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.


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…

Commentary Review: Daniel

In my opinion, Daniel is not the best covered Old Testament book as far as commentaries go. This isn't an uncommon phenomenon among Old Testament books. Though I've looked at them, I'm not going to review some of the older Evangelical Daniel commentaries (like e.g., Baldwin). They don't provide much that you can't get in either Longman or Lucas. If you're unfamiliar with the series that one or more of these commentaries are in check out my commentary series overview.

It was a very close call but my favorite commentary on Daniel is Goldingay's. While there were a few places where I disagreed with his interpretation, I found the commentary to be exemplary. If you're going to teach Daniel, especially the apocalyptic portions, you need a commentary that provides you with a lot of background material. Goldingay, while not as broad as Collins, certainly provides you with quite a bit. His exploration of the background to the apocalyptic symbolism is very helpfu…