The Corinthians and Their Apostles: Page 1 of 10 (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

October 8, 2012

Commentary on First Corinthians
By: Tom Lowe

Lesson 2.9: The Corinthians and Their Apostles
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 4.5-4.13

1 Cor 4.5-13 (KJV)
5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.
9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
10 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.
11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.


Commentary

5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

As we mentioned in the previous chapter, verses 4 and 5 should probably be considered together, but we have established a policy of unraveling one verse at a time. With that in mind, verse 5 may seem out of place with the other verses in this chapter.

Therefore judge nothing before the time,
Paul says this to prevent rash and hasty judgment, and it agrees with that well known Jewish adage, “be slow in judgment;” not quick to pass sentence; it is best to leave things to the great day of accounting, than to be hasty in finding fault with one another. There is a time "preset" for the awful judgment, which has existed from eternity past, and no man knows what day it is.
Therefore—In view of the danger of being deceived in your judgment, and the impossibility of knowing with certainty the failings of another’s heart.

Judge nothing—Here the apostle instills in them an important lesson; in fact it is one of the most important lessons of Christianity—not to adopt a harsh opinion regarding the conduct of any man, since there are so many things that go into making up his character, which we have no way of knowing, because there are so many secret failings and motives which are all concealed from us. The “Golden Rule” that should be applied to passing judgment is “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matt 7:1; ASV). This statement by our Lord does not necessarily refer a derogatory judgment, nor does it refer to simple judging at all, whether favorable or unfavorable. The context of His comment makes it clear that the thing condemned here is that character trait of looking unfavorably on the character and actions of others, which leads invariably to announcing rash, unjust, and unpleasant judgments against them. No doubt it is the judgments made and declared which Jesus is talking about; but what our Lord aims at is the spirit from which they spring. Only if we steer clear of this obnoxious spirit, can we rightfully sit in judgment of a brother's character and actions. It is the “critical” disposition that violates the law of love, which is what He condemns here. And the argument against it "that ye be not judged"—confirms this: "that your own character and actions not be condemned with the same severity"; that is, at the judgment of the great day.

before the time—God, the righteous Judge, will determine everything at the time appointed for judging all men; therefore judge nothing before that time. It is as if Paul were saying, "You Corinthians act like judges at athletic events, qualified to give some the trophy and to send others away as losers. But Jesus is the only judge, and you are judging before

the events are over." Note: Jesus is the One who will judge. If we sit in judgment on someone else, we are taking the Lord’s place. This is why we should not react to insults or criticism by fighting back. God will judge us fairly, and He knows all the facts. (Anyway, we probably know worse things about ourselves than the person who is criticizing us does!)

Men often show such bad judgment that it gets comical at times; here is a case in point. It started off as an unbelievable email, but that story about shooting dead chickens through windshields is actually true. NASA developed a gun to launch dead chickens nineteen thousand miles per hour at windshields of space shuttles to test their strength. Britain borrowed the gun to test it on their high-speed trains. When they fired it, the chicken smashed the windshield, ripped off the engineer’s backrest, and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin. The British went to the Americans and asked, “What went wrong?” The American scientists simply replied, “Thaw the chicken.” NASA spokesman Mike Braukus confirmed the story is indeed true. He said, “That happened a year ago (1999).” We all know the drill . . . “when all else fails read the directions.” With God’s Word, we demonstrate wisdom by reading the directions first so “all else” won’t fail. (Houston Chronicle, Feb. 6, 2000, p. 20A)
until the Lord come,

This is the Second Coming, and the date for Christ’s appearance has been determined and set by God; but no man knows the day and hour. When He returns, it will be the Day of Judgment, when all secrets will be revealed, and a true judgment will be passed on all men. Each person will be judged as he deserves. Only then can the Corinthians form an infallibly correct opinion of their religious teachers; until then it is impossible to form a righteous judgment.

It is a mistake to read into this passage and similar ones such as 1 Cor. 15:51 (“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed”), that Paul evidently expected the Advent of Christ within his lifetime, and that of his converts. Since the time of the Second Advent was unknown by all of the apostolic preachers, and not even known by the Lord himself, while he existed as a man—“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt 24:36; KJV), it can be said with absolute certainty that the INEVITABILITY of that event (whenever it was to come) was a legitimate basis of motivation for Christians of EVERY generation, including the first. It is a positive certainty that both Christ and his apostles taught that the Second Coming was an event to be expected at a very remote time in the future, although it could happen at ANY TIME. Paul's great prophecy of the apostasy—“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand” (2 Thess 2:1-2; KJV), makes it certain that he did not expect the coming of Christ in his own lifetime; and the apostle John devoted the last chapter of his gospel to shooting down the proposition that Jesus had promised to come in John's lifetime: “Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” (John 21:23; KJV). This is spoken about John, and the words have caused a lot of discussion. They surely convey the idea that John would remain on the earth, after the other apostles depart, until the Lord came once more. He did linger long after all the other apostles were gone. It is the testimony of church history that he did not die until about the close of the first century, many years after the other apostles were at rest. He tarried; did the Lord come to him? At least sixty years after the Lord spoke these words John was an exile on the isle of Patmos. There on the Lord's day he writes: “I heard a great voice,” and “I saw one like the Son of man,” blazing in such glory that filled with awe, he “fell at his feet as dead.” This was a visible coming and John tarried until that coming. He alone of the Twelve saw the Lord, after his ascension, once more on the earth.


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