Currently this blog is exploring Paul’s Corinthians correspondence. Its recent series on Genesis and Mark which started on 01/01/2015, can be accessed from the archive.Access by date is via the archive, access to particular bible passages can be obtained by googling for example emmock.com John 3:16; and to particular themes by googling for example emmock.com holiness. The daily headlines are remindersbofnthenworld we live in.
1 CORINTHIANS 4
I am not writing you this to make you feel ashamed, but, as my dear children, to confront you and get you to change. 15 For even if you have ten thousand trainers in connection with the Messiah, you do not have many fathers; for in connection with the Messiah Yeshua it was I who became your father by means of the Good News. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 This is why I have sent you Timothy, my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord. He will remind you of the way of life I follow in union with the Messiah Yeshua and teach everywhere in every congregation.
18 When I didn’t come to visit you, some of you became arrogant. 19 But I am coming to you soon, if the Lord wills; and I will take cognizance not of the talk of these arrogant people but of their power. 20 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of words but of power. 21 Which do you prefer — should I come to you with a stick? or with love in a spirit of gentleness?
Many people find Paul’s habit of using himself as an example for others unattractive and arrogant. In fact he presents himself often with the word ‘we’, that is as one of the emissaries of Messiah Jesus, with a way of life shared by his colleagues. Although his readers are not expected to be emissaries, their commun.al life is expected to express the values of the gospel.
The emmssaries are not a different class of believer, but rather a group who while living the kind of life expected of all believers has special responsibility for spreading the gospel. They try to live by what they announce, and to teach what they do. Of course there will doubtless be the odd failure, times when the emissary acts in ways that deny the gospel. But Paul is right to insist that leaders must accept responsibility for demonstrating the life of Jesus in their own lives so that the gospel is not a matter of words, as Paul says, but of power, which means living IN messiah Jesus.
Paul introduces Timothy as a trusted emissary of Messiah and also as his beloved child. In this he imitates God who has sent his beloved child. Doubtless Timothy carried Paul’s letter to Corinth from Ephesos which had become Paul’ s centre of operations as well as place of detention. He was not free to visit Corinth because he was under arrest by Roman officials. Paul says that he hopes he will free to come to Corinth in person, soon, and he challenges his critics to be ready to face his power, namely the force of a life ruled by God.
Paul makes no appeal to institutional or charismatic power- he has no special status or gift- but simply offers his integrity in exercising his special function as an emissary. So he can joke about bringing a big stick if that’s what they want.
Paul’s whole diatribe in chapter 4 is evidence that he saw the life of Messiah Jesus, transmitted through the emissaries and the assemblies of believers as essential to the announcement of the gospel. The words of the announcement have to be validated by the behaviour of believers. No amount of eloquence, religious ritual, sales pitches or evangelical razzmatazz is any substitute for a close match between words and deeds. It’s the only power believers possess but it’s real.