1 Corinthians 4:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 4:12, NIV: We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;

1 Corinthians 4:12, ESV: and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;

1 Corinthians 4:12, KJV: And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

1 Corinthians 4:12, NASB: and we labor, working with our own hands; when we are verbally abused, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;

1 Corinthians 4:12, NLT: We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us.

1 Corinthians 4:12, CSB: we labor, working with our own hands. When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;

What does 1 Corinthians 4:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul is describing the difficult life of hardship that comes with serving Christ as an apostle. Not only are they thought foolish and given little respect in the eyes of the world, but they live with hunger, thirst, poor clothing, beatings, and no homes to call their own.

Now Paul adds to this that it's even necessary for them to provide their own way by working other jobs of manual labor on the side. The Corinthians would remember well that Paul worked with his own hands as a tentmaker when he was with them. That's when he met and partnered with Priscilla and Aquila in tent-making and in the ministry of leading others to Christ (Acts 18:1–5; 18).

In spite of all of this hardship, Paul and the other apostles do not live in defeat and discouragement. He begins to describe how they respond to their circumstances. In short, they respond as Christ Himself did during the difficult years of His own ministry on earth.

Paul writes that when they are reviled or insulted, they give back blessing to those who treat them disrespectfully. When they are persecuted for Christ's sake, they don't give up. They keep going. This is possible because they understand that this is what comes with serving Christ, who also suffered greatly.