Summary of passage: Paul still speaking to the Corinthians: I addressed you as worldly because you are mere infants in Christ. I could not give you solid food for you were not ready and still are not ready based on your jealousy, quarreling, and divisions. You are acting like men!
Paul once again says he and Apollos are merely servants and seeds planted by the Lord. God made them grow. Paul and Apollos have one purpose which will be rewarded which is to work God’s field (his people).
Paul only laid the foundation (which is Christ) and we must build upon it. But we must be careful what we build. It must withstand fire in order to receive a reward; otherwise, it will burn and you will suffer loss. Good things not bad.
We are God’s temple and if anyone destroys us God will destroy them.
God sees this world’s wisdom as foolish. Putting Paul or Apollos above God or others is foolish. For God is ours.
1 Corinthians 4: Believers are servants of Christ and entrusted with the secret things of God. We must be faithful and not judge others including ourselves for that is God’s job. Do not put men above one another for it is God who has made all men equal. Only God should reign above.
The Corinthians have all that they wish. Sarcastically, the apostles who all walk in the Spirit are treated as the scum of the earth and the Corinthians who lead a nice life but walk in the Earth believe themselves better than the apostles because of these things they do. God has made the apostles so low while the Corinthians believe themselves so high. Paul lists things Greeks would never do: work with their hands, go hungry and thirsty, speak kind words to persecutors, and be homeless. They should be ashamed of this attitude and behavior.
Yet, this is to warn the Corinthians to live a life like Paul’s which Timothy will show you how. A spiritual life and not an earthly one. Paul held the true power of God. The arrogant ones are merely all talk.
6) The Corinthians were still worldly (of this world) or still mere infants in Christ. They had not yet matured into adults and into the spiritual realm of submitted Christ-followers yet.
7a) Paul only gave the Corinthians what they could handle. A newborn can only drink milk. A new Christian needs the basics before he or she can go deeper with God. So Paul has only given the Corinthians enough information that they could digest as new Christians. They have yet to taste solid food or the meat/heart of God’s wisdom, Spirit, and glory.
b) If you are indwelt with the Spirit, you are expected to walk with the Spirit. By calling the Corinthians “worldly” Paul says they are not walking with the Spirit but walking of the flesh, of man, of this temporal world and not of God’s eternal world.
My favorite analogy is where Paul says Christ is the foundation but you must build upon Christ with something that survives the fire (Spiritual deeds) such as gold, silver, or costly stones and not with wood, hay or straw. I would say you must use diamonds (the strongest mineral here on earth) instead of tin.
For Romans, read Romans 8:5-8. Romans 8:5 says it best, “Those who live according to the sinful (worldly in our comparison) nature have their minds set on what that nature desires (worldly things); but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
The other passages reference how we will all be judged by what we do here on Earth. We are not to judge others. “A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8
8a) Jesus Christ
b) If the work survives the fire, man shall receive his reward. Verse 14. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss (verse 15) but still be saved. Basically, your work on Earth will be judged. All who accept Jesus as their Savior will go to Heaven but Jesus will judge us based on our human life. So some who only build with wood, hay or straw will barely make it. Those who build with gold, silver, or costly stones will receive their reward (which we don’t know what that is but we are told it is good).
c) Personal Question. My answer: Again, it shows us that we do matters here on Earth to God. We are just not put here to live our lives with no purpose. We are to make a difference, to do God’s work, His calling on our lives while we are here.
I am driven by my purpose but often other things crowd in. I have to remain diligent to keep the faith in God’s plan for my life. And a lot is timing. I must wait on Him even though most times I don’t want to. I try to focus on my immediate impact (my family) first and then others. It often feels like I’m accomplishing nothing but I know bit by bit it will all happen for His glory.
9) As servants of Christ and those entrusted with the secret things of God. One who is faithful and non-judgmental or anything or anyone including yourself for that is God’s job.
10a) The Corinthians were judging the apostles and taking pride in who they followed. They were going beyond what is written (elevating the messenger above each other). The differences if any in the apostles (and in themselves) are from God so they should be humble and not prideful. Those who have true spiritual power have everything they want. They are rich! Those inflated with pride put themselves above others.
Look at Paul and his life. He and other apostles are horribly treated everywhere they go–the low of the low and the Corinthians see themselves as the high of the high. Yet it is Paul and the apostles who are walking spiritually not the Corinthians. Paul in reality has everything when it is the Corinthians (who appear to have everything) who have nothing.
b) To warn the Corinthians as a parent would a child. To keep them safe. To urge them to imitate him (Paul) in terms of his way of life in Christ Jesus.
Conclusions: I loved that we are entrusted with the “secret things of God.” I tend to think that God is for everyone (which He is) and there’s no secret there. But the secret lies once you accept God and Jesus. Then, only then, do you realize God’s true power and glory, which in essence is a secret. I never thought of it like that!
I liked how Paul says he doesn’t even judge himself. This is hard for most of us. I judge myself based on what I accomplish in a day and other areas of my life. I must remember not to judge myself. To offer grace to myself just like God does. To not be so hard on myself when something does not get done or I do sin. For God forgives me and therefore I must forgive myself as well.
And, of course, the over-arching theme of pride. We all must guard against pride and practice humility every chance we get. Put others first. Live for others. Walk daily spiritually and not earthly. Small steps will lead to great rewards.