Commentary on Titus and Jude

 October 18, 2012

Commentary on First Corinthians
By: Tom Lowe
Topic #2: The Problem of Divisions, 1 Corinthians 1.10-4.21

 

 

Lesson 2.10: The Corinthians and the Apostle Paul
 Scripture: 1 Corinthians 4.14-4.21


1 Cor 4.14-21 (KJV)

14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. 15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.
19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?


Introduction

Paul chides the Corinthians as a loving but stern father.

The most simple truths of the gospel, as to man's sinfulness and God's mercy, repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, stated in the plainest language, suit the people better than deeper mysteries. Men may have a great deal of doctrinal knowledge, yet be mere beginners in the life of faith and experience. Contentions and quarrels about religion are sad evidences of carnality. True religion makes men peaceable, not contentious. But it is to be lamented, that many who should walk as Christians, live and act too much like other men. Many professors and preachers, show themselves to be carnal and arrogant by creating strife, being eager for heated discussions, and  their readiness to despise and speak evil of others.

Commentary

14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

I write not these things to shame you,
In spite of Paul’s sternness in the preceding verses, we see tenderness here. The apostle loves the Corinthians, and for that reason he avows “I write not these things to shame you;” by which he means that he is not writing because he has found fault with them, even though there were plenty of things they should have been ashamed of. There were certainly things about them that would warrant him scolding them; since they did not provide him with the necessaries of life, which meant he was forced to support himself by doing physical labor, which was a disgrace to the Greeks; but he did it to warn them to act differently from now on; and not to be so easily drawn aside by every pretender to apostleship, and neglect those to whom, under God, they owed their salvation.  Paul never planned to put them to shame by showing how little they suffered in comparison with him and his fellow ministers. “This is not our design, though it may have this effect. I have no wish to make you ashamed, to appear to triumph over you, or merely to taunt you. My desire for you is higher and nobler than this.” He wanted his children in the faith to enjoy their spiritual birthright, and he knew as long as they gave in to pride, self-esteem, and conceit, as long as they gave way to the flesh and the wisdom of the world, as long as they permitted religious clichés and a biased spirit in the church, they could not experience the full joy, which was their spiritual birthright.

but as my beloved sons I warn you.
The Corinthian believers were Paul’s children in the Lord, because he had preached the Gospel that led them to faith in Jesus Christ. He loves the Corinthian believers as a father loves his children. He knew they were living in God’s second best, while he wanted God’s best for them; but they were not pleasing God with their stewardship.

But as my beloved sons—as my dear children. “I speak as a father to his children, and I say these things for your good.” No father would want to make his children feel ashamed. He would have a higher purpose than that in the guidance, reprimands, and warnings he has for them: “As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children” (1 Thess 2:11; KJV). This is the work of every pastor; to shepherd his people, continually teach and instruct them, and give encouragement when they come under trials and temptations. He must continually witness to the people that all the threatenings and promises of God were true; that He required faith, love, and obedience; that he could not allow sin to go on unchecked; that Jesus died to save them from their sins; and that, without holiness, it is impossible to see God. They did not just say all these things when preaching to them, but they spoke to every man; no one was ignored or overlooked. The spirit in which they performed all these services was one which insured success; they treated every member of the church, like a father treats his children.

I warn you—“I do not say these things in a harsh manner, with an enraged spirit of reprimand; but in order to warn you, offer advice, and to implant wisdom into your mind. I do not say these things to make you blush, but in the hope that they may be the means of your reformation and you will live a more holy life. No man, no minister, ought to criticize another merely to overwhelm him with shame, but the object should always be to make a brother better; and the warning should be meted out for this purpose only, not unpleasantly, but in a kind, tender, and affectionate manner.
 
15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ,
The Greek word used here for instructor literally means “child leader” or “schoolmaster” and he is actually referring to “false teachers;” but for arguments sake, he calls them “instructors in Christ,” or ministers of Christ, like he did in 2 Corinthians 11:23—“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself)…”—and there were so many of them that the Corinthians boasted about it. Perhaps the apostle had in the back of his mind making some reference to the multitude of schoolmasters, tutors, and governors, who were also called "fathers," which those Jews that belonged to this church at Corinth had before they believed in Christ; these were the members of the great Sanhedrim, the vast number of doctors, wise men, Scribes and Pharisees, who pretended to instruct them: now though it should be pointed out, that the present teachers among them were instrumental in instructing them further in the knowledge of Christ; or as the Arabic version has it, "in the love of Christ"; yet none of these had anything to do with their conversion. The apostle was the first to preach the Gospel to them, and it was while they were under his ministry that they were born-again into the Kingdom of God. These teachers that he calls “instructors” at most built on his foundation with inferior teaching that he has labeled wood, hay, and stubble. They were more like schoolmasters than fathers; they taught with materialistic views, and for money, and with harshness, which is normal for this type; they had little concern for their well-being, and they lacked that tenderness and affection a parent has for his children, though Paul had that type of relationship with them.

Note, It is usually the case, and there always should be affection between faithful ministers and those they bring in faith to Jesus Christ through the gospel. They should love one another like parents love their children.

yet have ye not many fathers:
As it is in the natural world, so it is in grace; it does not matter how many counselors, therapists, or teachers a person may have, he has only one father. And with regards to believers, they may have many instructors to lead them on the walk of faith, or who pretend to lead them on to a further knowledge of Christ; yet they have only one spiritual father, who has been the happy instrument and means of their salvation, as the Apostle Paul was to the Corinthians.

Many offer to instruct you who have no parental feeling for you; and how can they? you are not their spiritual children, you stand in this relation to only one person; it was Jesus Christ by the power and influence of His Spirit, who has begotten you—But Paul can say, “I was the means of bringing you to faith in Christ through the Gospel message, so that you have been born again: you are my children in the Gospel.”

The importance of a father in a child’s life can never be overstated as this story will show. On February 27, 1993, Tim Burke walked away from his career in major league baseball. The all-star pitcher gave up the glamour of professional sports to spend more time with his wife, Christy, and their five children. Unable to have their children biologically, the Burkes have adopted their children. Each child was previously an orphan in another country. When Burke left the mound for home, he told the Los Angeles Times, “Baseball is going to do just fine without me, but I’m the only father my children have.” No wonder he’s known as the “Major League Dad.” (Ambassador Speaker Bureau, 1997, p. 17)

for in Christ Jesus have I begotten you through the Gospel.
In Galatians 4.19 we read “My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you” (Gal 4:19; ASV). The idea here is that Paul felt that he maintained with them the relationship of a father, and he had the deep and tender feelings of a parent for them. The believers in Corinth had received the new birth through Paul’s ministry “in Christ Jesus.” This expresses a spiritual relationship since all believers are “in Christ”—“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3; KJV). Christ is your treasure; and where your treasure is, there is your heart. Christ lives in the bosom of the Father; since your heart is in him, you also sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. Christ is the life of your souls; and as he is hidden in the bosom of the Father, so are you, who live through and in him. Notice that in the first part of this verse, Paul says “in Christ,” but here the name Jesus is added, which stresses Paul’s living union with the Savior in his ministry. The name “Jesus” means Savior: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21; KJV).

“Begotten you” means regeneration, being born again from above; becoming alive when you were dead in trespasses and sins; having the spirit of Christ formed in your soul; being a partaker of the divine nature, and a new creature; which the apostle ascribes to himself. Regeneration is not something that men can produce by their own free will and power, and another man or another minister cannot produce it either; but it a miracle and a mystery that comes to us through the sovereign will, grace, and mercy of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. The Father of Christ beget us according to his abundant mercy; and the Son quickens whom he will; and we are born again of water and of the Spirit; that's why the washing of regeneration, and renewing work are ascribed to Him: but the apostle speaks this of himself, only as the instrument or means, which God made use of in doing this work upon the hearts of his people. He preached Christ to them, that salvation was by Him, and he directed them to believe in Him—this was his part in bringing them to Christ, and Christ did the rest; the most important part.
 
16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

This is not a difficult verse, at all. The apostle wanted the believers at Corinth to feel about him like a child feels about its father. He wanted them to follow him like he followed Jesus. He had set an example for them to follow by his humble, dedicated lifestyle, and the pure preaching of the Gospel. “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample” (Phil. 3:17; KJV). I wish I could say that. I can’t, but Paul could. He says, “If you want to know how to do it, watch me.”

Every Gospel minister, whether pastor, evangelist, or missionary, should be an example of the grace of God to the people to whom he ministers. His life should be a living testimony, a living epistle read by men. He should never be part of anything that would have a negative impact upon the Gospel or upon the name of Jesus.. Paul was that kind of person and he could plead with the Corinthian believers, who were his children in the faith, to imitate him and follow in his footsteps, as he followed in the footsteps of Jesus. I like to repeat a saying you may have heard before, “You may be the only Bible some people will ever read.” It’s true, the opinion some people have of Christianity may be based entirely upon your life; because if you are known to be a Christian, someone is watching and listening to you. Do you feel the responsibility that you have to follow Christ? You should! “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children” (Eph 5.1; KJV). The believer is to be an imitator of God, especially in the matter of forgiveness. However, this applies to all aspects of the Christian walk. The Gentiles who formerly walked on a very low plane are now lifted to the high level of love. They are now called “dear children” or beloved children. The plane of love to which they are lifted is the love which Christ exhibited when He loved us enough to give Himself as an offering and a sacrifice for us.


17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus
For this cause, that is, in order to remind you of my doctrines and how I have lived among you, so you can be imitators of me. Since I am hindered from coming myself, I have sent a fellow-laborer as my messenger, and he is well acquainted with my views and feelings, therefore, he can do what I would do if I were present with you.

“Timotheus” is the Greek name for “Timothy” (See special article below—Timothy).  Here Paul shows the depth of his love and concern for the Corinthian believers. He not only writes to them, but he gives his best advice and counsel and promises to come to them; but in the mean while he sends Timothy to them, who is a frequent companion, and a dear friend, who has proven trustworthy and faithful. Timothy had already been sent to Corinth—“Now if Timothy come, see that he be with you without fear; for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do” (1 Cor 16:10; ASV)— but if he went by land, he would not arrive until after this letter, if it went across by sea.

 Timothy—A True Friend to Paul and Faithful Servant of Jesus Christ
TIM´OTHY. The disciple with this name was the son of a mixed marriage which, though condemned by stringent Jewish opinion, was not uncommon in the later periods of Jewish history. The father’s name is unknown; but he was a Greek, and his mother’s name was Eunice and her mother was Lois. Under their training his education was emphatically Jewish. It is uncertain whether Lystra or Derbe was the residence of this devout family. The arrival of Paul and Barnabas in Lycaonia, A.D. 44, lead to the introduction of the Gospel to Timothy and his mother, and they received it with “unfeigned faith”—“having been reminded of the unfeigned faith that is in thee; which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and, I am persuaded, in thee also” (2 Tim 1:5; ASV). Personal feeling led St. Paul to the conclusion that Timothy was specially equipped for the mission field—“Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:3; KJV). Timothy was one of Paul’s most constant companions. They and Silvanus, and probably Luke also, journeyed to Philippi, and there the young evangelist was conspicuous for his devotion and his zeal. When his name is mentioned next he is at Berea, and he remained there when Paul and Silas left for Athens, but he joined them there later—“Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith” (1 Thess 3:1, 2; KJV). From Athens he is sent back to Thessalonica, where it is said he had special gifts for comforting and teaching. From there he traveled to Corinth, but we have no record of the next five years of his life. When we next meet him, he is being sent in advance of Paul who was contemplating a long journey which was to include Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem, and Rome. He probably returned by the same route and met St. Paul according to a previous arrangement, and was with him when the Second Epistle was written to the church of Corinth. He returned to that city with the apostle, and joined him in messages of greeting to the disciples whom he had known personally at Corinth, and who had since found their way to Rome. He is one of the company of friends who went with St. Paul to Philippi. It doesn’t appear that he made the trip to Italy, but he apparently joined the apostle soon after his arrival at Rome, and was with him when the Epistles to the Philippians, to the Colossians, and to Philemon were written. All the indications of this period point to relentless missionary activity.

From the two Epistles addressed to Timothy we are able to put together a few notes concerning his later life. It follows from 1 Tim. 1:3 that he and his master, after the release of the latter from his imprisonment, A.D. 63, revisited Asia where they stopped over at Ephesus; from there the apostle continued his journey to Macedonia, while the disciple remained at Ephesus, half reluctantly, even weeping at the separation, 2 Tim. 1:4; there he was to curb, if possible, the outgrowth of heresy and decadence which had sprung up there. The position in which he found himself might have made him anxious. He had to preside over presbyters most of whom were older than him. Leaders of rival sects were active there, and the name of his beloved teacher was no longer honored as it had been. It is no wonder then that the apostle, knowing of these trials, would be full of anxiety and fear for his disciple’s commitment. In the Second Epistle to him, A.D. 67 or 68, this deep personal feeling is voiced more fully. The last recorded words of the apostle express the earnest hope, that he might see him once again, 2 Tim. 4:9, 21. We may hazard the guess that he reached him in time, and that the last hours of the teacher’s life were soothed by the presence of the disciple whom he loved so truly. Some writers have seen in Heb. 13:23 an indication that he even shared St. Paul’s imprisonment, and was released from it by the death of Nero. Beyond this all is dubious and uncertain. He continued, according to the old traditions, to act as bishop of Ephesus, and died a martyr’s death under Domitian or Nerva. A somewhat startling theory regarding the intervening period of his life has found acceptance by some. If he continued, according to established tradition, to be bishop of Ephesus, then he, and no other, must have been the “angel” of the church of Ephesus to whom the message of Rev. 2:1–7 was addressed.


who is my beloved son;
In his epistles to Timothy, he often calls him his son, his own son in the faith, his dearly beloved son; but we know the apostle was not present at his conversion, because he was a disciple of Christ before the apostle was acquainted with him—“And he came also to Derbe and to Lystra: and behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewess that believed; but his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1; ASV).

“My beloved son” is an expression that suggests abundant affection, that he was younger than Paul, that he was like a son to him, and he served him in the Gospel ministry—“But ye know the proof of him, that, as a child serveth a father, so he served with me in furtherance of the gospel” (Phil 2:22; ASV)—and since he was so familiar with him, and loved him so much, it is reasonable to think that he was well acquainted with the apostles doctrine and methods. 

And faithful in the Lord;
TIMOTHY could not have a better reference than this word of commendation from the illustrious apostle; what he is saying is essentially this: “Timothy is a true Christian and a faithful servant of Christ; and who is, therefore, worthy of your confidence.”

The phrase “in the Lord” is not the same as “in Christ.” In Christ points to our heavenly position—“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6; KJV)—while in the Lord denotes His authority over us, and is consequently connected with our circumstances, activities, and relationships on earth. In the first part of Ephesians we find the phrase “in Christ” where our heavenly position is dealt with. In the latter part, which deals with earthly matters, “in the Lord” is prominent: “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called… This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Eph 4:1, 17; KJV). Timothy was Paul’s beloved and faithful child in the Lord; he recognized the Lordship of Jesus and was fully committed to Him. He followed Jesus, not men, and Paul longed to see the believers in Corinth as dedicated to the Lordship of Jesus as Timothy was.

who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways;
It seems that the Corinthians had forgotten the ways in which Paul ministered among them. He had lived the life of a true minister because Jesus was not only Paul’s Savior—He was also Lord of His life, and the apostle had not displayed self conceit, pride, or worldly wisdom. On the contrary, he had never promoted himself as an outstanding person but rather as “the least of the apostles.” He had preached Jesus Christ—crucified, buried, risen, ascended, and coming again. Now he was sending Timothy to remind them of those things, and to point out how they were abusing the spirit in which Paul had taught them while he was with them. Timothy will revive their recollections of Paul's life, conduct and teachings, so that they can know how to better “follow” him.

We should note that they apparently had forgotten—through the length of time, and the ministry of the false teachers among them—some of the things Paul had taught them while he was there in the capacity of Minister to that church; particularly all those rules and orders he gave for the discipline and management of the affairs of churches: therefore Timothy is sent, not to teach them new ways; but only to remind them of what the apostle had formerly taught them.

which be in Christ;
The sum and substance of the doctrines he preached to them was simple enough; Christ, and him crucified. The ordinances he had presented to them were what he had received from Christ. All the rules and methods he gave to them for regulating their conduct, and managing their ecclesiastical affairs, were agreeable to the mind of Christ and had a tendency to advance His glory. He did not do anything or propose anything unless it was in sync with the will of the Savior.

If any man was ever entirely devoted to the service of Jesus Christ, it was the apostle Paul. How else could he have accomplished all he did?

as I teach everywhere, in every church.
This indicates that Paul was consistent in his preaching wherever he went—
• But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. (1 Cor 7:17; KJV). I do not lay on you a burden which others are not called to bear: this is the general rule which, by the authority of God, I impose on every Christian society.
• But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. (1 Cor 11:16; KJV). There were factions within the churches that liked to argue about every little thing, like they do today, but Paul was consistent with the rules and methods he gave to them for dealing with this type person.
• For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Cor 14:33; KJV). Confusion such as more than one speaking at a time is not of God. God demands peace and order “in all the churches of the saints.”

Paul was the same in every church where he appeared; He spoke of the same faith in every church; the Son of God, preached by him, was always the same; the rules prescribed by him, and orders he laid down, for the conduct of life, and government of churches, were exactly alike in all the churches.  He did not teach any doctrines at Corinth, or put into practice the observance of any rule, that was not taught and observed by all the other churches; his plan of doctrine and discipline was the same every place he went.


18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.

A child’s will must be broken, but not destroyed. Until a colt is broken, it is dangerous and useless; but once it learns to obey, it becomes gentle and useful. Pride is a terrible thing in the Christian life and in the church. The yeast of sin (leaven)—“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor 5:6-8; KJV)—had made the Corinthians “puffed up,” even to the point of saying, “Paul will not come to us! His bark is worse than his bite!” Just as a little leaven leavens the whole mass of dough, so will one sinner who is allowed to go on in impurity send a corrupting influence through the whole church.

This verse proves that it had been reported to him that they were angry because they believed he would not come to them for one reason or another, and it suggests that at that particular time he was sending Timothy because he dares not visit them himself.

19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will,
If it is the Lord’s will, Paul’s plans will take him to Corinth; he wanted to see them again and address the problems in the assembly there that he had been made aware of. (Servants of God who obey the Spirit will operate as the Lord leads and go where he directs.)
• After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. (Acts 16:7; KJV). God saw that that was not the proper time to preach the word at Bithynia; therefore he willed them to go immediately to Macedonia, the people there were ripe for the Gospel. The Spirit being none other than Jesus Christ.
• Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: (Acts 18:9; KJV). It is likely that Paul was at this time very discouraged by the violent opposition of the Jews, and his life was probably in danger; see Acts 18:10; and he might have been entertaining serious thoughts of ceasing to preach, or leaving Corinth. To prevent this, and comfort him, God was pleased to give him this vision.
• For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. (James 4:15; KJV). The proper way is to plan everything subject to the Lord's will.

It was under the authority of the Lord Jesus that the apostles ministered and directed their movements from one assembly to another. But subjection to the Lord in no way weakens the conduct of his servant.

and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
Paul had the Holy Spirit living within him, and if those who bragged that they could do so much, were all that they claimed to be, he would know it—not through what they said, but through the power present in their preaching and operating in their lives. He would know if they were building with gold, silver, and precious stones and producing fruit to the Glory of God, or if they were building only with wood, hay, and stubble. The true servant of God cannot be confused or confounded—“Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded” (1 Pe 2.6; KJV). Here is another reference to the chosen and valuable cornerstone, Jesus Christ and Paul applies it to the statement, “he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” The word confounded comes from the Septuagint translation of Isaiah 28:16 which is quoted by the New Testament writers. Paul, in Romans 9:33 and 10:11, seems to define quite well the meaning of being confounded, or being “put to shame”; it means to “fail to be saved.” Whatever the meaning in the Old Testament, the meaning of the quotation in the New Testament and here is, “the person who believes in Him will certainly not fail to be saved.”

Paul’s preaching did not come from human wisdom: “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing (persuadable) words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Co 2.4; KJV). Paul resolved not to speak with lofty oratory, like the Greeks, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. With a deep sense of his own insufficiency, Paul carried on a ministry characterized by modesty and humility. Paul was determined, as was John the Baptist that “he must increase, but I must decrease.” Instead, his ministry demonstrated the Spirit and power. Obviously, the power was not owing to any human facility, but instead to the power of divine wisdom. Paul’s mention of the Spirit here is significant. The Corinthians thought they knew much about the Holy Spirit, since they had experienced the gifts of the Spirit like no other church in apostolic times. But they still had a lot to learn, and Paul will have many things to say about this important subject.

If these powerful Corinthian preachers and dynamic leaders were all they claimed to be, Paul would have no trouble seeing it in the results they were producing; namely, was there life in their ministry, what power accompanied their words, and how effective their preaching was for the conversion of sinners, and the edifying of the church of God.


20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
This statement is clear and understandable: The energy of the Kingdom of God is not derived from some external source—it is not in the words of men; it comes from the heart, the inner man. The activities of the kingdom are produced by and through the Holy Spirit, and “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23; KJV). The fruits he named are not our fruits, but the fruits of the Spirit within us. If we display these fruits we show that we have the Spirit. There are four groups: (1) Love, the Christian grace which works out the whole law. (2) Joy and peace, which are the normal state of the Christian. (3) The graces which relate to others, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity (faith), meekness. (4) The last fruit pertains to oneself, temperance, or self-control. It implies not only abstinence from injurious drinks and drugs, but control of the temper, the tongue, the desires, the passion for money or power. Those who bear these fruits find no law interfering with them.

When someone possesses the Holy Spirit, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit will be visible in the life they live. The decisive evidences of a Spirit-controlled life is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”—“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17; KJV).
 But righteousness—Pardon of sin, and holiness of heart and life.
• And peace—in the soul, from a sense of God's mercy; regulating peace, ruling, and harmonizing the heart.
• And joy in the Holy Ghost—Solid spiritual happiness; a joy which springs from a clear sense of God's mercy; the love of God being shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. In a word, it is happiness brought into the soul by the Holy Spirit, and maintained there by the same influence. This is a genuine counterpart of heaven; righteousness without sin, PEACE without inward disturbance, JOY without any kind of mental agony or distressing fear.

When these things are present in a person’s life they are evidence of the Holy Spirit within. But what types of things are not the fruit of the Spirit and are evidence that the Holy Spirit is missing from a life. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is not conceit, pride, smugness, and self-praise. It is not difficult for one Christian to readily recognize another believer who is controlled and permeated by the Spirit; and by the same token, it is not difficult to detect a counterfeit profession.

Here Paul uses the Kingdom of God in a general way, meaning the realm of God’s rule.

Currently, the earth is in rebellion against God; but the sphere in which God rules is acknowledged by individual believers who have entered the Kingdom of God by way of the new birth—“ Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3.3, 5; KJV). These verses are from Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, and I think the reason he came to Jesus was to talk about the Kingdom of God. I see no other reason why our Lord would almost abruptly interrupt him and say to him, “The thing is, you can’t even see the kingdom of God unless you’ve been born again.” Now here is a man, a Pharisee, who is religious to his fingertips, and yet our Lord told him he couldn’t see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again. If this man came to talk about the kingdom and the establishing of it, which I think he did, then certainly this statement of our Lord diverted him. So now he drops the mask of the man of the Pharisees, but he is still a ruler of the Jews. Jesus had said he must be born again. The Greek word for “again” is anothen which means “from above.” This man Nicodemus couldn’t think of anything but a physical birth. He immediately dropped the condescending mask of the Pharisee and asked how this could be. Our Lord wasn’t speaking of a physical birth at all. He was speaking about a spiritual birth. But Nicodemus couldn’t understand about a spiritual birth. The reason was that he had no spiritual capacity to comprehend it. I believe that Nicodemus was saved sometime after this, because he changed; he defended Jesus before the Jewish council, and he helped Joseph of Arimathea take the Lord’s body off the Cross. These men are with Jesus today.

At the present time the kingdom of God “cometh not with observation”—“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation” (Luke 17:20; KJV). It does not come as a visible, earthly monarchy, like that of David. It is within you; a kingdom that has its throne in the heart, on which Christ, the King, sits. It has to be formed by yielding our hearts to Christ.
The kingdom of God cannot be seen now, like it will be when Jesus sits on the throne of David in Jerusalem—His King upon His holy hill of Zion: “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” (Psalms 2:6; KJV). Here the Gospel will be preached first; here the kingdom of Christ will be founded; and from here the doctrine of the Lord will go out into all the earth. When Jesus sits upon the throne in Zion, the kingdom of God on earth will be in glorious and universal manifestation—“And the seventh angel sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of out Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev 11:15; ASV).

At the present time, being in the Kingdom of God brings at the best criticism, and in the worst case, persecution, suffering, and even death; as we have seen in some Asian and Mid Eastern countries—“Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer” (2 Thess 1:5;KJV).  If you are suffering because you are a Christian who is living to serve Him, that is a true sign that you are a child of God. Individual believers who are faithful in bearing the Cross and suffering with Christ will share in the eternal reward for endurance and faithfulness—“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Tim 2.12; KJV): and “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Rev 3.21; KJV).

In the Gospel of Matthew we read concerning the “Kingdom of Heaven,” literally the heavens. The kingdom of heaven will be on the earth as it was promised to Abraham and Israel. There will be one thousand years of righteous government on earth, and the Church will rein with Christ during the Millennial earth.

The Millennium is promised primarily to Israel, and God will keep His promise. When Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to a Son, he also announced that he would sit on the throne of His father David in Jerusalem, and this will literally come to pass.

The model prayer given to the disciples in Matthew will no doubt be prayed again in the Kingdom Age here upon this earth. The disciples were taught to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,” and this will literally take place in the future. The Kingdom of God is within man, a spiritual kingdom; but the Kingdom of Heaven will be here on earth for one thousand years during the period of time known as the Millennium.

21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

What will ye?
Since the apostle had made up his mind to go to Corinth and to try to resolve the issues that were hurting that church, he asks them, “How do you want me to come to you,” or “How do you want me to act.” And then he gives the two options, which are the two clauses that follow. Actually, this was probably meant to serve as a warning for them to clean their own house before he gets there. They could do it by dissolving the factions, removing false teachers, and coming together around their common love for Christ.  Their attitude and action will determine how Paul will come to them. Will he need to come with a “rod” of correction, or can he come in love and in a spirit of meekness? It was up to them!

shall I come unto you with a rod,
The apostle could come to them either as a schoolmaster, which their false teachers were; or as a father with a rod of correction and punishment, assuming his paternal authority over them, putting on harsh looks, and treating them unkindly; or he could come as an apostle with the apostolic rod; which does not mean excommunication, which is something that involves a whole community, and is not the business of any single person; but with the power to inflict punishment on the bodies of offenders, by smiting them with diseases, and even with death itself; like the prophets of the Old Testament who had a power from God to inflict diseases and death upon offenders; and like the apostles of the New Testament, who had the same power, as it appears from the instances of Ananias, and Sapphira, and Elymas the sorcerer.

Here, the “rod” stands for reprimand or discipline. “In Love” conveys the thought of love between parent and child. Paul did not want to go to the Corinthians carrying a rod; he wanted them to repent and be obedient Christians so that he could go to them in  love: “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children” (1 Thess 2:7; KJV). It was up to them to decide how he would come to them, because this was the real question—not whether, or when, but HOW; with a rod or with love and meekness. The rod introduces the note of discipline which is Paul’s primary concern in the next section.

or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?
The word meekness does not signify mildness. It does not mean that Paul would come to them helpless, or as we would say, a weakling, a “jellyfish,” or “sissy.” The Lord Jesus is described as “meek,” but He could be severe and He could exercise power. God is love—but He is also a consuming fire. He is slow to anger—but He is furious in Judgment. He calls, He stretches out his hand; but when man refuses to regard the hand of the Lord or hear his call, then God declares, “I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh” (Prov 1:26; KJV).

What Paul is saying to the Corinthian believers is, “The decision is yours as to whether I come to you with a rod, to chasten you as a father would chasten his child, or come in love and meekness. If you will repent and become obedient to the Spirit, then I will come to you as I desire to come—in love, and meekness; but if you rebel and continue in disobedience, I have authority from God to bring a rod of punishing, even though I do not want to do so.

Someone has said that a good undershepherd feeds the sheep, leads the sheep—and shears the sheep. All three procedures are necessary if the flock is going to be healthy and profitable. They cannot be fed all the time without being led into green pastures, next to still waters; and if the sheep are only fed, there is no profit, because the shearing yields the wool that pays dividends.
• “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb 12:6; KJV). The chastening hand does not show the anger of God but his love. Every child is chastened and reproved for its good.
• “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb 12:11; KJV). It is never pleasant to endure the chastening, but afterwards it benefits the holier life it insures. When we are hurting or in distress we naturally cling closer to God.

 

Contact Tom with your questions and comments

 Five Websites by Tom Lowe

http://teachingsermonsfor pastorsandlaymen.yolasite.com (Sermons and devotions)

http://harmonyofthegospels.yolasite.com (The life of Christ in chronological order)

http://periodofthejudges.yolasite.com (A Bible Study on the Book of Judges)

http://paulsepistletotheromans.com (A Bible Study on the Book of Romans)

http://newtestamentepistles.com (A Bible Study on Titus, Jude, and 1st Corinthians)

Free Bible Studies and devotions—can be copied.

 

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