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Apostles of Christ

You should think of us as Christ's servants, who have been put in charge of God's secret truths. The one thing required of such servants is that they be faithful to their master. Now, I am not at all concerned about being judged by you or by any human standard; I don't even pass judgment on myself. (A)My conscience is clear, but that does not prove that I am really innocent. The Lord is the one who passes judgment on me. So you should not pass judgment on anyone before the right time comes. Final judgment must wait until the Lord comes; he will bring to light the dark secrets and expose the hidden purposes of people's minds. And then all will receive from God the praise they deserve.

For your sake, my friends, I have applied all this to Apollos and me, using the two of us as an example, so that you may learn what the saying means, “Observe the proper rules.” None of you should be proud of one person and despise another. Who made you superior to others? Didn't God give you everything you have? Well, then, how can you boast, as if what you have were not a gift?

Do you already have everything you need? Are you already rich? Have you become kings, even though we are not? Well, I wish you really were kings, so that we could be kings together with you. For it seems to me that God has given the very last place to us apostles, like people condemned to die in public as a spectacle for the whole world of angels and of human beings. 10 For Christ's sake we are fools; but you are wise in union with Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! We are despised, but you are honored! 11 To this very moment we go hungry and thirsty; we are clothed in rags; we are beaten; we wander from place to place; 12 (B)we wear ourselves out with hard work. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13 when we are insulted, we answer back with kind words. We are no more than this world's garbage; we are the scum of the earth to this very moment!

14 I write this to you, not because I want to make you feel ashamed, but to instruct you as my own dear children. 15 For even if you have ten thousand guardians in your Christian life, you have only one father. For in your life in union with Christ Jesus I have become your father by bringing the Good News to you. 16 (C)I beg you, then, to follow my example. 17 For this purpose I am sending to you Timothy, who is my own dear and faithful son in the Christian life. He will remind you of the principles which I follow in the new life in union with Christ Jesus and which I teach in all the churches everywhere.

18 Some of you have become proud because you have thought that I would not be coming to visit you. 19 If the Lord is willing, however, I will come to you soon, and then I will find out for myself the power which these proud people have, and not just what they say. 20 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of words but of power. 21 Which do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in a spirit of love and gentleness?

The Nature of True Apostleship

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants(A) of Christ and as those entrusted(B) with the mysteries(C) God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience(D) is clear, but that does not make me innocent.(E) It is the Lord who judges me.(F) Therefore judge nothing(G) before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes.(H) He will bring to light(I) what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.(J)

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.”(K) Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.(L) For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive?(M) And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich!(N) You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die(O) in the arena. We have been made a spectacle(P) to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ,(Q) but you are so wise in Christ!(R) We are weak, but you are strong!(S) You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.(T) 12 We work hard with our own hands.(U) When we are cursed, we bless;(V) when we are persecuted,(W) we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage(X) of the world—right up to this moment.

Paul’s Appeal and Warning

14 I am writing this not to shame you(Y) but to warn you as my dear children.(Z) 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father(AA) through the gospel.(AB) 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me.(AC) 17 For this reason I have sent to you(AD) Timothy,(AE) my son(AF) whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.(AG)

18 Some of you have become arrogant,(AH) as if I were not coming to you.(AI) 19 But I will come to you very soon,(AJ) if the Lord is willing,(AK) and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of(AL) talk but of power.(AM) 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline,(AN) or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?

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