1 Corinthians 4:3

Friday, 16 May 2014

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 1 Corinthians 4:3

Verse 3 begins with “but” to indicate a contrast in what he just said about being “found faithful” in the previous verse. In Paul’s eyes, “it is a very small thing that” he should be judged by anyone except the true Judge of all righteous deeds and actions. The idea of being “judged” here implies the examination one would go through preliminary to a trial being held.

Speaking to those in Corinth, to him being found in this state had absolutely no importance at all when coming from “you or by a human court.” He had already found them worldly and carnal and so noted it to them in the preceding chapter (see 1 Corinthians 3:3, 4). They had divided allegiances between individual teachers and were not focused on Christ. If this was so (and he showed them that it was), then any such inspection of his work by them would ultimately be irrelevant.

What should be noted is that the term “human court” is the Greek anthrōpinēs hēmeras – man’s day; meaning the time from sunrise to sunset. It is translated as “court” because Paul is contrasting “the day of man” to the “Day of the Lord.” This sentiment is seen in 1 Corinthians 3:13 –

“…each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.”

The brevity of human life and the lowliness of our knowledge in comparison to that of God finds man insufficient to make accurate and reasonable judgments concerning such awesome matters as Paul was blessed to impart by God’s Spirit.

And so this wasn’t just the case with those in Corinth, but with any human court. If a human court were to make an investigation into Paul’s imparting of “the mysteries of God” which he spoke of in 4:1, they could never correctly investigate the matter anyway. Such information and revelation would be beyond a human court’s ability to properly discern. And to prove this he continues on with words concerning himself.

He was so sure that such an investigation would come up short, that he exclaimed, “In fact, I do not even judge myself.” In his words, instead of the word krino – judge, he uses the term ankrino – examine. In other words, he is unable to examine these things himself, even though they were relayed through him. The mysteries of God were revealed to him by the Spirit of God. As he is a creature created by God, how could he examine something which was of a higher Source than himself? It would be impossible!

As the Pulpit Commentary notes, This “verse discourages all morbid self introspection. It also shows that St. Paul is not arrogantly proclaiming himself superior to the opinion of the Corinthians, but is pointing out the necessary inadequacy of all human judgments.” He, like they, was wholly unqualified to judge such high spiritual matters through earthly investigations.

Life application: Because the Bible is surely the word of God, having validated itself throughout history – both internally and externally, we must accept what has been received without judgment upon it. We are insufficient to judge what God has spoken. We may find it difficult, not suited to our taste in certain areas, or contrary to what we desire, but we must never attempt to find fault in it. God is God and God has spoken. Let us accept His word as it is written.

Your word is so precious to me Lord. Many times I’ve seen others in distress decide to pull it out and read its contents in order to find hope and encouragement there. Me… I will never wait until the time of anxiety arrives. I intend to stay ahead of the game, keeping it fresh in my mind and secure in my heart at all times. In this, I will be ready for any day of evil which comes my way. Thank You for Your word!! Amen.



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