Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Corinthians 4:6

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

These things - Which I have written, 1 Corinthians 3:5, etc.

I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos - I have written as if myself and Apollos were the authors of the sects which now prevail among you; although others, without either our consent or knowledge, have proclaimed us heads of parties. Bishop Pearce paraphrases the verse thus: "I have made use of my own and Apollos' name in my arguments against your divisions, because I would spare to name those teachers among you who are guilty of making and heading parties; and because I would have you, by our example, not to value them above what I have said of teachers in general in this epistle; so that none of you ought to be puffed up for one against another." Doubtless there were persons at Corinth who, taking advantage of this spirit of innovation among that people, set themselves up also for teachers, and endeavored to draw disciples after them. And perhaps some even of these were more valued by the fickle multitude than the very apostles by whom they had been brought out of heathenish darkness into the marvellous light of the Gospel. I have already supposed it possible that Diotrephes was one of the ringleaders in these schisms at Corinth. See on 1 Corinthians 1:14; (note).

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And these things - The things which I have written respecting religious teachers 1 Corinthians 2:5-6, 1 Corinthians 2:12, and the impropriety of forming sects called after their names.

I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos - The word used here μετεσχημάτισα meteschēmatisadenotes, properly, to put on another form or figure; “to change” (Philemon 3:21, “who shall change our vile body”); to “transform” (2 Corinthians 11:13, “transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ”); and then to apply in the way of a figure of speech. This may mean that neither Paul, Apollos, or Peter, were set up among the Corinthians as heads of parties, but that Paul here made use of their names to show how improper it would be to make them the head of a party, and hence, how improper it was to make any religious teacher the head of a party; or Paul may mean to say that he had mentioned himself and Apollos particularly, to show the impropriety of what had been done; since, if it was improper to make them heads of parties, it was much more so to make inferior teachers the leaders of factions.

Locke adopts the former interpretation. The latter is probably the true interpretation, for it is evident from 1 Corinthians 1:12-13, that there were parties in the church at Corinth that were called by the names of Paul, and Apollos, and Peter; and Paul‘s design here was to show the impropriety of this by mentioning himself, Apollos, and Peter, and thus by transferring the whole discussion from inferior teachers and leaders to show the impropriety of it. He might have argued against the impropriety of following other leaders. He might have mentioned their names. But this would have been invidious and indelicate. It would have excited their anger. He therefore says that he had transferred it all to himself and Apollos; and it implied that if it were improper to split themselves up into factions with them as leaders, much more was it improper to follow others; that is, it was improper to form parties at all in the church. “I mention this of ourselves; out of delicacy I forbear to mention the names of others” - And this was one of the instances in which Paul showed great tact in accomplishing his object, and avoiding offence.

For your sakes - To spare your feelings; or to show you in an inoffensive manner what I mean. And particularly by this that you may learn not to place an inordinate value on people.

That ye might learn in us - Or by our example and views.

Not to think … - Since you see the plan which we desire to take; since you see that we who have the rank of apostles, and have been so eminently favored with endowments and success, do not wish to form parties, that you may also have the same views in regard to others.

Above that which is written - Probably referring to what he had said in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, 1 Corinthians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 4:1. Or it may refer to the general strain of Scripture requiring the children of God to be modest and humble.

That no one of you be puffed up - That no one be proud or exalted in self-estimation above his neighbor. That no one be disposed to look upon others with contempt, and to seek to depress and humble them. They should regard themselves as brethren, and as all on a level. The argument here is, that if Paul and Apollos did not suppose that they had a right to put themselves at the head of parties, much less had any of them a right to do so. The doctrine is:

(1)That parties are improper in the church;

(2)That Christians should regard themselves as on a level; and,

(3)That no one Christian should regard others as beneath him, or as the object of contempt.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Apostles were no more than servants of Christ, but they were not to be undervalued. They had a great trust, and for that reason, had an honourable office. Paul had a just concern for his own reputation, but he knew that he who chiefly aimed to please men, would not prove himself a faithful servant of Christ. It is a comfort that men are not to be our final judges. And it is not judging well of ourselves, or justifying ourselves, that will prove us safe and happy. Our own judgment is not to be depended upon as to our faithfulness, any more than our own works for our justification. There is a day coming, that will bring men's secret sins into open day, and discover the secrets of their hearts. Then every slandered believer will be justified, and every faithful servant approved and rewarded. The word of God is the best rule by which to judge as to men. Pride commonly is at the bottom of quarrels. Self-conceit contributes to produce undue esteem of our teachers, as well as of ourselves. We shall not be puffed up for one against another, if we remember that all are instruments, employed by God, and endowed by him with various talents.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 276-7

These principles are dwelt upon at length in Paul's first letter to the Corinthian church. The apostle refers to “the ministers of Christ” as “stewards of the mysteries of God,” and of their work he declares: “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet I am not hereby justified: but He that judgeth me is the Lord. 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.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-5. AA 276.1

It is not given to any human being to judge between the different servants of God. The Lord alone is the judge of man's work, and He will give to each his just reward. AA 276.2

The apostle, continuing, referred directly to the comparisons that had been made between his labors and those of Apollos: “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. 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?” Verses 6, 7. AA 276.3

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 70.2

Provision has been made whereby the communication between heaven and our souls may be free and open. Finite man can place himself where rays of light and glory from the throne of God will be given him in abundance. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God which shines in the face of Jesus Christ may shine upon him. He may stand where it can be said of him, “Ye are the light of the world.” Were it not for the communication between heaven and earth there would be no light in the world. Like Sodom and Gomorrah, all men would perish beneath the just judgment of God. But the world is not left in darkness. The long-suffering mercy of God is still extended to the children of men, and it is His design that the rays of light which emanate from the throne of God shall be reflected by the children of light.... HP 70.2

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