Saturday after the Sixth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 4:6—5:5 (NKJV)
4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. 7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 8 You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you!
9 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Who sees anything different in you? What marks you as something special? You all have received teachers as gifts from the ascended Christ; you cannot therefore boast of any one of them as your private claim to distinction. This is a timeless warning spoken by the Apostle to all the Church throughout time. Paul goes the way of Jesus the Crucified, the way which the worldly of every age reject as folly, the way of weakness, deprivation, dishonor, and death, loss of life for Christ’s sake in order to find it in Him.
With biting irony Paul indicts all who are “called to be saints” for leaving the way of their sainthood—Jesus’ beatitudes upon the poor, hungry, and persecuted no longer apply to the arrogant. Paul jars the Corinthians out of complacent misuse of their Christian liberty by calling for immediate and rigorous church discipline. The Christian life is to be a perpetual celebration of liberation from sin, not an indulgence in liberty to sin. In their arrogance they are no longer the meek to whom Jesus promised the Earth as their inheritance, no longer imitators of the meek apostle. Paul points to the fact that they have left the cross behind them in pursuing the mirage of wisdom and power.
In calling on Christians to be imitators of himself, Paul is summoning all to be imitators of him as beloved children to the one and enduring source of wisdom and power and life, to the gospel. This is a plea that they again become the “apostolic” Church. Imitation involves acceptance of the apostolic Word and submission to apostolic authority as well as emulation.