, there is a meta-crisis, that results in a part human. part Time Lord Doctor being generated. He has all of the Doctor's memories, and thinks and acts like the Doctor. However, importantly, he only has one heart and cannot regenerate. He only has one life to live. The meta-crisis Doctor brought full resolution to the battle fought against the Daleks, and in the process, wiped them out. Thus, the real Doc…