1 Corinthians 4:9-16
New American Bible (Revised Edition)
9 [a]For as I see it, God has exhibited us apostles as the last of all, like people sentenced to death, since we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and human beings alike.(A) 10 We are fools on Christ’s account, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are held in honor, but we in disrepute.(B) 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clad and roughly treated, we wander about homeless(C) 12 and we toil, working with our own hands. When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;(D) 13 when slandered, we respond gently. We have become like the world’s rubbish, the scum of all, to this very moment.
14 I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.[b] 15 Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.(E) 16 Therefore, I urge you, be imitators of me.(F)Read full chapter
- 4:9–13 A rhetorically effective catalogue of the circumstances of apostolic existence, in the course of which Paul ironically contrasts his own sufferings with the Corinthians’ illusion that they have passed beyond the folly of the passion and have already reached the condition of glory. His language echoes that of the beatitudes and woes, which assert a future reversal of present conditions. Their present sufferings (“to this very hour,” 11) place the apostles in the class of those to whom the beatitudes promise future relief (Mt 5:3–11; Lk 6:20–23); whereas the Corinthians’ image of themselves as “already” filled, rich, ruling (1 Cor 4:8), as wise, strong, and honored (1 Cor 4:10) places them paradoxically in the position of those whom the woes threaten with future undoing (Lk 6:24–26). They have lost sight of the fact that the reversal is predicted for the future.
- 4:14–17 My beloved children: the close of the argument is dominated by the tender metaphor of the father who not only gives his children life but also educates them. Once he has begotten them through his preaching, Paul continues to present the gospel to them existentially, by his life as well as by his word, and they are to learn, as children do, by imitating their parents (1 Cor 4:16). The reference to the rod in 1 Cor 4:21 belongs to the same image-complex. So does the image of the ways in 1 Cor 4:17: the ways that Paul teaches everywhere, “his ways in Christ Jesus,” mean a behavior pattern quite different from the human ways along which the Corinthians are walking (1 Cor 3:3).