1 Corinthians 4 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Servants of Christ
4 So then, let us [who minister] be regarded as servants of Christ and stewards (trustees, administrators) of the mysteries of God [that He chooses to reveal]. 2 In this case, moreover, it is required [as essential and demanded] of stewards that one be found faithful and trustworthy. 3 But [as for me personally] it matters very little to me that I may be judged by you or any human court [on this point]; in fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 I am aware of nothing against myself and I feel blameless, but I am not by this acquitted [before God]. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 So do not go on passing judgment before the appointed time, but wait until the Lord comes, for He will both bring to light the [secret] things that are hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.
6 Now I have applied these things [that is, the analogies about factions] to myself and Apollos for your benefit, believers, so that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written [in Scripture], so that none of you will become arrogant and boast in favor of one [minister or teacher] against the other. 7 For who regards you as superior or what sets you apart as special? What do you have that you did not receive [from another]? And if in fact you received it [from God or someone else], why do you boast as if you had not received it [but had gained it by yourself]?
8 [You behave as if] you are already filled [with spiritual wisdom and in need of nothing more]. Already you have become rich [in spiritual gifts]! You [in your conceit] have ascended your thrones and become kings without us; and how I wish [that it were true and] that you did reign as kings, so that we might reign with you. 9 For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles at the end of the line, like men sentenced to death [and paraded as prisoners in a procession], because we have become a spectacle to the world [a show in the world’s amphitheater], both to angels and to men. 10 We are [regarded as] fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are highly esteemed, but we are dishonored. 11 To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty; we are continually poorly dressed, and we are roughly treated, and wander homeless. 12 We work [for our living], working hard with our own hands. When we are reviled and verbally abused, we bless. When we are persecuted, we take it patiently and endure. 13 When we are slandered, we try to be conciliatory and answer softly. We have become like the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to warn and advise you as my beloved children. 15 For even if you were to have ten thousand teachers [to guide you] in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers [who led you to Christ and assumed responsibility for you], for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the good news [of salvation]. 16 So I urge you, be imitators of me [just as a child imitates his father]. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my way of life in Christ [my conduct and my precepts for godly living], just as I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Now some of you have become arrogant and pretentious, as though I were not coming to see you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord is willing, and I will find out not just the talk of these arrogant people, but [evaluate] their [spiritual] power [whether they live up to their own claims]. 20 For the kingdom of God is not based on talk but on power. 21 Which do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod [of discipline and correction], or with love and a gentle spirit?
1 Corinthians 4 New International Version (NIV)
The Nature of True Apostleship
4 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 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! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.
Paul’s Appeal and Warning
14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?