Lesson 15

Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

4:14 I don't write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 4:15 For though you have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, I became your father through the gospel. 4:16 I beg you therefore, be imitators of me. 4:17 Because of this I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in every assembly.

Today's Lesson 

Having rebuked the Corinthians for their divisiveness and the envy that existed in their groups, Paul now turns to consoling and instructing them. In most of the scriptures we see this same pattern. God rebukes His people, instructing them in his ways, and then tells them how much He cares for them and wants to lift them up. This is the pattern Paul is following now. He has rebuked the Corinthians for allowing pride and divisiveness to separate them. Now he shows them his concern for their welfare.


Paul calls the Corinthians, "my beloved children." He writes that they may have ten thousand tutors in Christ, but he would be their only father. By this Paul refers to the founding of the Corinthian church. Paul led the missionaries to Corinth to establish the church in that city. Because of this reason, Paul tells them that in Christ Jesus he has become their father through the gospel.


Now not every pastor of a flock becomes their spiritual father in the sense that Paul is speaking of here. Apollos was now the pastor of the Corinthian assembly, but he was not their "father." Paul was. Paul wrote that he was their father because he had founded the church and because God had given him a special authority over the expansion of the church to the Gentiles.


And he uses this image in order to emphasis a point of instruction. He tells the Corinthians, "be imitators of me." The purpose of Paul reminding them that he is their "father" was not to lord authority over them. It is to encourage them to follow his example. God does not give authority for our own personal glorification. With authority comes responsibility to serve. He who would be first must become last.


Paul also uses the authority that God has given him over the Corinthians to build not only them up, but Timothy as well. He gives Timothy the authority and empowers him to take his message to the Corinthians in his place. Paul's purpose was not to reserve for himself the power and the glory of an apostle and their father. His purpose was to transfer some of that power and authority to Timothy to give him the tools he would need to accomplish his mission.


He tells them that Timothy is his beloved and faithful child in the Lord. Timothy is to remind them of the way that Paul lived his life and the way that Paul wanted them to live their lives. Timothy lived by Paul's example. Timothy was to be their model for what Paul was instructing them to do.


The lives that Paul wanted the Corinthians to live were not unique just to Corinth. Paul taught the same thing, "everywhere in every assembly." Paul did not have one set of instructions for Corinth and another for Ephesus. The gospel is the same for all people at all times.


Paul used Timothy as his messenger and as a faithful example. Do you live your life in such a way that others can look at you and say, "Look at him/her. This is the way that we should live." Do you use whatever authority God gives you to build other people up, to give them the tools they need to serve God more effectively?


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