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. Chapter 4.

The Ministry of the Apostles

1 We must be regarded as Christ's subordinates and as stewards of the secrets of God. 2 Well then, stewards are expected to show themselves trustworthy. 3 For my part, if I am called to account by you or by any human court of judgement, it does not matter to me in the least. Why, I do not even pass judgement on myself, 4 for I have nothing on my conscience; but that does not mean I stand acquitted. My judge is the Lord. 5 So pass no premature judgement; wait until the Lord comes. For he will bring to light what darkness hides, and disclose men's inward motives; then will be the time for each to receive from God such praise as he deserves.

6 Into this general picture, my friends, I have brought Apollos and myself on your account, so that you may take our case as an example, and leam to 'keep within the rules', as they say, and may not be inflated with pride as you patronize one and flout the other. 7 Who makes you, my friend, so important? What do you possess that was not given you? If then you really received it all as a gift, why take the credit to yourself?

8 All of you, no doubt, have everything you could desire. You have come into your fortune already. You have come into your kingdom—and left us out. How I wish you had indeed won your kingdom; then you might share it with us! 9 For it seems to me God has made us apostles the most abject of mankind. We are like men condemned to death in the arena, a spectacle to the whole universe-angels as well as men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, while you are such sensible Christians. We are weak; you are so powerful. We are in disgrace; you are honoured. 11 To this day we go hungry and thirsty and in rags; we are roughly handled; we wander from place to place; 12 we wear ourselves out working with our own hands. They curse us, and we bless; they persecute us, and we submit to it; 13 they slander us, and we humbly make our appeal. We are treated as the scum of the earth, the dregs of humanity, to this very day.

14 I am not writing thus to shame you, but to bring you to reason; for you are my dear children. 15 You may have ten thousand tutors in Christ, but you have only one father. For in Christ Jesus you are my offspring, and mine alone, through the preaching of the Gospel. I appeal to you therefore to follow my example. 16 That is the very reason why I have sent Timothy, who is a dear son to me and a most trustworthy Christian; 17 he will remind you of the way of life in Christ which I follow, and which I teach everywhere in all our congregations. 18 There are certain persons who are filled with self-importance because they think I am not coming to Corinth. 19 I shall come very soon, if the Lord will; and then I shall take the measure of these self-important people, not by what they say, but by what power is in them. 20 The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power. 21 Choose, then: am I to come to you with a rod in my hand, or in love and a gentle spirit?

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