1 Corinthians 4:18
Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.
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(18) Now some are puffed up.—Some of those in Corinth who were puffed up were in the habit of saying that the Apostle would not come and visit the Corinthian Church. The moment they heard the announcement that he was sending Timothy, they would naturally say, That is a proof of the truth of our assertion. He is afraid to come himself, so he sends Timothy in his stead. “But,” says St. Paul, “I will come to you shortly, God willing”—his intention was to remain at Ephesus until after Pentecost (see 1Corinthians 16:8)—“and then I shall take cognisance of spiritual power, and not of empty and boastful words; for that kingdom which Christ founded, and which we, his ambassadors, are establishing, does not consist in mere words, but in spiritual might.”

1 Corinthians 4:18-21. Now some are puffed up — Are grown insolent; as though I would not come — To censure them for their misconduct, and to reform abuses; fancying that, because I have sent Timothy, I am not coming myself, being afraid to appear in a place where I have so many opposers. The apostle saw, by a divine light, the thoughts which would arise in their hearts. But I will come to you shortly — So he purposed in spirit,

(Acts 19:21,) intending to take Macedonia in his way; if the Lord will — Who guides us in all our journeys, Acts 16:7-10; Galatians 2:2; and will know — Consider, examine, and find out; not the speech of them that are puffed up — Their specious profession of religion, and vain ostentation of knowledge and eloquence; but the power — How much of the power of God attends the ministrations of such of them as take upon them to teach, and how much true and vital godliness is found in their disciples. For the kingdom of God — Real, genuine religion, Romans 14:17; is not in word — Does not consist in empty professions, and vain boastings, nor in delivering elegant and eloquent discourses; but in power — Namely, the power of God, creating men anew, and governing their hearts and lives in the fear and love of God, and obedience to his holy will. What will ye — What, on the whole, do ye desire? Shall I come unto you with a rod — To chastise by the exercise of my apostolic power? Will you, by persisting in your dissensions and disorders, compel me to come in this spirit, and for this purpose? Or in love, and a spirit of meekness — Commending and comforting, instead of chastising? Will you amend your ways, and reform what is amiss, that I may be kind and gentle toward you? The apostle, in speaking of coming with a rod, alludes to the power which he and the other apostles possessed of punishing obstinate offenders by miracle. For that they had often such a miraculous power, extending even in some cases of aggravated offence to the inflicting of temporal death, appears from several other passages of Scripture; (see Acts 5:5, &c.; Acts 13:10; Acts 13:14; 1 Timothy 1:20;) and is referred to more than once or twice in these epistles to the Corinthians; (as 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 10:6; 2 Corinthians 10:8; 2 Corinthians 13:2-3; 2 Corinthians 13:10.) And here we see the wisdom of Providence in permitting such opposition to arise against St. Paul, particularly at Corinth; as it gave him an opportunity of making the strongest appeals to what they knew of his miraculous power; appeals which, had they not been indeed founded on the most certain and evident truth, must, instead of restoring him to their regards, (as we find in fact they did,) have been sufficient of themselves utterly to have ruined all his reputation and interest among the Corinthians, had it before been ever so great. 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.Now some are puffed up - They are puffed up with a vain confidence; they say that I would not dare to come; that I would be afraid to appear among them, to administer discipline, to rebuke them, or to supersede their authority. Probably he had been detained by the demand on his services in other places, and by various providential hinderances from going there, until they supposed that he stayed away from fear. And possibly he might apprehend that they would think he had sent Timothy because he was afraid to come himself. Their conduct was an instance of the haughtiness and arrogance which people will assume when they suppose they are in no danger of reproof or punishment. 18. some … as though I would not come—He guards against some misconstruing (as by the Spirit he foresees they will, when his letter shall have arrived) his sending Timothy, "as though" he "would not come" (or, "were not coming") himself. A puffed-up spirit was the besetting sin of the Corinthians (compare 1Co 1:11; 5:2). I hear that some of your teachers, and some of your members, are so conceited of themselves, that they would persuade you that I durst not see their faces, or come to discourse with them face to face, and therefore

would not come unto you. Now some are puffed up,.... Some with their gifts, learning, and eloquence, and with the high station they were in, in the church; believing they should continue therein undisturbed, thinking them selves safe and secure through the absence of the apostle, and which they flattered themselves would always be the case:

as though I would not come to you; and others that were for Apollos and Cephas against Paul, were puffed up against their fellow members on the same account; hoping they should never see him more, to put them in any other situation than what they were in, by demolishing their factions and parties; and others, as the incestuous person, and those that took encouragement to sin by his example, were also puffed up upon this score, and mourned not over, nor repented of their iniquities, but remained secure and hardened; believing the apostle would never more come among them, to call them to an account for their malpractices.

{11} Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.

(11) Last of all he descends also to apostolic threatenings, but yet chiding them as a father, lest by their disorder he was forced to come to punish some among them.

1 Corinthians 4:18. As though now I were not coming to you, some are puffed up. It is likely that these boasters, who belonged more probably to the Apollonians than to the Christ-party (1 Corinthians 4:19 f.), believed and affirmed that the apostle had not the courage to appear again in Corinth (2 Corinthians 10:1); and it is to prevent their being strengthened in their delusion by the mission of Timothy that Paul now adds these remarks, 1 Corinthians 4:18-20. Hence we are not to make the new section begin here (Tertullian and Theodoret referred ἐφυσ. τινες even to the incestuous person, 1 Corinthians 5:1, and Theophylact makes it include a reference to him); on the contrary, it breaks upon us suddenly, like a thunderstorm, in 1 Corinthians 5:1.

Upon δέ as the fourth word in a sentence, see Winer, p. 519 [E. T. 699].

ὡς, as, denotes: on the assumption that; see Matthiae, p. 1320. It introduces the ground of the ἐφυσιώθ. from the point of view of those that were puffed up. Comp Kühner, II. p. 374; Lobeck, a[723] Soph. Aj. 281.

ἐρχομ.] not for ἘΛΕΥΣΟΜΈΝΟΥ (Flatt), but indicative of the subsisting relation. “Paul is not coming” was their conception, and this made them bold and boastful; φιλαρχίας γὰρ τὸ ἔγκλημα τῇ ἐρημίᾳ τοῦ διδασκάλου εἰς ἀπόνοιαν κεχρῆσθαι, Chrysostom.

ΤΙΝΈς] as in 1 Corinthians 15:12.

[723] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.1 Corinthians 4:18-19. ὡς μὴ ἐρχομένου δὲ μου πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐφυσιώθησάν τινες: “Some however have been puffed up, under the idea that I am not coming to (visit) you”. The contrastive δὲ points to a group of inflated persons (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:6, 1 Corinthians 5:2, 1 Corinthians 8:2) hostile to Paul’s “ways”. The wish was father to the thought, which was suggested to “some” by the fact of Timothy’s coming. They bore themselves more insolently as not fearing correction;—or did they imagine that Paul is afraid of them! Amongst these, presumably, were mischievous teachers (1 Corinthians 3:11-17) who had swelled into importance in Paul’s absence, partisans who magnified others to his damage and talked as though the Church could now fairly dispense with him (1 Corinthians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 4:8; 1 Corinthians 4:15). On ὡς with ptp[775], see Bn[776] § 440 f., or Goodwin’s Syntax, or Grammar, ad rem; cf. note on ὡς μὴ λαβών, 1 Corinthians 4:7, also 2 Corinthians 5:20, 2 Peter 1:3 : “because (as they suppose) I am not coming”. The aor[777] ἐφυσιώθησαν points to the moment when they heard, to their relief, of Timothy’s coming. δὲ is postponed in the order of the sentence to avoid separating the closely linked opening words (Wr[778], pp. 698 f.)—“But (despite their presumption) I shall come speedily, if the Lord will”. They say, “He is not coming; he sends Tim. instead!” he replies, “Come I will, and that soon” (see 1 Corinthians 16:8, and note).—ἐὰν ὁ Κύριος θελήσῃ (see parls.), varied to ἐπιτρέψῃ in 1 Corinthians 16:7; the aor[779] sbj[780] refers the “willing” to the (indeterminate) time of the visit. “The Lord” is Christ; that θέλω and θέλημα (see note on 1 Corinthians 12:11) are elsewhere referred by P. to God (Mr[781]) is no sufficient reason for diverting ὁ Κύρ. from its distinctive sense (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:17 above, and note on 1 Corinthians 1:31). Christ determines the movements of His servants (1 Corinthians 4:1; cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:11, Acts 16:7; Acts 18:9, etc.).

[775] participle

[776] E. Burton’s Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in the N.T. (1894).

[777] aorist tense.

[778] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

[779] aorist tense.

[780] subjunctive mood.

[781] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

“And I shall know (take cognisance of) not the word of those that are puffed up (pf. pass[782] ptp[783], of settled state), but their power.” “γνώσομαι: verbum judiciale; paternam ostendit potestatem” (Bg[784]). High-flown pretensions P. ignores; he will test their “power,” and estimate each man (he is thinking mainly of the ἐποικοδομοῦντες of chap. 3) by what he can do, not say. The “power” in question is that belonging to “the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:24, 1 Corinthians 2:4).

[782] passive voice.

[783] participle

[784] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.18. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you] See note below, ch. 1 Corinthians 5:2. As the whole of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians shews (see for instance, ch. 1 Corinthians 10:2), there were those at Corinth who depreciated St Paul’s authority. Such persons persuaded themselves that they had so undermined his reputation that he would not dare to come again to Corinth, and they grew more self-asserting in consequence. But though St Paul submitted to contempt and insult from without, he demands the respect due to his office from those within. He bore the reproach of the infidel and scoffer: among his own people he acts upon the precept, ‘Let no man despise thee.’ Paley remarks on the undesigned coincidence between this passage and 2 Corinthians 1:15-17; 2 Corinthians 2:1. It appears that there had been some uncertainty about the Apostle’s visit. It was this which had led some of his opponents to assert that he would never shew his face at Corinth again.1 Corinthians 4:18. Ὡς, as though) Because I send Timothy, they think, that I will not come. This is the meaning of the particle δὲ, but.—ἐφυσιώθησάν τινες, some were puffed up) Paul wrote this under Divine illumination, laying bare and clearly showing their thoughts, which would rise in their minds at the very time, when they were reading these words. They were puffed up about various things; see next verse, and ch. 1 Corinthians 5:2. He says, I will restrain such persons, when I come. Perhaps also the apostle might have learned about this puffed up spirit of the Corinthians from the members of the house of Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:11). But the Corinthians seem to have been puffed up about the delay of the coming of Paul, not until after he had sent Timothy, his second self, with this very epistle. Then indeed these puffed up thoughts suddenly arose in their minds; Paul himself, then, will not come. A puffed up spirit was the frequent fault prevalent among the Corinthians.Verse 18. - Are puffed up; rather, were puffed up; at the time that they made these disparaging comparisons of me with others. As though I would not come to you; rather, as though I were not coming to you. St. Paul was on the eve of starting for Macedonia on his way to visit them (1 Corinthians 16:5), but, owing to the grievous state of the Church, he subsequently changed his purpose (2 Corinthians 1:15, 23). When he left them he had promised to return, "if God wilt" (Acts 18:21). His many enemies and critics were likely to say, "He is afraid to come himself, and so he sends Timothy." They flattered themselves that he was alarmed by their culture and intellectualism.
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