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Summary: A sermon in I Corth

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A Group of Contrasts

1 Corinthians 4:8-21

Introduction

A. A spectacle to the whole universe (v. 9). Paul is using a word picture very familiar in the Roman empire.

1. Prisoners were paraded through the streets by the conquering general.

2. The apostles were like those “on display at the end of the procession” (v. 9).

3. They were conquered by Jesus Christ and ready to die for him.

B. This furnishes the background for a number of contrasts in this passage.

I. The Contrast Between the Rich and Poor in the Gospel (vv. 8, 9).

A. “Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us!” (v. 8).

1. They were self-satisfied and thought they were mature.

2. They felt they did not need help.

3. They wanted to rule when they should be serving.

B. They were “like men condemned to die in the arena” (v. 9).

1. Paul tells them he wishes he could be a king like they thought they were. He infers he is like a poor prisoner.

2. The apostle knew he had to suffer for the Lord (vv. 11-13).

3. We should not take this same attitude.

4. We are poor spiritually and need help from the Lord.

II. The Contrast Between Wise Men and Fools (v. 10).

A. They were worse according to their own worldly standards.

B. Paul was a fool for Christ.

1. He could have compromised the Gospel and avoided persecution.

2. When Paul met Jesus he asked, “Lord, what would you have me to do?” and he really meant it.

3. When the Bible is our authority, we appear foolish to the world.

III. The Contrast Between the Strong Person and the Weak Person (v. 10).

A. Strength that depends on itself will become weakness.

B. Weakness that depends on God will become strength. A study of 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 will confirm this.

IV. The Contrast Between the Honored and the Dishonored (v. 10)

A. The Corinthians were concerned about worldly honor.

1. They wanted to associate with great people.

2. They seemed unconcerned about honor from God.

B. Paul and the apostles were not honored by the world.

1. Paul supported himself as a tent maker. Many Greeks looked down on the person who worked for a living.

2. We are not popular with the world when we live with the Bible as our authority.

Illustration

I heard Professor W. O. Lappin tell about the man walking down State Street in Chicago wearing a sign board. On the front it read, “I am a fool for Christ’s sake.” Those who turned to look saw that the back of the sign read, “whose fool are you?”

I visited with a young Christian woman taking graduate work in psychology. She sounded dismayed when she said, “anyone who holds to Christian ethics is now considered abnormal.” I thought, “The Christian is nearly always considered abnormal.”


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