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"Fools for Christ "
1 Corinthians 4:6-16
Wednesday AM Bible Study
May 16, 2007
Theme: Paul calls the Corinthian believers to imitate the "foolishness" (according to this world's standards) that characterized the apostles.
Jesus had said, "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!" (Matthew 10:25-26). The believers in Corinth had apparently not understood that. They were dividing themselves up under human teachers; and this was clearly a product of their having exalted themselves in accordance with the standards of Greek philosophy and the worldly wisdom of the day.
In his letter to them, Paul has been combating this sinful and destructive tendency. He now compares these Corinthian believers with the conduct of himself and those apostolic teachers that they had been dividing themselves up under--showing that while the Corinthians were exalting themselves by this world's standards, the apostles were really viewed by the world as "fools". In emphasizing this, Paul calls these disobedient Christians to . . .
I. KEEP TRUE TO THE PREMACY OF THE SCRIPTURES (v. 6).
A. The "these things" that Paul figuratively transfers to himself and to Apollos refers to the ways he called the Corinthians to view the apostles and teachers in the church--that is, "as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God", who must give an account to God for faithfulness in their ministry (vv. 1-5).
B. Paul illustrates himself and Apollos in this way so that they will not do two things. First it is that they might not "think beyond what is written". Human teachers who are elevated in this world's standards are elevated because they teach human speculations. We are not to submit to such things; but rather, we are to esteem the authority of God's word alone. Second--and as an outflow of this--it is that they might not be "puffed up" (arrogant) with respect to human teachers against one another. Keeping the Scriptures in their proper place is a great cure against sinful sectarianism.
II. DON'T CONFORM TO THIS WORLD'S STANDARDS OF WISDOM (vv. 7-13).
A. Note first how the Corinthians were valuing themselves by the world's standards (vv. 7- 8). Paul speaks in verse 7 in the second person singular--as if talking hypothetically to a proud Corinthian. Who made him special? What did he have that had not been given to him by Christ? Why should he boast? The Corinthians were behaving as if they were already rich and reigned as kings without the apostles. They should have looked back to see that the apostles were not 'reigning' with them; and this would have given them cause to stop and evaluate their situation.
B. Note how the apostles were devalued by the world's standards (vv. 9-13). Far from reigning, the apostles were greatly humbled and devalued in the eyes of this world. They were put on display as 'spectacles' before the cosmos--both before angels and men. They were considered "scum of the earth". In all their humble and meek conduct, they were showing themselves to be "fools" in the sight of this world.
III. IMITATE THE APOSTLE'S BY BECOMING "FOOLS" FOR CHRIST (vv. 14-16).
A. Paul, then, reminds them of these things--not to shame them, but to call them to their senses. They have many "household teachers" (slaves who were entrusted to the care of the children of the householder); but they had only one "father". He considered himself this, because it was through him that they heard the gospel and believed.
B. Therefore, he calls them, as the one who begot them in the gospel, to imitate him in his humility in the sight of the world. He calls them to become "fools" in the sight of this world for the cause of Christ. Doing this, they will leave off dividing themselves under human teachers after the pattern of worldly philosophy.
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