1 Corinthians 4:21
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?

New Living Translation
Which do you choose? Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit?

English Standard Version
What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

Berean Study Bible
Which do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and with a gentle spirit?

Berean Literal Bible
What do you desire? Should I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

New American Standard Bible
What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?

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

Holman Christian Standard Bible
What do you want? Should I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

International Standard Version
Which do you prefer? Should I come to you with a stick, or with love and a gentle spirit?

NET Bible
What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline or with love and a spirit of gentleness?

New Heart English Bible
What do you want? Should I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
How do you want it? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in affection and in a spirit of meekness?

GOD'S WORD® Translation
When I come to visit you, would you prefer that I punish you or show you love and a gentle spirit?

New American Standard 1977
What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness?

Jubilee Bible 2000
What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod or in charity and in the spirit of meekness?

King James 2000 Bible
What do you wish? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

American King James Version
What will you? shall I come to you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

American Standard Version
What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

Douay-Rheims Bible
What will you ? shall I come to you with a rod; or in charity, and in the spirit of meekness ?

Darby Bible Translation
What will ye? that I come to you with a rod; or in love, and [in] a spirit of meekness?

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

Webster's Bible Translation
What will ye? shall I come to you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

Weymouth New Testament
Which shall it be? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in a loving and tender spirit?

World English Bible
What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

Young's Literal Translation
what do ye wish? with a rod shall I come unto you, or in love, with a spirit also of meekness?
Study Bible
Paul's Warns his Children
20For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21Which do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and with a gentle spirit?
Cross References
1 Corinthians 4:18
Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you.

2 Corinthians 1:23
I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.

2 Corinthians 2:1
So I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you.

2 Corinthians 2:3
I wrote as I did so that on my arrival I would not be saddened by those who ought to make me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would share my joy.

2 Corinthians 10:1
Now by the mildness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you--I, Paul, who am humble when face to face with you, but bold when away.

2 Corinthians 10:2
I beg you that when I come, I may not need to be as bold as I expect toward those who presume that we live according to the flesh.

2 Corinthians 12:18
I urged Titus to visit you, and I sent our brother with him. Did Titus exploit you in any way? Did we not walk in the same spirit and follow in the same footsteps?

2 Corinthians 12:20
For I am afraid that when I come, I may not find you as I wish, and you may not find me as you wish. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, rage, rivalry, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder.

2 Corinthians 13:2
I already warned you the second time I was with you. So now in my absence, I warn those who sinned earlier and everyone else: If I return, I will not spare anyone,

2 Corinthians 13:10
This is why I write these things while absent, so that when I am present I will not need to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.
Treasury of Scripture

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

shall.

1 Corinthians 5:5 To deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, …

2 Corinthians 10:2,6,8 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with …

2 Corinthians 12:20,21 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, …

2 Corinthians 13:2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time…

2 Corinthians 3:10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, …

and.

2 Corinthians 10:1 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, …

1 Thessalonians 2:7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children:

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, …

(21) What will ye?--I give you a choice. I am coming to you as a father in any case. But shall I come as a father comes with a rod (Isaiah 11:4), and going to inflict punishment with it (such is the force of the Greek, "in a rod"); or as a father would come when no faults on the child's part need interfere with the perfect and unrestricted outflowing of his gentleness and love. The pathos of these last few words sufficiently indicate what the Apostle would himself prefer. The choice, however, rested with them. His love would be no love, if without any change on their part, it led him to show no displeasure where correction was for their sake absolutely needed. This is a great and striking example of St. Paul having the "mind of God." He treats the Corinthians as God ever treats His children.

This verse at once concludes this first part of the Epistle, in which the party-spirit and the evils resulting from it in Corinth are treated of, and naturally introduces the second topic to be discussed, viz., the case of incest which had occurred, it being one of the things which would compel the Apostle to visit Corinth, not "in love and in the spirit of meekness," but "with a rod."

Verse 21. - What will ye? "The whole thing lies with you" (Chrysostom). With a rod; literally, in a rod a not uncommon Greek phrase. The meaning of this expression is best seen from 2 Corinthians 10:2; 2 Corinthians 13:10. In love. He would come to them "in love" in any case; but if they now rejected his appeals the love would be compelled to manifest itself in sharpness and stern deeds. In the spirit of meekness. Meyer here gives to the word "spirit" the sense of "the Holy Spirit," as in John 15:26; 2 Corinthians 4:13; but the simpler sense of the term is almost certainly the true one.



What will ye?.... Or "how will ye, that I should come unto you?" as the Arabic and Ethiopic versions read it: since the apostle had determined upon his coming to them: and had made mention of it, he puts it to them, in what manner they themselves would choose he should come unto them;

shall I come unto you with a rod; either as a schoolmaster, as were their false teachers, with a "ferula"; or as a father with a rod of correction and chastisement, assuming his paternal authority, putting on severe looks, and using roughness; or rather as an apostle with the apostolical rod; by which is meant not excommunication, which is what belongs to a whole community, and not any single person; but a power of inflicting punishment on the bodies of delinquents, by smiting with diseases, and even with death itself; for as the prophets of the Old Testament had a power from God of inflicting diseases and death upon offenders; so had the apostles of the New, as appears from the instances of Ananias, and Sapphira, and Elymas the sorcerer:

or in love, and in the spirit of meekness? with the affection of a father, with a pleasant countenance, and a meek spirit; in opposition to that roughness and sharpness, he had an authority, as an apostle of Christ, to use in proper cases; and therefore as the latter would be most eligible by them, his suggestion is, that they would behave accordingly, that there might be no occasion to come to them in the former manner, which was not desirable by him, There seems to be an allusion to a practice among the Jews, in the punishing of a drunkard or gluttonous person; the rule for which was this (w),

"they first correct him "with words", or "with a rod", as it is written, Deuteronomy 21:18 and have chastened him; but if he adds and repeats (i.e. goes on in his sin), then they stone him.''

Or rather the allusion is to the judges in the sanhedrim, one of the instruments or ensigns of whose office was "a rod or staff" to smite with; it is said (x) of R. Hona, when he went to the sanhedrim, he used to say, bring me the instruments of the Tabernae (the place where the sanhedrim sat); what are they? "the staff" (in Cocceius's edition it is "the rods", and the sandals, the trumpets, and the thongs); the gloss is, "the thong" for scourging, "the staff" (or rods) for beating the rebellious until they return, the "trumpets" for excommunication, and the "sandals" for plucking off the shoe; things in which the judges of the court were concerned, and here the apostle proposes to come as judge; see 1 Corinthians 5:3.

(w) R. Elias in Adderet apud Trigland. de sect. Karaeor. c. 10. p. 161. (x) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 7. 2.21. with a rod, or in love—The Greek preposition is used in both clauses; must I come IN displeasure to exercise the rod, or IN love, and the Spirit of meekness (Isa 11:4; 2Co 13:3)? 4:14-21 In reproving for sin, we should distinguish between sinners and their sins. Reproofs that kindly and affectionately warn, are likely to reform. Though the apostle spoke with authority as a parent, he would rather beseech them in love. And as ministers are to set an example, others must follow them, as far as they follow Christ in faith and practice. Christians may mistake and differ in their views, but Christ and Christian truth are the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Whenever the gospel is effectual, it comes not in word only, but also in power, by the Holy Spirit, quickening dead sinners, delivering persons from the slavery of sin and Satan, renewing them both inwardly and outwardly, and comforting, strengthening, and establishing the saints, which cannot be done by the persuasive language of men, but by the power of God. And it is a happy temper, to have the spirit of love and meekness bear the rule, yet to maintain just authority.
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