Crossfunction: 1 Corinthians 4: Call this man "Father".

Friday, September 02, 2005

1 Corinthians 4: Call this man "Father".

1 Corinthians Chapter 4 (RSV)

1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4 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 every man will receive his commendation from God. 6 I have applied all this to myself and Apol'los for your benefit, brethren, 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 have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? 8 Already you are filled! 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 ill-clad 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 try to conciliate; we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things.

14 I do not write this 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. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

17 Therefore I sent to you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18 Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. 21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

My paraphrase:
How should You regard us apostles? We are no more than servants of the servants of God, faithful stewards dispensing the mysteries that God has entrusted to us for the good of His children. Like any servants, we are required by our Master to be faithful. Yet whether I am faithful in Your eyes or the judgement of any human court does not matter to me; not even my own judgement about myself matters. I am not aware of anything against me, but that doesn't prove me blameless. It is the Lord -not You or I- who finally will judge me. Therefore do not presume to pass judgement on the Lord's appointed stewards before He comes in judgement. He is the One Who will uncover the secrets of men's hearts and bring to light what is hidden. Then every man will receive his recompense. I have applied all this to myself and Apollos so that You would understand not to set us, Your teachers, against each other through vain alliegances and prideful divisions, nor should You presume to pass judgement on us. God has appointed us Your teachers, and it is for You to receive us in faithfulness and love, just as we have obediently received the Lord's command. Do not subject us to the scales of human judgement.

For are You any different than us? What good, what holiness do You have that You did not receive from God? If it has all been a gift, why are You proud? So quickly You have become wiser than Your teachers! Already you presume to judge us! Without us You have become kings! How I wish You truly would live as spiritual kings, so that we could reign with You! But God is showing the world through us His apostles the example that You should have followed: we are weak -but You triumph in strength; we are despised -yet You revel in honors. Even now we lack food, drink, clothing, shelter, or home. We toil with our own hands. We bless when cursed. We persevere in suffering. We seek peace with those who slander us. We are despised as the scum of the earth.

I don't write this to shame You, but to warn You as my beloved children. Even if You think You have countless "guides" in Christ, You do not have many fathers. For I -not they- became Your father in Christ Jesus through the Lord's revelation, and You should follow my teaching and example.

Therefore, I Your father have sent You Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to represent me to You in Christ. He will teach You with the authority by which I myself teach the churches everywhere. But some do not submit to my authority, perhaps thinking I shall not come to You. But I shall come, if the Lord wills, and I will not be swayed by vain arguments but shall test the true "power" of these arrogant people. For the kingdom of God is not talk but power. Which do You prefer? Must I punish my children, or shall I visit You in gentleness?

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