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  • ROBERTSON'S NT WORD STUDIES
    & BIBLE COMMENTARY - 1 CORINTHIANS 4

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    4:1 {Ministers of Christ} (huperetas cristou). Paul and all ministers (diakonous) of the New Covenant (#1Co 3:5) are under-rowers, subordinate rowers of Christ, only here in Paul's Epistles, though in the Gospels (#Lu 4:20 the attendant in the synagogue) and the Acts (#Ac 13:5) of John Mark. The {so} (houtws) gathers up the preceding argument (#3:5-23) and applies it directly by the {as} (hws) that follows. {Stewards of the mysteries of God} (oikonomous musteriwn qeou). The steward or house manager (oikos, house, nemw, to manage, old word) was a slave (doulos) under his lord (kurios, #Lu 12:42), but a master (#Lu 16:1) over the other slaves in the house (menservants paidas, maidservants paidiskas #Lu 12:45), an overseer (epitropos) over the rest (#Mt 20:8). Hence the under-rower (huperetes) of Christ has a position of great dignity as steward (oikonomos) of the mysteries of God. Jesus had expressly explained that the mysteries of the kingdom were open to the disciples (#Mt 13:11). They were entrusted with the knowledge of some of God's secrets though the disciples were not such apt pupils as they claimed to be (#Mt 13:51; 16:8-12). As stewards Paul and other ministers are entrusted with the mysteries (see on 1Co 2:7 for this word) of God and are expected to teach them. "The church is the oikos (#1Ti 3:15), God the oikodespotes (#Mt 13:52), the members the oikeioi (#Ga 6:10; Eph 2:19)" (Lightfoot). Paul had a vivid sense of the dignity of this stewardship (oikonomia) of God given to him (#Col 1:25; Eph 1:10). The ministry is more than a mere profession or trade. It is a calling from God for stewardship.

    4:2 {Here} (hwde). Either here on earth or in this matter. It is always local. {Moreover} (loipon). Like loipon in #1:16 which see, accusative of general reference, as for what is left, besides. {It is required} (zeteitai). It is sought. Many MSS. read zeteite, ye seek, an easy change as ai and e came to be pronounced alike (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 186). {That a man be found faithful} (hina pistos tis heureqei). Non-final use of hina with first aorist passive subjunctive of heuriskw, the result of the seeking (zetew). Fidelity is the essential requirement in all such human relationships, in other words, plain honesty in handling money like bank-clerks or in other positions of trust like public office.

    4:3 {But with me} (emoi de). The ethical dative of personal relation and interest, "as I look at my own case." Cf. #Php 1:21. {It is a very small thing} (eis elaciston estin). this predicate use of eis is like the Hebrew, but it occurs also in the papyri. The superlative elaciston is elative, very little, not the true superlative, least. "It counts for very little with me." {That I should be judged of you} (hina huf' humwn anakriqw). Same use of hina as in verse #2. For the verb (first aorist passive subjunctive of anakrinw) see on 1Co 2:14f. Paul does not despise public opinion, but he denies "the competency of the tribunal" in Corinth (Robertson and Plummer) to pass on his credentials with Christ as his Lord. {Or of man's judgement} (e hupo anqrwpines hemeras). Or "by human day," in contrast to the Lord's Day (_der Tag_) in #3:13. "_That_ is the tribunal which the Apostle recognizes; a _human_ tribunal he does not care to satisfy" (Robertson and Plummer). {Yea, I judge not mine own self} (all' oude emauton anakrinw). alla here is confirmatory, not adversative. "I have often wondered how it is that every man sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others" (M. Aurelius, xii. 4. Translated by Robertson and Plummer). Paul does not even set himself up as judge of himself.

    4:4 {For I know nothing against myself} (ouden gar emautwi sunoida). Not a statement of fact, but an hypothesis to show the unreliability of mere complacent self-satisfaction. Note the use of sunoida (second perfect active indicative with dative (disadvantage) of the reflexive pronoun) for guilty knowledge against oneself (cf. #Ac 5:2; 12:12; 14:6). {Yet} (all'). Adversative use of alla. {Am I not hereby justified} (ouk en toutwi dedikaiwmai). Perfect passive indicative of state of completion. Failure to be conscious of one's own sins does not mean that one is innocent. Most prisoners plead "not guilty." Who is the judge of the steward of the mysteries of God? It is the Lord "that judgeth me" (ho anakrinwn me). Probably, who examines me and qen passes on my fidelity (pistos in verse #2).

    4:5 {Wherefore} (hwste). As in #3:21 which see. {Judge nothing} (me ti krinete). Stop passing judgment, stop criticizing as they were doing. See the words of Jesus in #Mt 7:1. The censorious habit was ruining the Corinthian Church. {Before the time} (pro kairou). The day of the Lord in #3:13. "Do not therefore anticipate the great judgment (krisis) by any preliminary investigation (anakrisis) which must be futile and incomplete" (Lightfoot). {Until the Lord come} (hews an elqei ho kurios). Common idiom of hews and the aorist subjunctive with or without an for a future event. Simple futurity, but held forth as a glorious hope, the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus as Judge. {Who will both bring to light} (hos kai fwtisei). Future indicative of this late verb (in papyri also) from fws (light), to turn the light on the hidden things of darkness. {And make manifest} (kai fanerwsei). (Ionic and late) causative verb fanerow from faneros. By turning on the light the counsels of all hearts stand revealed. {His praise} (ho epainos). The praise (note article) due him from God (#Ro 2:29) will come to each qen (tote) and not till qen. Meanwhile Paul will carry on and wait for the praise from God.

    4:6 {I have in a figure transferred} (metescematisa). First aorist active (not perfect) indicative of meta-scematizw, used by Plato and Aristotle for changing the form of a thing (from meta, after, and scema, form or habit, like Latin _habitus_ from ecw and so different from morfe as in #Php 2:7; Ro 12:2). For the idea of refashioning see Field, _Notes_, p. 169f. and Preisigke, _Fachworter_). Both Greek and Latin writers (Quintilian, Martial) used scema for a rhetorical artifice. Paul's use of the word (in Paul only in N.T.) appears also further in #2Co 11:13-15 where the word occurs three times, twice of the false apostles posing and passing as apostles of Christ and ministers of righteousness, and once of Satan as an angel of light, twice with eis and once with hws. In #Php 3:21 the word is used for the change in the body of our humiliation to the body of glory. But here it is clearly the rhetorical figure for a veiled allusion to Paul and Apollos "for your sakes" (dia humas). {That in us ye may learn} (hina en hemin maqete). Final clause with hina and the second aorist active subjunctive of manqanw, to learn. As an object lesson in our cases (en hemin). It is no more true of Paul and Apollos than of other ministers, but the wrangles in Corinth started about them. So Paul boldly puts himself and Apollos to the fore in the discussion of the principles involved. {Not to go beyond the things which are written} (to me huper ha gegraptai). It is difficult to reproduce the Greek idiom in English. The article to is in the accusative case as the object of the verb maqete (learn) and points at the words "M huper ha gegraptai," apparently a proverb or rule, and elliptical in form with no principal verb expressed with me, whether "think" (Auth.) or "go" (Revised). There was a constant tendency to smooth out Paul's ellipses as in #2Th 2:3; 1Co 1:26,31. Lightfoot thinks that Paul may have in mind O.T. passages quoted in #1Co 1:19,31; 3:19,20. {That ye be not puffed up} (hina me fusiousqe). Sub-final use of hina (second use in this sentence) with notion of result. It is not certain whether fusiousqe (late verb form like fusiaw, fusaw, to blow up, to inflate, to puff up), used only by Paul in the N.T., is present indicative with hina like zeloute in #Ga 4:17 (cf. hina ginwskomen in #1Jo 5:20) or the present subjunctive by irregular contraction (Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 203, 342f.), probably the present indicative. fusiow is from fusis (nature) and so meant to make natural, but it is used by Paul just like fusaw or fusiaw (from fusa, a pair of bellows), a vivid picture of self-conceit. {One for the one against the other} (heis huper tou henos kata tou heterou). this is the precise idea of this idiom of partitive apposition. this is the rule with partisans. They are "for" (huper) the one and "against" (kata, down on, the genitive case) the other (tou heterou, not merely another or a second, but the different sort, heterodox).

    4:7 {Maketh thee to differ} (se diakrinei). Distinguishes thee, separates thee. diakrinw means to sift or separate between (dia) as in #Ac 15:9 (which see) where metaxu is added to make it plainer. All self-conceit rests on the notion of superiority of gifts and graces as if they were self-bestowed or self-acquired. {Which thou didst not receive} (ho ouk elabes). "Another home-thrust" (Robertson and Plummer). Pride of intellect, of blood, of race, of country, of religion, is thus shut out. {Dost thou glory} (kaucasai). The original second person singular middle ending -sai is here preserved with variable vowel contraction, kaucaesai=kaucasai (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 341). Paul is fond of this old and bold verb for boasting. {As if thou hadst not received it} (hws me labwn). this neat participial clause (second aorist active of lambanw) with hws (assumption) and negative me punctures effectually the inflated bag of false pride. What pungent questions Paul has asked. Robertson and Plummer say of Augustine, "Ten years before the challenge of Pelagius, the study of St. Paul's writings, and especially of this verse and of #Ro 9:16, had crystallized in his mind the distinctively Augustinian doctrines of man's total depravity, of irresistible grace, and of absolute predestination." Human responsibility does exist beyond a doubt, but there is no foundation for pride and conceit.

    4:8 {Already are ye filled?} (ede kekoresmenoi este?). Perfect passive indicative, state of completion, of korennumi, old Greek verb to satiate, to satisfy. The only other example in N.T. is #Ac 27:38 which see. Paul may refer to #De 31:20; 32:15. But it is keen irony, even sarcasm. Westcott and Hort make it a question and the rest of the sentence also. {Already ye are become rich} (ede eploutesate). Note change to ingressive aorist indicative of ploutew, old verb to be rich (cf. #2Co 8:9). "The aorists, used instead of perfects, imply indecent haste" (Lightfoot). "They have got a private millennium of their own" (Robertson & Plummer) with all the blessings of the Messianic Kingdom (#Lu 22:29f.; 1Th 2:12; 2Ti 2:12). {Ye have reigned without us} (cwris hemwn ebasileusate). Withering sarcasm. Ye became kings without our company. Some think that Paul as in #3:21 is purposely employing Stoic phraseology though with his own meanings. If so, it is hardly consciously done. Paul was certainly familiar with much of the literature of his time, but it did not shape his ideas. {I would that ye did reign} (kai ofelon ge ebasileusate). More exactly, "And would at least that ye had come to reign (or become kings)." It is an unfulfilled wish about the past expressed by ofelon and the aorist indicative instead of ei gar and the aorist indicative (the ancient idiom). See Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 1003, for the construction with particle ofelon (an unaugmented second aorist form). {That we also might reign with you} (hina kai hemeis humin sunbasileuswmen). Ironical contrast to cwris hemwn ebasileusate, just before. Associative instrumental case of humin after sun-.

    4:9 {Hath set forth us the apostles last} (hemas tous apostolous escatous apedeixen). The first aorist active indicative of apodeiknumi, old verb to show, to expose to view or exhibit (Herodotus), in technical sense (cf. #2Th 2:4) for gladiatorial show as in eqeriomacesa (#1Co 15:32). In this grand pageant Paul and other apostles come last (escatous, predicate accusative after apedeixen) as a grand finale. {As men doomed to die} (hws epiqanatious). Late word, here alone in N.T. The LXX (Bel and the Dragon 31) has it for those thrown daily to the lions. Dionysius of Halicarnassus (_A.R_. vii. 35) uses it of those thrown from the Tarpeian Rock. The gladiators would say _morituri salutamus_. All this in violent contrast to the kingly Messianic pretensions of the Corinthians. {A spectacle} (qeatron). Cf. #Heb 11:33-40. The word, like our theatre, means the place of the show (#Ac 19:29,31). qen, it means the spectacle shown there (qeama or qea), and, as here, the man exhibited as the show like the verb qeatrizomenoi, made a spectacle (#Heb 10:33). Sometimes it refers to the spectators (qeatai) like our "house" for the audience. Here the spectators include "the world, both to angels and menw (twi kosmwi kai aggelois kai anqrwpois), dative case of personal interest.

    4:10 {We--you} (hemeis--humeis). Triple contrast in keenest ironical emphasis. "The three antitheses refer respectively to teaching, demeanour, and worldly position" (Robertson and Plummer). The apostles were fools for Christ's sake (#2Co 4:11; Php 3:7). They made "union with Christ the basis of worldly wisdom" (Vincent). There is change of order (chiasm) in the third ironical contrast. They are over strong in pretension. endoxos, illustrious, is one of the 103 words found only in Luke and Paul in the N.T. Notion of display and splendor.

    4:11 {Even unto this present hour} (acri tes arti hwras). arti (just now, this very minute) accents the continuity of the contrast as applied to Paul. Ten verbs and four participles from #11-13 give a graphic picture of Paul's condition in Ephesus when he is writing this epistle. {We hunger} (peinwmen), {we thirst} (diywmen), {are naked} (gumniteuomen), late verb for scant clothing from gumnetes, {are buffeted} (kolafizomeqa), to strike a blow with the fist from kolafos and one of the few N.T. and ecclesiastical words and see on Mt 26:67, {have no certain dwelling place} (astatoumen) from astatos, strolling about and only here save Anthol. Pal. and Aquila in #Isa 58:7. Field in _Notes_, p. 170 renders #1Co 4:11 "and are vagabonds" or spiritual hobos.

    4:12 {We toil} (kopiwmen). Common late verb for weariness in toil (#Lu 5:5), {working with our own hands} (ergazomenoi tais idiais cersin) instrumental case cersin and not simply for himself but also for Aquila and Priscilla as he explains in #Ac 20:34. this personal touch gives color to the outline. Paul alludes to this fact often (#1Th 2:9; 2Th 3:8; 1Co 9:6; 2Co 11:7). "Greeks despised manual labor; St. Paul glories in it" (Robertson and Plummer). Cf. Deissmann, _Light, etc._, p. 317. {Being reviled we bless} (loidoroumenoi eulogoumen). Almost the language of Peter about Jesus (#1Pe 2:23) in harmony with the words of Jesus in #Mt 5:44; Lu 6:27. {Being persecuted we endure} (diwkomenoi anecomeqa). We hold back and do not retaliate. Turn to Paul's other picture of his experiences in the vivid contrasts in #2Co 4:7-10; 6:3-10 for an interpretation of his language here.

    4:13 {Being defamed we intreat} (dusfemoumenoi parakaloumen). The participle dusfemoumenoi is an old verb (in I Macc. 7:41) to use ill, from dusfemos, but occurs here only in the N.T. Paul is opening his very heart now after the keen irony above. {As the filth of the world} (hws perikaqarmata tou kosmou). Literally, sweepings, rinsings, cleansings around, dust from the floor, from perikaqairw, to cleanse all around (Plato and Aristotle) and so the refuse thrown off in cleansing. Here only in the N.T. and only twice elsewhere. kaqarma was the refuse of a sacrifice. In #Pr 21:18 perikaqarma occurs for the scapegoat. The other example is Epictetus iii. 22,78, in the same sense of an expiatory offering of a worthless fellow. It was the custom in Athens during a plague to throw to the sea some wretch in the hope of appeasing the gods. One hesitates to take it so here in Paul, though Findlay thinks that possibly in Ephesus Paul may have heard some such cry like that in the later martyrdoms _Christiani ad leones_. At any rate in #1Co 15:32 Paul says "I fought with wild beasts" and in #2Co 1:9 "I had the answer of death." Some terrible experience may be alluded to here. The word shows the contempt of the Ephesian populace for Paul as is shown in #Ac 19:23-41 under the influence of Demetrius and the craftsmen. {The offscouring of all things} (pantwn periyema). Late word, here only in N.T., though in Tob. 5:18. The word was used in a formula at Athens when victims were flung into the sea, periyema hemwn genou (Became a periyema for us), in the sense of expiation. The word merely means scraping around from periyaw, offscrapings or refuse. That is probably the idea here as in Tob. 5:18. It came to have a complimentary sense for the Christians who in a plague gave their lives for the sick. But it is a bold figure here with Paul of a piece with perikaqarmata.

    4:14 {To shame you} (entrepwn). Literally, shaming you (present active participle of entrepw), old verb to turn one on himself either middle or with reflexive pronoun and active, but the reflexive heautois is not expressed here. See on 2Th 3:14. The harsh tone has suddenly changed.

    4:15 {To admonish} (nouqetwn). Literally, admonishing (present active participle of nouqetew). See on 1Th 5:12,14. {For though ye should have} (ean gar ecete). Third-class condition undetermined, but with prospect of being determined (ean and present subjunctive), "for if ye have." {Tutors} (paidagwgous). this old word (pais, boy, agwgos, leader) was used for the guide or attendant of the child who took him to school as in #Ga 3:24 (Christ being the schoolmaster) and also as a sort of tutor who had a care for the child when not in school. The papyri examples (Moulton and Milligan, _Vocabulary_) illustrate both aspects of the paedagogue. Here it is the "tutor in Christ" who is the Teacher. These are the only two N.T. examples of the common word. {I begot you} (humas egennesa). Paul is their {spiritual father} in Christ, while Apollos and the rest are their {tutors} in Christ.

    4:16 {Be ye imitators of me} (mimetai mou ginesqe). "Keep on becoming (present middle imperative) imitators of me (objective genitive)." mimetes is an old word from mimeomai, to copy, to mimic (mimos). Paul stands for his rights as their spiritual father against the pretensions of the Judaizers who have turned them against him by the use of the names of Apollos and Cephas.

    4:17 {Have I sent} (epemya). First aorist active indicative. Probably Timothy had already gone as seems clear from #16:10f. Apparently Timothy came back to Ephesus and was sent on to Macedonia before the uproar in Ephesus (#Ac 19:22). Probably also Titus was qen despatched to Corinth, also before the uproar. {In every church} (en pasei ekklesiai). Paul expects his teachings and practices to be followed in every church (#1Co 14:33). Note his language here "my ways those in Christ Jesus." Timothy as Paul's spokesman {will remind} (anamnesei) the Corinthians of Paul's teachings.

    4:18 {Some are puffed up} (efusiwqesan). First aorist (effective) passive indicative of fusiow which see on verse 6. {As though I were not coming to you} (hws me ercomenou mou pros humas). Genitive absolute with particle (assuming it as so) with me as negative.

    4:19 {If the Lord will} (ean ho kurios qelesei). Third-class condition. See James #4:15; Ac 18:21; 1Co 16:7 for the use of this phrase. It should represent one's constant attitude, though not always to be spoken aloud. {But the power} (alla ten dunamin). The puffed up Judaizers did a deal of talking in Paul's absence. He will come and will know their real strength. II Corinthians gives many evidences of Paul's sensitiveness to their talk about his inconsistencies and cowardice (in particular chs. #2 Co 1; 2; 10; 11; 12; 13). He changed his plans to spare them, not from timidity. It will become plain later that Timothy failed on this mission and that Titus succeeded.

    4:21 {With a rod} (en rabdwi). The so-called instrumental use of en like the Hebrew (#1Sa 17:43). The shepherd leaned on his rod, staff, walking stick. The paedagogue had his rod also. {Shall I come?} (elqw;). Deliberative subjunctive. Paul gives them the choice. They can have him as their spiritual father or as their paedagogue with a rod.

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