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Matthew Henry's Commentary

1 Corinthians Chapter 4 

he true character of gospel ministers. (1-6) Cautions against despising the apostle. (7-13) He claims their regard as their spiritual father in Christ, and shows his concern for them. (14-21)

Verses 1-6: Apostles were no more than servants of Christ, but they were not to be undervalued. They had a great trust, and for that reason, had an honourable office. Paul had a just concern for his own reputation, but he knew that he who chiefly aimed to please men, would not prove himself a faithful servant of Christ. It is a comfort that men are not to be our final judges. And it is not judging well of ourselves, or justifying ourselves, that will prove us safe and happy. Our own judgment is not to be depended upon as to our faithfulness, any more than our own works for our justification. There is a day coming, that will bring men's secret sins into open day, and discover the secrets of their hearts. Then every slandered believer will be justified, and every faithful servant approved and rewarded. The word of God is the best rule by which to judge as to men. Pride commonly is at the bottom of quarrels. Self-conceit contributes to produce undue esteem of our teachers, as well as of ourselves. We shall not be puffed up for one against another, if we remember that all are instruments, employed by God, and endowed by him with various talents.

Verses 7-13: We have no reason to be proud; all we have, or are, or do, that is good, is owing to the free and rich grace of God. A sinner snatched from destruction by sovereign grace alone, must be very absurd and inconsistent, if proud of the free gifts of God. St. Paul sets forth his own circumstances, ver. 9. Allusion is made to the cruel spectacles in the Roman games; where men were forced to cut one another to pieces, to divert the people; and where the victor did not escape with his life, though he should destroy his adversary, but was only kept for another combat, and must be killed at last. The thought that many eyes are upon believers, when struggling with difficulties or temptations, should encourage constancy and patience. "We are weak, but ye are strong." All Christians are not alike exposed. Some suffer greater hardships than others. The apostle enters into particulars of their sufferings. And how glorious the charity and devotion that carried them through all these hardships! They suffered in their persons and characters as the worst and vilest of men; as the very dirt of the world, that was to be swept away: nay, as the offscouring of all things, the dross of all things. And every one who would be faithful in Christ Jesus, must be prepared for poverty and contempt. Whatever the disciples of Christ suffer from men, they must follow the example, and fulfil the will and precepts of their Lord. They must be content, with him and for him, to be despised and abused. It is much better to be rejected, despised, and ill used, as St. Paul was, than to have the good opinion and favour of the world. Though cast off by the world as vile, yet we may be precious to God, gathered up with his own hand, and placed upon his throne.

Verses 14-21: In reproving for sin, we should distinguish between sinners and their sins. Reproofs that kindly and affectionately warn, are likely to reform. Though the apostle spoke with authority as a parent, he would rather beseech them in love. And as ministers are to set an example, others must follow them, as far as they follow Christ in faith and practice. Christians may mistake and differ in their views, but Christ and Christian truth are the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Whenever the gospel is effectual, it comes not in word only, but also in power, by the Holy Spirit, quickening dead sinners, delivering persons from the slavery of sin and Satan, renewing them both inwardly and outwardly, and comforting, strengthening, and establishing the saints, which cannot be done by the persuasive language of men, but by the power of God. And it is a happy temper, to have the spirit of love and meekness bear the rule, yet to maintain just authority.

 

 


David Burnette's Life Application

Be Faithful

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue the book of 1st Corinthians with Chapter 4 and in our text we see Paul counsels his beloved children instructing them to be servants of God and to be faithful. In making application we see that as saved individules indwelt with the spirit of God we are to serve and be faithful unto the Lord through the instruction of His Word guided by His Spirit. Today we are to serve, work, and share the Gospel until our Lord returns again. How about you? Are you faithful to the Lord? Let us learn from our text today and the instructions to the Corinthian Church and the Church today that as stewards we are called to be faithful.

 

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1 Corinthians 4

1 Corinthians 4

 1Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

 2Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

 3But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

 4For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

 5Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

 6And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

 7For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

 8Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

 9For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

 10We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.

 11Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;

 12And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

 13Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

 14I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

 15For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

 16Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

 17For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

 18Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.

 19But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

 20For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

 21What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?