1 Corinthians 4:10
We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
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(10) We are fools.—This verse is charged with irony. Our connection with Christ, as His Apostles and preachers, may make us fools; you are, on the contrary, “wise Christians; we are weak Christians, ye strong; ye are glorified, made leaders of factions and churches, we are despised.”

1 Corinthians 4:10-13. We are fools — In the account of the world, for Christ’s sake — Because we expose ourselves to so many dangers and sufferings for his cause: or because we preach the plain truths of the gospel, and affirm such high things of one who was crucified as a malefactor. But ye are wise in Christ — Though ye are Christians, ye think yourselves wise; and ye have found means to make the world think so too: or, you think you have found out a way at once of securing the blessings of the gospel, and escaping its inconveniences and persecutions. We are weak — In presence, in infirmities, and in sufferings: but ye are strong — Just in opposite circumstances. Ye are honourable — Adorned with extraordinary gifts, in which you are ready to glory, and some of you appear in circumstances of external distinction; but we are despised — Treated with contempt wherever we come. Or the apostle may be considered in this verse as repeating ironically the things which his enemies in Corinth said of him, and as attributing to them, in the same spirit of irony, the contrary qualities. Even unto this present hour — Not only at our first entrance upon our office, when all the world was set against Christianity, but still, though many thousands are converted; we both hunger and thirst, &c. — Are destitute of necessary food and apparel, and exposed to wants of all sorts. Who can imagine a more glorious triumph of the truth than that which is gained in these circumstances? When Paul, with an impediment in his speech, and a person rather contemptible than graceful, appeared in a mean, perhaps tattered dress, before persons of the highest distinction, and yet commanded such attention, and made such deep impressions upon them! Being reviled, we bless, suffer it, entreat — We do not return revilings, persecution, defamation; nothing but blessing, We are made as the filth of the world, and the off-scouring of all things — Such were those poor wretches among the heathen, who were taken from the dregs of the people to be offered as expiatory sacrifices to the infernal gods. They were loaded with curses, affronts, and injuries, all the way they went to the altars. And when the ashes of those unhappy men were thrown into the sea, those very names were given them in the ceremony.

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.We are fools - This is evidently ironical. "We are doubtless foolish people, but ye are wise in Christ. We, Paul, Apollos, and Barnabas, have no claims to the character of wise men - we are to be regarded as fools, unworthy of confidence, and unfit to instruct; but you are full of wisdom."

For Christ's sake - διὰ Χριστὸν dia Christon. On account of Christ; or in reference to his cause, or in regard to the doctrines of the Christian religion.

But ye are wise in Christ - The phrase "in Christ," does not differ in signification materially from the one above; "for Christ's sake." This is wholly ironical, and is exceedingly pungent. "You, Corinthians, boast of your wisdom and prudence. You are to be esteemed very wise. You are unwilling to submit to be esteemed fools. You are proud of your attainments. We, in the meantime, who are apostles, and who have founded your church, are to be regarded as fools, and as unworthy of public confidence and esteem." The whole design of this irony is to show the folly of their boasted wisdom. That they only should be wise and prudent, and the apostles fools, was in the highest degree absurd; and this absurdity the apostle puts in a strong light by his irony.

We are weak - We are timid and feeble, but you are daring, bold and fearless. This is irony. The very reverse was probably true. Paul was bold, daring, fearless in declaring the truth, whatever opposition it might encounter; and probably many of them were timid and time-serving, and endeavoring to avoid persecution, and to accommodate themselves to the prejudices and opinions of those who were wise in their own sight; the prejudices and opinions of the world.

Ye are honourable - Deserving of honor and obtaining it. Still ironical. You are to be esteemed as worthy of praise.

We are despised - ἄτιμοι atimoi. Not only actually contemned, but worthy to be so. This was irony also. And the design was to show them how foolish was their self-confidence and self-flattery, and their attempt to exalt themselves.

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).

We are accounted fools for Christ’s sake by the wise men of the world, and we are willing to be so accounted; but you think yourselves wise, and yet in Christ.

We are weak in the opinion of men, we suffer evil, and do not resist; but ye account yourselves, and are by the world accounted, strong: ye are accounted noble and honourable, but we are despised and contemptible.

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.

We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
1 Corinthians 4:10. What very different sort of people ye are from us!

μωροὶ διὰ Χ.] for, because we concern ourselves about nothing else save Christ the crucified, are bent on knowing Him only, and on having nothing to do with the world’s wisdom (comp 1 Corinthians 2:2), we are foolish, weak-minded men, for Christ’s sake. Comp 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:25.

φρόνιμοι ἐν Χ.] wise men are ye in your connection with Christ, sagacious, enlightened Christians! Observe, that Paul could not write again διὰ Χ.; the Christian pseudo-wisdom had other motives. The nature of the irony, “plena aculeis” (Calvin), with which he scourges the worldly state of things at Corinth, does not allow us to supply anything else here but ἐσμέν and ἐστέ.

ἀσθενεῖς] weak and powerless. For in trembling and humility they came forward, making little of human agency, trusting for all success to the simple word of Christ. Ye, on the contrary, are ἰσχυροί, men of power, able to take up an imposing attitude and to carry through great things. Comp 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 13:2 ff; 2 Corinthians 10:10. By an arbitrary limitation, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Grotius, and Estius refer ἀσθ. to their sufferings: “Quia multa mala patimur, nec resistimus quod est infirmitatis,” and ἰσχ.: “Mala, si qua occurrunt, facile repellitis,” Estius.

ἔνδοξοι] celebrated, highly honoured personages; ἄτιμοι: unhonoured, despised, Matthew 13:57; Hom. Il. i. 516; Plato, Legg. 6. p. 774 B, Euthyd. p. 281 C.

In the last clause the first person is the subject of the sarcastic antithesis, because Paul means now to speak at more length regarding the apostles.

1 Corinthians 4:10 represents the contrasted case of the App. and the Cor[726] Christians, as they appear in the estimate of the two parties. “We” are μωροί, ἀσθενεῖς, ἄτιμοι (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18-27, 1 Corinthians 3:18, and notes; with 1 Corinthians 2:3, for ἀσθ.); “you,” φρόνιμοι, ἰσχυροί, ἔνδοξοι—the last adj[727] in heightened contrast to ἄτιμοι; not merely honoured (ἔντιμοι, Php 2:29), but glorious—P. reflects on the relatively “splendid” (Luke 7:25) worldly condition of the Cor[728] as compared with his own. μωροὶ διὰ Χριστόν, “fools because of Christ” (cf. Matthew 5:11)—who makes us so, sends us with a “foolish” message (1 Corinthians 1:23). Distinguish διά (1 Corinthians 9:23, 2 Corinthians 4:11, etc.) from ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ, which means “on Christ’s behalf,” as representing Him (2 Corinthians 5:20, etc.). The Ap. does not call the Cor[729] σοφοί (see 1 Corinthians 3:18), but, with a fine discrimination, φρόνιμοι ἐν Χριστῷ (prudentes in Christo); he appeals to them as such in 1 Corinthians 10:15, 2 Corinthians 11:19—the epithet was one they affected; writing at Cor[730], he is perhaps thinking of them in Romans 11:25; Romans 12:16. The φρόνιμος is the man of sense—no fanatic, rushing to extremes and affronting the world needlessly: this Church is on dangerously good terms with the world (1 Corinthians 8:10, 1 Corinthians 10:14-33, cf. 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1); see Introd., pp. 731 f.; “Christum et prudentiam carnis miscere vellent” (Cv[731]). They deem themselves “strong” in contrast with the “feeble in faith” (Romans 14:1), with whom P. associates himself (1 Corinthians 9:22, etc.), able to “use the world” (1 Corinthians 7:31) and not hampered by weak-minded scruples (1 Corinthians 6:12, 1 Corinthians 10:23; 1 Corinthians 10:8; see note on 1 Corinthians 3:22). In the third clause P. reverses the order of prons. (you … we), returning to the description of his own mode of life. The ἀγενής (1 Corinthians 1:28) is without the birth qualifying for public respect, the ἄτιμος (see parls.) is one actually deprived of respect—in cl[732] Gr[733], disfranchised.

Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[727] adjective.

[728] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[729] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[730] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[731] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[732] classical.

[733] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

10. We are fools for Christ’s sake] Rather, on account of Christ, i.e. on account of His doctrine, which was looked upon as folly (ch. 1 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 2:14).

ye are wise in Christ] Prudent, Wiclif; prudentes, Vulgate. It is scarcely necessary to explain that this language is ironical. They were unquestionably ‘prudent’ in this, that they spared themselves the labours and anxieties in which St Paul was so ‘abundant’ (2 Corinthians 11:23).

1 Corinthians 4:10. Μωροὶ, fools) 1 Corinthians 1:21.—διὰ Χριστὸνἐν Χριστῳ, for Christ’s sake—in Christ) These words must be repeated in the two following clauses. Without any violation of the truth, different things may be predicated of one subject; or of different subjects, who are regarded as standing on the same footing; for example, of Paul and the Corinthians; according to the different point of view in which they are regarded, and which the words, for the sake of, and, in, here express; for the sake of is applied to slaves; in, to partners.—ἔνδοξοι) men in the highest estimation; but ἄτιμοι, applies to persons, who are deprived of even ordinary esteem.—ἡμεῖς δὲ, but we) Here the first person takes the second place, and so it goes on in the following verse.

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." 1 Corinthians 4:10For Christ's sake - in Christ (δια Χριστόν - ἐν Χριστῷ)

We apostles are fools in the world's eyes on account of (διὰ) Christ, because we know and preach nothing but Christ: You are wise in Christ, as Christians, making your Christianity a means to your worldly greatness - union with Christ the basis of worldly wisdom. "Wise men are ye in your connection with Christ! Sagacious, enlightened Christians!" (Meyer).

Honorable (ἔνδοξοι)

With a suggestion of display and splendor. Right honorable are ye!

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