1 Corinthians 4: 8-13

There is a form of Christianity that is out for self-gain – it is popular but false.  We are called to be witnesses for God.  The first command is not to look out for ourselves, but to love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  Paul mocks the self-aggrandisement of those who count themselves spiritual because of the status and material benefits they have gained from the world.  It is like a Chinese Christian who has survived torture for the cause of Christ sarcastically acknowledging that the American pastor must be more spiritual because he has a swimming pool.  What things cause you to count yourself as blessed?

1 Corinthians 4:8-13

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! 9For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. 10We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

Questions

  1. What do the Corinthians seem to think they have become?
  2. Where are the apostles in the procession?
  3. How does this paragraph reinforce the theme of unity through humility?
  4. Do you know anyone whom you respect who seems particularly humble?  What do they contribute?
  5. How can you be humble and at the same time bring more unity to a group?

Going Deeper

Observation

  1. How many exclamatory sentences does this paragraph contain?
  2. Who is watching the procession?
  3. What opposites are used by way of contrast?
  4. What do the apostles do when they are cursed?
  5. What two things does Paul end the paragraph by saying the apostles have become?

Interpretation

  1. Why would Paul be writing in ways that are exclamatory?
  2. How does the description by Paul compare to a Roman triumph (look up triumph)?
  3. How does Paul’s lowly condition prove his argument?
  4. Are Christians meant to live in self-sacrificing poverty?
  5. Is there something to be said for missionaries paying their own way?

Application

  1. What inconveniences do you suffer because you are a Christian?
  2. How are inconveniences and hardships a blessing?
  3. Does God want you to sacrifice yourself to the point that you never say no and become stressed?
  4. How do you answer when someone critcizes you?
  5. How should you raise a child to have a healthy self-image and to place themselves at the back of the line?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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2 Responses to 1 Corinthians 4: 8-13

  1. Kim says:

    What are some of your thoughts about question 5 under application? How should you raise a child to have a healthy self-image and to place themselves as at the back of the line?

    • Plymothian says:

      One of the things that we do with our foster son is to be careful that we use theologically correct language without being stilted. For example, we use a lot of praise for his actions but do not use blanket terms like “good boy”. This would be in fitting with Matthew 7:11. I will be trying to have frequent conversations with our children to lovingly encourage them and give the theological perspective on all life. Also, we will play soccer and other games and I won’t let them win but will teach them to improve. I will praise their improvement and make authentic improvement their goal. I will then reward them and praise them for the improvement, but they will know that adults have more developed skills. As the Bible says, “Each student will become like his master.” Unlike Star Wars where Darth says things a little differently.

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