|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:7-13 We have no reason to be proud; all we have, or are, or do, that is good, is owing to the free and rich grace of God. A sinner snatched from destruction by sovereign grace alone, must be very absurd and inconsistent, if proud of the free gifts of God. St. Paul sets forth his own circumstances, ver. 9. Allusion is made to the cruel spectacles in the Roman games; where men were forced to cut one another to pieces, to divert the people; and where the victor did not escape with his life, though he should destroy his adversary, but was only kept for another combat, and must be killed at last. The thought that many eyes are upon believers, when struggling with difficulties or temptations, should encourage constancy and patience. We are weak, but ye are strong. All Christians are not alike exposed. Some suffer greater hardships than others. The apostle enters into particulars of their sufferings. And how glorious the charity and devotion that carried them through all these hardships! They suffered in their persons and characters as the worst and vilest of men; as the very dirt of the world, that was to be swept away: nay, as the offscouring of all things, the dross of all things. And every one who would be faithful in Christ Jesus, must be prepared for poverty and contempt. Whatever the disciples of Christ suffer from men, they must follow the example, and fulfil the will and precepts of their Lord. They must be content, with him and for him, to be despised and abused. It is much better to be rejected, despised, and ill used, as St. Paul was, than to have the good opinion and favour of the world. Though cast off by the world as vile, yet we may be precious to God, gathered up with his own hand, and placed upon his throne.
Verse 10. - We are fools for Christ's sake. The irony is softened by the intervening sentences, and as regards the apostles there is no irony. St. Paul was called "a seed pecker" (spermologos) by the Epicureans and Stoics at Athens, and Festus in full court called him "mad." Ye are wise in Christ. He could not say as before, "for Christ's sake;" for even though he is using the language of irony, "the pseudo wisdom of the Corinthians had other motives." We are weak. The consciousness of physical and personal weakness weighed heavily on the mind of St. Paul in moments of depression (2 Corinthians 10:10; 2 Corinthians 13:4). Ye are honourable, but we are despised; literally, ye are glorious, but we are dishonoured. The word "dishonoured" also means "disfranchised."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
We are fools for Christ's sake,.... They were so in the esteem of men, for their close attach merit to a crucified Christ; and for preaching the doctrine of salvation by him; and for enduring so much reproach, affliction, and persecution, for his sake and the Gospel's:
but ye are wise in Christ. This is ironically said; for his meaning is not that they were truly wise in Christ, in the knowledge and faith of him, in preaching his Gospel, or professing his name; but they were so in their own eyes, and made use of much worldly wisdom and carnal policy in their profession of religion. Their ministers took care to preach, and they to profess Christ, in such a manner as to retain the favour of the world, and to escape reproach and persecution.
We are weak; in your account; our bodily presence is weak, and speech contemptible; we are men of mean capacities and abilities; nor are we able to express ourselves in that strong and masculine way, with those masterly strokes of eloquence and oratory your ministers do; or we are pressed down with infirmities, and afflictions, and persecutions.
But ye are strong; your ministers are men of great parts, strong voice, masculine language, and powerful oratory; and you abound in outward prosperity, and are free from persecution for the cross of Christ.
Ye are honourable; high in the favour and esteem of men for your wisdom and learning, your riches and wealth, power and grandeur.
But we are despised; are in dishonour and disgrace, for the mean appearance we make, the Gospel we preach, and the cross we bear.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. Irony. How much your lot (supposing it real) is to be envied, and ours to be pitied.
fools—(1Co 1:21; 3:18; compare Ac 17:18; 26:24).
for Christ's sake … in Christ—Our connection with Christ only entails on us the lowest ignominy, "ON ACCOUNT OF," or, "FOR THE SAKE OF" Him, as "fools"; yours gives you full fellowship IN Him as "wise" (that is, supposing you really are all you seem, 1Co 3:18).
we … weak … ye … strong—(1Co 2:3; 2Co 13:9).
we … despised—(2Co 10:10) because of our "weakness," and our not using worldly philosophy and rhetoric, on account of which ye Corinthians and your teachers are (seemingly) so "honorable." Contrast with "despised" the "ye (Galatians) despised not my temptation … in my flesh" (Ga 4:14).
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