SERVANTS' MINISTRY, Inc.
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Theme: Circumstances of Christ's servants constrain Christian conduct; Ministers, as stewards, should be faithful, as Paul had proved himself to be.
This is the final chapter where Paul deals with the divisions and the party spirit which was in the church in Corinth. In this chapter, he speaks of the conditions of Christ's servants . . . and that is what should constrain Christian conduct.
Chapter 4 continues on from what was said in the previous chapter that the people should regard their ministers as the servants of Christ, and dispensers of the Truths which God had revealed.
The most important qualification and requirement of a pastor (or any TRUE Christian), is FAITHFULNESS. People may very well estimate the faithfulness of ministers (and all believers), but the One we really need be concerned about is the Judge, Who is the Lord Jesus; and He is the One Who shall decide how faithful a person is or is not.
What the apostle Paul had said about himself and Apollos, in the earlier explanation of the true nature of the pastoral office, was intended to apply to all pastors. The people should NOT praise them excessively, and all jealous, rivalry quarrels should be avoided. The false teachers in Corinth, and the people under their influence, thought they were in a high state of religious prosperity, and were inclined to self-indulgence.
People Should Regard the Ministry in a Proper Light
1 Cor. 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. (KJV)
Let a man so account of us . . . this continues the subject in chapter 3, and should not have been separated from it.
There are those who say that the fourth chapter would have been better had it begun at (1 Cor.4:6), and the third chapter ending with the fifth verse (1 Cor.4:5).
As of the ministers of Christ . . . or servants of Christ, literally means an under-rower, or common sailor; a lesser servant of any kind. It also means any inferior officer or assistant. By the term here Paul shows the Corinthians that, far from being heads and chiefs, he and his fellow helpers considered themselves only as inferior officers, employed under Christ from whom alone they received their appointment, their work and their recompense.
Stewards of the mysteries of God . . . agents of the God’s mysteries. I will bring this forward from Luke’s Commentary: Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? (KJV)
And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward . . . Christ does not directly, and in certain words, answer Peter's question, but suggests, that although He intended it as a caution to all His people, and in it spoke to them all to be upon their watch and guard (Mk.13:37), yet He had a special regard to His apostles, and succeeding ministers of the Gospel, whose characters, office, work, dignity and honor, are here described. Such are stewards in Christ's family, they are entrusted with the stores and provisions of His house, and faithfulness and wisdom are necessary in them. They are not to corrupt and contaminate the Word of God, nor mix it with human doctrines. They are to deliver it pure and sincere as it is; rightly dividing it, and wisely distributing it.
Whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household . . . Christ's "household", or family, is His church, over which the ministers of the Gospel are appointed "rulers", to govern the house according to the laws of Christ, and keep everything in good order; and especially their work, which agrees to their character as stewards is,
To give them their portion of meat in due season . . . by the behavior of a faithful and wise servant He means a faithful Christian, a servant of God. This has no reference to God. It is applied to Christian teachers, and in the spiritual meaning of the parable, it refers to Christ, who has appointed them as teachers, and who is their Lord and Master (Jn.13:13-14). Over His household . . . Christian pastors and teachers are the servants of God serving the church, the family of Christ (1 Thes.5:12-13; 1 Cor.3:5; 4:1-2). To give them meat in due season . . . meat here means food of all kinds. When the Bible was translated into English, it included, as the original does, all kinds of provisions necessary to support and nourish life. In due season . . . at the proper time, as they need it. This was the office of a steward. Among the ancients this office was often filled by a slave . . . one who had shown himself trusty and faithful. The duty was to have a general superintendence over the affairs of the family. Applied to Christian ministers, it means that they are to feed the flock of God, to minister to their wants, and to do it as they need it. Stewards: (Gen.39:1-6; 43:16-17; 44:1-2; Isa.22:20-24). (Mat.24:45).
1 Cor. 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. (KJV)
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful . . . the main and greatest thing required of pastors is faithfulness. Faithfulness to Christ as His servants, not claiming to themselves any power other than Gospel power, nor trying to go beyond His commands. Faithfulness also is faithfulness to the people, not failing to give out to them the Truths which God has revealed, and NOT mixing those Truths with any of their own thoughts or suppositions, and NEVER substituting for those RIGHT doctrines, the foolishness of human knowledge or wisdom.
1 Cor. 4:3 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. (KJV)
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 . . . the apostles were simply servants of Christ, but they were not to be belittled. They had a great trust put on them by God, and because of this, had a very honorable office. Paul had a just concern for his own reputation, but he knew that anyone whose main purpose was only to please men, would not prove himself a faithful servant of Christ. It is a great comfort indeed, that men will NOT be our final judges. And it is not judging well of ourselves, or justifying ourselves, that will ever prove us safe and happy. Our judgment of ourselves has NOTHING to do with our faithfulness to Christ . . . the same as our own works have NOTHING to do with our justification (Rom.5:1). There is a special day coming, that will bring men's secret sins into bright daylight, and discover the secrets of their hearts (Ps.44:21; Ecc.12:14; Rom.2:16).
When that day comes, every slandered believer will be justified, and every faithful servant approved and rewarded. IF a person is determined to judge anyone, the Holy and Almighty Word of God is the ONLY way by which to judge them! Paul wisely says:
Yea, I judge not mine own self . . . I pronounce no sentence for myself, I leave myself to the judgment of God. It mattered little to Paul whether they thought him faithful or unfaithful. His responsibility was NOT to them. They had not sent him; they had not told him what doctrines to preach. He was NOT their steward, but God's steward!
May we always remember that it will NOT be man who has the final say in our judgment. We must do what the Holy Spirit places on our hearts, whether those around us disagree with us or not. God is our Judge! NOT man!
1 Cor. 4:4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. (KJV)
For I know nothing by myself . . . Paul said that he was not aware that he was guilty of any evil, or that he neglected to faithfully fulfill the duty of a steward of Jesus Christ.
Yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord . . . Paul does not pretend to say that he was not aware of any offense towards God, so he must be pronounced innocent. He was going to leave all judgment to God . . . God would speak in his favor, not he himself. Paul is saying: My conscience is clear. Paul is speaking about his faithfulness as a steward.
Verses 3-4 really present the ‘three courts’ before which we all people must one day appear. They may seem to be rather difficult verses, but in reality, they are not. They tell us that you have no right to sit in judgment on me, and I have no right to sit in judgment on you because we both are going to stand before a higher court.
#1. The first court is the lower court. It is the court of the opinion of others. Paul says, that it matters very little to him what any man thinks of him. Paul was not callous or disrespectful of the opinion of others, as a matter of fact, Paul was very sensitive to the opinions of others; BUT his life was NOT directed by them, and neither is our life directed by any person, just the Holy Spirit. Whether we like it or not, we ALL stand before the judgment others. It is something that cannot be avoided. The trouble with most people is that they would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. Even though Paul cared about the opinion of others, that opinion did not rule his life.
#2. The second court is a higher court. It is the court of one's own conscience. Is our conscience a safe guide? Paul says that it is NOT a perfect guide. We are to be led of the Spirit. Christians should have an enlightened sense of right and wrong. When it rebukes us and tells us that we are wrong, we should obey it. However, our conscience can also approve of our easygoing ways and can appeal to our vanity and can sweet-talk us into doing wrong. Then we should beware of it. We all stand or fall before this court. Other people cause divisions and make trouble, but we are to stand for right. Others backslide when they forsake God, but we have a good reason to stand firm with Him.
#3. There is a third court before which we must stand . . . "he that judgeth me is the Lord." The Spiritual Supreme Court is of the one and only Master; it is the judgment seat of Christ. Paul says that he is going to stand someday before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Each and every Christian will appear before that judgment seat. (Paul will say more about this in chapter 5 of his Second Letter to the Corinthians.)
What is going to be judged at the Judgment Seat? We know that we shall not be judged for our sins because a believer's sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west (Ps.103:12). Our sins are under the blood of Jesus Christ and God remembers them no more (Heb.8:12; 10:17). The believer will be judged for his stewardship. All our physical possessions; our bodies, our material resources, our giving . . . these are the things that will be brought up for judgment. So you can see that being a faithful steward is very important.
We own nothing. We have learned before that all things are Christ's and that we belong to Him. We are in partnership with Him. At the close of chapter 3, Paul said that all things are ours. This world we live in is ours, and we can enjoy its beauty: the scenery, the mountains, the trees, the ocean and life itself. Paul says that even death is ours! Death is yours. It belongs to you. Death is NOT your master (2 Cor.5:6,8). We belong to Christ, all things are ours, present and future. And we are stewards of all He has entrusted to us.
1 Cor. 4:5 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. (KJV)
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 . . . before the Lord comes, which in the New Testament is sometimes represented as the Rapture (1 Thes.4:13-18; 1 Cor.15:52-54), with the resurrection of the dead believers and the believer’s judgment. Christ is to come for judgment (Mat.24:30,46; 2 Pet.3:4,12). The reason why the Lord's Coming is the right time for judgment is that He will then do what cannot be done before, or by any creature. He will bring shed light upon ALL the things now hidden in darkness. This includes any and all acts which are now unknown, and those thoughts of action which lie hidden in the heart, where no human eye can reach them. We will NOT be able to hide anything!
And then shall every man have praise of God . . . God is the ultimate source of all good. He is in Christ; and Christ is in God. HE is the final Judge, Christ is the Representative of the Godhead, for God the Father is Spirit (Jn.4:24), and the Holy Spirit is Spirit. Jesus alone possessed a physical Body, as Man (Jn.1:14).
Here Paul is speaking about the heart. NO man can judge the heart as to whether someone is sincere or insincere in his professions, whether his experience is genuine or false, only God can decide correctly. The church can only judge what is external, what can be seen, and far too often they judge wrongly there. If anyone claims to be holy, but is immoral, the church must reject him, as Paul clearly teaches in a later chapter. Or if someone professes to be a Christian and yet rejects Christ and His Gospel, he cannot be received (Tit.3:10). Only the Searcher of hearts can judge the purposes of the heart (Ps.44:21; 64:6; 139:23; Jer.17:10). See: TRUE Christian:
Three things God will do at the Judgment Seat:
#1. Bring hidden things to light (1 Cor.3:13)
#2. Reveal dark secrets of people (Rom.2:16)
#3. Reward each man accordingly (1 Cor.3:11-15; 2 Cor.5:10; Mat.16:27; Rev.22:12)
Contrast Between the Apostles and the False Teachers
1 Cor. 4:6 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. (KJV)
And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes . . . remember that one of the problems in the Corinthian church was divisions, factions. Paul now says that he is using this for an illustration for them. Paul and Apollos were friends; they BOTH belonged to Christ, and Christ belonged to BOTH of them. BOTH men were exercising their gifts as they should.
That you might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written . . . Paul wanted the Corinthians to have humble opinions and thoughts of themselves, not to think of themselves above what, by the rules of God's Word, was written in the Old Testament they ought to think; or above what he had before written in this Letter, or what he had written to the Romans.
Rom. 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (KJV)
That no one of you be puffed up for one against another . . . and that none of them, whether ministers or private Christians, might be puffed up. Puffed up means to be swelled or blown up as a bladder or a pair of bellows, which is filled with wind (1 Cor.4:18; 8:1; Col.2:8,18).
1 Cor. 4:7 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? (KJV)
For who maketh thee to differ from another? . . .it seems very likely that Paul is addressing himself to one of those puffed up teachers, who was taking all the glory for his gifts, and the knowledge he had of the Gospel. God is the foundation of all good; no man possesses any good except what he has received from God.
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?. . . Paul tells him that there is not a particle of light that you have, that was not received from our preaching. So, why do glory, boast and triumph, as if God had first spoken by thee, and not by us?
Do you have a gift? If you are a TRUE Christian, you have a gift! And too, you may have a very outstanding gift, BUT . . . you have absolutely NOTHING to boast about because God gave it to you. You are NOT the originator of your gift. We must thank God for our gifts, and we must use our gifts to glorify God and benefit other Christians.
1 Cor. 4:8 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. (KJV)
Now ye are full, now ye are rich . . . you that are the teachers at Corinth, and you that are the members of the church there, think you are full of knowledge and wisdom. It seemed they stood in need of no more further learning or instruction.
Ye have reigned as kings without us . . . ye think now you have acquired a kingdom, and have arrived at the peak of happiness.
And I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you . . . Paul was far from envying them. Paul speaks ironically, reflecting on their vain and far too good an opinion of themselves. I think that Paul here intends a strong sarcasm; and one which, when taken in connection with what he had said before, must have really stung their heart. It is not unusual for people to forget, if not despise, the men by whom they were brought to the knowledge of the Truth; and take up with others to whom, in the things of God, they owe nothing.
1 Cor. 4:9 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. (KJV)
For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death . . . the lot of the apostles of Christ is not so externally happy, for they had a lot of poverty and misery, as if they were the worst of men, as men appointed to death.
For we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men . . . to be a mere sight or gazing-stock to the world. Some think that Paul here refers to the cruel and barbarous practice of the Romans, who first exposed and carried around for all to see, those persons that were condemned to fight with wild beasts, that by them they might be torn in pieces.
For how the apostles died, see the end of this chapter.
1 Cor. 4:10 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. (KJV)
We are fools for Christ's sake . . . Paul said they were counted as fools for Christ's sake by the wise men of the world, and they were very willing to be so accounted. Paul’s devotion to the cause of Christ is such that the Corinthians and others regarded as foolish. That is still true today of those who take a firm stand with Jesus. We are often called ‘Jesus’ freaks’ or ‘fools’.
But ye are wise in Christ . . . the Corinthians union with Christ was such that they regarded themselves, and were regarded by others, as wise.
We are weak . . . Paul said: we feel weak, and are thought by others as weak; we suffer evil, and do not resist.
But ye are strong . . . you regard yourselves as strong, and are regarded as strong.
Ye are honourable . . . you are held in honor, accounted noble and are objects of respect.
But we are despised . . . we are objects of scorn, despised and contemptible.
All this no doubt refers especially, though not completely, to the false teachers, whose state in Corinth Paul contrasts with his own.
1 Cor. 4:11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; (KJV)
Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted . . . we are hungry, thirsty, lacked clothing and have been beaten. With this background, WHO would want to be an apostle of Christ? This sounds like Jesus! Mat. 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. (KJV) . . . IF we love Jesus, we, like Paul and the other apostles, will know that this life on Earth is just temporary. Some of us may ever come to this point, but it is possible that we might. There certainly are Christians living on the streets, having no home to go to.
And have no certain dwellingplace . . . Paul and his helpers were travelling preachers, and when they set out in the morning, they did not know not where, or if, they would find a night's lodging. A TRUE Christian does not always have an easy life.
1 Cor. 4:12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: (KJV)
And labour, working with our own hands . . . the apostles were forced to work to sustain themselves with the necessaries of life while preaching the Gospel to others. This, without a doubt, was the way it was in every place were no church had been as yet formed . . . while afterwards, the people of God provided for their pastors, according to their power, with food and clothing.
Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it . . . what a loving picture this reveals! Only the power of the grace of Christ could make this happen. Man is naturally a proud creature, and his pride goads him always to get revenge for himself any way that he can; repay insult with insult. ONLY the amazing grace of Christ can make a man patient in bearing injuries, and render blessing for cursing, kindness for wickedness, etc. The apostles suffered all indignities for Christ's sake; for it was on His account that they were exposed to persecutions.
Mat. 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (KJV)
1 Cor. 4:13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. (KJV)
Being defamed . . . defamed = blasphemed, insulted, slandered, offended. God is blasphemed when his attributes, doctrines, providence, or grace, are treated with contempt, or anything said of Him that is contrary to His holiness, His justice, His goodness or His Truth. Man is blasphemed when anything harmful is spoken of his person, character or conduct, etc. Being defamed is anything by which people are injured in their persons, characters, or property.
We entreat . . . but we pleaded to God for them. They took Jesus’ advice (above) and prayed for their enemies.
We are made as the filth of the earth, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day . . . here there are two words used, which mean the most vile, horrible, contemptible things in the world. Filth is excrements, sweepings of houses. Offscouring is garbage, trash, scum of the earth. Paul is saying that no one could be more base, vile, and contemptible than they were, nothing more despised, or less respected. Paul is not complaining, or in any way discontent at what he saw was the will of God concerning them; but to show them the Corinthians the difference between the apostles, and them and their teachers.
Verses 11-13 . . . SO . . . WHY did the apostles do it??? The apostles had become like the rubbish of the world, and yet they continued on in the jobs that the Master had given them to do. Do you think they will receive the condemnation of Jesus at the Judgment Seat that they had received from the Corinthians? NO way! Jesus will welcome them with open arms.
Paul Rebukes the Corinthians as a Loving, Stern Father,
Warning them to be Ready for His Inspection (1 Cor.4:14-21)
1 Cor. 4:14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. (KJV)
I write not these things to shame you . . . Paul told the Corinthians that it was not his plan to put them to shame by showing them how little they suffered as compared to them. That was not his plan, even though it might have this effect. Paul had no wish to make them ashamed, to appear victorious over them, or to insult them. Paul’s plan was much higher and nobler than that.
But as my beloved sons I warn you . . . as my dear children. Paul speaks as a father to his children, and he said those things for their good. No father would want to make his children ashamed, in his counsels, requests and warnings. He would have a higher purpose than that.
I warn you . . . I do not say these things in a harsh manner, or with a severe spirit of rebuke; but in order to admonish you, to caution you, to instill wisdom into your mind. I say these things not to insult you, but with great hope that they may be the means of your improvement to a more holy life. No man, no minister, should reprove another just to crush him with shame, but the object should always be to make a brother better; and the warning should be so administered as to have this end. It should be done in a kind, tender and loving manner.
1 Thes. 2:11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, (KJV) . . . Paul’s aim was to bring the truth to their minds, and let them see what they really were, as contrasted with what they imagined themselves to be. He wrote only to warn them, both of their duty, to have some respect for Paul and his helpers, and of their sin, which they had neglected far beyond what should have been.
1 Cor. 4:15 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. (KJV)
For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ . . . even though ye have ten thousand instructors (myriads of leaders), meaning an indefinite multitude. Instructor here means educator, which was among the Greeks, the person or servant who attended a child, had the general care of him, and who was to lead him in his education. It seems there were many at Corinth who offered their services to instruct the people, and who were not too fond of the apostle Paul.
Yet have ye not many fathers . . . many offer to instruct you, but they have no parental feeling for you, for you are not their spiritual children, yon stand in this relation to me alone; for in Christ Jesus . . . by the power and unction of His Spirit, Paul had begotten them.
For in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel . . . Paul was the means of bringing the Corinthians into a state of salvation, so that they had been born again. They were Paul’s spiritual children alone, in the Gospel. Paul was the instrument of their conversion, not their instructors.
1 Cor. 4:16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. (KJV)
Wherefore, I beseech you, be ye followers of me . . . Paul told the Corinthians to imitate him; to follow his example. He was able to make this statement because he walked ever so close to Christ, spent much time in God's Word and in prayer, and was aware of God's Presence in his life at all times. Christ was Paul's example; therefore, Paul's life could be an example to other Christians. Paul was not expecting others to imitate everything he did, but they should imitate those aspects of his beliefs and conduct that were modeled after Jesus’ way of living. We all are to imitate Jesus as we live on this Earth, and we certainly must follow Him as our Leader and Master.
1 Cor. 4:17 For 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. (KJV)
For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus . . . in order to remind the Corinthians of Paul’s doctrines and manner of life, Paul sent Timothy, the companion and fellow-laborer of Paul. This was probably when Paul was at Ephesus. Since Paul was hindered from going himself, he sent Timothy as his messenger, who was very well acquainted with Paul’s beliefs and feelings, and that he would do what Paul would do if Paul were there.
Who is my beloved son . . . in the Gospel (Acts 16:1-3; 1 Tim.1:2). He supposed that they would listen to him with great respect.
And faithful in the Lord . . . a TRUE Christian and a faithful servant of Christ; and who is worthy of your confidence.
Who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ . . . my doctrine, my teaching, my mode of life, or my conduct as a Christian and a follower of the Saviour.
As I teach every where in every church . . . this was probably meant to show them that he taught them no new or strange doctrines. Paul simply wished they would conform to the common rules of the churches, and to be like their Christian brethren everywhere. The TRUE Christian church is founded everywhere on the same doctrines; is bound to obey the same laws; and is fitted to cherish the same Saviour! The same spirit that was required in Ephesus or Antioch, was required at Corinth; the same spirit that was required at Corinth, at Ephesus, or at Antioch, is required TODAY!
Timothy's job was to see that Paul's advice was read and applied. Then he was to return to Paul and report on the church's progress.
1 Cor. 4:18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. (KJV)
Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you . . . they are puffed up with vain confidence; they say that I would not dare to come; that I would be afraid to appear among them, to administer discipline, to rebuke them, or to overtake their authority. Paul’s sending Timothy was not to be considered as an indication that Paul himself did not intend to visit Corinth, as some in their pride and self-confidence thought. Their conduct was an instance of the overconfidence and arrogance which men will assume when they think they are in no danger of reproof or punishment.
1 Cor. 4:19 But 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. (KJV)
But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will . . . I will come to you shortly, with God as my Helper. Paul said that he fully intended to visit them, and then I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power . . . not what they can say, but what they can do.
1 Cor. 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. (KJV)
For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power . . . for the Kingdom of God is not in word, in human eloquence, excellence of speech, or even in doctrines; but in power, in the might of the Holy Spirit, which enlightens, quickens, converts and sanctifies believers. The apostles of Christ were enabled, on all necessary occasions, to demonstrate the Truth of their calling by miracles.
1 Cor. 4:21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness? (KJV)
What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness? . . . it depends on you, how I shall come. If you lay aside your contentions and strife; if you administer discipline as you should; if you give yourselves heartily and entirely to the work of the Lord, I shall come, not to reprove or to punish, but as a father and a friend. But if you do not heed my warnings, or the work of Timothy; if you still, continue your disputes, and do not remove the times of offence, I shall come with severity and the language of rebuke. Paul said that he could come either: With a rod, to correct and punish. OR, in the spirit of meekness, comforting and praising instead of chastising. Paul says that it was their decision.
Special comments for this chapter.
Three things God will do at the Judgment Seat:
#1. Bring hidden things to light (1 Cor.3:13)
#2. Reveal secrets of people (Rom.2:16)
#3. Reward each man accordingly (1 Cor.3:11-15; 2 Cor.5:10; Mat.16:27; Rev.22:12)
How the Apostles Died
Simon surnamed Peter: died 33-34 years after the death of Christ. All agree that he was crucified. Peter felt himself to be unworthy to be put to death in the same manner as his Master, and was supposedly at his own request, crucified with his head downward.
James the son of Zebedee: He was put to death by Herod Agrippa I shortly before the day of the Passover, in the year 44 or about 11 years after the death of Christ (Acts 12:1-2). He was beheaded with a sword (Mk.10:39; Acts 12:1-2)
John: No death date, or manner of death is given by early writers. Death date is by guesswork only and is variously assigned as being between 89 AD to 120 AD. He was thrown in boiling oil but unharmed; died of Natural causes ( the only apostle not martyred) & buried near Ephesus about 100AD
Andrew: No accurate death date given. A variety of traditions say he preached in Scythia, in Greece, in Asia Minor and Thrace. He was severely scourged & tied by ropes on x-shaped cross where he hung 2 days to die; this gave rise to the St. Andrews cross on the national flag of Scotland
Philip: The Bible does not say when he died nor do we have accurate information. According to tradition he preached in Phrygia, and died at Hierapolis. He was crucified or hung upside down by hooks through his ankles.
Bartholomew: There is no information concerning his death, not even by tradition. He was supposedly beaten/flayed (skinned alive), and crucified head down or beheaded.
Matthew: He must have lived many years as an apostle, since he was the author of the Gospel of Matthew which was written at least twenty years after the death of Christ. There is reason to believe that he stayed for fifteen years at Jerusalem, after which he went as missionary to the Persians, Parthians and Medes. There is a legend that he died a martyr in Ethiopia, axed to death with a halberd.
Thomas: The earlier traditions, as believed in the fourth century, say he preached in Parthia or Persia, and was finally buried at Edessa. The later traditions carry him farther east. His martyrdom whether in Persia or India, is said to have been lanced by idolatrous priests, and burned up in an oven.
James Alpheus: We know he lived at least five years after the death of Christ because of mentions in the Bible. According to tradition, James son of Alpheus was thrown down from the temple by the scribes and Pharisees; he was then stoned, and his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club. High priest sentencing: on trumped up charges of violating Jewish law; thrown down from the Temple tower, did not die so was clubbed to death with a fullers club; immediately buried in a trench grave with stone marker.
Simon the Canaanite – No information in the Bible; tradition says that he was crucified or sawed in half.
Jude (Thaddeus): according to tradition Jude taught in Armenia, Syria and Persia where he was martyred by crucifixion. Tradition tells us he was buried in Kara Kalisa in what is now Iran.
Paul: Most historians, both secular and church, agree that he was beheaded.
Judas Iscariot: Shortly after the death of Christ Judas killed himself. According to the Bible he hanged himself, (Mat. 27:5) at Aceldama, on the southern slope of the valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, and in the act he fell down a cliff and was supposedly dashed into pieces.
Matthias: (the 11 remaining Apostles chose him to replace Judas). He was supposedly stoned and beheaded.
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