What does 1 Corinthians 4:10 mean?
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.
NKJV: We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 4:1–13 begins with Paul's insistence that he is not concerned with anyone's judgment of him. The Lord will judge him, and that's what matters. The Corinthians have become arrogant in their judgment, forgetting that all the good they have is a gift. They feel self-reliant in their wealth and status while Paul and the other apostles live in poverty and under persecution, thought to be scum by the world. Still, they imitate Jesus by blessing those who mistreat them and continuing to serve Christ no matter the cost.
Chapter Summary:
Paul continues to show why the Corinthian Christians must not be divided over loyalties to various Christian leaders. Only the Lord can judge His servants, including Paul. By making themselves judges, they are acting like they have all they need. They are proudly focused on reputation and status while the apostles live for Christ in poverty and under persecution. Paul writes as a father to little children. He urges them to change course and imitate his life. Do they want him to be gentle or come to them with the rod of correction?
Chapter Context:
First Corinthians 4 continues Paul's insistence to the Corinthian Christians to stop making themselves judges of each other. Only the Lord's judgment matters. They are living as if their wealth and status are all they need, while the apostles serve Christ in poverty and under persecution, imitating Christ. Paul urges them to change course and imitate his life. Paul will continue his increasingly stern tone in chapter 5, where he will confront appalling examples of sin in the church at Corinth.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
Accessed 5/26/2024 5:25:45 PM
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