1 Corinthians 4
New Living Translation
Paul’s Relationship with the Corinthians
4 So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries. 2 Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful. 3 As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. 4 My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.
5 So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.
6 Dear brothers and sisters,[a] I have used Apollos and myself to illustrate what I’ve been saying. If you pay attention to what I have quoted from the Scriptures,[b] you won’t be proud of one of your leaders at the expense of another. 7 For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?
8 You think you already have everything you need. You think you are already rich. You have begun to reign in God’s kingdom without us! I wish you really were reigning already, for then we would be reigning with you. 9 Instead, I sometimes think God has put us apostles on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victor’s parade, condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the entire world—to people and angels alike.
10 Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are honored, but we are ridiculed. 11 Even now we go hungry and thirsty, and we don’t have enough clothes to keep warm. We are often beaten and have no home. 12 We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us. 13 We appeal gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world’s garbage, like everybody’s trash—right up to the present moment.
14 I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children. 15 For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. 16 So I urge you to imitate me.
17 That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go.
18 Some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again. 19 But I will come—and soon—if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power. 20 For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. 21 Which do you choose? Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit?
1 Corinthians 4
New International Version
The Nature of True Apostleship
4 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. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience(D) is clear, but that does not make me innocent.(E) It is the Lord who judges me.(F) 5 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)
6 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) 7 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?
8 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! 9 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?