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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 4

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1We are to be regarded as Christ's subordinates and as stewards of the secrets of God. 2Now stewards are required to show themselves trustworthy. 3To me it matters not at all if I am called to account by you or by any human court. Nor do I pass judgement on myself, 4for I have nothing on my conscience; but that does not prove me innocent. My judge is the Lord. 5So pass no premature judgement; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what darkness hides and disclose our inward motives; then will be the time for each to receive commendation from God.

6My friends, I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, so that you may take our case as an example, and learn the true meaning of ‘nothing beyond what stands written’, and may not be inflated with pride as you take sides in support of one against another. 7My friend, who makes you so important? What do you possess that was not given you? And if you received it as a gift, why take the credit to yourself?

8No doubt you already have all you could desire; you have come into your fortune already! Without us you have come into your kingdom. How I wish you had indeed come into your kingdom; then you might share it with us! 9For it seems to me God has made as apostles the last act in the show, like men condemned to death in the arena, a spectacle to the whole universe—to angels as well as men. 10We are fools for Christ's sake, while you are sensible Christians! We are weak; you are powerful! You are honoured; we are in disgrace! 11To this day we go hungry and thirsty and in rags; we are beaten up; we wander from place to place; 12we wear ourselves out earning a living with our own hands. People curse us, and we bless; they persecute us, and we submit; 13they slander us, and we try to be conciliatory. To this day we are treated as the scum of the earth, as the dregs of humanity.

14I am not writing this to shame you, but to bring you to reason; for you are my dear children. 15You may have thousands of tutors in Christ, but you have only one father; for in Christ Jesus you are my offspring, and mine alone, through the preaching of the gospel. 16I appeal to you therefore to follow my example. 17That is why I have sent Timothy, who is a dear son to me and a trustworthy Christian, to remind you of my way of life in Christ, something I teach everywhere in all the churches. 18There are certain persons who are filled with self-importance because they think I am not coming to Corinth. 19I shall come very soon, if it is the Lord's will; and then I shall take the measure of these self-important people, not by what they say, but by what they can do, 20for the kingdom of God is not a matter of words, but of power. 21Choose, then: am I to come to you with a rod in my hand, or with love and a gentle spirit?

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