1 Corinthians 4:10
We are fools for Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are honored, but we are dishonored.
Against Self ConceitH. Bremner 1 Corinthians 4:6-13
Irony in ReligionE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 4:8-10
Suffering for Others a Proof of Interest in Their WelfareR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 4:8-12
A Spectacle to AngelsC. Wadsworth.1 Corinthians 4:8-13
A Vivid ContrastC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 4:8-13
A Wonderful SpectacleWeekly Pulpit1 Corinthians 4:8-13
Apostolic IronyJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:8-13
Apostolic Treatment of VanityD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:8-13
Before the FootlightsW. Birch.1 Corinthians 4:8-13
Humanity Watched by AngelsD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:8-13
Man an Object of Angelic ObservationD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:8-13
The Difference Between the Counterfeit and the Real ChristianJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:8-13
The State of the Corinthians Contrasted with that of the ApostlesJ. H. Tasson.1 Corinthians 4:8-13
A Honourable OccupationT. L. Cuyler.1 Corinthians 4:10-14
Apostolic MeeknessJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:10-14
Honest LabourJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:10-14
Mammal Labour Gentlemanly1 Corinthians 4:10-14
Paul and the Corinthians: a ContrastProf. Godet.1 Corinthians 4:10-14
Paul's Treatment of Self Conceited TeachersD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:10-14
The Folly of PaulProf. Beet.1 Corinthians 4:10-14
The Triumph of the True ChristianJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:10-14
True ReligionJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:10-14
In the midst of his irony and sarcasm, Paul here reverts to the more natural habit of his mind. The self exaltation and self importance of the Corinthians were mingled with depreciation of the apostle, at least on the part of some. But alas! if his own converts, so deeply indebted to his labours and his care, could think slightingly of him, what earthly compensation could he expect for all the pain, hardship, contempt, and danger he cheerfully endured? Were not he and his fellow apostles like gladiators doomed to be flung to the wild beasts - "a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men"?

I. THE GRANDEUR AND SUBLIMITY OF THEIR POSITION DEMANDS OUR ADMIRATION. They were not as slaves cast to the lions. They were men who might have led a quiet and peaceful, and some of them an honourable and distinguished, life. But they gave their hearts to Christ, and having done so gave up all for him. There was no exaggeration in the apostle's language. On the contrary, he spoke the plain truth when he represented himself as standing before the universe as a witness to the Lord Christ. The position was one of dignity and moral impressiveness; the angels felt it then, and the world of humanity has come to feel it now.

II. THE PATHOS OF THEIR POSITION DEMANDS OUR SYMPATHY. We observe the bodily privations, the homelessness, the physical toil, the ignominy, the persecutions, the general contempt, which the apostles passed through; and we cannot observe all this unmoved. Doubtless it touched the heart of that Divine Saviour who was made perfect through sufferings; doubtless there were those who wept with their leaders when these were constrained to weep. Nothing in all human history is more profoundly affecting.

III. THE MORAL PURPOSE OF THEIR POSITION DEMANDS OUR APPRECIATION. The motives that induced Paul and his colleagues voluntarily to submit to such experience as they relate were two - fidelity to Christ and pity for men. Christ the Master had condescended himself to be upon the cross a spectacle to the world; and those who benefited by his redemption and shared his Spirit were ready to follow his example. They were the true followers of him who "endured the cross, despising the shame." And their aim and hope was to bring the world to the foot of the Saviour's cross. For this end they "counted not their life dear unto them." It was for the sake of their fellow men that they consented to brave the scorn of the philosopher and the jeer of the multitude.


1. It is a rebuke to self indulgence and ease. Shall we be satisfied and enjoy our ease in the midst of the world's errors and sins, when we call to mind the heroic and pathetic sufferings of our Lord's first followers?

2. It is a consolation under any contumely and discredit we may endure in the Christian profession and vocation for Christ's sake. "The like afflictions have befallen our brethren who are in the world."

3. It points on to the glory which shall be revealed. "Through much tribulation ye must enter into the kingdom of heaven." The apostles have ended their struggles, and now enjoy their victory; the Church militant will soon become the Church triumphant. - T.

We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ.
The better to serve Christ, Paul refrained from making acquirement of knowledge his chief aim. And many others have renounced a path which might have led to literary eminence in order to devote their entire energies to evangelical work. Again, by abstaining from teaching mere human learning and by preaching a gospel which in the eyes of men was folly, Paul became, and felt himself to be, in their view, a foolish man. In other words, because of his loyalty to Christ he passed among men as one destitute of wisdom (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:2).

(Prof. Beet.)

The contrast between the two situations enunciated in vers. 8 and 9 is expressed here in three antitheses, which are, as it were, so many blows for the proud Corinthians. The text is addressed especially to the principal men of the Church, but at the same time to all its members who share in the pretensions of these proud party leaders. And —

I. AS TO TEACHING. The apostles had to face the reputation of foolishness which the gospel brings on them, while at Corinth there is found a way of preaching Christ so as to procure a name for wisdom, the reputation of profound philosophers and men of most reliable judgment. As a Rabbi Paul might have become as eminent a savant as Gamaliel; for Christ he consented to pass as a fool. The Corinthians knew better how to manage: they make the teaching even of the gospel a means of gaining celebrity for their lofty wisdom.

II. AS TO CONDUCT. They came before their public with the feeling of their strength: there is in them neither hesitation nor timidity. The apostles do not know these grand lordly airs. Witness 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

III. AS TO THE WELCOME RECEIVED FROM THE WORLD. The Corinthians are honoured, feted, regarded as the ornament of cultivated circles; there is a rivalry to do them honour. The apostles are scarcely judged worthy of attention; nay, rather reviled and calumniated. In this last contrast the apostle reverses the order of the two terms, and puts the apostles in the second place. This is by way of transition to one or two traits of detail in the apostolic life he is about to draw. Indeed "despised" is the theme of the following verses.

(Prof. Godet.)

The Corinthian teachers were "puffed up" with conceit. Paul treats them here with —

I. AN IRONIC APPEAL (ver. 10). "Ye have glory, but we have dishonour; we know nothing, you know everything; we are timid and feeble, but ye are strong and fearless; you are thought a deal of, but we are despised." How would our little penny-a-liners feel if such a man as Carlyle were to speak in this way? If they had any sense remaining, they would quiver into nothingness. How much more would those small pretentious teachers feel this stroke of satire from the grand apostle!


1. Here he refers to —

(1)His privations (ver. 11) — without nourishment, clothing, and the shelter of a home.

(2)His labours (ver. 12).

(3)His persecutions (ver. 13).

(4)The spirit in which he endured the sufferings (ver. 12).

2. Why did he state all this? Not for the sake of parade, but for the sake of bringing these proud teachers to their senses. They could not fail to feel that he was a pre-eminent minister of Christ; notwithstanding this, in the world he was treated with cruelty and contempt. What, then, had they to be proud of as ministers?

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Even unto

1. Sacrifice.

2. Shame.

3. Suffering.

4. Toil.


1. Companionship with the best of men.

2. The approbation of God.

3. A certain and glorious reward.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

And labour, working with our own hands.
1. Is no disgrace.

2. Is a sign of true independence.

3. Is acceptable to God.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

When Bishop Patteson went among the South Sea Islanders they were surprised to see that he was ready to put his hand to anything. He would do a piece of carpentering, wash up things after meals, and teach the little blacks to wash and dress themselves. Other white men wanted to put all the work on them; so in order to mark the difference, they called the bishop a "gentleman-gentleman," and the others "pig-gentlemen." Jesus Christ, "the first true gentleman that ever breathed," was when on earth called "the Carpenter," and if one of His chief apostles, St. Paul, worked with his hands as a tent-maker, manual labour ought never to be thought derogatory to the dignity of a gentleman.

There are three vitally important choices to be made by young men, about which a few plain hints may be pertinent and useful. The first one is his occupation. "He who does not bring up his son for a trade brings up a boy for the devil," is an ancient Jewish provers. In America, too, many of the native-born youths eschew a mechanical trade as vulgar, and go scouring about for some easier "situation." If Benjamin Franklin, the printer, and Roger Sherman, the shoemaker, were alive now, they would tell their young countrymen what a foolish mistake many of them are making. So would Vice-President Wilson and Governor Banks, who said that he "graduated from an institution which had a factory-bell on the roof and a water-wheel at the bottom." In selecting your occupation, endeavour first to find out what the Creator made you for. Consult your natural bent and talent. If you have a talent for trade, then you may venture into a counting-room or store. If you have a native skill in chemistry, and are made for a doctor, then study medicine. If your mathematical capacity fit you for it, you may be an engineer. No one ever fails in life who understands his forte, and few ever succeeded in life who .did not understand it. Seek for a useful, productive calling, and steer clear of a career of "speculation" as you would a gambling den or a glass of gin. Don't be ashamed to begin at the bottom and work up. Remember that every occupation is honourable in which you can serve God and your fellow-men, and keep a clean conscience.

(T. L. Cuyler.)

Being reviled we bless.
Observe —


1. Reproach.

2. Persecution.

3. Calumny.

4. Contempt.


1. The experience of others.

2. The unaltered spirit of the world.


1. Meekly.

2. Patiently.

3. Christianly.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

He triumphs —


1. Unchangeable.

2. Bitter.

3. Variously manifested.

II. BY —

1. Faith.

2. Hope.

3. Love.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

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