1Here is how you should think of us. We serve Christ. We are trusted with God's secret truth.2Those who have been given a trust must prove that they are faithful.3I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court. I don't even judge myself.4I don't feel I have done anything wrong. But that doesn't mean I'm not guilty. The Lord judges me.5So don't judge anything before the appointed time. Wait until the Lord returns. He will bring to light what is hidden in the dark. He will show the real reasons why people do what they do. At that time each person will receive praise from God.6Brothers and sisters, I have used myself and Apollos as examples to help you. You can learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Don't go beyond what is written.” Then you won't be proud that you follow one person instead of another.7Who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you brag as though you did not?8You already have everything you want, don't you? Have you already become rich? Have you begun to rule as kings? And did you do that without us? I wish that you really had begun to rule. Then we could rule with you!9It seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of a parade. We are like men sentenced to die in front of a crowd. We have been made a show for the whole creation to see. Angels and people are staring at us.10We are fools for Christ. But you are so wise in Christ! We are weak. But you are so strong! You are honored. But we are looked down on!11Up to this very hour we are hungry and thirsty. We are dressed in rags. We are being treated badly. We have no homes.12We work hard with our own hands. When others call down a curse on us, we bless them. When we are attacked, we put up with it.13When others say bad things about us, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the world's garbage. We are everybody's trash.14I am not writing this to shame you. You are my dear children, and I want to warn you.15You may have 10,000 believers in Christ watching over you. But you don't have many fathers. I became your father by serving Christ Jesus and telling you the good news.16So I'm asking you to follow my example.17That's the reason I'm sending Timothy to you. He is like a son to me, and I love him. He is faithful in serving the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in serving Christ Jesus. And that agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.18Some of you have become proud. You act as if I weren't coming to you.19But I will come very soon, if that's what the Lord wants. Then I will find out how those proud people are talking. I will also find out what power they have.20The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk. It is a matter of power.21Which do you want? Should I come to you with a whip? Or should I come in love and with a gentle spirit?
1 Corinthians 4
English Standard Version
The Ministry of Apostles
1This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1Co 9:17; 1Pe 4:10)2Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.3But 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.4For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. (Job 9:2; Job 9:15; Ps 130:3; Ps 143:2; Ac 23:1; 1Jo 3:21)5Therefore 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. (Mt 7:1; Mt 13:29; Joh 21:22; Ro 2:1; Ro 2:16; 1Co 3:8; 1Co 3:13; 2Co 10:18)6I 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. (1Co 4:18; 1Co 5:2; 1Co 13:4)7For 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? (1Ch 29:14; Joh 3:27; Jas 1:17; 1Pe 4:10)8Already 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!9For 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. (Isa 20:3; Ro 8:36; Heb 10:33)10We 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. (Ac 17:18; Ac 26:24; 1Co 1:18; 1Co 2:3; 2Co 11:19; 2Co 13:9)11To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, (Mt 8:20; Ro 8:35; 2Co 11:20; 2Co 11:23; 2Co 11:27; Php 4:12)12and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; (Joh 15:20; Ac 18:3; 1Pe 3:9)13when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. (Isa 30:22; Isa 64:6; La 3:45)14I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. (1Co 6:5; 1Co 15:34; 2Co 6:13; 1Th 2:11; 3Jo 1:4)15For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (1Co 3:10; Ga 4:19; Phm 1:10)16I urge you, then, be imitators of me. (1Co 11:1; Php 3:17; Php 4:9; 1Th 1:6; 2Th 3:9)17That 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. (1Co 7:17; 1Co 16:10; 1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 1:2)18Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. (1Co 4:6; 1Co 4:21; 2Co 10:2)19But 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. (Ac 19:21; Ac 20:2; 1Co 11:34; 1Co 16:5; 2Co 1:15)20For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. (1Co 2:4)21What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? (2Co 1:23; 2Co 2:1; 2Co 2:3; 2Co 12:20; 2Co 13:2; 2Co 13:10)