1 Corinthians 4:6
Brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written. Then you will not take pride in one man over another.
Sermons
Apostolic Delicacy and TactProf. Godet.1 Corinthians 4:6
Differences According to Grace ReceivedR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 4:6
How the Apostle Reproves the Pride of the Corinthian ChurchProf. Godet.1 Corinthians 4:6
Puffed UpC. Hodge, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:6
The Evil of Pride ExhibitedFamily Churchwoman1 Corinthians 4:6
The Seventh Chapter of the Epistle to the RomansCharles G. Finney 1 Corinthians 4:6
The True Standard of the Gospel MinistryPrincipal Edwards.1 Corinthians 4:6
Ministers as StewardsC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 4:1-7
Against Self ConceitH. Bremner 1 Corinthians 4:6-13


Party spirit leads to the undue exaltation of men. The head of a faction becomes a hero in the eyes of those that belong to it. Two evil consequences follow - pride, self sufficiency, conceit, on the one hand; undue depreciation of others and boasting against them, on the other hand. Against this hateful spirit the apostle has already presented a variety of arguments; and while speaking chiefly of himself and Apollos, he has in reality been teaching us how to regard all the ministers of Christ. They are not to be exalted beyond the position assigned them in Scripture, nor are they to suffer themselves to be puffed up with pride one against another.

I. A COGENT ARGUMENT. "For who maketh thee to differ?" If we are better than our neighbours, or possess gifts which they do not possess, we have God to thank for it. This question should be asked in view of all earthly privileges - health, wealth, position, education. More especially with regard to spiritual benefits. Who maketh thee to differ from that reeling drunkard, that erring sister, that condemned felon, that poor imbecile, that blind heathen? "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Corinthians 15:10). The thoughts awakened by such an inquiry should silence all boastfulness, and call forth praise to him to whom we owe all. Spiritual pride robs God of his glory.

II. AN IRONICAL PICTURE. "Already are ye filled, already ye are become rich, ye have reigned without us." You speak as if you had already attained perfection and participated in the millennial glory. You are not only rich, but seated as kings upon the throne. I would it were really so, for then we also might share in your glory; but alas! ye reign without us. You fortunate ones are exalted, but we poor apostles are still suffering on the earth. Thus does Paul hold up the self conceit of the Corinthians to derision. A warning for all time to those who run off with a part of the truth as if it were the whole. Like the perfectionists of our day, these Corinthians had fallen into the delusion that they had reached the goal. Spiritual pride is very subtle and very dangerous. This picture is suggestive when viewed in connection with the low morality prevalent in the Christian community at Corinth. Note here the legitimate use of irony, as in the case of Elijah (1 Kings 18:27) and Isaiah (Isaiah 44:9, etc.). Evil has its ludicrous side, and the exhibition of this is sometimes more effective than plain argument. Irony, however, is a dangerous weapon, and needs to be handled with skill. The anger that pours ridicule upon an opponent must have behind it a heart of love, if its wounds are to prove wholesome.

III. A PATHETIC CONTRAST. With the proud position of the Corinthians, Paul contrasts the suffering condition of himself and his brother apostles. Consider:

1. The general picture. "For, I think, God hath set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death." He seems to have in view the exhibitions given in the amphitheatre, at the close of which criminals condemned to death were brought in to fight with wild beasts or with one another. The sufferings of the apostles were a spectacle to the world, men and angels beholding them with interest. And what was true of these servants of Christ is true in part of every believer. We are wrestlers in the arena, fighting for dear life, with a myriad eyes upon us (comp. Hebrews 12:1).

2. The details of the picture. Very touching is this description of apostolic life, supplemented by the fuller details in the Second Epistle (2 Corinthians 11:23-33). Follow the steps of the homeless evangelist as he goes from place to place, earning his own bread while preaching the gospel, suffering many privations, exposed to many perils, and treated as the refuse of the world. No wonder if men called him a fool. Looked at from the outside, scarcely any life could appear more miserable; but all is changed when we know that it was lived "for Christ's sake." Love to him made the fellowship of his sufferings a matter to boast of. Are we willing to endure hardship for the Lord's sake? Are we taking up the cross he lays athwart our path?

IV. A CHRIST LIKE SPIRIT. Suffering for Christ is also suffering with Christ. He too was despised and rejected of men; and where he is there must also his servant be. In addition to this we have here suffering endured in the Spirit of Christ. "Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure, being defamed, we entreat." This was according to the Lord's commandment (Matthew 5:44), and after his example (1 Peter 2:23). How really noble is such a life! The truly strong man is he who can rise above the reproach and hate of men, and regard them with Christ like compassion. Contrast this humble following of Jesus with the proud boasting of the Corinthians. - B.







And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes.
St. Paul means that in the preceding passage (from 1 Corinthians 3:5) he has presented, while applying them to himself and Apollos, the principles regarding the ministry which he was concerned to remind them of, in view of certain preachers of the Church which misunderstood them. He did not wish to designate those preachers by name, lest he should shock susceptibilities already awakened. He explains this method, which he felt called to use in the delicate circumstances, by the words "for your sakes," which here signify "the more easily to gain your acceptance of the truth thus presented." Expressions like "Paul is nothing, Apollos is nothing," applied to other leading persons at Corinth, would have seemed injurious, while in the form used by Paul the truth declared lost all character of personal hostility. Hence it follows that "these things" applies solely to the last passage concerning the ministry, and not at all to the previous passages regarding the nature of the gospel. It is therefore a mistake to find here a proof in favour of applying to Apollos or his partisans the polemic against human wisdom in chaps, 1. and 2. The passage rather shows how thoroughly Paul felt himself one with Apollos, seeing he could treat him as a second self, and distinguish him so pointedly from teachers who opposed him at Corinth.

(Prof. Godet.)

I.BY EXAMPLE (ver. 6).

II.BY ARGUMENT (ver. 7).

III.BY SARCASM (ver. 8),

IV.BY THE CONSIDERATION OF GOD'S PROCEDURE (ver. 9).

V.BY CONTRAST (ver. 10).

VI.BY AN ENUMERATION OF APOSTOLIC HUMILIATIONS AND SUFFERINGS (Vers. 11-13).

(Prof. Godet.)

That ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written.
The apostle means by "what is written," the Scriptures of the Old Testament; not that he refers to any particular passage, but to the general spirit and point of view of the Divine revelation. The facts which he has delivered to the Corinthians are "according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3). He claims the same allegiance to the Old Testament on behalf of Apollos, who was "strong in the Scriptures." The words are another undesigned vindication of himself and Apollos from the charge of being party leaders. Both kept close to the teaching of Scripture. The faithfulness of the steward (1 Corinthians 4:2) turns out to be loyalty to the Word of God; and, as the faithful servant fears not the judgment of men, so also the pride of his self-conceit is quelled by the subjection of his spirit to God's revelation. Both qualities are the opposite of the tortuous intellectual cleverness of the Corinthians. Both are the surest safeguard of transparent, direct, honest simplicity of character, which, in turn, is the best preservative of Church order, and the only remedy against faction.

(Principal Edwards.)

That not one of you be puffed up for one against another.
"Be not puffed up one above another" (comp. in the Greek 1 Thessalonians 5:11). The followers of Apollos exalted themselves over those of Paul, and those of Paul over those of Cephas. One exalted himself above another and against him. He not only thought himself better than his brother, but assumed a hostile attitude towards him. This view is confirmed by the next verse, which is directed against the self-conceit of the Corinthians and not against their zeal for their teachers.

(C. Hodge, D. D.)

Family Churchwoman.
I. BY DIRECT EXPOSURE.

1. It is an over-estimation of self (ver. 6).

2. Ignores its dependence upon God (ver. 7).

3. Is inflated with imaginary superiority (ver. 8).

II. BY CONTRAST WITH APOSTOLIC EXAMPLE.

1. Apostles esteemed themselves the least, the proud think themselves the greatest (vers. 9, 10).

2. Apostles willingly endured for Christ's sake, the proud shun all self-sacrifice (vers. 11, 12).

3. Apostles maintained under their afflictions a spirit of forbearance and love, the proud are easily offended, &c. (1 Corinthians 6:13).

(Family Churchwoman.)

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