Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 4

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Verse 1

1. ] οὕτως , emphatic, preparatory to ὡς , as in ref.

ἄνθρωπος , as E. V., a man , in the most general and indefinite sense, as ‘ man ’ in German: not a Hebraism, nor = ἕκαστος . The whole is opposed to καύχησις ἐν ἀνθρώποις : the ministers of Christ are but subordinates to Him, and accountable to God.

ἡμᾶς , here , not, ‘ us ministers generally ,’ see below, 1 Corinthians 4:6 , but ‘ myself and Apollos ,’ as a sample of such.

ὑπηρ . χριστοῦ , see ch. 1 Corinthians 3:5 ; 1 Corinthians 3:22-23 . But in οἰκον . μυστ . θεοῦ we have a new figure introduced. The Church, 1 Timothy 3:15 , is the οἶκος θεοῦ and those appointed to minister in it are οἰκονόμοι , stewards and dispensers of the property and stores of the οἰκοδεσπότης . These last are the μυστήρια , hidden treasures, of God, i.e. the riches of his grace, now manifested in Christ, ch. 1 Corinthians 2:7 ; Romans 16:25-26 , which they announce and distribute to all, having received them from the Spirit for that purpose. “Ea mysteria sunt incarnationis, passionis et resurrectionis Christi, redemptionis nostræ, vocationis gentium, et cætera quæ complectitur evangelica doctrina.” Estius, who also, as a Romanist, attempts to include the sacraments among the μυστήρια in this sense. The best refutation of this is given by himself: “sed cum ipse Paulus dixerit primo capite, Non misit me Christus baptizare, sed evangelizare , rectius est ut mysteria Dei intelligantur fidei nostræ dogmata.” It may be doubted, whether, in the N. T. sense of μυστήρια , the sacraments can be in any way reckoned as such: for μυστ . is a (usually divine ) proceeding, once hidden, but now revealed , or now hidden, and to be revealed ; under neither of which categories can the sacraments be classed.

Verses 1-5

1 5. ] He shews them the right view to take of Christian ministers ( 1Co 4:1-2 ); but, for his part, regards not man’s judgment of him, nor even judges himself, but the Lord is his Judge ( 1Co 4:3-4 ).

Therefore let them also suspend their judgments till the Lord’s coming, when all shall be made plain .

Verses 1-21


Verse 2

2. ] Moreover, here (on earth) (see var. readd. and reff. ὧδε is emphatic, and points to what follows, that though in the case of stewards enquiry was necessarily made here below , yet he, God’s steward, awaited no such enquiry ὑπὸ ἀνθρωπίνης ἡμέρας , but one at the coming of the Lord. Lachmann, I cannot but think somewhat strangely, places ὧδε at the end of 1 Corinthians 4:1 ; οἰκονόμους μυστηρίων θεοῦ ὧδε . Stanley takes ὧδε for ‘in this matter,’ and supports the meaning by Revelation 13:10 ; Revelation 13:18 ; Revelation 14:12 ; Rev 17:9 ) enquiry is made in the case of stewards (or, it is required in the case of stewards), in order that (or that , the purport of the requirement expressed as its purpose) a man may be found (proved to be) faithful (emph.).

Verse 3

3. ] But to me (contrast to the case of the stewards into whose faithfulness enquiry is made ὧδε , here on earth) it is (amounts to) very little (Meyer compares ἐς χάριν τέλλεται , Pind. Ol. i. 122, and Theognis, 162, οἷς τὸ κακὸν δοκέον γίγνεται εἰς ἀγαθόν that I [ should ] be (the ἵνα , here and always, is more or less the conj. of purpose . The construction is a mixed one in such clauses as this, compounded of ἐλάχιστόν ἐστιν ἀνακριθῆναι , and ἐλαχίστου ἂν πριαίμην , ἵνα ἀνακριθῶ ) judged (enquired into, as to my faithfulness) by you, or by the day of man ([i.e., of man’s judgment ,] in reference to ὧδε above, and contrast to the ἡμέρα κυρίου , to which his appeal is presently made, 1 Corinthians 4:5 , and of which, as testing the worth of the labour of teachers, he spoke so fully ch. 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 . Jerome, Quæstiones ad Algasiam, Ep. xxxi. (cli.) 10, vol. i. p. 879, numbers the expression among the cilicisms of the Apostle. Estius, al., suppose it to be a Hebraism, referring to Jeremiah 17:16 , which is irrelevant. All these are probably wrong, and the expression chosen purposely by the Apostle. Grot. compares ‘diem dicere,’ ‘to cite to trial;’ to which Stanley adds the English ‘daysman’ for arbiter (see Job 9:33 ), and the Dutch ‘dagh vaerden’ and ‘daghen,’ to ‘summon’), nay, I do not judge even (hold not an enquiry on: lit. ‘ but neither do I ,’ &c.) myself:

Verse 4

4. ] for I [ know nothing against myself (i.e.)] am conscious to myself of no (official) delinquency ; so Plato, Apol. p. 21, οὔτε μέγα οὔτε σμικρὸν ξύνοιδα ἐμαυτῷ σοφὸς ὤν , ib., Rep. i. (Wetst.), τῷ δὲ μηδὲν ἑαυτῷ ἀδίκων ξυνειδότι ἡδεῖα ἐλπὶς ἀεὶ πάρεστι , and Hor., Epist. i. 1. 61, ‘Nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa.’

The E. V., ‘I know nothing by myself,’ was a phrase commonly used in this acceptation at the time; cf. Psalms 15:4 , Com. Prayer Book version, ‘He that setteth not by himself ,’ i.e. is not wise in his own conceit. ‘I know no harm by him’ is still a current expression in the midland counties. See Deuteronomy 27:16 ; Ezekiel 22:7 , in E. V. So Donne, Serm. lvii., “If thine own spirit, thine own conscience, accuse thee of nothing, is all well? why, I know nothing by myself, yet am I not thereby justified .” This meaning of ‘by’ does not appear in our ordinary dictionaries), but I am not hereby justified (i.e. it is not this circumstance which clears me of blame this does not decide the matter. There can be no reference (as Meyer) to forensic justification here, by the very conditions of the context: for he is speaking of that μισθός of the teacher, which may be lost, and yet personal salvation be attained, see ch. 1Co 3:15 ); but he that judges (holds an enquiry on) me is the Lord (Christ, the judge).

Verse 5

5. ] So then (because the Lord is the sole infallible dijudicator) decide nothing (concerning us, of merit or demerit) before the time, until the Lord shall have come (explains πρὸ καιρ .), who shall also ( καί , inter alia : as part of the proceedings of that Day: or both ) bring to light (throw light on) the hidden things of darkness (general all things which are hidden in darkness), and shall make manifest the counsels of the hearts (then first shewing, what your teachers really are, in heart), and then shall the (fitting) praise accrue to each from God. ἔπαινος is not a vox media , praise or blame, as the case may be, but strictly praise . Theophyl., Grot., Billr., Rück., Olsh., suppose the word to be used euphemistically, “unde et contrarium datur intelligi, sed mavult εὐφημεῖν ,” Grot.: Calv., Meyer, al., think that he speaks without reference to those who will obtain no praise : “hæc vox ex bonæ conscientiæ fiducia nascitur.” Calv. But I agree with De Wette, in thinking that he refers to καυχᾶσθαι ἐν ἀνθρώποις : they, their various parties, gave exaggerated praise to certain teachers: let them wait till the day when the fitting praise (be it what it may) will be adjudged to each from God; Christ as the Judge being the ὡρισμένος ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ κριτής , Acts 10:42 , and so His sentences being ἀπὸ θεοῦ . See also Acts 17:31 , and Romans 2:16 , κρινεῖ ὁ θεὸς τὰ κρυπτὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων , … διὰ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ .

Verse 6

6. ] But (transeuntis: he comes to the conclusion of what he has to say on their party divisions) these things (De Wette, Meyer, al., limit ταῦτα to what has been said since ch. 1 Corinthians 3:5 . But there surely is no reason for this. The Apostle’s meaning here must on all hands be acknowledged to be, ‘I have taken our two names as samples that you may not attach yourselves to and be proud of any party leaders, one against another.’ And if these two names which had been last mentioned, why not analogously, those four which he had also alleged in ch . 1Co 1:12 ? There can be no reason against this, except the determination of the Germans to regard their Paulus-parthei, and Apollos-parthei, and Petrus-parthei, and Christus-parthei, as historical facts, and consequent unwillingness to part with them here, where the Apostle himself by implication repudiates them as such) I transferred (the epistolary aorist) to myself and Apollos (i.e. when I might have set them before you generally and in the abstract as applying to all teachers, I have preferred doing so by taking two samples, and transferring to them what was true of the whole. This is far more probable than the explanation of Chrys., al., that he put in his own name and that of Apollos instead of those of the real leaders of sects, concealing them on purpose. On μετασχ ., see reff. and cf. Plato, Legg. x. p. 903, μετασχηματίζων τὰ πάντα οἷον ἐκ πυρὸς ὕδωρ , and p. 906, τοῦτο τὸ ῥῆμα μετεσχηματισμένον , Meyer) on your account, that ye by us (as your example: by having our true office and standing set before you) might learn this, “Not above those things which are written” (i.e. not to exceed in your estimate of yourselves and us, the standard of Scripture, which had been already in part shewn to them in the citations ch. 1 Corinthians 1:19 ; 1Co 1:31 ; 1 Corinthians 3:19 . To refer γέγραπται to what has been written in this Epistle , as Luth., Calov., Calv. (altern.), is quite inadmissible, for, as Grot. remarks, “ γέγραπται in his libris semper ad libros Veteris Testamenti refertur.” But he (and Olsh.) refer the words to Deuteronomy 17:20 , whereas it is far better to give them a perfectly general reference. Chrys., Theodoret, and Theophyl. refer it to words of our Lord in the N. T. , such as Matthew 7:1 ; Matthew 7:3 ; Matthew 23:12 ; Mark 10:43-44 , but these could not be indicated by γέγραπται , cf. ch. 1Co 7:10 and note.

The ellipsis, as here, of the verb in prohibitory clauses, with μή , is common enough: thus, Aristoph. Vesp. 1179, μή μοί γε μύθους . Soph. Antig. 577, μὴ τριβὰς ἔτι , ἀλλά νιν κομίζετ ʼ εἴσω . Demosth. phil. i. p. 46, μή μοι μυρίους μηδὲ δισμυρίους ξένους . Hartung, Partikellehre ii. 153, where see more examples), that ye may not one on behalf of another be puffed up against a third (i.e. ‘that you may not adhere together in parties to the detriment of disparagement of a neighbour who is attached to a different party’). There is a grammatical difficulty here, the occurrence of ἵνα with an indic. pres. This is variously explained. see winer, edn. 6, § 41. b . 1. c. Some suppose that here, and in ref. Gal. st. Paul has commited a philogical error in the formation of the subjunctive, and written the indic. for it. It is at least remarkable, that that other instance, ἵνα αὐτοὺς ζηλοῦτε , is also in the case of a contracted syllable in ου , so that we might almost suppose that there was some provincial usage of forming the subj. of constracted verbs in οω , which our Apostle followed. At all events (especially considering that we have two other cases of ἵνα with an indic., see reff.) it is better to suppose a solecism or peculiar usage, than with Meyer to give ἵνα a local sense, ‘ where ,’ i.e. ‘in which case ye are not (pres. for the future) puffed up ,’ i.e. if you keep to the Scripture measure: the double ἵνα of the purpose being, as he himself observes, according to Paul’s usage, Romans 7:13 ; Galatians 3:14 ; Galatians 4:5 , al., and here being absolutely demanded by the sense.

Verses 6-13

6 13. ] He explains to them ( 1Co 4:6 ) that the mention hitherto of himself and Apollos (and by parity of reasoning, of Cephas and of Christ, in ch. 1Co 1:12 ) has a more general design , viz. to abstract them from all party spirit and pride: which pride he then blames, and puts to shame by depicting, as a contrast, the low and afflicted state of the Apostles themselves .

Verse 7

7. ] For (reason why this puffing up should be avoided) who separates thee (distinguishes thee from others? meaning, that all such conceits of pre-eminence are unfounded. That pre-eminence , and not merely distinction (Meyer), is meant, is evident from what follows? And ( δέ connects interrogative clauses , as Od. α . 225, τίς δαίς , τίς δὲ ὅμιλος ὅδ ʼ ἔπλετο ; and Il. ε . 704, ἔνθα τίνα πρῶτον , τίνα δ ʼ ὕστατον ἐξενάριξεν ; See Hartung, Partikellehre, i. 169) what hast thou which thou receivedst not (‘ from God ’ not, ‘from me as thy father in the faith’)? but if (which I concede; στέγαι δὲ εἰ καὶ ἡμῖν αὐτοῖς εἰσιν , ἀλλὰ μὰ Δί ʼ οὐχ ἵπποις ; Xen. Cyr. vi. 1. 14. Hartung, i. 140) thou receivedst it, &c. He speaks not only to the leaders, but to the members of parties, who imagined themselves superior to those of other parties, as if all, for every good thing, were not dependent on God the Giver.

Verse 8

8. ] The admonition becomes ironical: ‘You behave as if the trial were past, and the goal gained; as if hunger and thirst after righteousness were already filled, and the kingdom already brought in.’ κωμῳδῶν αὐτοὺς ἔλεγεν Οὕτω ταχέως πρὸς τὸ τέλος ἐφθάσατε , ὅπερ ἀδύνατον ἦν γενέσθαι διὰ τὸν καιρόν . Chrys. Hom. xii. p. 138. The emphases are on ἤδη in the two first clauses, and χωρὶς ἡμῶν in the third. The three verbs form a climax. Any interpretation which stops short of the full meaning of the words as applied to the triumphant final state (so Grot., Est., Calvin., Wetst., al., interpreting them of knowledge, of security, of the lordship of one sect over another ), misses the force of the irony, and the meaning of the latter part of the verse.

χωρὶς ἡμῶν ] ‘because we, as your fathers in Christ, have ever looked forward to present you , as our glory and joy, in that day.’ There is an exquisite delicacy of irony, which Chrys. has well caught: πολλὴ ἔμφασις ἐνταῦθα καὶ πρὸς τοὺς διδασκάλους κ . πρὸς τοὺς μαθητάς . καὶ τὸ ἀσυνείδητον δὲ αὐτῶν δείκνυται κ . τὸ σφόδρα ἀνόητον . ὃ γὰρ λέγει , τοῦτό ἐστιν . ἐν μὲν τοῖς πόνοις φησὶν εἶναι πάντα κοινὰ καὶ ἡμῖν κ . ὑμῖν , ἐν δὲ τοῖς ἐπάθλοις κ . τοῖς στεφάνοις ὑμεῖς πρῶτοι . p. 99.

The latter part of the verse is said bonâ fide and with solemnity: And I would indeed ( γε strengthens the wish; so ἡ δ ʼ εἵλεθ ʼ … ὥς γε μήποτ ʼ ὤφελεν λαβεῖν … Μενέλαον , Eur. Iph. Aul. 70. Hartung, i. 373.

ὄφελον is used in LXX and N. T. as a particle, with the indic.: also with optative. See, for both, reff.) that ye did reign (that the kingdom of the Lord was actually come, and ye reigning with Him), that we also might reign together with you (that we, though deposed from our proper place , might at least be vouchsafed a humble share in your kingly glory).

Verse 9

9. ] For (and there is abundant reason for this wish in our present afflicted state) I think, God set forth (before the eyes of the world, the similitude is in θέατρον following) us the Apostles (meaning all the Apostles, principally himself and Apollos) last (the rendering of Erasm., Clav., Beza, al., us who were last called to be Apostles , q. d. τοὺς ἀπ . τοὺς ἐσχ ., or τοὺς ἐσχ . ἀποστ ., is ungrammatical.

ἐσχάτους , last and vilest : not, ‘respectu priorum,’ last, as the prophets were before us , as Corn.-a-lap., and in part, Bengel) as persons condemned to death ( ὡς καταδίκους , Chrys. Tertullian seems to define the meaning too closely when, De Pudic. 14, vol. ii. p. 1006, he interprets it ‘ veluti bestiarios .’ Dion. Hal. vii. 35, says of the Tarpeian rock, ὅθεν αὐτοῖς ἔθος βάλλειν τοὺς ἐπιθανατίους ) for we are become a spectacle ( θέατρον = θέαμα : so Achilles Tatius, i. p. 55 (Kypke), and θέατρα ποιητῶν , Æschines, Dial. Socr. iii. 20: see θεατριζόμενοι , Heb 10:33 ) to the world, as well to angels ( good angels : ἄγγελοι absol., never either includes, or signifies, bad angels ) as to men ( κόσμῳ being afterwards specialized into angels and men).

Verse 10

10 .] Again, the bitterest irony: ‘how different our lot from yours! How are you to be envied we, to be pitied!’

There is a distinction in διὰ χριστόν and ἐν χριστῷ q. d. We are foolish for Christ’s sake (on account of Christ, our connexion with Him does nothing but reduce us to be fools), whereas you are φρόνιμοι ἐν χριστῷ , have entered into full participation of Him, and grown up to be wise, subtle Christians.

ἀσθενεῖς ἰσχυροί are both to be understood generally : the ἀσθένεια is not here that of persecution , but that of ch. 1 Corinthians 2:3 ; the strength is the high bearing of the Corinthians.

Ye are in honour (in glorious repute, party leaders and party men, highly honoured and looked up to), whereas we are despised (without honour). Then ἄτιμοι leads him to enlarge on the disgrace and contempt which the Apostle met with at the hands of the world.

Verse 11

11 .] ἄχρι τ . ἄρτι ὥρας is evidently not to be taken strictly as indicative of the situation of Paul at the time of writing the Epistle, but as generally describing the kind of life to which, then and always, he and the other Apostles were exposed: οὐ παλαιὰ διηγοῦμαι πράγματα , ἀλλ ʼ ἅπερ καὶ ὁ παρών μοι καιρὸς μαρτυρεῖ . Chrys See, on the subject-matter, 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 .

γυμνιτ . ] are in want of sufficient clothing : cf. ἐν ψύχει κ . γυμνότητι , 2 Corinthians 11:27 . Meyer (after Fritzsche) believes γυμνιτεύομεν to be a mistake in writing the word, of very ancient date: but surely we are not justified, in such a conventional matter as the form of writing a word, to desert the unanimous testimony of the oldest MSS. And we have the forms γυμνίτης , and γυμνῖτις : why not then γυμνιτεύω ?

κολαφ . ] are buffeted see reff., there is no need to press the strict meaning.

ἀστατ . ] τουτέστιν , ἐλαυνόμεθα , φεύγομεν . Theophyl.

Verses 11-13

11 13 .] He enters into the particulars of this state of affliction, which was not a thing past, but enduring to the present moment.

Verse 12

12 .] As testimonies to Paul’s working with his own hands, see Acts 18:3 ; Acts 20:34 ; ch. 1 Corinthians 9:6 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:9 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:8 . That the other Apostles did the same, need not necessarily be inferred from this passage, for he may be describing the state of all by himself as a sample; but it is conceivable, and indeed probable, that they did.

λοιδ .… κ . τ . λ .] ‘So far are we from vindicating to ourselves places of earthly honour and distinction, that we tamely submit to reproach, persecution, and evil repute; nay, we return blessing, and patience, and soft words.’

Verse 13

13 .] παρακ ., ἀντὶ τοῦ , πραοτέροις λόγοις κ . μαλακτικοῖς ἀμειβόμεθα . Theophyl.

ὡς περικαθάρματα ] A climax of disgrace and contempt, summing up the foregoing particulars. We are become as it were the refuse of the world . περικ . from περικαθαίρω , that which is removed by a thorough purification, the offal or refuse. So Ammonius (in Wetst.): καθάρματα , τὰ μετὰ τὸ καθαρθῆναι ἀποῤῥιπτόμενα : Theophylact, ὅταν ῥυπυρόν τι ἀποσπογγίσῃ τις , περικάθαρμα λέγεται τὸ ἀποσπόγγισμα ἐκεῖνον : and similarly Œcum. Wetst. gives many examples of the metaphorical usage of the term κάθαρμα as a reproach, from Demosth., Aristoph., Lucian, al., and of purgamentum in Latin. περικαθάρματα is found in Arrian, Epict. iii. 22, Πρίαμος , ὁ νῦν γεννήσας περικαθάρματα .

But Luther and very many Commentators suppose the word to imply piacula , as Schol., Aristoph. Plut. 454 (Wetst.), καθάρματα ἐλέγοντο οἱ ἐπὶ καθάρσει λοιμοῦ τινος ἤ τινος ἑτέρας νόσου θυόμενοι τοῖς θεοῖς , τοῦτο δὲ τὸ ἔθος καὶ παρὰ Ῥωμαίοις ἐπεκράτησε . Meyer well remarks that περι καθάρματα will hardly bear this meaning, and that περίψημα in the sing. would not suit it. Still we may remark, with Stanley, that περικάθαρμα is so used in ref. Prov., and περίψημα in ref. Tobit: and that Suidas says, περίψημα .…, οὕτως ἐπέλεγον τῷ κατ ʼ ἐνιαυτὸν συνέχοντι τῶν κακῶν Περίψημα ἡμῶν γένου · ἤτοι , σωτηρία καὶ ἀπολύτρωσις · καὶ οὕτως ἐνέβαλον τῇ θαλάσσῃ ὡσανεὶ τῷ Ποσειδῶνι θυσίαν ἀποτίννυντες .

περίψ .] much the same as περικαθάρματα , but the expression is more contemptuous: the individual περικαθάρματα are generalized into one περίψημα , the τοῦ κόσμου is even further extended to πάντων , see ch. 1 Corinthians 3:22 .

Verse 14

14. οὐκ ἐντρέπων ] not as one who shames you , see reff., and ch. 1 Corinthians 6:5 ; 1 Corinthians 15:34 , and for the force of the participle, ch. 1 Corinthians 2:1 .

νουθετῶ contrasts with ἐντρέπων γράφω , the construction being purposely adopted, to set in a more vivid light the paternal intention: I am not writing these things ( 1Co 4:8-13 ) as shaming you, but I am admonishing you as my beloved children .

Verses 14-21

14 21 .] Conclusion of this part of the Epistle: in what spirit the has written these words of blame: viz. in a spirit of admonition, as their father in the faith, whom they ought to imitate. To this end he sent Timothy to remind them of his ways of teaching, would soon, however, come himself, in mildness, or to punish, as the case might require .

Verse 15

15 .] Justification of the expression τέκνα μου .

μυρίους , the greatest possible number see reff.

παιδαγ .] He was their spiritual father : those who followed, Apollos included, were but tutors , having the care and education of the children, but not the rights, as they could not have the peculiar affection of the father. He evidently shews by μυρίους , that these παιδαγωγοί were more in number than he could wish , including among them doubtless the false and party teachers: but to refer the word only to them and their despotic leading (as Beza, Calvin, al., and De Wette), or to confine its meaning to the stricter sense of παιδαγωγός , the slave who led the child to school , is not here borne out by the facts. See ref. and note: and for the wider sense of παιδαγ ., examples in Wetst.

ἀλλ ʼ οὐ brings out the contrast strongly, giving almost the sense of ‘ at non ideo :’ so Æsch. in Ctes. § 155, καὶ γὰρ ἐὰν αὐτὰ διεξίῃ τὰ ἐκ τοῦ ψηφίσματος προστάγματα , ἀλλ ʼ οὐ τόγ ʼ ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας αἰσχρὸν σιωπηθήσεται . See Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. 40.

ἐν γὰρ χρ . ] For in Christ Jesus (as the spiritual element in which the begetting took place: so commonly ἐν χριστῷ , applied to relations of life, see 1 Corinthians 4:17 , bis, not to be joined as De W. with ἐγώ , q. d. ἐγὼ γὰρ ἐν χ . Ἰησοῦ δ . τ . εὐ . ὑμ . ἐγέννησα ) by means of the gospel (the preached word being the instrument) I (emphatic) begat you (there is also an emphasis on ὑμᾶς , as coming before the verb, q. d. in your case, I it was who begat you).

Verse 16

16. ] οὖν , because I am your father .

μιμηταί , not only, nor perhaps chiefly, in the things just mentioned , 1 Corinthians 4:9-13 , but as 1 Corinthians 4:17 , in αἱ ὁδοί μου αἱ ἐν χρ ., my manner of life and teaching . See reff.

Verse 17

17. ] διὰ τοῦτο , in order that you may the better imitate me by being put in mind of my ways and teaching: not, as Chrys., Theophyl., al., ἐπειδὴ ὡς παίδων κήδομαι , καὶ ὡς γεγεννηκώς , which would make 1 Corinthians 4:16 a very harsh parenthesis, and destroy the force of what follows. On the fact , see Prolegg. to 2 Cor., § ii. 4.

τέκνον ] see 1 Timothy 1:2 ; 1 Timothy 1:18 ; 2 Timothy 1:2 . Meyer remarks, that by the strict use of the word τέκνον in this passage ( 1Co 4:14-15 ) we have a certain proof that Timothy was converted by Paul : see Act 14:6-7 and note. “The phrase seems to be used here in reference to τέκνα ἀγαπητά , 1 Corinthians 4:14 ; ‘I sent Timotheus, who stands to me in the same relation that you stand (in).’ ” Stanley.

ἐν κυρίῳ points out the spiritual nature of the relationship.

ἀναμνήσει ] Timothy, by being himself a close imitator of the Christian virtues and teaching of his and their spiritual father, would bring to their minds his well-known character, and way of teaching, which they seemed to have well-nigh forgotten. See 2 Timothy 3:10 .

καθώς specifies what before was expressed generally: so Luke 24:19-20 , τὰ περὶ Ἰησοῦ .… ὅπως τε παρέδωκαν αὐτὸν οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς κ . τ . λ . and Thucyd. i. 1, τὸν πόλεμον τῶν Πελ . κ . Ἀθ ., ὡς ἐπολέμησαν πρὸς ἀλλήλους .

πανταχοῦ ἐν π . ἐκκλ . ] To shew the importance of this his manner of teaching, he reminds them of his unvarying practice of it: and as he was guided by the Spirit, by inference, of its universal necessity in the churches.

Verse 18

18. ] ὡς μὴ ἐρχομένου forms one idea, and the δέ is in consequence placed after it all: so Thucyd. i. 6, ἐν τοῖς πρῶτοι δὲ Ἀθηναῖοι : Isocr. περὶ εἰρ ., p. 160, ὅτι ἂν τύχῃ δὲ γενησόμενον . Hartung, Partikellehre, i. 190.

ὡς expresses the assumption in their minds: the present part. ἐρχομένου refers to their saying οὐκ ἔρχ εται , as Meyer.

Verses 18-20

18 20 .] To guard against misrepresentation of the coming of Timothy just announced, by those who had said and would now the more say, ‘Paul dare not come to Corinth,’ he announces the certainty of his coming, if the Lord will .

Verse 19

19. ] ἐλεύσομαι is prefixed, for emphasis, being the matter in doubt: as we say, ‘Come I will.’

ταχέως ] How soon, see ch. 1 Corinthians 16:8 .

γνώσομαι ] I will inform myself of not the words of those who are puffed up ( those I care not for), but their power : whether they are really mighty in the Spirit, or not. This general reference of δύν . must be kept, and not narrowed, as Chrys., Theophyl., to [the] power of working miracles : or “quantum apud vos sua scientia et doctrina quam jactant profecerint,” Est.; or virtuous lives (Theodoret, al.), or energy in the work of the gospel (Meyer): he leaves it general and indefinite.

Verse 20

20 .] Justification of this his intention by the very nature of that kingdom of which he was the ambassador .

ἡ βας . τ . θεοῦ , the Kingdom ( τ . οὐρ . Matthew 3:2 ; Mat 4:17 and passim; τ . θ . Mark 1:15 , al.) announced by the prophets, preached by the Lord and the Apostles, being now prepared on earth and received by those who believe on Christ, and to be consummated when He returns with His saints: see Philippians 3:20-21 ; Ephesians 5:5 .

ἐν λόγῳ .… ἐν δυνάμει .… is not (i.e. does not consist in, has not its conditions and element of existence) in (mere) word, but in power is a kingdom of power .

Verse 21

21 .] He offers them, with a view to their amendment, the alternative: ‘shall his coming be in a judicial or in a friendly spirit?’ as depending on themselves. τί not for πότερον (as Meyer, De W.), but general, and afterwards confined to the two alternatives: What will ye (respecting my coming)?

ἔλθω , must I come ?

ἐν ῥάβδῳ , with a rod ; but not only ‘with,’ as accompanied with : the prep. gives the idea of the element in which , much as ἐν δόξῃ : not only with a rod, but in such purpose as to use it . There is no Hebraism: see Passow under ἐν , No. 3 and 4. He speaks as a father : τί ἐστιν , ἐν ῥάβδῳ ; ἐν κολάσει , ἐν τιμωρίᾳ , Chrys.

πνεύμ . τ . πραΰτητος ] Generally, and by De Wette, explained, a gentle spirit , meaning by πνεύμ . his own spirit: but Meyer has remarked, that in every place in the N. T. where πνεῦμα is joined with an abstract genitive, it imports the Holy Spirit, and the abstract genitive refers to the specific working of the Spirit in the case in hand. So πν . τῆς ἀληθείας (John 15:26 ; Joh 16:13 ; 1Jn 4:6 ), υἱοθεσίας ( Rom 8:15 ), τῆς πίστεως ( 2Co 4:13 ), σοφίας ( Eph 1:17 ), ἁγιωσύνης ( Rom 1:4 ). (This does not however appear to be without exceptions: ef. πνεῦμα ἀσθενείας , Luke 13:11 ; δουλείας , Romans 8:15 ; κατανύξεως , Romans 11:8 ; δειλίας , 2 Timothy 1:7 ; τῆς πλάνης , 1 John 4:6 . We may indeed say, that in none of these cases is the πνεῦμα subjective, or the phrase a mere periphrasis: but the πνεῦμα is objective, a possessing, indwelling spirit, whether of God or otherwise.) And so Chrys., Theophyl., ἔνι γὰρ καὶ πνεῦμα αὐστηρότητος κ . τιμωρίας , ἀλλ ʼ ἀπὰ τῶν χρηστοτέρων αὐτὸ καλεῖ · ὡς καὶ τὸν θεὸν οἰκτίρμονα κ . ἐλεήμονά φαμεν , ἀλλ ʼ οὐ κολαστήν , καίτοιγε καὶ τοῦτο ὄντα . Theophyl.

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.