1Co 4:1-5 Who is the “us” in 1Co 4:1? How did Paul want the Corinthians to regard them? How was this different from how they were regarding them? Note: “servant” is literally an “under-rower”; see Acts 13:5 where it is applied to John Mark as Paul and Barnabas’ “helper”. “Steward” was a slave under his lord, but a master over the other slaves of the house. What do 1Co 4:3-5 teach us about the value of human judgments? How do Paul’s words in 1Co 4:5 apply to the problem of divisions that had arisen in the Corinthian church? How do they apply to the relationships Christians have with one another today?
1Co 4:6-8 Between the parties of what two personalities does the primary division in the Corinthian church appear to be? See 1Co 4:6, 1:12, 3:4-5, 22. What does Paul mean by “arrogant” in 1Co 4:6? How had the Corinthians become so? See 1Co 4:7-8, 10, 18-19, 5:2, 8:1, and 13:4. How is such arrogance the opposite of true love? How would such arrogance lead to the divisions they were experiencing? See 1Co 8:2. With 1Co 4:7-8 see Rom 12:3, and note that Romans was written from Corinth. Into what great danger is one led who thinks more highly of himself than he should? See 1Co 3:18, Rev 3:17-18.
1Co 4:9-13 What description does Paul give of a true and sincere apostle of God? How is this different from that of many today who put themselves forward as His servants? How does the world regard God’s apostles? How does God regard them? See 1Co 12:28, Eph 4:11. If you think of these verses as a “job description” of an apostle, would you want that job? What does this teach us about God’s ways and our ways, about the things God values and the things we value? What do Paul’s words in 1Co 4:12 and 13 teach us about the nature of a true servant of God? See Psalm 1, Jeremiah 17:7-8, Mat 5:43-48.
1Co 4:14-16 How does Paul view his relationship to the Corinthians? In what sense was he a father to the Corinthian believers? How is this relationship different from that of a tutor? Compare John 10:12-13. Was this relationship one of title or affection? See Mat 23:8-11. Note: “tutor” means pedagogue, as in Gal 3:24-25. In what way do you think Paul would have them be imitators of him?
1Co 4: 17 Why did Paul send Timothy to the Corinthians? Note: this verse makes it sound like Timothy went to the Corinthians along with this letter; however, see 1Co 16:10-11. Did Timothy go directly to Corinth? See Acts 19:21-22. What does this verse teach us about the consistency of Paul’s message, regardless of where he was? See 1Co 7:17, 11:2,16, 14:33, 16:1.
1Co 4:18-21 What was the arrogance of Paul’s opponents in Corinth, and what were they saying about him? See 2 Cor 10:10. Why did Paul delay in going to Corinth? See 1Co 16:5-9, 2 Cor 1:15-17, 23. How does Paul answer those who supposed he wouldn’t come? What do 1Co 4:19-20 teach us about the nature of true religion? See 1 Thess 1:5, Mat 7:21, James 2:14-16, 1 Jn 3:18. What does 1Co 4: 21 teach us about Paul’s willingness and desire to exercise church discipline? How does that exemplify his assertion in 1Co 4:14-15 that he was a father to them? See also 2 Cor 6:11-13, 7:2-3, 12:14-15.