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God is the judge
1What need have we then of any other wisdom than this divine sort? 2We are servants of Christ, we have the stewardship of God's mysteries. And as such we must be faithful. 3-4It is small matter to me what men decide about me, what their criticisms may be. These human judgments and criticisms do not concern the truth of the Gospel. It is the day of the Lord that judges man, separating truth from fiction. 5Therefore I do not even judge myself, I do not exercise my conscience over my degree of faithfulness or the reverse. But that is not my justification, I am not justified simply because my conscience is at rest, I am justified because God is judging me. Wait then for His judgment. It will come to pass — that severance of truth and falsehood, faith and faithlessness. Leave it to God and do not usurp his function before the time, when the light shall shine, when the darkness shall collapse, when the hidden purposes of the heart shall resolve themselves, and man's praise and honour shall come to him from God alone.
The apostles as an example
6Have you learned from me and Apollos? and are you going to make these new acquisitions and possessions a thing to be conceited and self-sufficient about, a thing to judge others in, and put yourself above another? But indulge nothing beyond what is written in our teaching.
7This sensitiveness to praise or blame, and this setting of one teacher above another is no part of the Gospel. Whence come your enlightenment, your wisdom, your treasures of joy and deep riches of the spirit, whence your fulness, completion and victory? From yourselves? Or is it given you in Christ? 8Yes, that is your state in Christ, yet has the Kingdom still to be striven for, you cannot yet call these things your own, and boast of them as such; whilst the world still rules, whilst we apostles are like arena criminals condemned to make a spectacle for others, whilst we are defenceless and weak, will you boast of your victory, will you be strong and self-sufficient? 9Whilst the world and angels and man unite to watch our struggles and efforts, are you reigning at peace with the saints in Christ? 10Whilst we are fools, are you wise in Christ? Whilst we are dishonoured, have you the safety and the glory of the truth? Yes, all that is true, yet I would have you not to glory over it, but to remember the condition of us who taught you. 11We are still hungering and thirsty, we are still naked and buffeted and amazed, 12we still work with our hands to gain a living. We are reviled and we bless, we are persecuted and we endure, 13we are cursed and we turn it aside. Up to the present moment, the very moment that I write to you, we are the outcasts and pariahs of society, its very dregs and offscourings. Think of this when you are tempted to become wise and self-sufficient in your own eyes, to set one man's teaching above another's, and make the Christ a matter of vain-glorious disputation and theory.
Paul as father rather than teacher
14And yet I would not speak harshly to you and condemn you, but I appeal to you as to children whom I love. 15Am I your teacher? Am I not rather the father that begot you in the faith by the Gospel and is that not something more than a mere teacher — a man may have many tutors but only one father. 16If that is our relationship then be like me, be imitative of me. 17That is why I have sent you Timothy, my faithful, my beloved son in the Lord, to tell you of my bonds, of my life in Christ, and to remind you of what my teaching is and always has been in the Christ. 18But because I have not come myself, there have arisen certain persons among you with an exaggerated opinion of their own importance. 19And that being so, I shall, if the Lord so will, come to you myself and visit you, and when I come, it will not be with the dialectic of these self-assertive teachers, but with the word of power. 20In that is the kingdom of God, not theory and contention but spiritual power. 21What then? Shall I come to you as a master with rod and rule, or in the spirit of love and gentleness?
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Apostles of Christ Jesus
1You should think of us as servants of Christ, the ones God has trusted to do the work of making known his secret truths. 2Those who are trusted with such an important work must show that they are worthy of that trust. 3But I don’t consider your judgment on this point to be worth anything. Even an opinion from a court of law would mean nothing. I don’t even trust my own judgment. 4I don’t know of any wrong I have done, but that does not make me right. The Lord is the one who must decide if I have done well or not. 5So don’t judge anyone now. The time for judging will be when the Lord comes. He will shine light on everything that is now hidden in darkness. He will make known the secret purposes of our hearts. Then the praise each person should get will come from God.
6Brothers and sisters, I have used Apollos and myself as examples for you. I did this so that you could learn from us the meaning of the words, “Follow what the Scriptures say.” Then you will not brag about one person and criticize another. 7Who do you think you are? Everything you have was given to you. So, if everything you have was given to you, why do you act as if you got it all by your own power?
8You think you have everything you need. You think you are rich. You think you have become kings without us. I wish you really were kings. Then we could rule together with you. 9But it seems to me that God has given me and the other apostles the last place. We are like prisoners condemned to die, led in a parade for the whole world to see—not just people but angels too. 10We are fools for Christ, but you think you are so wise in Christ. We are weak, but you think you are so strong. People give you honor, but they don’t honor us. 11Even now we still don’t have enough to eat or drink, and we don’t have enough clothes. We often get beatings. We have no homes. 12We work hard with our own hands to feed ourselves. When people insult us, we ask God to bless them. When people treat us badly, we accept it. 13When people say bad things about us, we try to say something that will help them. But people still treat us like the world’s garbage—everyone’s trash.
14I am not trying to make you feel ashamed, but I am writing this to counsel you as my own dear children. 15You may have ten thousand teachers in Christ, but you don’t have many fathers. Through the Good News I became your father in Christ Jesus. 16So I beg you to be like me. 17That is why I am sending Timothy to you. He is my son in the Lord. I love him and trust him. He will help you remember the way I live in Christ Jesus—a way of life that I teach in every meeting of the church wherever I am.
18Some of you are acting so proud, it seems as though you think I won’t be coming there again. 19But I will come to you very soon, the Lord willing. Then I will see if these proud talkers have the power to do anything more than talk. 20God’s kingdom is not seen in talk but in power. 21Which do you want: that I come to you with punishment, or that I come with love and gentleness?