Monday, 19 May 2014
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. 1 Corinthians 4:6
“Now these things” is referring to everything from a certain point in his writings thus far. In other words, the context of everything that has been analyzed from that point has dealt with the same issue. This is important to understand, because many of the verses between that starting point and where Paul is now have been used incorrectly over the ages as “stand-alone” verses to establish doctrine contrary to what is intended by Paul. These have been addressed individually as they have come up, and Paul’s words here now confirm the context of this continuously running thought.
He goes on with “brethren.” Again, he notes that his words are addressed to believers, not unbelievers. What he has been communicating then is doctrine for already saved people.
“I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes” shows us that the starting point for the context of Paul’s discourse is the introduction of whatever issue involved both Paul and Apollos. This takes us all the way back to chapter 1 verse 12 where Apollos is first mentioned. And that verse included everything back to verse 1:10 which was speaking of “divisions.”
Considering this, we see that the proper context of Paul’s entire discourse thus far has been that of internal divisions within the church. One can truly see the need for applying proper context when evaluating Scripture by looking at Paul’s words here which are noted as “for your sakes.” They are words and examples given to the church for edification. They have been a continuous thought which has been figuratively applied to Apollos and himself.
And the reason for this… how important is his next statement! “That you may learn to not think beyond what is written.” How different Christianity would be today if people took the time to read their Bibles and then apply proper context as they study. Some churches are very legalistic, some are far too liberal; some churches forbid that which is acceptable and some allow that which isn’t. There are churches which deny the importance of doctrine at all and others which make doctrine up as they go along, not considering context. All of this stems from thinking “beyond what is written.”
Paul is showing us that doctrine is of the highest value in our walk after salvation and he is indicating that proper doctrine is what is important, not “any” doctrine. And he gives the reason for it explicitly – “that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.” If one follows proper doctrine, by understanding the context of what is being said, then they will not be puffed up, meaning prideful. Instead, they will be standing on the authority of God’s word, not their own individual division. And divisions are what have been the subject of everything Paul has said.
The metaphor, “puffed up,” comes from yeast which is introduced into bread. When it is, the bread rises. Like a loaf of bread, where there is pride, we become boastful and puffed up. The Corinthians were boasting in Paul or Apollos and not in Jesus. They were dividing over it and this had led to sin, which yeast pictures. This is the reason for Paul’s words, and they indicate a man who is willing to go to great length to establish his case and defend his argument.
Life application: When evaluating Scripture, context its king. Always look for the proper context to a verse less you be found misrepresenting what has been presented.
I’m awake for another day Lord. Help me to use this day wisely, redeeming the time and pursuing that which is noble, good, and of eternal value. Keep me from faults that will hinder my walk with You or bring discredit upon Your glorious name. May my heart be directed aright and my steps be proper and firmly planted on truth, righteousness, and justice. To Your glory I make this morning prayer. Amen.