1 Corinthians 4
by Philip Layton
Paul warns against arrogance
- What are ‘the mysteries God has revealed’ (v 1)?
- Is Paul being sarcastic (v 10)?
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Going Deeper From 'Words of Life'
Paul concludes the section of the letter dealing with division and dissension by appealing to the Corinthian believers as their spiritual father. They had many church leaders now, but only he could claim to have initially brought them to new life in Christ. Their welfare was his serious concern. As was the case in society then, and still is in many places now, the father was the one who was legally responsible for the family. He could delegate, but the final duty was his.
In a later letter Paul would write specifically to parents and children and remind fathers to nourish their children in the instruction and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Here he uses the same words when he says he writes sternly not to shame but to warn them. He wants them to take his rebuke as a kindness (in the spirit of Psalm 141:5).
Paul wants his unruly children to straighten up for their own good. His fatherly appeal to them is from his great affection for them as well as from their indebtedness to him for bringing them the gospel. He asks them to imitate him in faith.
Then he promises the next best thing to a visit from him. He’ll send Timothy. They would remember him from Paul’s initial visit. Besides being Paul’s co-worker, he was like a son to Paul and, by extension, their brother. Timothy could personally remind them of Paul’s life in Christ. He could verify that Paul’s living and teachings were consistent, and theirs should be as well.
Some in Corinth might shrug off Paul’s warnings, but when the time was right the apostle would visit them himself. Then he would see who was simply full of talk and who was empowered by God. It was up to them whether he would still need to confront and discipline them or whether he would enjoy heart-to-heart fellowship when he came.
Is my Christian living consistent? Could I use a reminder to live more fully aware of the presence of Christ?