continuation of Paul's dealing with the matter of divisions as a matter
of pride and being puffed up to the point of sitting in judgment as to
AIM: That we
might follow the example of Paul in humility and the recognition that
all judgment is by God alone.
INTR: The aim
of Paul in writing here was to elevate the thoughts of the Corinthians
above the considerations of men and to rather focus on the Gospel and
the humility it produces.
1. He had addressed divisions in the
beginning, had set forth the central issue in determining to know
nothing save Jesus Christ and Him crucified, had outlined the duties and
functions of ministers showing them to be mere servants, and would now
call out the tendency towards pride and judgment of others.
issues were distractions that directed their attention away from the
essential truths he would deliver unto them.
3. Paul could have
easily become combatant. He rather places emphasis on the greatness and
sovereignty of God and depicts himself as no more than a lowly servant.
THESIS: The greater the concept of
God and salvation as it is in Christ, the more will there be a
manifestation of humility.
I. Ministers, mysteries, ad
faithfulness (vv. 1-2)
1. Paul reacted to the accusations of
presumption of authority on his part and on the elevating of one servant
above another. He would do so by denoting function as before God.
He did not object to being considered - his had been a prominent
ministry among them and so had Apollos and others - but how should they
1) Ministers of Christ - literally "under rowers") - the
lowest in rank on a ship
2) Stewards - as servants given the task of
managing the affairs of a master (usually a trusted slave). It was given
to him to dispense to the needs of those serving or those hired.
Having defined to them rank and function he would advise of the
stringent requirements for one so called.
1) First, he must be
faithful to his master - Paul's faithfulness was to God.
2) And he
must be faithful to those he would serve (remember Paul's words to the
Ephesians - "I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of
4. After all it was the mysteries of God (things that had been
hidden and needed to be revealed with greater explanation).
made claim to no special mystical powers as the manner of some was and
II. A matter of judgment (vv. 3-5)
1. At first read
we might discern here an "I don't care what you think" attitude.
He would rather establish that all judgment is of God and that their
judgment was of no consequence:
1) Of them, whatever may have been
determined by them
2) Of men in general of
3) Even of himself -
my assessments either good or bad are still not qualified.
confessed that he knew nothing of himself.
4. Paul then defers his
own judgment to the Lord.
5. A word of exhortation: I the LORD search
the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his
ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:10)
There will be a time when all secrets of the heart will be laid bare
2) A stark reminder that we are not tried in the court of human opinion,
rather of God.
3) Then shall he that is found faithful have "praise
III. Who makes us to differ? (vv. 6-9ff)
1. In verse
6, Paul refers to previous metaphors he had used - farmers, builders,
but all dependent on God.
2. He would again emphasize that his role
and that of others was as lowly servants under the greatest of masters.
3. They had been "puffed up" against one another - claiming the high
ground based on who they were following and demeaning another.
remains to determine who is truly following the Lord
2) And who is
accurately dispensing the truth.
4. The leveling question of verse 7.
1) The immediate application as a challenge to their superior feelings
2) An application for us all - as an antidote to any hint of pride in us
3) They were the products of the grace of God
4) Bear in mind that He
has made us to differ.
5. In v. 8 Paul may be taking a tone of
sarcasm while stating a truth:
1) You are full, rich, etc. These
things were in fact true as a matter of salvation.
2) He would choose
to be with them in the Kingdom reigning!
6. But rather was accepting
of the lesser lot appointed to them as a result of the ministry they had
criticized - See vv. 9-10.