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1 Corinthians 4:12

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Working with our own hands - They were obliged to labor in order to supply themselves with the necessaries of life while preaching the Gospel to others. This, no doubt, was the case in every place were no Church had been as yet formed: afterwards, the people of God supplied their ministers, according to their power, with food and raiment.

Being reviled, we bless, etc. - What a most amiable picture does this exhibit of the power of the grace of Christ! Man is naturally a proud creature, and his pride prompts him always to avenge himself in whatever manner he can, and repay insult with insult. It is only the grace of Christ that can make a man patient in bearing injuries, and render blessing for cursing, beneficence for malevolence, etc. The apostles suffered an indignities for Christ's sake; for it was on his account that they were exposed to persecutions, etc.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And labour … - This Paul often did. See the note at Acts 18:3; compare Acts 20:34; 1 Thessalonians 2:9. 2 Thessalonians 3:8.

Being reviled - That they were often reviled or reproached, their history everywhere shows. See the Acts of the Apostles. They were reviled or ridiculed as Jews by the Gentiles; and jeered by all as “Nazarenes,” and as deluded followers of Jesus; as the victims of a foolish superstition and enthusiasm.

We bless - We return good for evil. In this they followed the explicit direction of the Saviour; see the note at Matthew 5:44. The main idea in these passages is, that they were reviled, were persecuted, etc. The other clauses, “we bless,” “we suffer it,” etc. seem to be thrown in “by the way” to show how they bore this ill treatment. As if he had said “we are reviled; and what is more, we bear it patiently, and return good for evil.” At the same time, that he was recounting his trials, he was, therefore, incidentally instructing them in the nature of the gospel, and showing how their sufferings were to be borne; and how to illustrate the excellency of the Christian doctrine.

Being persecuted - See the note at Matthew 5:11.

We suffer it - We sustain it; we do not revenge it; we abstain from resenting or resisting it.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
We have no reason to be proud; all we have, or are, or do, that is good, is owing to the free and rich grace of God. A sinner snatched from destruction by sovereign grace alone, must be very absurd and inconsistent, if proud of the free gifts of God. St. Paul sets forth his own circumstances, ver. 9. Allusion is made to the cruel spectacles in the Roman games; where men were forced to cut one another to pieces, to divert the people; and where the victor did not escape with his life, though he should destroy his adversary, but was only kept for another combat, and must be killed at last. The thought that many eyes are upon believers, when struggling with difficulties or temptations, should encourage constancy and patience. "We are weak, but ye are strong." All Christians are not alike exposed. Some suffer greater hardships than others. The apostle enters into particulars of their sufferings. And how glorious the charity and devotion that carried them through all these hardships! They suffered in their persons and characters as the worst and vilest of men; as the very dirt of the world, that was to be swept away: nay, as the offscouring of all things, the dross of all things. And every one who would be faithful in Christ Jesus, must be prepared for poverty and contempt. Whatever the disciples of Christ suffer from men, they must follow the example, and fulfil the will and precepts of their Lord. They must be content, with him and for him, to be despised and abused. It is much better to be rejected, despised, and ill used, as St. Paul was, than to have the good opinion and favour of the world. Though cast off by the world as vile, yet we may be precious to God, gathered up with his own hand, and placed upon his throne.
Ellen G. White
The Story of Redemption, 313

Hear him in the court of Festus, when King Agrippa, convicted of the truth of the gospel, exclaims, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” With what gentle courtesy does Paul, pointing to his own chain, make answer, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” SR 313.1

Thus passed his life, as described in his own words, “in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” 2 Corinthians 11:26, 27. SR 313.2

“Being reviled,” he said, “we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat”; “as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” 1 Corinthians 4:12, 13; 2 Corinthians 6:10. SR 313.3

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Ellen G. White
Education, 68

“Being reviled,” he said, “we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we entreat;” “as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” 1 Corinthians 4:12, 13; 2 Corinthians 6:10. Ed 68.1

In service he found his joy; and at the close of his life of toil, looking back on its struggles and triumphs, he could say, “I have fought a good fight.” 2 Timothy 4:7. Ed 68.2

These histories are of vital interest. To none are they of deeper importance than to the youth. Moses renounced a prospective kingdom, Paul the advantages of wealth and honor among his people, for a life of burden bearing in God's service. To many the life of these men appears one of renunciation and sacrifice. Was it really so? Moses counted the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. He counted it so because it was so. Paul declared: “What things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:7, 8, R.V., margin. He was satisfied with his choice. Ed 68.3

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 296

Paul's labors in Ephesus were concluded. His ministry there had been a season of incessant labor, of many trials, and of deep anguish. He had taught the people in public and from house to house, with many tears instructing and warning them. Continually he had been opposed by the Jews, who lost no opportunity to stir up the popular feeling against him. AA 296.1

And while thus battling against opposition, pushing forward with untiring zeal the gospel work, and guarding the interests of a church yet young in the faith, Paul was bearing upon his soul a heavy burden for all the churches. AA 296.2

News of apostasy in some of the churches of his planting caused him deep sorrow. He feared that his efforts in their behalf might prove to be in vain. Many a sleepless night was spent in prayer and earnest thought as he learned of the methods employed to counteract his work. As he had opportunity and as their condition demanded, he wrote to the churches, giving reproof, counsel, admonition, and encouragement. In these letters the apostle does not dwell on his own trials, yet there are occasional glimpses of his labors and sufferings in the cause of Christ. Stripes and imprisonment, cold and hunger and thirst, perils by land and by sea, in the city and in the wilderness, from his own countrymen, from the heathen, and from false brethren—all this he endured for the sake of the gospel. He was “defamed,” “reviled,” made “the offscouring of all things,“ “perplexed,” “persecuted,” “troubled on every side,” “in jeopardy every hour,” “alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake.” AA 296.3

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 277

Paul plainly set before the church the perils and the hardships that he and his associates had patiently endured in their service for Christ. “Even unto this present hour,” he declared, “we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; and labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” Verses 11-15. AA 277.1

He who sends forth gospel workers as His ambassadors is dishonored when there is manifested among the hearers so strong an attachment to some favorite minister that there is an unwillingness to accept the labors of some other teacher. The Lord sends help to His people, not always as they may choose, but as they need; for men are shortsighted and cannot discern what is for their highest good. It is seldom that one minister has all the qualifications necessary to perfect a church in all the requirements of Christianity; therefore God often sends to them other ministers, each possessing some qualifications in which the others were deficient. AA 277.2

The church should gratefully accept these servants of Christ, even as they would accept the Master Himself. They should seek to derive all the benefit possible from the instruction which each minister may give them from the word of God. The truths that the servants of God bring are to be accepted and appreciated in the meekness of humility, but no minister is to be idolized. AA 278.1

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