HOW TO REGARD PREACHERS, SELF & GOD'S REBUKE
1 Corinthians 4
1. We are God's family, field, building & temple. Preachers are fellow workers & servants of God (3:1-17). All things are for our usefulness in the family of God because we belong to Christ (3:18-23).
2. With 1 Cor. 4 Paul summarizes the first section of his epistle. He shows the proper regard Christians should have toward preachers, toward ourselves & toward the rebuke of God's word gives us.
I. HOW WE SHOULD REGARD PREACHERS - 4:1-5.
A. As Servants & Stewards: Not as Heads of Parties & Originators of Doctrine - 4:1.
1. Minister - A servant who executes the will of another.
a. They are subordinate to Christ (under His will & control).
b. They willingly & voluntarily render their service.
2. Steward: "A kind of chief slave who superintended the household & even the whole property of his master." (Theological Dictionary of the NT, VIII:532)
a. The property committed: The mysteries of God (1 Cor. 2:7-9).
b. The word of God - Col. 1:25-26; 2 Tim. 2:24.
3. Problem: Do not make these servants & stewards the head of parties, etc. - Incites division. (cf. today - Preachers & issues)
B. The Faithfulness of Stewards - 4:2; cf. Lk. 16:1-2.
1. Demands faithfulness - Trustworthiness, dependability (cf. All of us are stewards of God's blessings).
2. Stewardship implies accountability. When we forget who we serve (the Lord) our trustworthiness is likely to be compromised.
C. The Judgment of Stewards - 4:3-5.
1. 4:3-4 - Inferiority of all human judgments to divine judgments.
2. 4:3 - Judge - "Examine, evaluate." [Evaluations of preachers (others) made by man &/or self are not the final statements of faithfulness as God's stewards (whether exalted commendations or disparaging evaluations, 2 Cor. 10:1, 10)].
3. 4:4 - A clear conscience does not justify!
4. 4:4c - Steward is judged by his Master (the Lord, Rom. 14:4).
5. Judgment condemned here involves estimating the true worth of preachers (others) -- necessitates judging one's heart.
a. Day of judgment reserved for that purpose - 4:5.
b. Beware lest we make judgments of preachers & others which we are not capable to make.
II. HOW DO WE REGARD OURSELVES? - 4:6-13
A. As Under Authority to the Law of God, not Above it! - 4:6
1. Things written: The limits in which man must abide! - 2 Jno. 9
2. God's revelation (word of the cross) is not a springboard from which we are entitled to leap into speculations, traditions & philosophies! (cf. Col. 2:8 - Troublemakers in Corinth)
B. Arrogance Must Be Removed for there to be Harmony.
1. 4:6b - Proper view of scripture promotes humility & keeps unity.
2. 4:7 - All we have & are is because of God! - cf. 1:4-7 (3:5)
a. Boasting of one's place in the kingdom is wrong! Mk. 9:33-35
b. Lk. 17:9-10 - Servants don't boast over obeying their master.
3. 4:8 - Their boast - cf. Rev. 3:17.
a. Saw themselves as spiritually self-sufficient, needing nothing!
b. In fact, they were carnal (3:3)!
c. Paul's sarcasm makes a stinging rebuke intended to deflate their estimation of themselves! - cf. Phil. 2:1-4
4. 4:9-13 - Contrast between Corinthians' self-evaluation & Paul's evaluation of the apostles.
a. The apostles served in much dishonor & deprivation.
b. The Corinthians' were boasting in men: "We have arrived!"
5. How do we regard ourselves in the kingdom: Like the apostles' sacrifice; w/ the Corinthians' arrogance; or somewhere in between?
III. HOW DO WE REGARD THE REBUKE OF GOD'S WORD IN OUR LIVES? -
A. Gospel Rebuke Must Be Properly Given - 4:14-17.
1. 4:14-15 - From love for souls - Gal. 6:1.
2. 4:16-17 - From consist life & teaching - Phil. 4:9; Matt. 7:1-5.
3. We render our rebuke of sin futile when it is given w/o love & when it reveals hypocrisy w/in ourselves!
B. Gospel Rebuke must be Properly Received - 4:18-21.
1. 4:18-20 - Not with arrogance & defiance.
a. 4:20 - Kingdom is spread through power of God's word.
b. Must humble ourselves to it!
2. 4:21 - Receive it with repentance to escape the rod of discipline (punishment). - Jno. 12:48
3. "Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you." (Prov. 9:8)
1. The gospel forbids & prevents following preachers, exalting self or rejecting the rebuke from God's word against sin in our lives.
2. How we regard these matters will demonstrate whether we are serving Christ or serving ourselves!