August 2, 2009 pm
Studies in 1 Corinthians (16)
BEGOTTEN THROUGH THE GOSPEL
1 Corinthians 4:14-21
As we have been studying the book of 1 Corinthians we have seen a letter of correction. In the past few lessons of this study we have been examining Paul’s relationship to the brethren at Corinth. He has made it clear that being an apostle meant being a servant and was not always glamorous. He wants these brethren to respect Him, NOT because of who he is, but because of what he teaches – the gospel of Christ. It has been with this in mind that he has sought to correct them.
In our lesson this evening, we want to notice Paul’s conclusion of his initial rebuke (chapters 1-4 dealing with their divisions caused by appealing to the wisdom of man instead of the wisdom of God). We find in the text we examine tonight some reasons why he wrote this letter. What he has said thus far will serve as the background for specific issues that he will begin to tackle in coming chapters.
a. NOT to shame them (14)
i. As we noted in the outset of this lesson, we all need correction from time to time. But what is the attitude behind the one correcting those in error?
ii. As you study the life of Paul, you see a man who was a humble servant of others. As a result of this letter, Paul is harshly rebuked and writes the 2nd epistle to the Corinthians. As you study it you can see his hurt as he is falsely accused. He NEVER wanted to embarrass or belittle them. And neither should we if we find ourselves in a similar circumstance.
make sure that we are not being arrogant and self-righteous in our
dealings with others, including our brethren!
2 Cor. 10:12, “For
we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend
themselves. But they,
measuring themselves by themselves, are not wise.”
Galatians 6:3 says, “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
NOT be seeking to embarrass or belittle another –EVER!
I am again reminded of the Pharisee who boasted himself and
belittled the tax collector in Luke 18:11 as he prayed in the temple.
In correcting an erring brother, STEP ONE is to go to him alone! (Matt. 18:15)
Yet we have many who find great pleasure in finding faults (or supposed faults) and they seek to make a name for themselves by belittling others.
b. To warn them (14)
i. Paul saw spiritual danger that these brethren were facing. They were splintering apart and they were ignorant of the real facts. Paul sees what is happening and wants to stop it. That is why he writes this letter.
seek to correct a brother or sister in sin, we do so because we see a
soul that might be in danger of eternal damnation if repentance does not
It is part of our DUTY as Christians – Galatians 6:1, Heb. 12:13, Jude 22-23
often speaks of warnings –
Colossians 1:28 – Paul
preached Christ, “warning every
man, and teaching every man in wisdom; that we may present every man
perfect in Christ Jesus.”
Acts 20:31- Paul warned the brethren in Ephesus night and day for 3 years.
c. Because he loved them (14-15)
i. When you examine the whole of Paul’s writings you find that he loved his brethren dearly. All he ever wanted was for them to be right in God’s eyes. At times he would change his conduct to help others (1 Cor. 9:19-23) and he would often suffer wrong for the sake of his brethren.
ii. In vs. 15 of our context we read, “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” Paul is making reference to the father/child relationship. These brethren were like his children (cf. vs. 14 – “but as my beloved children I warn you.”)
iii. It is out of love that a father rebukes his children when needed (cf. Heb. 12:5-11), teaches them and warns them of dangers. That is how Paul is writing this letter.
Paul has an intimate relationship with these brethren.
They are important to Him and more than mere acquaintances.
He cares about their well being.
And he appeals to this relationship.
He notes that while they might have 10,000 instructors, (which is a great exaggeration) they don’t have many “fathers” who care for them the way Paul did.
The word instructor (10,000 instructors) is the same word found in Galatians 3:24. It described the servant entrusted with seeing that the children were educated. It would be a rare occasion that the servant would care more than the father. Paul’s point, those who were dividing the body didn’t really care about them, NO MORE THAN SATAN DOES!
v. What about us? ` If we are blessed we have someone who REALLY loves us as fellow brethren in Christ. They love us so much they are going to tell us what we need instead of what we want to hear. They are willing to be abused, cursed and rejected – but in love they have to try. Elders are to be of this sort, cf. Heb. 13:7, 17; Preachers are to be of this sort; and then there is the friend who is always there – “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24). Also consider John 15:14-15 which speaks of Jesus being our friend.
d. To be an example for them (16)
i. Paul reminds these brethren of what he has been through. And he will continue to do so. He has acted with integrity in all things. That is why he says, “be imitators of me.”
ii. NOTE: We KNOW Paul is not seeking praise or a following for himself. Throughout his letters he emphasized the need to follow Christ. Especially 1 Cor. 11:1 where he said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Also see Phil. 3:17, Eph. 5:1, 2 Thess. 3:9, 1 Thess. 1:6, etc.
iii. There is not better way to teach others than by being a proper example:
1. You can say, as Paul did, “Imitate me.” Matthew 5:13-15 – salt and light, Philippians 2:15, we shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
2. BUT, because you are a proper example, you have credibility. Paul will appeal to his example later on – 2 Cor. 7:2, 2 Thess. 3:7-9, Acts 20:33, 2 Cor. 11:9-10, “And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.”
e. To send them help (17)
i. Paul was in a circumstance where he could not come to Corinth as he wrote this letter. But that did not mean he could not do anything. So he sent Timothy to them.
ii. Timothy’s presence would verify Paul’s message – he could clarify for Paul what his intentions were AND he could encourage them to do what was right.
iii. Lesson: There are many different ways to help, even in preaching the gospel:
1. We can support those who preach in other places
2. We can write letters
3. We can visit or send someone to help.
f. To remind them of the truth of the gospel,
i. There are times that what one needs is a reminder. NOTE in these verses that they were not hearing anything new. Paul said that Timothy would REMIND them of his ways.
letters to remind others – Eph. 3:3-4, etc.
Peter wrote reminders – 2 Peter 1:12
NOTE: Paul said that what he
would remind them of was “as I teach everywhere in every church.”
Paul only had ONE gospel and it was the same everywhere he went. Contrast this with the division of the Corinthians AND the religious division we see in the denominational world today. Galatians 1:6-9 warns us not to ADD anything to the word of God.
II. Paul’s planned visit (18-21)
a. Vs. 18 – some were falsely accusing Paul with arrogance
b. “If the Lord will” – ultimately it was up to God. Never forget this.
c. His purpose – to reveal the power of God’s word and kingdom (as opposed to the wisdom of man). Had what they offered really given them as much as what God offers?
d. His hope – that he can come with love and gentleness instead of a rod.
e. His courage - if he came it mattered not. He would do what was right. The idea of a rod is a staff used to physically punish. Paul was not speaking of physical, corporal punishment but using the word of God to rebuke and scold. There IS A PLACE for such rebuke.