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1 Corinthians 4

4
God is the judge
1What need have we then of any other wisdom than this divine sort? 2We are servants of Christ, we have the stewardship of God's mysteries. And as such we must be faithful. 3-4It is small matter to me what men decide about me, what their criticisms may be. These human judgments and criticisms do not concern the truth of the Gospel. It is the day of the Lord that judges man, separating truth from fiction. 5Therefore I do not even judge myself, I do not exercise my conscience over my degree of faithfulness or the reverse. But that is not my justification, I am not justified simply because my conscience is at rest, I am justified because God is judging me. Wait then for His judgment. It will come to pass — that severance of truth and falsehood, faith and faithlessness. Leave it to God and do not usurp his function before the time, when the light shall shine, when the darkness shall collapse, when the hidden purposes of the heart shall resolve themselves, and man's praise and honour shall come to him from God alone.
The apostles as an example
6Have you learned from me and Apollos? and are you going to make these new acquisitions and possessions a thing to be conceited and self-sufficient about, a thing to judge others in, and put yourself above another? But indulge nothing beyond what is written in our teaching.
7This sensitiveness to praise or blame, and this setting of one teacher above another is no part of the Gospel. Whence come your enlightenment, your wisdom, your treasures of joy and deep riches of the spirit, whence your fulness, completion and victory? From yourselves? Or is it given you in Christ? 8Yes, that is your state in Christ, yet has the Kingdom still to be striven for, you cannot yet call these things your own, and boast of them as such; whilst the world still rules, whilst we apostles are like arena criminals condemned to make a spectacle for others, whilst we are defenceless and weak, will you boast of your victory, will you be strong and self-sufficient? 9Whilst the world and angels and man unite to watch our struggles and efforts, are you reigning at peace with the saints in Christ? 10Whilst we are fools, are you wise in Christ? Whilst we are dishonoured, have you the safety and the glory of the truth? Yes, all that is true, yet I would have you not to glory over it, but to remember the condition of us who taught you. 11We are still hungering and thirsty, we are still naked and buffeted and amazed, 12we still work with our hands to gain a living. We are reviled and we bless, we are persecuted and we endure, 13we are cursed and we turn it aside. Up to the present moment, the very moment that I write to you, we are the outcasts and pariahs of society, its very dregs and offscourings. Think of this when you are tempted to become wise and self-sufficient in your own eyes, to set one man's teaching above another's, and make the Christ a matter of vain-glorious disputation and theory.
Paul as father rather than teacher
14And yet I would not speak harshly to you and condemn you, but I appeal to you as to children whom I love. 15Am I your teacher? Am I not rather the father that begot you in the faith by the Gospel and is that not something more than a mere teacher — a man may have many tutors but only one father. 16If that is our relationship then be like me, be imitative of me. 17That is why I have sent you Timothy, my faithful, my beloved son in the Lord, to tell you of my bonds, of my life in Christ, and to remind you of what my teaching is and always has been in the Christ. 18But because I have not come myself, there have arisen certain persons among you with an exaggerated opinion of their own importance. 19And that being so, I shall, if the Lord so will, come to you myself and visit you, and when I come, it will not be with the dialectic of these self-assertive teachers, but with the word of power. 20In that is the kingdom of God, not theory and contention but spiritual power. 21What then? Shall I come to you as a master with rod and rule, or in the spirit of love and gentleness?
4
The Work of the Apostles
1People should think of us as servants of Christ and managers who are entrusted with God’s mysteries. 2Managers are required to be trustworthy.
3It means very little to me that you or any human court should cross-examine me. I don’t even ask myself questions. 4I have a clear conscience, but that doesn’t mean I have God’s approval. It is the Lord who cross-examines me. 5Therefore, don’t judge anything before the appointed time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will also bring to light what is hidden in the dark and reveal people’s motives. Then each person will receive praise from God.
6Brothers and sisters, I have applied this to Apollos and myself for your sake. You should learn from us not to go beyond what is written in Scripture. Then you won’t arrogantly place one of us in opposition to the other.
7Who says that you are any better than other people? What do you have that wasn’t given to you? If you were given what you have, why are you bragging as if it weren’t a gift?
8You already have what you want! You’ve already become rich! You’ve become kings without us! I wish you really were kings so that we could be kings with you.
9As I see it, God has placed us apostles last in line, like people condemned to die. We have become a spectacle for people and angels to look at. 10We have given up our wisdom for Christ, but you have insight because of Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are honored, but we are dishonored. 11To this moment, we are hungry, thirsty, poorly dressed, roughly treated, and homeless. 12We wear ourselves out doing physical labor. When people verbally abuse us, we bless them. When people persecute us, we endure it. 13When our reputations are attacked, we remain courteous. Right now we have become garbage in the eyes of the world and trash in the sight of all people.
14I’m not writing this to make you feel ashamed but to instruct you as my dear children. 15You may have countless Christian guardians, but you don’t have many ⌞spiritual⌟ fathers. I became your father in the Christian life by telling you the Good News about Christ Jesus. 16So I encourage you to imitate me. 17That’s why I’ve sent Timothy to you to help you remember my Christian way of life as I teach it everywhere in every church. Timothy is my dear child, and he faithfully does the Lord’s work.
18Some of you have become arrogant because you think I won’t pay you a visit. 19If it’s the Lord’s will, I’ll visit you soon. Then I’ll know what these arrogant people are saying and what power they have. 20God’s kingdom is not just talk, it is power.
21When I come to visit you, would you prefer that I punish you or show you love and a gentle spirit?