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And rightly so. 1 Corinthians 4.14-17

1 Corinthians 4 (5)

Pray Psalm 119.65-67.
You have dealt well with Your servant,
O LORD, according to Your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
For I believe Your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.

Sing Psalm 119.65-67.
(Open My Eyes: Open My Eyes, That I May See)
You have dealt well with me, O LORD,
just as You promised in Your Word.
Teach me good judgment, help me to know
all that I need to love You so.
Let Your commandments light my way.
Send sweet affliction when I stray,
that I may walk Your holy way
and keep Your Word.

Read 1 Corinthians 4.1-17; meditate on verses 14-17.


1. Why did Paul write to the Corinthians about their divisions and immaturity?

2. What did he urge them to do?

The NKJV’s “warn” is rather too strong here (it’s the least used translation of this verb). More to the point is some combination of “rebuke” and “admonish.” The Corinthians had fallen into bad thinking, taking their cues more from the ways of the world than the Word of God. They had gone beyond the Word as Paul had taught it to them, and as a result, their churches were in a mess.

So he rebuked them for being so easily led astray from the mind of Christ and admonished—solemnly encouraged them—to recover themselves. If they felt shame for being thus chided, that was not Paul’s intention (v. 14). He loved them like a father (v. 15). After all, he had led them all to the Lord. They should have held fast to his teaching rather than try to be Christians on the world’s terms.

So he called them back to himself, to imitate him in his humility, faithfulness, stewardship, affliction, and devotion to the Word of God (v. 16). And maybe here’s the “warning”: Timothy was on the way (v. 17), and they could expect that he would be resolute in reminding them of Paul’s teaching and ways, just as he taught everywhere in all the churches. They must listen to Timothy, return to Paul’s teaching and the Word of God, recover their unity in the mind of Christ, and get on with the good work of growing in Him.

Paul was not content for his churches to be divided and immature. We should take heed to his admonition.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Part of Timothy’s pastoral on-the-job training was to go to Corinth and set things back in order.

Paul was preparing another son in the faith for the Kingdom work set before him.

Later, when Timothy had his own church, he received letters from Paul. Part of one said this: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers [perhaps ten thousand? 1 Cor. 4.15]; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4.1-4).

For my money, pastoral training schools, seminaries, graduate schools, Bible schools, all who are preparing men for the professional work of ministry should use this passage as the syllabus for all their teaching. It is clear to see, from all of Scripture, that there are certain ways the enemy likes to ensnare pastors and divide churches, and for that warfare, ministers must be prepared and ready.

What? Do we think that things are any different now than they have ever been? Solomon warned of that eons ago: “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1.9) He ended that book with equally wise words: “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccl. 12.13, 14).

Even if the six basic story types can be crunched into three: happy ending, unhappy ending, tragedy; the plot lines are not that many. God knows that. When will we ever catch on?

Paul was rebuking, admonishing, and warning the church in Corinth of the problems they needed to overcome to live like their earthly spiritual father, or better yet, their heavenly Father.

Paul is still warning the churches today of the very same problems.
Admonished, we need to take him seriously and stop falling into the same traps.

For reflection
1. What is the role of admonition in the life of discipleship? Who should admonish? When?

2. Every believer should have a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy. Is that true in your life?

3. Do you have any role models, like Paul, to whom you look for guidance in your walk with the Lord? How do they help you?

Paul’s real aim was that the Corinthians should imitate Christ. But because of their weakness, he presents himself as an intermediate model to follow. It is only because he imitates Christ that he exhorts the people to imitate him. John Chrysostom (344-407), Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians 13.5

Pray Psalm 119.68-72.
Call on the Lord to help you test all that you see or hear by His Word.

Sing Psalm 119.68-72.
(Open My Eyes: Open My Eyes, That I May See)
LORD, You are good, and good You do;
teach me that I may do good, too.
Wicked men my true pathway distort;
I keep Your Word with all my heart.
Their heart is dark with sin’s cruel blight,
but in Your Law is my delight.
Let me not turn from Your sweet Light,
nor from Your Word.

All my afflictions, LORD, I turn
to You that I Your Law may learn.
Teach me to hold Your Word in my heart,
never from its true way to part.
Your Law is better far to me
than any wealth could ever be;
open my eyes and let me see
more of Your Word!

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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