Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 4:1 - 4:5

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Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 4:1 - 4:5

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1Let a man so [So let a man] account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards 2of the mysteries of God. Moreover [Here Deuteronomy 1] it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of [by] you, or of [by] man’s judgment [lit. day]: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4For I know nothing by [against] myself; yet am I not hereby [not by this am I] justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man [each one] have [from ἀôéὸ ] praise of [his ] God.


1Co_4:1. [Having thus exhibited the regal title of Christians to all things, to the benefits to be derived from all Christian ministers, and from all objects and events in this world, he now turns to present, as a corollary from this, the view which they ought to take of ministers, and the manner in which they are to treat them; and thus, as it were, to remind them of certain limitations in the prerogatives of those whom they were disposed unduly to honor].—So let a man account of us. ïὕôùò , so. This does not serve to connect the following with what precedes, as Meyer (3d Ed., but not 2d Ed.) supposes, rendering it: so then, or, accordingly. No such connection is here implied. Rather Paul here intends to hold up the proper mode of estimating teachers in contrast with that “boasting” in them reprobated in 1Co_3:21; and the “so” here refers to what follows.—“So as servants ‘of Christ.’—not as leaders taking His place. Ἠìᾶò , us, primarily or chiefly, Paul and Apollos, as 1Co_4:6; 1Co_3:4, show. ËïãßæÝ óèáé , to bring to account, to reckon, to estimate, as in Rom_8:36 ( çָùַá ). “It implies the formation of a sound, well-weighed estimate, as contrasted with the partisan judgments which the Corinthians formed respecting their teachers.” Osiander. Ἄíèñùðïò =not, every man, but, man generally, according to the Hellenic and Hebrew usage. ὙðçñÝôáò as äéÜêïíïé , 1Co_3:5. The word properly denotes a servant of subordinate rank, an understrapper. In patristic parlance it was used of sub-deacons. The New Testament employs it for helpers and attendants. Luk_4:20; Act_13:5. The verb from which it comes, occurs in Act_26:16, to signify David’s working for the fulfilment of God’s purposes. In the text the word carries the idea of one laboring for the cause of Christ. To adopt its fundamental meaning, that of a rower [as Valck.: “Christ is Pilot of the vessel of the Church, we are rowers under His command.” Words.], would be just as appropriate as to render it: adjutants or orderlies, according to the precedent in Xenophon. If not precisely equivalent to “deacon, ” yet it certainly is brought in here to indicate a very subordinate position under Christ, in contrast with the leadership ascribed by the Corinthian partisans. Nevertheless the idea of honor is not excluded, since this comes from being connected with Christ, whose work is performed. The dignity of the office is, however, more prominently exhibited in the second designation—and stewards of the mysteries of God ïἱêïíüìïõò ìõóôçñßùí èåïῦ . Rom_16:23; 1Pe_4:10. The article is not prefixed, because the word stands qualitively, to indicate that what has been entrusted to their charge is something very important and weighty. And by these “mysteries” we are not to understand the sacraments, thereby following patristic usage. [In which case Paul could hardly have been a steward, for he was sent not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel]. Rather they are “the mystery of God” in its manifold variety and fulness; or as Luk_8:10 : “the mysteries of the kingdom of God;” in other words, the revelations of God, as matters which could be known only by Divine communication. [Such is the meaning of the word “mystery” in the New Testament—not, as in common parlance: something uncomprehensible; but: something which, being beyond the reach of man’s intelligence, has been made known to him in some special Divine way]. The “stewardship” consists in [preserving and administering the truth revealed through] preaching and teaching,—no less in properly didactic instruction than in prophecy. The “steward” belonged among the “servants,” and his business was, not to manage one particular branch of the household economy, but to take the whole in charge. He was therefore put over the rest of the servants. The stress here, however, is not to be laid upon the preëminence enjoyed by the steward, but upon the responsibility accompanying the goods entrusted.” Neander. To suppose that the Apostle used the term “stewards,” with some vague idea of provisions floating before his mind, to which he would liken the truth,—as if the persons thus denominated were regarded by him in the light of family providers, would be rather far fetched, and Luk_12:42 gives no countenance for such a thought in our passage. “Between the father of the household and the stewards, there stood the son, who had from the father a power of control, so that the stewards were in fact his servants likewise.” Meyer.

1Co_4:2. Here, moreover.—We must first consider what the true reading is here. Res. has ὅ äὲ ëïéðüí . But this is not by any means so well supported as ̓ äå ëïéðüí , which is the reading that prevails throughout the codices, versions, and church fathers in equal degree. If it be not the original reading, then it must have come in either by mistake, or by intentional correction, since the phrase ὅ äὲ ëïéðüí nowhere else occurs. But neither case is probable, considering the numerous, and at least partially independent authorities which attest it. The Rec. text, apart from its unusualness, is evidently the easier reading, [and therefore may be the more readily accounted for as an intended emendation]. It would be rendered, but finally; lit. as for what remains: i. e. after setting aside all your unsuitable claims. But ̓ äå , which occurs nowhere else in Paul, save in Col_4:9, though very common in other parts of the New Testament, means, here; i. e., in this connection, or in this matter, where we are treating of the administration of the mysteries of God, comp. Rev_13:10; Rev_13:18; Rev_14:12; Rev_17:9. [Alf. translates it locally: here, on this earth, “It is,” he says, “emphatic, and points to what follows, that though in the case of stewards inquiry was necessarily made here below, yet he, God’s steward, awaited no such inquiry, ὑðὸ ἀíè ñùðßíçò ἡìÝñáò : by man’s judgment, but one at the coming of the Lord.” Stanley follows Lachmann in connecting ̓ äå with the previous words, “stewards of the mysteries of God here,’ ” and makes it mean, in this matter (as in the references above given). Wordsworth adheres to the Rec. He considers ̓ äå as harsh, and accounts for it as arising from the confusion of ï and ù , than which, he says, nothing is more common in the best Mss. Hodge, on the contrary, says it yields good sense]. Ëïéðüí might serve for making the transition, like ceterum, moreover, and belong primarily to ̓ äå . Or it may be joined to “is required,” (which is favored by the order of the words), and so as to imply, that with this consideration the whole matter is wound up; or to express something further in relation to that mentioned in ver.1, which was specially worthy of consideration.—it is required that. ἵíá has a telic sense, and shows that the purport of the requirement is at the same time its purpose. The investigations in regard to such persons, aims at this, that one be found faithful.—This is why great trusts are reposed in a person, that he might conduct himself in the management of them according to the mind and will of God, who has committed them to Him, for the glory of His name and the welfare of His Church, and not for the legatee’s own benefit (comp. Luk_12:42). Åὑñåèῇ , be found by the result as shown at the time of trial Osiander. Ôὶò , according to Meyer, every one [“Faithful,” emphatic. “The great requisite for the office of a steward is fidelity. As a servant he must be faithful to his master. As a disciple, he must be faithful to those under his oversight. He must not neglect to dispense to them their food, nor adulterate it, nor substitute any thing in place of that given to be distributed. So in regard to ministers.” Hodge].

1Co_4:3. Having stated the point of view from which alone a proper judgment could be formed in regard to him and his associates, Paul next proceeds to state his own feelings as to the judgment that might be formed of him by men. [Alford adds, “in contrast to the case of the stewards, into whose faithfulness enquiry is made ‘here’ on earth.”] Very naturally the Corinthians would think that a good deal of weight attached to their judgment.—But [ äÝ indicates a transition to the application of what was said in general to his own particular case] for me it amounts to the very least thing. åἰò åëÜ÷éóôüí ἐóôéí . The åἱò here, according to Greek usage, shows the result to which the thing comes—that I be judged by you. ἵíá ἅíáêñéèῶ . The objective clause in telic form. It certainly is not equivalent to ὅôáí ἀíáêñéèῶ : when I am judged; nor perhaps precisely the same as ôὸ ἀíáêñéèῆíáé , to be judged. [“Here and always ἴíá is more or less the conj. of purpose.” Alford]. A weakness of its force in the later Greek is not to be denied; but here the idea of intention or tendency lies in this, that something is about to happen or impends: ‘I am not at all disturbed that I shall be judged by you as to my merits.’ [Stanley, on the other hand, says that “the substitution of ἴíá with the subjunctive for the indicative is in the modern Romaic,” and seems to take it so here]—or by man’s judgment—lit.: ‘by human day. ’ Thisis neither to be taken as a Cilicism nor as a Hebraism. It designates a day of judgment, analogously with the phrase dicem dicere, and here comes in correspondingly with the expression: “day of the Lord.” We are not to understand by it a private decision (“by you”) in contrast with a public one. But it is a generalization of the phrase: ‘by you,’ and by an obvious transition, the day of the act is put for the act itself, and the judgment as a whole for the judges themselves; or as Meyer: the day is personified, and hence ὑðü is used in accordance with ὑö ̓ ὑìῶí , by you. There is something of solemnity in this phraseology; nor is it without a slight touch of irony or rebuke at their presumption in being supposed to fix upon a day of trial, and to sit upon a judgment-seat in order to pronounce upon Paul’s merits or demerits. All appearance of haughtiness in this disparagement of other’s opinions is removed by what follows.—Yea, I judge not of mine own self. Lit.: ‘But neither do I judge myself.’ The ἀëëÜ here is like that in 1Co_3:2. Before ἐìáõôïí we would naturally look for an ïὐôüò . But this is not necessary. The judgment on himself, which he here disavows, is a final decision as to his own merits, such as he is willing to abide by. [“Paul is here speaking not of the actions of men whether good or bad, but of the eminence of each individual, which ought not to be estimated by men’s humors.” Calvin].

1Co_4:4. Instead of the expected antithesis, there follows first a confirmation of what precedes, in the way of a parenthesis.—For I know nothing with myself.—This first clause is concessive, [the force of for, as Winer says, falling upon the subsequent clause]: q. d. ‘For although I know,” etc. So also Meyer, [who says, however, that the force of the proof does not lie in the second clause, so that the first would be only concessive, but in the antithetic relation of both clauses. He yet gives the sense thus]: “The clearness of my conscience as to my official duties is nevertheless (doch) not the ground on which my justification rests.” [The phraseology here is peculiar, but thoroughly idiomatic, both in the Greek ( ïí ̓ äÝí ἐì áíôῳ óýíïéäá ) and in our E. V., which almost literally translates it:—“I know nothing by myself.” So also the Latin—nil conscire sibi. All expressions alike mean: I am conscious of no wrong. (See Jelf, Gr. Gram., § 682, 2). The English phrase is to be found in the early writers, and Stanley asserts: ‘it is still a provincial form of speech for the same thought’]. ‘Know nothing,’ i.e., so far as my official conduct is concerned. [“Elsewhere he speaks of himself as the ‘chief of sinners,’ which is perfectly consistent with his saying, that his conscience acquitted himself of failure as a Christian minister.” Hodge.]—Yet not in this am I justifiedi.e., before God. It is a question, however, whether this justification is to be understood in the dogmatic sense, [of imputed righteousness], as Meyer, and Billr., and others maintain, or in the legal, ethical sense [as the early fathers, Calvin, Hodge, Alford, and others assert]. If the former, then the meaning is: that since his justification did not depend on the verdict of his own conscience but upon Christ, therefore his conscience could not furnish the ground on which he was to judge himself. If the latter, then the sense would be: that his acquittal of all blame does not rest on the fact that his conscience charged him with no official derelictions; since conscience pronounced only in regard to particular actions and not to the whole moral character as it appears in God’s sight, so that of course a clean conscience could afford no certain basis of estimating the real worth of any person. Of these interpretations the latter is to be preferred, since there is no allusion in the context to the Gospel doctrine of justification by faith.—but he that judgeth me.—[Observe, not: “that justifieth me,” which language would have been the term employed, had Paul here had in mind the matter of his general Christian estate, but: “judgeth” ( ἀíáêñßíùí ), i.e., holds an inquest and decides on the merits of the case which may be brought into issue.]—is the Lord.i.e., Christ, [who looked deeper than conscience; and of course deeper than all outside observers], and who alone could comprehend all the data by which his official conduct was to be estimated. [“This inward allegiance of the conscience is the highest form of worship. The Lord Jesus was to the Apostle the object of all those sentiments and feelings which terminate on God. And He must be so to us, or we are not Christians. What makes a man a Christian is to feel and act towards Christ as God.” Hodge.].

1Co_4:5. Practical inference from the foregoing. So then ( ὥóôå ), judge nothing. ìὴôé êñßíåôå . is not the object of judgment but its contents. It is equivalent to êñßóéí ôéíÜ . Hence the meaning is: “do not judge any judgment.” The logic may be presented thus: “Since my judgment belongs to the Lord, therefore refrain from all premature decisions respecting me.” Billroth, with less simplicity, says: “Since I do not even judge myself, therefore follow my example, and do not yourselves judge.” He alludes here not to the mutually disparaging censures cast upon each other by the several factions (Billr.), but to the judgment of the Corinthian brotherhood upon himself.—before the time,—which is more fully explained in,—until the Lord shall come.—The time of His advent to judgment—His “appearing,” or “epiphany” (2Ti_4:1; 2Th_1:7). The ἕùò ἅí is used with the subjunctive ἕëèῃ , because an end to be reached is fixed upon from the standpoint of the present, but the reaching of which (here in respect of time), is still undecided. Or, according to Meyer: “The coming is thereby designated as problematical, and dependent on circumstances; not indeed, as it is doubted; also not, as it is dependent upon subjective determination, but, as it is an object of expectant faith.” [The uncertainty indicated by ἄí is not as to the fact of Christ’s coming, but as to the time when He shall come: q. d., “until the Lord shall come, whenever that may be.” (See Jelf., Gr. Gram., § 846, 2.)] (Comp. Mat_16:28; Luk_13:35).—That a correct judgment will then, for the first time, be possible is shown from what follows.—who also.—The êáß here is neither to be taken in connection with the êáß in following clause, as if it were et, et, both, and: nor has it a mere strengthening force, even; but it serves to single out from among the functions of the Lord, as He comes to judgment, that one with which he is here concerned: [“also,’ inter alia, as part of the proceedings of that Day.” Alford.]—will bring to light. öùôéæåéí , with the accusative, to enlighten, illuminate, as the sun does the world, and hence to disclose, bring to light (comp. 2Ti_1:10),—the hidden things of darkness:i.e., such as belong to darkness, or which darkness vails. (In Rom_2:16, we have simply: “the hidden things.”) [“This includes acts now unknown, and those principles of action which lie concealed in the heart where no [human] eye can reach them. This is all that the context requires. In other connections, the secret things, or the works of darkness, means wicked works, works done in the dark to avoid detection. But the Apostle is here speaking of the reason why judgment should be deferred until the coming of Christ. The reason is that He alone can bring to light the secret acts and motives of men.” Hodge.]—and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.—Epexegetical of the former, or a specification under the general head just mentioned. One function of the Judge will be to lay open the inner determinations of the will—the motives and purposes by which men are governed, and which are withdrawn from human sight. It is on these that the decision respecting our merits and our fidelity must at last turn. All depends upon the simplicity of our temper—upon such a service of the Lord as excludes all by-ends, and is upright and sincere. “The thought here is this: In this life our inward character can only be inferred from our acts; at the judgment it will be directly laid open by the Lord.” Neander.—and then,—as contrasted with the present, when so much is vailed, and when men are disposed to exercise a premature judgment—shall each one have his praise: ἐêÜóôῳ ὁ ἔðáὶíïò . Literally: “to each one the praise,” i.e., the praise which is his due, according to its various measures and degrees, corresponding to his worth. He here speaks of praise only, since he has in view primarily Apollos and himself, and not any Judaizing opposers. Hence there is no necessity of taking ἔðáéíïò as vox media, contrary to all usage, or even to regard it as an euphemism (with Theophylact). Paul’s statement here, as Calvin says, “arises from the assurance of a good conscience.” He knew there was laid up for him a crown of righteousness (2Ti_4:8).—from God.—This stands emphatically at the close. By this he gives us to understand that the judgment of the Lord, which would be pronounced upon his servants, was the judgment of God himself. Thus does he appeal from those partizan judgments, which exalt one at the expense of another, to the absolute and impartial judgment of God, who will give to each one his due. On the adjudication of Christ in its relations to God see Rom_2:16; Act_10:42; Act_17:31. On “the praise from God” see Mat_25:21. [“The command not to anticipate the judgment of the Lord is consistent with Paul’s frequent recognition of the right and duty of the Church to sit in judgment on the qualifications of her own members. He is here speaking of the heart. The Church cannot judge the heart. Whether a man is sincere or insincere in his professions, whether his experience is genuine or spurious, God only can decide. The Church can only judge of what is outward. If any man profess to be holy, and yet is immoral the Church is bound to eject him, as Paul clearly teaches in the following chapter. Or if he profess to be a Christian, and yet rejects Christianity, or any of its essential doctrines, he cannot be received, Tit_3:10. But ‘the counsels of the heart’ only the Searcher of hearts can judge.” Hodge.]


1. Christ’s ministers stewards of the mysteries of God.—In this we see the high significance and solemn responsibility of the ministerial office. In a preëminent sense, Christ is the servant of God. It is through His hand that the pleasure of the Lord prospers; and on Him has God poured His Spirit without measure, and to His control given all things, and on Him conferred power over all flesh that He should give eternal life to as many as God has given Him. Subordinate to Him in this work are Apostles, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, acting the part, so to speak, of handworkmen ( í ̓ ðçñἐôáé ). They labor under His direction, undertaking and executing all those various offices by which the redemption and the guidance of souls are accomplished. The more completely they put themselves under Him, preferring His will and His plans to their own, seeking no glory but His, asserting His authority as the only rule—the more exalted will they appear in God’s sight, as persons who are worthy to coöperate with “His Servant” in this, the most important of all concerns, and to become the organs of his gracious purposes.

The lofty significance of their office appears enhanced by the fact, that in this service they are made “stewards of the mysteries of God.” To them has been committed the wondrous plan of salvation—a plan which from all eternity had been hid in God, and was concealed from the researches of the wisest in this world, and was at last revealed in Jesus Christ, and hence is well termed a mystery—even this plan, with all the means requisite for its execution, in reconciling sinners to God, and awaking the spiritually dead, and enlightening the benighted, and originating, preserving, confirming, and perfecting the life of faith in God’s dear children. Their business it is, therefore, to employ this wealth of Divine instrumentalities for the extension of the kingdom of God on earth, and in behalf of each and all of God’s people; and to discharge this trust publicly and privately, towards all classes and conditions in society without partiality:—to inquire out the ways through which God leads souls to the truth, and to construct such ways, by examining into the tendencies and characteristics and wants of individuals and communities, and by investigating their circumstances and inward conditions in life; and then to urge men to enter them:—to be unwearied in beseeching men in Christ’s stead to become reconciled to God, warning, exhorting, rebuking, reproving, in the consciousness that God is acting in them and through them and in the exercise of something of His holy earnestness and pitying love. This, this is to act the part of a faithful steward; this is to fulfil the obligation which rests upon the office-bearers of a Christian church. In order to be thus faithful they must be instructed by the Spirit, and follow in the footsteps of Him who, as the Son of God, was faithful in all His house, and who said of Himself that He could do nothing except what He saw the Father do. But if, instead of this, they go their own ways, employ methods to their own liking, conduct themselves so that the mind and counsel of God are not to be discerned in them—if they allow themselves to be carried away by carnal zeal and impatience, or yield to disgust and slothfulness, or suffer sensual gratifications, whether refined or gross, or a love of honors and authority and applause to slip in and betray them into unhallowed courses,—then are they chargeable with a faithlessness which incurs a fearful accountability.

2. The Lord is Judge.—This truth is, on the one hand, a source of comfort to all true servants of God, amid the various criticisms and censures passed upon them; and, on the other hand, it serves to abate the confidence of their own self-estimation. In the great day of account the Searcher of hearts will bring to light all that has been stirring within them, their longings and strivings, their secret motives and inward struggles, their inarticulate sighs as well as their uttered prayers; and in view of these things, all unknown to men, will He judge them. However others, who judge according to appearance, may find occasions for censure, or may misconstrue their doings and omissions, they can accept it all in peace and look away in calm assurance from these hasty decisions to the righteous sentence of an All-seeing Judge.—Yet, with all this, there is at the same time something very subduing in the anticipation of this only valid adjudication. However unconscious of blame they may be in the discharge of their duties, still this can afford them no certain ground for hoping to be acquitted before their Lord. His all-piercing eye detects faults that are hidden from their own consciences; and in His all-illuminating light much may appear unclean which to their clouded vision seems stainless. Hence it becometh them to be modest and leave to Him the final award.—Yet from him, who has been diligent in his endeavors to be faithful, the due praise will not be withheld,—however much men might criticize. From the mouth of his Lord he will receive the sentence: “Well done thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”—But even as when on earth every tribute of honor had the effect only to humble him the more, by bringing out in contrast a sense of his own unworthiness; so, too, will he receive this approval of his gracious Chief Shepherd in utmost lowliness. The crown of glory will ever be cast at his feet.


Starke:—Christ’s servants should perform their service, not so as to please men, but as the Lord requires. As stewards of the Gospel treasures, they have the right to open these treasures, and to close them against the wicked (Mat_16:19). The higher the Lord, the higher the servant; yet the latter is ever subordinate.—Ministers are servants, not lords, of men’s faith. One is our Master, even Christ. Both pastors and flock are brethren (2Co_1:24), (Hed.), 1Co_4:1.—A minister must be faithful: 1, to God, in looking to Him with single eye, seeking His honor, acting according to His will and maintaining His rights; 2, to the Church, in withholding from it nothing essential to its welfare, and in declaring the whole counsel of God, so that no person shall suffer or perish through his fault or neglect; 3, to his own office in not acting the part of a lord, but of a servant who is ready to listen and labor. Fidelity in office grows out of fidelity to one’s self. A true preacher preaches Christ not only with the mouth but from the heart. He speaks from experience and confirms his doctrine by his conduct, 1Co_4:2.—A minister of God must be deaf, alike to the praise and the blame of men. His rule is the will of his Master, not the opinion of men. If he follows the latter he will never be faithful in his office, 1Co_4:3.—It is one thing to have a good conscience before God for our consolation (1Jn_3:21) and another thing to have it for our self-justification. The one requires a sincerity and diligence such as David could claim, the other a faultless perfection such as neither David nor Paul dare arrogate (Psa_19:13; Php_3:12).—Blessed state, to be conscious of no wrong, and yet not to be disposed to justify oneself, 1Co_4:4.—How unlike the judgment of God and the judgment of man. The former comes at the end of probation, is impartial, comprehensive in its data; the latter is ordinarily premature, rash, and grounded only on the outward appearance.—What must be the disclosures of the last day! God holds the key to the inmost thoughts of all men; and when they are all open to inspection, how fearful will then be the outcry! Take heed, O hypocrite; the Lord knows thee. Rejoice, thou sincere heart; the Lord will come and be thy witness (Job_34:21), 1Co_4:5.

Rieger:—The office of the preacher springs out of Christ.—As the Father sent Him, so He sends forth His ministers in order to proclaim the power which has been committed to Him in heaven and earth. This is their service and stewardship, 1Co_4:1.—If distinctions are to be made among ministers, better look to their fidelity than to their gifts or reputation; and in judging of fidelity, that must often be taken into account which is least apt to strike the notice of men.

Heubner, A.:—The worth of true evangelical ministers consists: 1, in the purpose of their office; a, to serve Christ and be wholly dependent on His word; and hence, b, to promote the salvation of the congregation as stewards of God, 1Co_4:1-2, In their fidelity, which is seen; a, in the actual discharge of their duties; b, in a sincerity of spirit which ever stands as in God’s sight and cares to be approved by Him alone, ver 2.–3, In the humility, which; a, refuses to justify self, 1Co_4:3 ff., and, b, awaits in confidence the Divine award, 1Co_4:4-5.—B. Ministers and congregations will one day together stand at the bar of God:—1. They will so stand, for; a, Paul implies this; b, it is necessary to the revelation of the Divine righteousness. 2. The fact is a momentous one; a, for ministers—it ought to shame them of their unfaithfulness, prompt them to walk conscientiously, and lift them above the opinions of the world; b, for the congregation—it should keep them from judging before the time, and cause them to take need rather that the Word of God brings forth fruit among them; c, for both—they ought to conduct themselves as if already before the judgment seat.—Man is often unconscious of the deepest motives which actuate him; hence he can give himself no assurance that he has omitted nothing due, or done nothing sinful, 1Co_4:4.—So act always that thou canst at any moment have thy heart exposed, 1Co_4:5.

Gossner:—As a general thing, the natural man loves to hear what people think of him. It is harder to despise praise than blame.

[Hodge:—“1 Col_4:1 contains two important truths: ministers have no arbitrary or discretionary authority in the Church; neither have they any supernatural power such as is attributed to them in the Romish Church. Their authority is merely ministerial, and therefore to be judged by the standard of those commands which are known to the whole Church. And, secondly, they are not, like Aristotle or Plato, the originators of their own doctrines, or the teachers of the doctrines of other men, but simply the dispensers of the truths which God has revealed.”]

W. F. Besser: 1Co_4:2. It is a comfort that nothing but fidelity is required of stewards, not talents, nor inventive powers, nor manifold activity, nor success. The daintiness and fanciful taste of the vain and luxurious Corinthians, in whose sight fidelity seemed a small virtue, are no rarity in these times. But worse still is the rebellion shown by many congregations, who style themselves churches of Christ, against the fidelity of their pastors and teachers.

[G. C. A. Harless:

1Co_4:2. What is here asserted of ministers holds good also of all Christians. Compare the parable of our Lord on “The talents,” Mat_25:14 ff. The peculiar nature of the fidelity demanded is determined by the peculiar character of the blessing of salvation intrusted. It is not fidelity to a duty outwardly imposed, to a precept, rule, maxim or the like, but fidelity to an inwardly active vital principle—personal fidelity to a personal fellowship with God, wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost. It is the fidelity of a new-born child of God in whom the Spirit testifies to what the word promises].

[Calvin: 1Co_4:4. Conscious of no wrong, and yet not justified. “Papists abuse this passage for the purpose of shaking the assurance of faith; and truly I confess that if their doctrine were admitted, we could do nothing but tremble in wretchedness during our whole life. For what tranquillity could our minds enjoy if it were to be determined from our works whether we are well-pleasing to God. I confess, therefore, that from the main foundation of Papists there follows nothing but continual disquietude for consciences; and accordingly we teach that we must have recourse to the free promise of mercy which is offered to us in Christ, that we may be fully assured that we are accounted righteous by God”].

[A. Tholuck: 1Co_4:1-5. The characteristics of a faithful steward.—I. All he has he regards as belonging to his Lord. II. He is as faithful in small things as in great things. III. The source of his fidelity is his love for his Lord.—Th. Chalmers:

1Co_4:3-4. The judgment of men compared with the judgment of God.—I. God has a right to prefer greater claims against us, than men can. II. God has a clearer and more elevated sense of moral worth and holiness than men have].


1Co_4:2.— ὦäå is supported by a great preponderance of authorities [A. B. C. D. F. Cod. Sin.] and preferred by Lach. Meyer [Alf. Stanley], to the Rec. ὅ äÝ . See under “Exegetical and Critical.”

1Co_4:2.— æçôåῖôáé is sustained mainly by the old versions, and is decidedly preferable to æçôåῖôå [which is found in A. C. D. Cod. Sin. and others.] Stanley remarks that the confusion arises from the similarity of sound in Romaic between å and áé . The Cod. Sin. inserts ôß before æçôåῖôå , and would be rendered, “Moreover what do you here seek in stewards? That a man,” etc.

[This is not so clear. Ïí ̔́ ôùò does often have reference to what precedes. And here certainly Paul seems to be applying the principle, he had just been laying down in general, to himself and his associates in particular. The very position of ïí ̔́ ôùò ἠìᾶò so us, too, seems to require this. As they were Christ’s, so it was to be borne in mind that he and Apollos were also Christ’s, and that, too, in their official capacity. They were Christ’s servants—stewards of God’s mysteries, and were to be respected accordingly. Ïí ̓́ ôùò , so, therefore points back to what has been said, and also forwards to ὡò , as, which resumes and makes the implication more definite].

[But in thus putting the emphasis on their official capacity, rather than on the fact of their belonging to Christ, the way does not seem to be prepared for what follows. There may, indeed, be an implication here of a subordinate position, which contradicted their partisan estimates; but this evidently retires before the rising thought just about to find expression].

But Jelf in Gr. Gram. § 803, obs. 1, shows in full argument the gradual modification of meaning until it cornea to have the force only of the accusatival infinitive. And this, he says, is frequent in the New Testament: There seems to be a great effort among some critics to avoid the admission of this, and to show the telic force of ἵíá in every instance].