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    1. account . . . us--Paul and Apollos.
    - ministers of Christ--not heads of the Church in whom ye are severally to glory (1Co 1:12); the headship belongs to Christ alone; we are but His servants ministering to you (1Co 1:13; 3:5, 22).
    - stewards-- (Lu 12:42; 1Pe 4:10). Not the depositories of grace, but dispensers of it ("rightly dividing" or dispensing it), so far as God gives us it, to others. The chazan, or "overseer," in the synagogue answered to the bishop or "angel" of the Church, who called seven of the synagogue to read the law every sabbath, and oversaw them. The parnasin of the synagogue, like the ancient "deacon" of the Church, took care of the poor (Ac 6:1-7) and subsequently preached in subordination to the presbyters or bishops, as Stephen and Philip did. The Church is not the appendage to the priesthood; but the minister is the steward of God to the Church. Man shrinks from too close contact with God; hence he willingly puts a priesthood between, and would serve God by deputy. The pagan (like the modern Romish) priest was rather to conceal than to explain "the mysteries of God." The minister's office is to "preach" (literally, "proclaim as a herald," Mt 10:27) the deep truths of God ("mysteries," heavenly truths, only known by revelation), so far as they have been revealed, and so far as his hearers are disposed to receive them. JOSEPHUS says that the Jewish religion made known to all the people the mysteries of their religion, while the pagans concealed from all but the "initiated" few, the mysteries of theirs.

    2. Moreover--The oldest manuscripts read, "Moreover here" (that is, on earth). The contrast thus is between man's usage as to stewards (1Co 4:2), and God's way (1Co 4:3). Though here below, in the case of stewards, inquiry is made, that one man be found (that is, proved to be) faithful; yet God's steward awaits no such judgment of man, in man's day, but the Lord's judgment in His great day. Another argument against the Corinthians for their partial preferences of certain teachers for their gifts: whereas what God requires in His stewards is faithfulness (1Sa 3:20, Margin; Heb 3:5); as indeed is required in earthly stewards, but with this difference (1Co 4:3), that God's stewards await not man's judgment to test them, but the testing which shall be in the day of the Lord.

    3. it is a very small thing--literally, "it amounts to a very small matter"; not that I despise your judgment, but as compared with God's, it almost comes to nothing.
    - judged . . . of man's judgment--literally, "man's day," contrasted with the day (1Co 3:13) of the Lord (1Co 4:5; 1Th 5:4). "The day of man" is here put before us as a person [WAHL]. All days previous to the day of the Lord are man's days. EMESTI translates the thrice recurring Greek for "judged . . . judge . . . judgeth" (1Co 4:4), thus: To me for my part (though capable of being found faithful) it is a very small matter that I should be approved of by man's judgment; yea, I do not even assume the right of judgment and approving myself--but He that has the right, and is able to judge on my case (the Dijudicator), is the Lord.

    4. by myself--Translate, "I am conscious to myself of no (ministerial) unfaithfulness." BENGEL explains the Greek compound, "to decide in judgments on one in relation to others," not simply to judge.
    - am I not hereby justified--Therefore conscience is not an infallible guide. Paul did not consider his so. This verse is directly against the judicial power claimed by the priests of Rome.

    5. Disproving the judicial power claimed by the Romish priesthood in the confessional.
    - Therefore--as the Lord is the sole Decider or Dijudicator.
    - judge--not the same Greek word as in 1Co 4:3, 4, where the meaning is to approve of or decide on, the merits of one's case. Here all judgments in general are forbidden, which would, on our part, presumptuously forestall God's prerogative of final judgment.
    - Lord--Jesus Christ, whose "ministers" we are (1Co 4:1), and who is to be the judge (Joh 5:22, 27; Ac 10:42; 17:31).
    - manifest . . . hearts--Our judgments now (as those of the Corinthians respecting their teachers) are necessarily defective; as we only see the outward act, we cannot see the motives of "hearts." "Faithfulness" (1Co 4:2) will hereby be estimated, and the "Lord" will "justify," or the reverse (1Co 4:4), according to the state of the heart.
    - then shall every man have praise-- (1Co 3:8; 1Sa 26:23; Mt 25:21, 23, 28). Rather, "his due praise," not exaggerated praise, such as the Corinthians heaped on favorite teachers; "the praise" (so the Greek) due for acts estimated by the motives. "Then," not before: therefore wait till then (Jas 5:7).

    6. And--"Now," marking transition.
    - in a figure transferred to myself--that is, I have represented under the persons of Apollos and myself what really holds good of all teachers, making us two a figure or type of all the others. I have mentioned us two, whose names have been used as a party cry; but under our names I mean others to be understood, whom I do not name, in order not to shame you [ESTIUS].
    - not to think, &c.--The best manuscripts omit "think." Translate, "That in us (as your example) ye might learn (this), not (to go) beyond what is written." Revere the silence of Holy Writ, as much as its declarations: so you will less dogmatize on what is not expressly revealed (De 29:29).
    - puffed up for one--namely, "for one (favorite minister) against another." The Greek indicative implies, "That ye be not puffed up as ye are."

    7. Translate, "Who distinguisheth thee (above another)?" Not thyself, but God.
    - glory, as if thou hadst not received it--as if it was to thyself, not to God, thou owest the receiving of it.

    8. Irony. Translate, "Already ye are filled full (with spiritual food), already ye are rich, ye have seated yourselves upon your throne as kings, without us." The emphasis is on "already" and "without us"; ye act as if ye needed no more to "hunger and thirst after righteousness," and as if already ye had reached the "kingdom" for which Christians have to strive and suffer. Ye are so puffed up with your favorite teachers, and your own fancied spiritual attainments in knowledge through them, that ye feel like those "filled full" at a feast, or as a "rich" man priding himself in his riches: so ye feel ye can now do "without us," your first spiritual fathers (1Co 4:15). They forgot that before the "kingdom" and the "fulness of joy," at the marriage feast of the Lamb, must come the cross, and suffering, to every true believer (2Ti 2:5, 11, 12). They were like the self-complacent Laodiceans (Re 3:17; compare Ho 12:8). Temporal fulness and riches doubtless tended in some cases at Corinth, to generate this spiritual self-sufficiency; the contrast to the apostle's literal "hunger and thirst" (1Co 4:11) proves this.
    - I would . . . ye did reign--Translate, "I would indeed," &c. I would truly it were so, and that your kingdom had really begun.
    - that we also might reign with you-- (2Co 12:14). "I seek not yours, but you." Your spiritual prosperity would redound to that of us, your fathers in Christ (1Co 9:23). When you reach the kingdom, you shall be our "crown of rejoicing, in the presence of our Lord Jesus" (1Th 2:19).

    9. For--assigning the reason for desiring that the "reign" of himself and his fellow apostles with the Corinthians were come; namely, the present afflictions of the former.
    - I think--The Corinthians (1Co 3:18) "seemed" to (literally, as here, "thought") themselves "wise in this world." Paul, in contrast, "thinks" that God has sent forth him and his fellow ministers "last," that is, the lowest in this world. The apostles fared worse than even the prophets, who, though sometimes afflicted, were often honored (2Ki 1:10; 5:9; 8:9, 12).
    - set forth--as a spectacle or gazing-stock.
    - us the apostles--Paul includes Apollos with the apostles, in the broader sense of the word; so Ro 16:7; 2Co 8:23 (Greek for "messengers," apostles).
    - as it were appointed to death--as criminals condemned to die.
    - made a spectacle--literally, "a theatrical spectacle." So the Greek in Heb 10:33, "made a gazing-stock by reproaches and afflictions." Criminals "condemned to die," in Paul's time, were exhibited as a gazing-stock to amuse the populace in the amphitheater. They were "set forth last" in the show, to fight with wild beasts. This explains the imagery of Paul here. (Compare TERTULLIAN [On Modesty, 14]).
    - the world--to the whole world, including "both angels and men"; "the whole family in heaven and earth" (Eph 3:15). As Jesus was "seen of angels" (1Ti 3:16), so His followers are a spectacle to the holy angels who take a deep interest in all the progressive steps of redemption (Eph 3:10; 1Pe 1:12). Paul tacitly implies that though "last" and lowest in the world's judgment, Christ's servants are deemed by angels a spectacle worthy of their most intense regard [CHRYSOSTOM]. However, since "the world" is a comprehensive expression, and is applied in this Epistle to the evil especially (1Co 1:27, 28), and since the spectators (in the image drawn from the amphitheater) gaze at the show with savage delight, rather than with sympathy for the sufferers, I think bad angels are included, besides good angels. ESTIUS makes the bad alone to be meant. But the generality of the term "angels," and its frequent use in a good sense, as well as Eph 3:10; 1Pe 1:12, incline me to include good as well as bad angels, though, for the reasons stated above, the bad may be principally meant.

    10. Irony. How much your lot (supposing it real) is to be envied, and ours to be pitied.
    - fools-- (1Co 1:21; 3:18; compare Ac 17:18; 26:24).
    - for Christ's sake . . . in Christ--Our connection with Christ only entails on us the lowest ignominy, "ON ACCOUNT OF," or, "FOR THE SAKE OF" Him, as "fools"; yours gives you full fellowship IN Him as "wise" (that is, supposing you really are all you seem, 1Co 3:18).
    - we . . . weak . . . ye . . . strong-- (1Co 2:3; 2Co 13:9).
    - we . . . despised-- (2Co 10:10) because of our "weakness," and our not using worldly philosophy and rhetoric, on account of which ye Corinthians and your teachers are (seemingly) so "honorable." Contrast with "despised" the "ye (Galatians) despised not my temptation . . . in my flesh" (Ga 4:14).

    11. (2Co 11:23-27).
    - naked--that is, insufficiently clad (Ro 8:35).
    - buffeted--as a slave


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