1 Corinthians 4:6-13

6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers,[a] that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may 1be puffed up in favor of one against another.
7 For who sees anything different in you? 2What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!
9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, 3like men sentenced to death, because we 4have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.
10 5We are fools for Christ's sake, but 6you are wise in Christ. 7We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.
11 To the present hour 8we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and 9buffeted and 10homeless,
12 and we 11labor, working with our own hands. 12When reviled, we bless; 13when persecuted, we endure;
13 when slandered, we entreat. 14We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, 15the refuse of all things.

1 Corinthians 4:6-13 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 4:6-13 In-Context

4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.
7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!
9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.
10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.
11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless,
12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;
13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.
14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.
15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Cross References 15

  • 1. ver. 18, 19; 1 Corinthians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 13:4
  • 2. John 3:27; [1 Chronicles 29:14; James 1:17; 1 Peter 4:10]
  • 3. See Romans 8:36
  • 4. Hebrews 10:33(Gk.); [Isaiah 20:3]
  • 5. [Acts 17:18]; See 1 Corinthians 1:18; Acts 26:24
  • 6. 2 Corinthians 11:19
  • 7. 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 13:9
  • 8. Romans 8:35; 2 Corinthians 11:27; Philippians 4:12
  • 9. 2 Corinthians 11:20, 23
  • 10. [Matthew 8:20]
  • 11. See Acts 18:3
  • 12. See 1 Peter 3:9
  • 13. See John 15:20
  • 14. [Isaiah 30:22; Isaiah 64:6]
  • 15. Lamentations 3:45

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or brothers and sisters