1 Corinthians 4:12-13

12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;
13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.

1 Corinthians 4:12 in Other Translations

KJV
12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
ESV
12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;
NLT
12 We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us.
MSG
12 and we pick up odd jobs anywhere we can to eke out a living. When they call us names, we say, "God bless you."
CSB
12 we labor, working with our own hands. When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;

1 Corinthians 4:12-13 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO 1 CORINTHIANS 4

The chief heads of this chapter are the account that ought to be had of the ministers of the Gospel; cautions against censoriousness, rash judgment, pride, and self-conceit; the uncomfortable circumstances and situation of the ministers of the Gospel for the sake of preaching it; the apostle's fatherly affection to the Corinthians, and his authority over them; his resolution in submission to the will of God of coming to them, and the manner in which it might be expected he would come. The apostle exhorts to have in proper esteem the preachers of the Gospel, and that because they are Christ's ministers and stewards of his grace, and faithful in the discharge of their duty, 1Co 4:1,2. And as for himself, whom he includes in the number of the faithful dispensers of the word, he cared not what judgment was passed upon him; nor should he think fit to be set down by it, partly because it was human, and arose from an ill spirit; and partly because he judged himself; as also because his conscience testified that he faithfully discharged his office; and besides, the Lord was his judge, 1Co 4:3,4 who in his own time would judge him; and he, as every other faithful minister, shall have praise of God, and therefore before that time judgment was not to be passed by men, 1Co 4:5 and then gives a reason why he had mentioned his own name, and the name of Apollos, under such figurative expressions as he had done in the preceding chapter, that they might be examples of modesty and humility for others to follow, 1Co 4:6 and expostulates with those who were vainly puffed up in their fleshly minds; that seeing they were no better than others, and what gifts they had were not of themselves, but of God, they had no reason to glory and vaunt it over others, 1Co 4:7 and in an ironical way expresses the exalted and flourishing condition they were in, and which he rather wishes than asserts, and which carries in it a sort of a denial of it, 1Co 4:8 and goes on to represent the miserable condition that the faithful preachers and followers of Christ were in, and that in order to abate the pride and swelling vanity of these men, 1Co 4:9-13 showing, that it was far from being a reigning time in the churches of Christ; his end in mentioning which, as well as the sharpness he had used in reproving, were not in order to expose them to shame, but for their admonition, 1Co 4:14 and that he did not take too much upon him in dealing thus freely and roundly with them, appears from the spiritual relation he stood in to them, as a father, 1Co 4:15 and therefore it became them as children to submit to him, and imitate him, 1Co 4:16 and an instance of his paternal care of them, and love to them, was his sending Timothy among them, whose character he gives, and whose work and usefulness he points out to them, 1Co 4:17, and closes the chapter with a promise of coming to them, if it was agreeable to the will of God; and the rather he was bent upon it, because some had given out he would not come, and rejoiced at it; wherefore, in order to try them, whether they were only verbal or powerful professors, he was desirous of coming to them, 1Co 4:18,19 since religion did not lie in talking, but in an inward powerful experience of things, 1Co 4:20 which he feared was wanting in some by their outward conversation; and therefore puts a question in what way they would chose he should come unto them, and hence should accordingly order their conversation and behaviour, 1Co 4:21.

1 Corinthians 4:12-13 In-Context

10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!
11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.
12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;
13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.
14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children.
15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.

Cross References 4

  • 1. S Acts 18:3
  • 2. Romans 12:14; 1 Peter 3:9
  • 3. S Matthew 5:44
  • 4. Jeremiah 20:18; Lamentations 3:45
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