Updated 15 Jan 2019
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1 Corinthians 4
One of the challenges that Paul faces with the Corinthian Church is that some of them question his apostolic role. He handles this with dignity, because his main desire is to bless the church rather than to exalt himself.
Servants of Christ
Paul is not committed to titles but sees himself as a servant. His joy is that God has revealed mysteries and wonderful truth, which he considers a privilege, and he looks for wisdom as to how to reveal and share what has been made known to him.
Paul’s desire is to be faithful to the call that God has placed upon his life. He knows that people will try to judge him but his only concern is the Lord's assessment of him. Paul wants his hearers to wait for God’s verdict, rather than prematurely make their human assessments of him. God is the righteous judge!
Paul and Apollos
It would seem that Paul wanted the fellow workers that came alongside him, to also hold to the values that he had been taught. The way that people treat friends like Apollos should be the same way they treat Paul. People should not choose between him and Apollos but, rather, should see them both as servants, working together for the benefit of the church.
The Cost of Apostolic Ministry
There is no need to envy apostolic ministry. It requires great sacrifice and could even mean death. An apostle may appear a fool to the world but, in fact, their ministry brings the wisdom of God. Pioneering and planting new churches will often bring strong opposition. Materially, there can be many challenges. We know that, sometimes, Paul had no support at all and had to make tents to provide for his physical needs. Peoples' treatment of Paul and the other apostles were sometimes very destructive. Paul says to some, we are treated as scum and garbage.
Fathers in Christ
Paul humbly declares that, through his ministry, many have been saved and have come to know the reality of the gospel. His preaching and testimony as well as his way of life, has been a powerful witness to those who do not know Christ.
Paul was committed to raising up 'Timothys' - people who would share his conviction of Christ and the word of God, who would primarily witness to the gospel but who would also honour him. Paul was always keen to visit the churches himself but, when that was not possible, people like Timothy and Titus were valuable members of his team.
Paul's Hope to Go Back to Corinth
Paul desires to go back to see the church in Corinth. He believes in a gospel which is not just words but power! He wants to visit in love and with a gentle spirit but, if discipline is necessary he will bring it!
Points to Consider:
- Are we slaves to titles and position or do we have servant hearts towards God and His people?
- How can we avoid quick assessments and develop patience to see what is happening in peoples' lives, knowing that God is the judge?
- How committed are we to raising up others ('Timothys'), who share our heart and love of the gospel?
- Are we aware that true ministry in the gospel will often result in difficulty and persecution or do we deceive ourselves that there will never be problems living out our lives for Christ?
- In what ways can we be spiritual fathers and how can we be cautious to avoid unhelpful relationships with those that we serve?
- We prefer to avoid confrontation, but are we willing to bring correction when it is necessary?
God bless you!
Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 4
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