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1 Corinthians 4:10

ESV 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.
NIV We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!
NASB We are fools on account of Christ, but you are prudent in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are without honor!
CSB We are fools for Christ, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!
NLT 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.
KJV We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.

What does 1 Corinthians 4:10 mean?

Paul is comparing the spiritual lifestyles of those in Corinth with that of the apostles of Jesus. He wants them to see what it has cost those who minister to them to serve Christ in this way. Maybe more than that, however, Paul also wants them to question whom they are truly serving as they continue to lead lives marked by wealth and power.

To the world, Paul's lifestyle says that he is foolish. He has failed to earn for himself either wealth or status by the standards of his culture (1 Corinthians 1:18–25). This is the natural result of serving Christ, Paul insists.

By contrast, Paul accuses the Corinthians of being "wise in Christ." Perhaps Paul means they are judged by their neighbors to be wise for their faith. He might be suggesting they are living in ways approved by the world's standards, and yet claiming to be in Christ. Given the pagan, ungodly culture of Corinth, Paul may be asking them, "What is wrong with this picture?"

In a similar way, Paul and the other apostles are considered weak for their seemingly-foolish commitment to teaching the spiritual truths of God. The Corinthians appear to be strong, somehow, in spite of supposedly holding the same commitments. According to this interpretation, the Corinthian Christians are respected by their neighbors. Paul and the other apostles, on the other hand, are disrespected, not thought to be reputable or trustworthy by the same culture. This is all due to their teaching about Christ.

In short, what does it mean when a wicked culture approves of the lifestyle and faith of one who claims to be a Christian? At the least, it suggests there is a gap between how that person ought to be living, and how they really are living.

The other sense that Paul may be using here is that the Corinthian are thriving in their community, in part, because of the great sacrifices of those who have ministered to them. They have good standing in the world that has been provided for them, in part, by the work of those who have so little. The very fact of their Christian community and mutual love might be giving them an aura of success to the world, while the apostles were building in the face of active persecution.

In either case, the contrast between their lifestyle and that of their ministers is striking.
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