1 Corinthians 4 Expanded Bible (EXB)
Apostles Are Servants of Christ
4 People should think of us as servants of Christ, ·the ones God has trusted with his [and stewards/household managers of God’s] ·secrets [mysteries]. 2 Now in this way ·those who are trusted with something valuable [stewards; household managers] must ·show they are worthy of that trust [L be found faithful]. 3 As for myself, ·I do not care [or it is of no consequence; L it is a minor thing] if I am judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4 I know of no wrong I have done, but this does not make me ·right before the Lord [innocent; acquitted; justified]. The Lord is the One who judges me. 5 So do not judge before the ·right [appointed] time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light things that are now hidden in darkness, and will make known the secret ·purposes [motives] of people’s hearts. Then God will ·praise [give appropriate commendation to] each one of them.
6 Brothers and sisters, I have used Apollos and myself as examples so you could learn through us the meaning of the saying, “·Follow only [L Do not go beyond] ·what is written in the Scriptures [or what I have already written to you; L what is written].” Then you will not ·be more proud of one person than another [or arrogantly support one person over another]. 7 [L For] Who ·says you are better than others [made you so important; or sees anything different in you]? What do you have that was not given to you? And if it was given to you, why do you ·brag [boast] as if you did not ·receive it as a gift [L receive it]?
8 ·You think you already have everything you need [L Already you have been satisfied/filled up!; C the Corinthians believed they had reached a higher spiritual status because of their wisdom]. ·You think you are rich [L Already you are rich!]. You ·think you have become kings [have begun to reign…!] without us. I wish you really were ·kings [reigning] so we could ·be kings [reign] together with you. 9 But it seems to me that God has put us apostles ·in last place [or on display at the end of the procession], like those sentenced to die [C the image is of prisoners of war being led through the city in disgrace, condemned to die in the arena]. We are like a ·show [spectacle; display] for the whole world to see—angels and people. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are very wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You receive honor, but we are ·shamed [disgraced; dishonored]. 11 Even ·to this very hour [or now] we do not have enough to eat or drink or to wear. We are often beaten, and we have no homes in which to live. 12 We work hard with our own hands [C Paul earned his own living so as not to burden the church and to avoid accusations of profiting from the Gospel; 1 Thess. 2:9]. When people ·curse [insult; revile] us, we bless them. When they ·hurt [persecute] us, we ·put up with it [endure; persevere]. 13 When they ·tell evil lies about [slander] us, we ·speak nice words about them [answer gently; or humbly appeal; entreat]. Even today, we are treated as though we were the garbage of the world—·the filth of the earth [L everyone’s scum/filth; or scum/filth in everyone’s eyes].
14 I am not writing this to make you feel ashamed, but to ·warn [admonish; correct] you as my own ·dear [beloved] children. 15 For though you may have ten thousand ·teachers [guardians; tutors] in Christ, you do not have many fathers. [L For; Because] Through the ·Good News [Gospel] I became your father in Christ Jesus, 16 so I ·beg [urge; encourage; exhort] you, ·please follow my example [L be imitators of me]. 17 That is why I am sending to you Timothy, my ·dear [beloved] and faithful son in the Lord. He will ·help you remember [remind you about] my way of life in Christ Jesus, just as I teach it in all the churches everywhere.
18 Some of you have become ·proud [arrogant; puffed up], thinking that I will not come to you again. 19 But I will come to you very soon if the Lord ·wishes [wills; allows]. Then I will ·know [find out; learn] ·what the proud ones do, not what they say [L not just the talk/word of these arrogant people, but also their power], 20 because the kingdom of God ·is present [or consists] not in talk but in power. 21 Which do you want: that I come to you with ·punishment [L a rod] or with love and ·gentleness [or a gentle spirit]?
1 Corinthians 4 New International Version (NIV)
The Nature of True Apostleship
4 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.
Paul’s Appeal and Warning
14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?