1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.
2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
And now we get an example of the sort of false teaching that Paul is concerned about. The church is always being attacked for not being lenient enough toward sexual immorality but here Paul is clear that we are not lenient about these matters. This fellow he uses as an example, some guy who has been sleeping with his fathers wife is to be removed from the church. (It is to be pointed out however that in the second letter this fellow seems to have repented and is to be forgiven).
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.
16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
17 That is why I sent 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?
1 Corinthians 4
Paul sees himself as a father to the church in Corinthians because he was the one who first told them the gospel. He is obviously concerned about some false teaching that has entered the church and intends to send Timothy to them to sort out the false from the true. The test for this is in their power. The question that naturally comes to us as we read is : What does he mean by power? So I read over Corinthians again looking for a mention of power
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
So the power we are looking for is previously referred to in the same letter.
I find in Church their is a judgement towards those who may enjoy studying theology that is sometimes wrongly applied using these verses. People don’t like being corrected and when we are corrected it might be tempting to say that it’s not about talk but about power.
But the talk Paul is talking about is that used by Greek philosophers that were popular in that time period. A good theologian will be focusing on Christ crucified and using the bible to explain and correct.
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.
As Christians no one is better than another and we can’t be judged by the standards of this world. If the apostles struggled with getting food, clothing were treated with dishonour, then we can expect the same. The idea that if you are not rich , you do not have enough faith is ruined by this verse, Paul had faith, but look to verse 11. If God has answered your prayers and given you good things it does not mean you are more important than anyone else.
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 faithful.
3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.
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.
Paul and Apollos worked together as a part of the same team. Paul as an apostle but here he has been emphasising himself mainly as a gospel preacher, and Apollos as the trainer or teacher, paster. It is tempting even now to see these people as special and above the rest. Paul explains that they should be seen only as stewards of Christ. He once again emphasises the importance of Jesus. Now he confirms in verse 2 that it is important that stewards remain faithful. That is that they share the mysteries of God truthfully. However whether or not he is being faithful is only for God to decide. So now we read Paul’s words in trust that they are the inspired word of God. It is not our job to judge him but it is God’s. We need to be aware of judging others.
I am aware that there are some well known preachers who are not teaching good stuff. In church history the Roman Catholic Church had to be stopped. So a really good question is where is the boundary for action, this passage has me believing that we must blindly trust everything that passes from the pastors lips. I don’t believe that is true.
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.
11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw-
13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 3
I get confused about this passage I must admit but I believe it is talking about the gospel preacher as the one who lays the foundation. In the context of the passage I. Think he is talking about theology. The first thing we learn is Jesus Christ. From there on a variety of ministers, teachers etc will continue to teach others, the passage describes the quality of teaching as metorphorically on a scale from gold to straw. Then there is a definite warning that if we teach rubbish we will suffer loss, but not loss of salvation. It is a different story for those that “destroy God’s temple” I don’t think this is talking about murder, although Christians were suffering persecution, the passage has been addressing Christian arguing. With this in mind I would think that destroying God’s temple is about teaching that causes the loss of salvation. Though I’m the first to admit that I’m not sure what that verse means. 🙂