Jun 14, 2013

1 Corinthians 4:6–17 Study Questions

The Text

6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. 14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.
           
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  1. Paul and Apollos both obeyed ‘what was written’; not worldly wisdom or their own ideas. Paul hoped the Corinthians would develop this same humility; the humility of the learner. In general, the Greeks believed humility was a slave’s trait. It was a sign of weakness, not a characteristic of being great (see, Plato Laws 6.774c). How do we counteract worldly notions of greatness in our own hearts? How do we develop the kind of biblical humility that Paul and Apollos possessed?
  1. What does this paragraph (4:6–13) say about the attitudes and lifestyles of many modern Christians? (Remember, the Corinthians wanted their exaltation immediately—no more sickness, no more suffering, no more pain).
  1. 1 Corinthians 4:7 (and Romans 9:16) greatly influenced the theology of Augustine of Hippo. Read over 1 Corinthians 4:7 again:  For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”

    How does this verse impact your theology? How should this verse affect the way you think and speak?
  1.  “When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. Paul is reflecting the teachings of Jesus here (see Matthew 5:10–12 and 1 Peter 2:23). What are ways we can imitate Paul’s fatherly concern for troubled Christians – even ones who have hurt us?
BONUS QUESTION
1 Corinthians 4:12 reflects the biblical emphasis on respect for manual labor. This was devalued by Greek culture, including the Corinthians. Write 2-3 brief sentences about your view of this kind of labor and work in general. (If you desire further study on this, see Acts 18:3; 20:34; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 9:6 and 2 Corinthians 11:7). Is your ‘theology of labor’ a biblical one? How is a willingness to do manual labor related to humility?

PERSONAL EXERCISE
List the names of people who have had the greatest spiritual impact on you. List a few Christ-like qualities about each. Take some time to pray for them and thank God for them. If you can, contact them and let them know!

REFLECTION QUOTE
Scum and dregs are synonyms and refer to scrapings or of scourings cleaned from a dirty dish or pot and then thrown away. The words were commonly used figuratively of the lowest, most degraded criminals, who often were sacrificed in pagan ceremonies. That is the way the world looked at the apostles. They were religious scum and dregs, and no better than the criminals like whom they were often treated.
It is not hard for believers to get along in the world as long as they keep the gospel to themselves. But if they preach, teach, and live God’s full Word, the world takes great offense. … The world will attempt to scour off and throw away anyone who boldly proclaims the Word.
We are not scum and dregs in God’s sight, but we are nevertheless servants and stewards. Therefore neither in the world’s eyes nor in God’s eyes do we have reason to boast in ourselves.
SOURCE: John MacArthur, 1 Corinthians (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 112-13.

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