Summary: Exposition of 1 Cor 4:6-21 regarding his coming to accountability of the church to do what he told them in the first 3 chapters

Text: 1 Corinthians 4:6-21, Title: Just Wait Till Your Daddy Gets Home, Date/Place: NRBC, 8/29/10, AM

A. Opening illustration: Talk about working for Craig Belitz, and everyone trying to look busy when he came

B. Background to passage: Again, Paul is bringing his argument regarding division, factions, pride, and personal allegiances to “wisdom” to a conclusion. And he gives them a stern warning, although he says it is not to their shame, but just a warning for their edification…I am not so sure.

C. Main thought: Paul warns them to get to work fixing it, because he is coming.

A. Don’t Miss the Comparison (v. 6-7)

1. First thing that Paul says is to not miss the comparison that he is making b/t himself and the teachers/leaders that are leading the factions that have formed. He has already instructed that Paul, Apollos, and Peter are simply table-waiters, under-rowers, and house managers of the gospel. And so he says, “just in case you missed it, I was talking about your leaders too.” He says that they know they are on the same team, and not in competition or arrogant toward one another, so the Corinthian leaders need to adopt the same attitude. To bolster his earlier statements, he asked them who makes one of them superior over another? And which of them has gifts that they earned and were not given? Answers are that only God makes one superior over another, and the only way that happens is by His giving certain gifts to one and others to another. The point is that they are not superior, but anything that they are is simply a gift from God Himself, therefore it is inconsistent to boast, while accepting a gift.

2. James 1:22-25, Mark 4:11-12, Heb 2:1-4, 6:3, Philip 2:13, Acts 11:18,

3. Illustration: wouldn’t it be crazy for a child to get a gift at Christmas time and go around bragging to others as if he had gotten it himself,

4. Don’t miss application of truth because you are listening, reading, thinking for someone else. God doesn’t speak to hear Himself talk. On Sunday’s He knows whose here, and has a word for each one of you. If you leave the service “getting nothing out of it,” it’s not because of Him. He doesn’t speak on the other six days a week to you in your devotional time or in the car or in a book that you are reading, as though He wanted you to relay His message to others (although that does happen, but the message always goes through the messenger first). He is speaking to you! Apply the text to yourself first. Not to do this is the error of the Pharisee. When you begin to walk down the road of comparing yourself as superior (don’t act like you don’t, give some examples), remember that if you have it, accomplished it, understand it, gained it, are good at it, etc, it is only because God has allowed/brought it about. You are wholly and completely in debt to God for any good and perfect gift that you have.

B. Don’t Miss the Proof (v. 8-13)

1. Later he says that this is NOT for their shame, but it is hard to see how. He very sarcastically tells them that they have become kings in his absence doing whatever they wanted; full, needing no food; rich, having need of no resources; wise, having no need of instruction; strong, having no need of aid; fully clothed, retired, and thought well of. And he says that the apostles/teachers are the opposite, which we know that Paul doesn’t really believe. He even brings in this picture of the apostles as criminals being lead in the rear of a procession into the arena b/c they were condemned to die. Word was used of those fed to the lions. And then here, as in 2 Cor, he lists some of the proofs of real Christ-followers: they labor to the point of exhaustion, hunger and thirst (probably for food as well as righteousness), wearing rags, and scars and scabs and bruises, and having no permanent dwelling place, bless in return for reviling, patience under persecution, comfort and encouragement in return for slander and defamation, and are considered the scum of the earth, and the scraping of one’s shoes.

2. Rev 3:17, Philip 2:3-4, Gal 6:3, Rom 12:3, 16, Isa 5:21,

3. Illustration:

4. Stern warnings, even sarcastic ones are used by believers to rebuke those who they love and have a fatherly relationship with. So don’t always chalk up difficult, even sarcastic and harsh words to sinful responses, therefore not applicable. He says that he gives them these comments not for their shame and demolition of their self-esteem, so remember to look for elements of truth in criticism and admonition. Also remember that our own self-evaluation of our own righteousness and need is usually inaccurate, picturing ourselves much better than we really are. What if every time we evaluated ourselves in response to a supervisor or a sermon, we knocked it down two rungs just for good measure? Finally do our lives bear the marks of genuine Christ followers? Do we hunger and thirst for righteousness? Wear rags? Have scars and bruises for our service for Christ? Constantly on the move for Jesus? Labor to the point of exhaustion for the kingdom? Bless when reviled? Endure persecution and suffering well? Comfort those who slander us? Are we considered the scum of the earth for our witness?

C. Don’t Miss the Discipleship (v. 14-21)

1. Paul says that he is not shaming them, but warning them as a father would his children. In a church and in the Christian home the father’s responsibility number one toward his children is to make disciples of them. So after reminding them that God used his ministry to bring them into the kingdom of God, and telling them that they may have 10K tutors/guardians in Christ, he is their father. Then he says, “imitate me,” or take me as your model/pattern. Paul was living a life close to Christ that he could say, do what I do. And he felt so confident in this, he sent Timothy, his beloved and faithful son in Christ, to teach them again Paul’s ways. This was probably not a discipleship class on “how to act like Paul,” but rather, Timothy acted like Paul, had imitated his ways sufficiently that his life represented Paul’s. So Paul was telling the Corinthians, not just to listen to what he says, but to do what he does. NT discipleship: Paul, Timothy, Corinthians, faithful men.

2. Gal 4:19, 2 Cor 3:18, Rom 8:29, 2 Tim 2:2,

3. Illustration:

4. You have a responsibility to make disciples with people that you win to Christ. Dads, you have a responsibility to make disciples in your home of you wife and children. Who was it that led you to Christ (not just the preacher who happened to be preaching), but who led you? Did they continue making a disciple in you? Can you tell those around you to imitate you? What if all the members of this church were spiritually where you are? They tithed like you, served like you, prayed like you, loved like you, knew the bible like you, witnessed like you? Regardless of whether or not you feel like you are where you want to be spiritually (those truly pursuing Christ will never feel like they have attained that in their hearts), you can be pouring your life out into others. This is NT discipleship, not classes, conferences, sermons, books, or trainings, but life-sharing. So who are you pouring life into? Dads, moms, students, grandparents, coworkers…

A. Closing illustration:

B. Finally, he tells them that he is coming to inspect, and see if his words have found their mark, if repentance has taken place, if the Kingdom of God has been manifest in power. And he pleads with them not to make him come with a rod, but with gentleness. He is hoping for a positive outcome from the letter, so that the rod is not necessary.

C. Invitation to commitment

Additional Notes

• “These Corinthians are lucky. Already they enjoy favours that the apostles dare only hope for. They no longer ‘hunger and thirst after righteousness’; they are filled; in the theory of the Spirit, they have eaten to satiety.… In short, the Messianic kingdom seems to have come to Corinth and these people have been given their thrones, while the apostles dance attendance and are placed with the servants.”