I Cor. 4:1-21
Paul reminded the Corinthian church of his responsibilities as an apostle. The apostles were servants of Christ and stewards of the gospel. They did not discover or invent truth, but they administered it to others as the Holy Spirit revealed it to them. Man’s judgment was not important to Paul. He wanted God to be the One to judge him as a faithful steward.
Some of the Corinthians had an attitude problem. They felt that since they had special gifts they were better than others who had less ability. Paul asked them what they had that they did not receive. They had earned nothing by their own achievement. It had all come from God.
Paul used sarcasm to show the Corinthians how they had exalted themselves, but were failing to possess the humility necessary for serving others, as he had demonstrated as he had taught them the gospel. Mixed with this sarcasm was his desire that they could be as great as they had thought that they were.
Just as a father warns and admonishes his children, Paul exercised that same care and compassion for the Corinthians. He pointed out that in a sense he was their spiritual father because he had led them to Christ through his preaching of the gospel to them. They were urged to imitate him in the ways that he followed Christ.
Paul related that he had sent Timothy to Corinth to further instruct the church. As a spiritual son of Paul also, he would remind them of the things that Paul had previously spoken to them.
Lest some of his enemies would say that Paul had sent Timothy because he did not want to face them himself, he informed them that he was planning to see them soon. He let them know that if they had repented of the issues that he had addressed, he would be gentle in his preaching when he saw them—otherwise he would be harsh.