1 Corinthians 4

 

1 Corinthians 4:1
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries [mustērion - mystery] of God.

Paul is preparing to transition here from dealing with their contentions and divisions to other matters that also require sorting out. He begins this by telling them that they are to consider those with gift ministries as ministers of Christ and stewards of the mystery of God. Obviously then they were not doing that or he wouldn't have had to deal with it. In the phrase let a man so account of us, the word us is a pronoun and we have to check the context to find the noun with which it is associated. We find it in verse 22 of the previous chapter.

1 Corinthians 3:22
Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas [Peter], or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

This is still the same immediate context as was set in chapter 1.

1 Corinthians 1:11,12
For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas [Peter]; and I of Christ.

When we reach chapter 3 the context is still the divisions and contentions among the Corinthians regarding their bickering and contentions over Paul, Apollos and Peter. Note that this information didn't come to Paul by revelation, it came by way of good communication between the believers. Revelation begins where natural knowledge ceases. If we need to know something we couldn't possibly know by our five senses, then the revelation will be there. We can't just rely on revelation for everything, we must learn to communicate honestly with each other to keep evil spiritual infiltration out of the body of Christ.

While we are here, there can be no confusion over who is head over all things to the church.

Ephesians 1:20-22
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

This truth has now been established and Paul is transitioning into dealing with how the church is to regard the gift ministries.

1 Corinthians 4:1
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries [mustērion - mystery] of God.

Paul, Apollos and Peter, just as all the gift ministries in the church, are to be regarded as ministers of Christ. They are not our head, Christ is our head. A minister is someone who serves. Christ is head over all things to the church, and from among those in the church God appoints men and women to be ministers of Christ by giving them a gift ministry. Paul explains this quite succinctly in Ephesians.

Ephesians 3:7-9
Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable [untrackable] riches of Christ;

And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

God through Christ gave Paul the gift ministry of an apostle, just as it was God who gave Apollos and Peter gift ministries. Christ is our head, while the gift ministries are his ministers, his servants. A minister is a servant who serves the Lord. Remember this from chapter 3?

1 Corinthians 3:5
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

Paul is still dealing with their bickering and quarelling while transitioning into how believers are to regard those with gift ministries. We are not to argue over men because Christ is our head, while men with gift ministries are ministers of Christ. A man or a woman with a gift ministry is not our head, they are believers who serve the Lord Christ. Regardless of how highly we esteem someone with a gift ministry, we are to understand that they are ministers of Christ and that Christ is our head. We all take our orders from the Christ in us, that's how we walk with Christ as our head, while the gift ministries are on special assignment in the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 4:1
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries [mustērion - mystery] of God.

As ministers we are responsible to steward the truths regarding the mystery, which means we care for them, we protect them, we do everything in our power to keep them alive, fresh and current. Of course, that requires faithfulness. Faithfulness is the number one quality a man or woman must have to be an effective minister of Christ and a steward of the mystery of God.

1 Corinthians 4:2
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

A steward is someone who looks after things, such as somone employed to look after the passengers on a ship, an aircraft, or a train. It is a full time employed position. Abraham had a steward to look after the affairs of his household.

Genesis 15:2
And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?

We can see from this record in Genesis that a steward was an employed position that carried tremendous privilege. It was such a high position in the family that if Abraham had died without children all his stuff would have been inherited by his steward Eliezer, who was a man of Damascus. Stewards were like family and were entrusted to handle everything within a household, including all the business affairs.

Joseph had a steward looking after all the affairs of his house while he was second in command in Egypt under Pharaoh.

Genesis 43:19
And they [Joseph's brothers] came near to the steward of Joseph's house, and they communed with him at the door of the house,

Obviously then, if you are entrusted with all the family affairs of someone you would be expected to be trustworthy and faithful. Well, when God ordains someone to be a minister of Christ and entrusts them with the things of the mystery they are expected to be faithful.

1 Corinthians 4:2
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

There I was, in my cabin as we steamed up a bright moonlit Red Sea on an old cargo ship, and I needed to know if there was any purpose to life or I was going to end it. That was back in 1977, and I asked God for his help because I just couldn't go on. It was at that moment the ship hit a freak wave off the coast at Nuweiba caused by the tides surging as they hit the underwater land bridge stretching across to Saudi Arabia. Everyone who navigates the Gulf of Aqaba is well aware of those freak waves at Nuweiba. The ship juddered violently as it hit the wave and a bible fell of the shelf below my porthole, bounced on my bunk and fell open just as a tiny shaft of moonlight slanted in the porthole and lit up a short passage of scripture.

Proverbs 2:1-5
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;

Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

Despite being autistic and a complete asshole socially, I've been faithful to study the word since that night in the Red Sea and God has kept his promise. One of the first things I asked God was to show me the way because I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do to find the knowledge of God. A day or two later when we tied up alongside at Aqaba, mail came aboard and I got a letter from my sister. To this day it's the only letter I have ever received from her, which is remarkable in itself. In the letter she menitoned that my cousin Ross had joined some weird American cult called The Way. Talk about answering prayers? When we docked back in the UK I resigned from the Merchant Navy, left home and went to find my cousin Ross who lived in Stornoway over in the Western Isles. That was my starting point, and from there it took me 45 years to piece the bible together and publish my work. I inclined my ear to wisdom and my heart to understanding. I searched as if I was searching for hidden treasure and I found the knowledge of God. By the way, finding that knowledge was hard work, it didn't just come to me in a dream. For years I would get up early when it was still dark to get into the word before going to work. For years I listened to thousands of teachings on tape and dvd, read hundreds of books, attended dozens of classes and seminars, went to thousands of home churches, went to meetings and spoke with men and women in many other religions, and learned everything I possibly could. God taught me his word because I was faithful and now I am teaching you. If you want to find the knowledge of God, you are going to have to do some work. I will teach you, but you're going to have to study the word for yourself and make it your own. By the way, that little incident in the Gulf of Aqaba occurred at the very place where God parted the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites.

A note of caution is needed here. Dr Wierwille who founded the Way International died in the 1980s and since then his ministry has been reduced through leadership struggles, splintered groups, bickerings and contentions to just another shithole dead temple made with hands no better than any other shithole church or religion on earth today. Stay the fuck away from them, all of them.

So, ministers of Christ who are entrusted with the mystery of God have to be faithful. It is a requirement.

1 Corinthians 4:2,3
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

Now Paul is getting into some pretty heavy stuff. You see all that strife and contention he has already confronted was a lot deeper than simply falling out with each other. Under the surface there were serious issues to deal with. The I am of Paul, I am of Apollos and I am of Peter stuff was actually quite nasty at its roots. It wasn't just friendly banter about who was their leader, they were bitching viciously about those men behind their backs. Sure, Paul did some terrible things before he was born again, but that didn't give the believers at Corinth the right to be vicious and nasty about it. For example, he had been in the sanhedrin and was one of the men responsible for stoning Stephen. He had imprisoned believers, beaten them, tortured them and put some of them to death as well. He was an extremely violent man. Here he is in his own words after his arrest in Jerusalem when he spoke to the crowds who had just tried to beat him to death.

Acts 22:3,4
I am verily a man which am a Jew [Judean], born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

There were believers in Corinth who still held grudges against Paul for what he had done, and it's possible some of them had even been imprisoned and beaten by him. At the very least some of them would known believers with friends, wives, husbands, children, girlfriends, boyfriends, and other loved ones Paul had imprisoned, beaten and put to death.

1 Corinthians 4:3
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

Are you beginning to feel just how serious the strifes and contentions among the believers in Corinth actually were? People are people and we simply work with people on their level, whatever level that is. Every situation is different and that's why we have Christ in us so we can walk by the spirit and know how to handle things. Here is a verse from Romans chapter two, and although Romans had not yet been written, Paul knew these truths and would have taught them to the Corinthians while he was with them. That's why Corinthians is a reproof epistle.

Romans 2:1
Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

If the Corinthians had believed and practiced the truths they had been already been taught by Paul they would not have been judging him and there would have been no strifes or contentions in the home churches. None of it would have been happening if people had kept themselves in the word.

Now, this is life we're talking about, children will be children, and it is a parent's responsibilty to sort things out between bickering, crying and hurt children. Paul didn't tell them to fuck off, and he didn't shout at them or go in a huff or feel bad or condemn himself for his past because people were talking about him behind his back. Paul loved those Corinthians as children, and firmly but kindly brought them back to the word. Although Paul hadn't yet written the book of Romans, he would have taught them the truths it contains while he was with them so they would have known them. Paul lovingly brought them back to the word. His language is firm but kind, just as parents are with children. He had spent time with them and he had begun the ministry work there. He would have known many of them by their first names, and he would have had friends among them. He had planted the word there, which meant he was their father in the word, and that is why God worked with Paul to sort this out. They were his responsibility, he loved them, and that's why he got the revelation to write this epistle to them.

The believers in Corinth were not perfect people, and us believers today are not perfect people either. None of us have the right to judge other believers like this by griping viciously about them behind their backs. The world is full of gangsters, homos, crooks, liars, robbers, lesbians, politicians, swindlers, thieves, murderers, worshippers of Baal, the arrogant, those who devise evil things, malicious people, malignant covenant breakers, the implacable and the cruel. These are the people who need our help, and when they are born again and become children of God we have to be there for them. Where did you come from? Where did I come from? We were all part of the world at one time. When stuff like this comes up in our home churches, we don't lose our tempers, we don't shout at people, we don't tell them to fuck off, we simply teach and bring people back to the word.

1 Corinthians 4:3,4
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

For I know nothing by myself would be better translated for I know nothing of which I am guilty. Regardless of our past, no matter what we have done, God has forgiven us and we are to forgive each other. We must learn to put the past behind and love each other as family.

1 Corinthians 4:5
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

See how kind Paul's language is here? By the way, being kind doesn't mean smiling inanely and letting people get away with stuff. When Peter confronted Ananias and his wife for lying, he didn't shout at them, his language was kind. He didn't enjoy confronting them and watching them die, but his love for God took precedence over his love for people.

There is an important distinction here, of course, in that there is nothing wrong with being angry when it is appropriate. Jesus Christ was angry plenty of times when he had to deal with religious horseshit.

Mark 3:3-6
And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.

And he [Jesus] saith unto them [the religious leaders], Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.

And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.

Was Paul dealing with evil religious men here in Corinth? No, he wasn't, he was dealing with squabbling children, and that's why his language is kind and gentle. He was dealing with babes in Christ, as he mentioned in the previous chapter.

1 Corinthians 3:1-3
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

See how Paul was addressing the childishness of their bickerings and contentions kindly as a parent with children? Can you feel the warmth in his voice? Anger has its place, yes, but not with young children, and certainly not with babes in Christ who have just been born again.

To recap, Romans, Corinthians and Galations are all basically addressed to young believers, while Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians are addressed to sprititual adults, the faithful in Christ Jesus. When we get to Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians you will notice a change in his tone of voice, and that's because you deal with adults a little differently to how you deal with babies and children.

1 Corinthians 4:6-9
And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

Good points here. The gift ministries are always under attack, and that's because if you get rid of the gift ministries, particularly the apostles and prophets, the body of Christ has no protection. Where there are no walls of protection around believers, there is nothing to protect them from the wolves.

1 Corinthians 4:10,11
We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.

Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;

This all makes sense because if the gift ministries live to fulfill their ministries as clearly set out in Ephesians, they would be travelling around the home churches taking care of things, not sitting on their backsides behind a desk somewhere.

Ephesians 4:11,12
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

The gift ministries are for the perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ, and that can only happen if they are energising their ministries in the home churches and living with the believers. Today, as in every age, as the numbers of home churches grow, God gives gift ministries and they are required to move around the home churches to do their job. They take their orders from the Christ in them, and that's why they are ministers of Christ. As there was no public transport back then, they either walked, rode a horse or mule, or sailed around the coast by boat. This meant they often never knew where their next meal was coming from, and they were often thirsty on the road. Naked means they were often in danger from wild animals and robbers with only a sword for protection. No certain dwelling place means they often slept outdoors as they travelled and had no place to call home.

1 Corinthians 4:12
And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer [endure] it:

When they travelled from city to city and town to town, they would often work a job to pay rent and eat. They were often not welcome, even resented at times, and were spoken evil of and reviled, even by the believers. I know what that feels like.

1 Corinthians 4:13-15
Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

This is an important key to understanding why Paul was given the revelation to write the epistle to the Corinthians, as well as his other epistles. He was their father in the word, he was responsible for them. God will only work and energise with those who are responsible for the believers under their care. Those you get born again, or those you father in the word as it's called here, are your responsibility to care for as children and raise as disciples. If anyone or any ministry or church tries to steal those people from you, tell them to fuck off. Fight for those you father in the word, protect them and look after them.

1 Corinthians 4:16
Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers [mimētēs] of me.

The word follower is mimētes in the Greek, and it literally means an imitator. Our English word mimic comes directly from this Greek word. We are to learn from those who teach us the word. This of course makes it rather important to be following genuine believers in the body of Christ, and you can only do that if you tell temples made with hands and their layers of false ministers to fuck off. Run your own home churches which are self governing, self supporting and self propagating and walk by the spirit with Christ as your head.

1 Corinthians 4:17
For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

Paul didnt just write to the believers in Corinth, he also sent a trusted man with a gift ministry to ensure things were sorted out.

1 Corinthians 4:18-20
Now some are puffed up [heads up their arses], as though I would not come to you.

But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

This power refers to the power in the gift of holy spirit that we energise. Are we speaking in tongues and manifesting the power of God? If not, why not? We have to energise the Christ in us and manifest the power of God otherwise there is no flowing of living waters.

1 Corinthians 4:21

What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?


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