1 Corinthians, 4
1: Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2: Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3: But 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. 4: For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5: Therefore 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. 6: And 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. 7: For 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? 8: Now 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. 9: For 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. 10: We 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. 11: Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; 12: And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. 14: I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. 15: For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
Having lowered his ministry in the eyes of the Corinthians such a way that the focus of their attention is on Christ rather than Christ’s servants, Paul now speaks about his and his companion’s ministry. He says, let every many understand that we are servants of Christ and stewards or custodians of the mysteries of God. The chief characteristic of a Steward is that he is faithful. Paul says actually l see your judgment of me as a very small thing because the really big thing for me is that l am answerable to Christ. He is the one who judges me. So let us not judge each other before time. When the Lord comes, we will all see everything. Everything which is done in secret will be revealed and Christ will reveal our inner thoughts. And on that day everyman will have praise from God. You must not think too highly of me or Apollos so that you do form into groups and take a superior attitude to each other. After all who makes us different? And what do we have that has not been given to us? So if what we have has been given rather than inherent ability then what is the point of being proud. You Corinthians are rich in Gods blessings and full of all the good things of God. You have been like royalty without us and l wish that you would reign and that we might reign with you in all the good things of God. I think that God has set us apostles as the last in line. We are appointed to suffering and death and we are an entertainment to the world and to angels and men. We are considered fools by all men but you are considered wise. We are weak yet you are strong. We are despised but you are honoured by all. Even at this very moment we are hungry, we thirst, we are unclothed and violently pushed about, We have no fixed abode, We work until we are exhausted, We work to provide for our own needs, When we are reviled we bless in return. When we are persecuted we suffer it in silence. When we are defamed we plead our case. We are made to be the filth of this world and the garbage of all men right up until now. I am not writing this to make you feel ashamed but I say this because you are my much loved children and l want to warn you of the evil of party spirit. Although you might have ten thousand bible teachers but you have not many fathers in the faith. Because in Christ Jesus l had brought you forth as my own children in the faith through the gospel l preached to you.