Back

           LESSON 4   "PAUL, CALLED TO BE AN APOSTLE"
                      (1 Corinthians 4 & 9)

Copr. 1998, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984
International Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations
from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes
the teacher uses a blackboard.

INTRODUCTION: Chapters 4 and 9 of 1 Corinthians cover a great deal
of material. Instead of trying to cover all of the text (as we
usually do), I am going to dig into a few areas that I hope you
will find to be a blessing.

I. JUDGING THE LEADER/TEACHER

     A. Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5.  Read "between the lines" in
     verse 3 and tell me how some of the Corinthians were treating
     Paul? (They were judging him. This statement no doubt comes
     from hearing negative reviews about him.)

     B. Glance a minute at 1 Corinthians 3:21-22.  What do those
     verses say about reviewing the leader/teacher? (They are on
     the flip side of this same topic: the Corinthians were
     boasting about certain spiritual leaders.  Boasting about one
     encourages negative comparisons with others.)

     C. There is all sorts of public debate on the issue of
     "accountability" for public school teachers.  In past years we
     have pressed forward (on the church conference level) on the
     issue of accountability of pastors.  Is Paul saying (1
     Corinthians 4:5) that he is not accountable? (No.)

          1. To whom does he have to account? (v.4 God)

          2. Under what circumstances? (v.5 Second Coming)

          3. On what basis is he held accountable?  That is, what
          is the standard by which he is judged?  What is required
          of him by God? (Paul uses a logical syllogism here: 1.
          Those given a trust (a trustee) must remain faithful. 2.
          As an employee of God, I have been entrusted with the
          secrets of God. 3. Therefore, I must remain faithful with
          God's secrets. It seems that he is judged on the basis of
          his faithfulness (or lack of it) with God's secrets.)

     D. Paul says he is entrusted with God's secrets. What are
     they? (I know, if I told you, I would have to shoot you.
     Seriously, this goes back to last week's lesson. In 1
     Corinthians 2:7-10 Paul says that God's followers understand
     His secret wisdom by the Holy Spirit. Consider the serious
     aspect to my joke. Paul seems to say that if we are trusted
     with God's secrets (if we are told), that we are accountable.
     Therefore, we may be in for being "shot" if we are told and
     are not trustworthy!)

     E. With all this talk about accountability, Paul suggests
     (v.5) that we cannot judge. Why not? (We cannot know the
     motives of the person.)

          1. Does this mean no more church discipline? (In next
          week's lesson we study 1 Corinthians 5 which says (v.2)
          put the sexually immoral man out of fellowship.)

          2. As you study next week's lesson, think about how you
          can reconcile these two instructions from Paul.

     F. Remember our little logical syllogism which concluded with
     "Therefore, I must remain faithful with God's secrets?"  What
     role does "motive" (going back to 1 Corinthians 4:5) play in
     that? What role does motive play in your salvation?

          1. Does this mean that even if I am faithful (ie, I teach
          others the secret wisdom of God's kingdom), I have failed
          if I have the wrong motives? (Yes! And I fear and dislike
          this message. Make things "black and white" for me. Make
          the standard clear. Tell me that if I spend hours each
          week in preparation to teach this class (write this
          lesson outline) in an attempt to encourage an
          understanding of God's will, that I have been faithful.
          Don't tell me that if I am motivated by vanity ("Isn't he
          a great teacher?") I have been unfaithful.  I know that
          vanity is part of my motivation for teaching and
          preaching. Thank God for righteousness by faith and the
          power to change hearts!)

     G. Read v.6. Paul says "Do not go beyond what is written,"
     so that you will not value one leader over another. What
     "writing" is he talking about? (The Bible.)

          1. How will sticking to what is written help us to
          keep from comparing leaders? (He has been hammering home
          the admonition that leaders are simply servants of God
          doing a task. We should be looking to God as our leader.
          (1 Corinthians 1:31) If God says it, fine. If a leader
          goes beyond God's leadership, then we have a problem.)

          2. Is this a good general rule: not to go beyond what is
          written in the Bible?

               a. Remember our discussion last week about "man's
               wisdom" versus "God's wisdom?"

               b. Is going beyond what is written in the Bible an
               example of "man's wisdom?"

          3. Since Paul is taking a whack at divisions, judging
          leaders, and "man's wisdom," let's make our lesson real
          practical for our church.  The greatest controversy, the
          most "division" and judging of pastors that I can think
          of which arose recently, is the controversy over the
          "celebration" versus "non-celebration" style of worship.

               a. Is there are clear "thus saith the Lord" on this
               issue of worship style?

               b. If there is not, are we getting embroiled in
               debates and controversies on matters beyond "what
               is written?"

               c. If Paul told the Corinthians to "cut it out" when
               they were fighting over matters of "man's wisdom"
               and not God's written directions, does that same
               advice apply to us today? (Teacher, if you still
               have a class, it is time to move on.)

II. POWERED LEADERS

     A. Paul continues in the next seven verses to discuss the
     issue of judging leaders. Move with me down to 1 Corinthians
     4:18-21. Read.

          1. Paul says he is coming to town and that he will put
          to the test those who are promoting factions.  What kind
          of test does he say he is going to apply? (He is going to
          see "what power they have." (v.19))

          2. What kind of "power" is he talking about? (God's
          power. I did a quick search in some of Paul's other
          writings of the Greek word ("dunamis") which is here
          translated "power."  Paul uses this word in various ways,
          but his use of the word carries the common concept that
          God's supernatural power is at work.)

          3. Do you have God's "power" at work in your church?

               a. If not, are you all talk (v.20) and no power?

               b. If so, what are you going to do about it?

III. PAUL'S EXAMPLE OF LEADERSHIP

     A. Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 9. Paul gives the Corinthians
     advice on supporting their leaders and makes a point of the
     fact that he has not asked them for any support. Let's start
     reading with 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Ever hear the statement,
     "When in Rome, do as the Romans do?"  Did that originate with
     Paul? (Sounds like vv. 20-21!)

     B. What does Paul mean when he says he made himself a "slave"
     to everyone? (v.19) Doesn't it sound like freedom instead of
     slavery when he says he does whatever his current comrades are
     doing? (We need to look at this in more detail.)

          1. What are the four groups of "comrades" that Paul
          mentions in these verses? ("Jews" (v.20), "those under
          the law" (v.20), "those not under the law" (v.21), "the
          weak" (v.22).

          2. Let's start out with "the weak." How do you think Paul
          becomes like "the weak?"  How is he a "slave" to them?
          (Read Romans 14:2-3, 14-15 and 20-23. He says that he
          conforms his behavior to their weakness -- even though he
          knows the Lord does not require this behavior.)

               a. Does that seem like "slavery" to you? (Yes. He
               gives himself up to them.)

          3. Is this same concept applicable to the "Jews" and
          "under the law" groups? (I think it is the same thing.
          The Jews had many rules as do those "under the law."
          Paul is saying give up your "rights" when around them,
          conform to their wrong ideas.)

               a. Why not stand up to them?  Teach them what is
               right?  Help them get over their weakness? (It is
               not wrong to limit your freedom when the goal is to
               save them.  It appears that Paul says the best way
               to win them is not to frontally attack their
               ideas.)

          4. How does this work with those "not having the law?"
          (v.21).  The other seems to be doing things (or not doing
          things) that do not cross the line into sin, but simply
          limit your freedom.  For example, you think wearing
          jewelry is wrong and I do not. If I refrain from wearing
          jewelry to church (in front of you), I certainly have not
          sinned.  How about the reverse? I think wearing jewelry
          is wrong and you do not. If I wear jewelry to church (in
          front of you) am I sinning? Do you see how this seems to
          imply that Paul is doing things that he thinks is wrong?
          In v. 21 he says he is under the law, but these people
          are not restrained by the law.  How does this work?

               a. Is it "OK" to sin to win others? (Paul would have
               to be a lot more specific for me to believe that he
               is counselling us to sin to win others. (Romans
               14:23 says he who has doubts about doing something,
               and who then does it, is "condemned!")  Instead, I
               think he is telling us to relate to, "get next to"
               those that have different beliefs so that we can
               win them to Christ.)

     C. Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. What does Paul's talk about
     racing and physical training have to do with "relating" to the
     group you are trying to win? (The key is vv. 25-26. Paul says
     that those who want to win a race devise a strategy for
     winning, and then follow-through. (They do not run
     "aimlessly.") So it should be with our missionary/leadership
     efforts. We need to work diligently to devise the best way to
     win those who are our target audience. (In your idle time, try
     to reconcile this with Paul's statements in 1 Corinthians 2:1-
     2. In those verses in chapter 2 (and those that follow) Paul
     seems to eschew theory and technique. Paul is drawing very
     fine lines that it would be well for us to understand!)

IV. NEXT WEEK: REVIVING CHRISTIAN IDENTITY. Study 1 Corinthians
chapters 5 and 6! n 1 Corinthians 2:1-
     2. In those verses in chapter 2 (and those that follow) Paul
     seems to eschew theory and technique. Paul is drawing very
     fine lines that it would be well for us to understand!)

IV. NEXT WEEK: REVIVING CHRISTIAN IDENTITY. Study 1 Corinthians
chapters 5 and 6!