1 Corinthians 4:3
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
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(3) But with me it is a very small thing . . .—As, however, the Corinthians had actually “judged” various of their teachers, the Apostle assures them that their judgment—or the judgment of the world generally—is to him “a very small matter”—nay, no earthly judgment is of any concern to him. He does not even judge himself as worthy and faithful because he is not conscious of any unfaithfulness; yet that is no justification to him—his only judge is the Lord.

Man’s judgment.—The literal translation is man’s day. Some have thought they saw in it a provincialism or a Hebraism. Probably, however, the explanation is that St. Paul lived with the idea of the day of the Lord as the judgment day so constantly before him, that he uses the words as synonymous. (Comp. also 1Corinthians 3:13, “the day shall declare it.”)

1 Corinthians


1 Corinthians 4:3 - 1 Corinthians 4:4

The Church at Corinth was honeycombed by the characteristic Greek vice of party spirit. The three great teachers, Paul, Peter, Apollos, were pitted against each other, and each was unduly exalted by those who swore by him, and unduly depreciated by the other two factions. But the men whose names were the war-cries of these sections were themselves knit in closest friendship, and felt themselves to be servants in common of one Master, and fellow-workers in one task.

So Paul, in the immediate context, associating Peter and Apollos with himself, bids the Corinthians think of ‘us’ as being servants of Christ, and not therefore responsible to men; and as stewards of the mysteries of God, that is, dispensers of truths long hidden but now revealed, and as therefore accountable for correct accounts and faithful dispensation only to the Lord of the household. Being responsible to Him, they heeded very little what others thought about them. Being responsible to Him, they could not accept vindication by their own consciences as being final. There was a judgment beyond these.

So here we have three tribunals-that of man’s estimates, that of our own consciences, that of Jesus Christ. An appeal lies from the first to the second, and from the second to the third. It is base to depend on men’s judgments; it is well to attend to the decisions of conscience, but it is not well to take it for granted that, if conscience approve, we are absolved. The court of final appeal is Jesus Christ, and what He thinks about each of us. So let us look briefly at these three tribunals.

I. First, the lowest-men’s judgment.

‘With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you,’ enlightened Christians that you are, or by the outside world. Now, Paul’s letters give ample evidence that he was keenly alive to the hostile and malevolent criticisms and slanders of his untiring opponents. Many a flash of sarcasm out of the cloud like a lightning bolt, many a burst of wounded affection like rain from summer skies, tell us this. But I need not quote these. Such a character as his could not but be quick to feel the surrounding atmosphere, whether it was of love or of suspicion. So, he had to harden himself against what naturally had a great effect upon him, the estimate which he felt that people round him were making of him. There was nothing brusque, rough, contemptuous in his brushing aside these popular judgments. He gave them all due weight, and yet he felt, ‘From all that this lowest tribunal may decide, there are two appeals, one to my own conscience, and one to my Master in heaven.’

Now, I suppose I need not say a word about the power which that terrible court which is always sitting, and which passes judgment upon every one of us, though we do not always hear the sentences read, has upon us all. There is a power which it is meant to have. It is not good for a man to stand constantly in the attitude of defying whatever anybody else chooses to say or to think about him. But the danger to which we are all exposed, far more than that other extreme, is of deferring too completely and slavishly to, and being far too subtly influenced in all that we do by, the thought of what A, B, or C, may have to say or to think about it. ‘The last infirmity of noble minds,’ says Milton about the love of fame. It is an infirmity to love it, and long for it, and live by it. It is a weakening of humanity, even where men are spurred to great efforts by the thought of the reverberation of these in the ear of the world, and of the honour and glory that may come therefrom.

But not only in these higher forms of seeking after reputation, but in lower forms, this trembling before, and seeking to conciliate, the tribunal of what we call ‘general opinion,’ which means the voices of the half-dozen people that are beside us and know about us, besets us all, and weakens us all in a thousand ways. How many men would lose all the motive that they have for living reputable lives, if nobody knew anything about it? How many of you, when you go to London, and are strangers, frequent places that you would not be seen in in Manchester? How many of us are hindered, in courses which we know that we ought to pursue, because we are afraid of this or that man or woman, and of what they may look or speak? There is a regard to man’s judgment, which is separated by the very thinnest partition from hypocrisy. There is a very shadowy distinction between the man who, consciously or unconsciously, does a thing with an eye to what people may say about it, and the man who pretends to be what he is not for the sake of the reputation that he may thereby win.

Now, the direct tendency of Christian faith and principle is to dwindle into wholesome insignificance the multitudinous voice of men’s judgments. For, if I understand at all what Christianity means, it means centrally and essentially this, that I am brought into loving personal relation with Jesus Christ, and draw from Him the power of my life, and from Him the law of my life, and from Him the stimulus of my life, and from Him the reward of my life. If there is a direct communication between me and Him, and if I am deriving from Him the life that He gives, which is ‘free from the law of sin and death,’ I shall have little need or desire to heed the judgment that men, who see only the surface, may pass upon me, and upon my doings, and I shall refer myself to Him instead of to them. Those who can go straight to Christ, whose lives are steeped in Him, who feel that they draw all from Him, and that their actions and character are moulded by His touch and His Spirit, are responsible to no other tribunal. And the less they think about what men have to say of them the stronger, the nobler, the more Christ-like they will be.

There is no need for any contempt or roughness to blend with such a putting aside of men’s judgments. The velvet glove may be worn upon the iron hand. All meekness and lowliness may go with this wholesome independence, and must go with it unless that independence is false and distorted. ‘With me it is a very small thing to be judged of you, or of man’s judgment,’ need not be said in such a tone as to mean ‘I do not care a rush what you think about me’; but it must be said in such a tone as to mean ‘I care supremely for one approbation, and if I have that I can bear anything besides.’

Let me appeal to you to cultivate more distinctly, as a plain Christian duty, this wholesome independence of men’s judgment. I suppose there never was a day when it was more needed that men should be themselves, seeing with their own eyes what God may reveal to them and they are capable of receiving, and walking with their own feet on the path that fits them, whatsoever other people may say about it. For the multiplication of daily literature, the way in which we are all living in glass houses nowadays-everybody knowing everything about everybody else, and delighting in the gossip which takes the place of literature in so many quarters-and the tendency of society to a more democratic form give the many-headed monster and its many tongues far more power than is wholesome, in the shaping of the lives and character and conduct of most men. The evil of democracy is that it levels down all to one plane, and that it tends to turn out millions of people, as like each other as if they had been made in a machine. And so we need, I believe, even more than our fathers did, to lay to heart this lesson, that the direct result of a deep and strong Christian faith is the production of intensely individual character. And if there are plenty of angles in it, perhaps so much the better. We are apt to be rounded by being rubbed against each other, like the stones on the beach, till there is not a sharp corner or a point that can prick anywhere. So society becomes utterly monotonous, and is insipid and profitless because of that. You Christian people, be yourselves, after your own pattern. And whilst you accept all help from surrounding suggestions and hints, make it ‘a very small thing that you be judged of men.’ And you, young men, in warehouses and shops, and you, students, and you, boys and girls, that are budding into life, never mind what other people say. ‘Let thine eyes look right onwards,’ and let all the clatter on either side of you go on as it will. The voices are very loud, but if we go up high enough on the hill-top, to the secret place of the Most High, we shall look down and see, but not hear, the bustle and the buzz; and in the great silence Christ will whisper to us, ‘Well done! good and faithful servant.’ That praise is worth getting, and one way to get it is to put aside the hindrance of anxious seeking to conciliate the good opinion of men.

II. Note the higher court of conscience.

Our Apostle is not to be taken here as contradicting what he says in other places. ‘I judge not mine own self,’-yet in one of these same letters to the Corinthians he says, ‘If we judged ourselves we should not be judged.’ So that he does not mean here that he is entirely without any estimate of his own character or actions. That he did in some sense judge himself is evident from the next clause, because he goes on to say, ‘I know nothing against myself.’ If he acquitted himself, he must previously have been judging himself. But his acquittal of himself is not to be understood as if it covered the whole ground of his life and character, but it is to be confined to the subject in hand-viz. his faithfulness as a steward of the mysteries of God. But though there is nothing in that region of his life which he can charge against himself as unfaithfulness, he goes on to say, ‘Yet am I not hereby justified?’

Our absolution by conscience is not infallible. I suppose that conscience is more reliable when it condemns than when it acquits. It is never safe for a man to neglect it when it says, ‘You are wrong!’ It is just as unsafe for a man to accept it, without further investigation, when it says, ‘You are right!’ For the only thing that is infallible about what we call conscience is its sentence, ‘It is right to do right.’ But when it proceeds to say ‘This, that, and the other thing is right; and therefore it is right for you to do it,’ there may be errors in the judgment, as everybody’s own experience tells them. The inward judge needs to be stimulated, to be enlightened, to be corrected often. I suppose that the growth of Christian character is very largely the discovery that things that we thought innocent are not, for us, so innocent as we thought them.

You only need to go back to history, or to go down into your own histories, to see how, as light has increased, dark corners have been revealed that were invisible in the less brilliant illumination. How long it has taken the Christian Church to find out what Christ’s Gospel teaches about slavery, about the relations of sex, about drunkenness, about war, about a hundred other things that you and I do not yet know, but which our successors will wonder that we failed to see! Inquisitor and martyr have equally said, ‘We are serving God.’ Surely, too, nothing is more clearly witnessed by individual experience, than that we may do a wrong thing, and think that it is right. ‘They that kill you will think that they do God service.’

So, Christian people, accept the inward monition when it is stern and prohibitive. Do not be too sure about it when it is placable and permissive. ‘Happy is he that condemneth not himself in the thing which he alloweth.’ There may be secret faults, lying all unseen beneath the undergrowth in the forest, which yet do prick and sting. The upper floors of the house where we receive company, and where we, the tenants, generally live, may be luxurious, and sweet, and clean. What about the cellars, where ugly things crawl and swarm, and breed, and sting?

Ah, dear brethren! when my conscience says to me, ‘You may do it,’ it is always well to go to Jesus Christ, and say to Him ‘May I?’ ‘Search me, O God, and . . . see if there be any wicked way in me,’ and show it to me, and help me to cast it out. ‘I know nothing against myself; yet am I not hereby justified.’

III. Lastly, note the supreme court of final appeal.

‘He that judgeth me is the Lord.’ Now it is obvious that ‘the Lord’ here is Christ, both because of the preceding context and because of the next verse, which speaks of His coming. And it is equally obvious, though it is often unnoticed, that the judgment of which the Apostle is here speaking is a present and preliminary judgment. ‘He that judgeth me’-not, ‘will judge,’ but now, at this very moment. That is to say, whilst people round us are passing their superficial estimates upon me, and whilst my conscience is excusing, or else accusing me-and in neither case with absolute infallibility-there is another judgment, running concurrently with them, and going on in silence. That calm eye is fixed upon me, and sifting me, and knowing me. That judgment is not fallible, because before Him ‘the hidden things’ that the darkness shelters, those creeping things in the cellars that I was speaking about, are all manifest; and to Him the ‘counsels of the heart,’ that is, the motives from which the actions flow, are all transparent and legible. So His judgment, the continual estimate of me which Jesus Christ, in His supreme knowledge of me, has, at every moment of my life-that is uttering the final word about me and my character.

His estimate will dwindle the sentences of the other two tribunals into nothingness. What matter what his fellow-servants say about the steward’s accounts, and distribution of provisions, and management of the household? He has to render his books, and to give account of his stewardship, only to his lord.

The governor of a Crown Colony may attach some importance to colonial opinion, but he reports home; and it is what the people in Downing Street will say that he thinks about. We have to report home; and it is the King whom we serve, to whom we have to give an account. The gladiator, down in the arena, did not much mind whether the thumbs of the populace were up or down, though the one was the signal for his life and the other for his death. He looked to the place where, between the purple curtains and the flashing axes of the lictors, the emperor sate. Our Emperor once was down on the sand Himself, and although we are ‘compassed about with a cloud of witnesses,’ we look to the Christ, the supreme Arbiter, and take acquittal or condemnation, life or death, from Him.

That judgment, persistent all through each of our lives, is preliminary to the future tribunal and sentence. The Apostle employs in this context two distinct words, both of which are translated in our version ‘judge.’ The one which is used in these three clauses, on which I have been commenting, means a preliminary examination, and the one which is used in the next verse means a final decisive trial and sentence. So, dear brethren, Christ is gathering materials for His final sentence; and you and I are writing the depositions which will be adduced in evidence. Oh! how little all that the world may have said about a man will matter then! Think of a man standing before that great white throne, and saying, ‘I held a very high place in the estimation of my neighbours. The newspapers and the reviews blew my trumpet assiduously. My name was carved upon the plinth of a marble statue, that my fellow-citizens set up in honour of my many virtues,’-and the name was illegible centuries before the statue was burned in the last fire!

Brother! seek for the praise from Him, which is praise indeed. If He says, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ it matters little what censures men may pass on us. If He says, ‘I never knew you,’ all their praises will not avail. ‘Wherefore we labour that, whether present or absent, we may be well-pleasing to Him.’

4:1-6 Apostles were no more than servants of Christ, but they were not to be undervalued. They had a great trust, and for that reason, had an honourable office. Paul had a just concern for his own reputation, but he knew that he who chiefly aimed to please men, would not prove himself a faithful servant of Christ. It is a comfort that men are not to be our final judges. And it is not judging well of ourselves, or justifying ourselves, that will prove us safe and happy. Our own judgment is not to be depended upon as to our faithfulness, any more than our own works for our justification. There is a day coming, that will bring men's secret sins into open day, and discover the secrets of their hearts. Then every slandered believer will be justified, and every faithful servant approved and rewarded. The word of God is the best rule by which to judge as to men. Pride commonly is at the bottom of quarrels. Self-conceit contributes to produce undue esteem of our teachers, as well as of ourselves. We shall not be puffed up for one against another, if we remember that all are instruments, employed by God, and endowed by him with various talents.But with me - In my estimate; in regard to myself. That is, I esteem it a matter of no concern. Since I am responsible as a steward to my master only, it is a matter of small concern what men think of me, provided I have his approbation. Paul was not insensible to the good opinion of people. He did not despise their favor or court limit contempt. But this was not the principal thing which he regarded; and we have here a noble elevation of purpose and of aim, which shows how direct was his design to serve and please the master who had appointed him to his office.

That I should be judged - The word rendered "judged" here properly denotes to examine the qualities of any person or thing; and sometimes, as here, to express the result of such examination or judgment. Here it means to "blame" or "condemn."

Of you - By you. Dear as you are to me as a church and a people, yet my main desire is not to secure your esteem, or to avoid your censure, but to please my master, and secure his approbation.

Or of man's judgment - Of any man's judgment. What he had just said, that he esteemed it to be a matter not worth regarding, whatever might be their opinion of him, might seem to look like arrogance, or appear as if he looked upon them with contempt. In order to avoid this construction of his language, he here says that it was not because he despised them, or regarded their opinion as of less value than that of others, but that he had the same feelings in regard to all people. Whatever might be their rank, character, talent, or learning, he regarded it as a matter of the least possible consequence what they thought of him. He was answerable not to them, but to his Master; and he could pursue an independent course whatever they might; think of his conduct. This is designed also evidently to reprove them for seeking so much the praise of each other. The Greek here is "of man's day," where "day" is used, as it often is in Hebrew, to denote the day of trial; the Day of Judgment; and then simply Judgment. Thus, the word יום yowm "day" is used in Job 24:1; Psalm 37:13; Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1; Malachi 4:1.

Yea, I judge not my own self - I do not attempt to pronounce a judgment on myself. I am conscious of imperfection, and of being biased by self-love in my own favor. I do not feel that my judgment of myself would be strictly impartial, and in all respects to be trusted. Favorable as may be my opinion, yet I am sensible that I may be biased. This is designed to soften what he had just said about their judging him, and to show further the little value which is to be put on the judgment which man may form "If I do not regard my own opinion of myself as of high value, I cannot be suspected of undervaluing you when I say that I do not much regard your opinion; and if I do not estimate highly my own opinion of myself, then it is not to be expected that I should set a high value on the opinions of others" - God only is the infallible judge; and as we and our fellow-men are liable to be biased in our opinions, from envy, ignorance, or self-love, we should regard the judgment of the world as of little value.

3. it is a very small thing—literally, "it amounts to a very small matter"; not that I despise your judgment, but as compared with God's, it almost comes to nothing.

judged … of man's judgment—literally, "man's day," contrasted with the day (1Co 3:13) of the Lord (1Co 4:5; 1Th 5:4). "The day of man" is here put before us as a person [Wahl]. All days previous to the day of the Lord are man's days. Emesti translates the thrice recurring Greek for "judged … judge … judgeth" (1Co 4:4), thus: To me for my part (though capable of being found faithful) it is a very small matter that I should be approved of by man's judgment; yea, I do not even assume the right of judgment and approving myself—but He that has the right, and is able to judge on my case (the Dijudicator), is the Lord.

Those who said, I am of Apollos, and I am of Cephas, did at least tacitly judge Paul, and prefer Apollos and Cephas before him; and it is probable, and will appear also from other parts of these Epistles, that they passed very indecent censures concerning Paul: he therefore tells them, that he valued very little what they or any other men said of him. In the Greek it is, of man’s day; but it is generally thought that our translators have given us the true sense, in translating it man’s judgment, day being put for judgment; as Jeremiah 17:16, where woeful day signifies woeful judgment.

So the day of the Lord in Scripture often signifieth the Lord’s judgment: the reason of that form of speech seems to be, because persons cited to a court of judgment use to be cited to appear on a certain day.

Yea, I judge not mine own self; yea, saith the apostle, I pronounce no sentence for myself, I leave myself to the judgment of God. I may be deceived in my judgment concerning myself, and therefore I will affirm nothing as to myself.

But with me it is a very small thing,.... It stood for little or nothing, was of no account with him, what judgment and censures were passed on him by men with regard to his faithfulness in the ministry not even by the Corinthians themselves:

that I should be judged of you; not that the apostle declined, or despised the judgment of a church of Christ, rightly disposed, and met together in the fear of God, to try prove, and judge of his ministry, and his fidelity in it; but he made no account of theirs, and slighted it as being under bad influence, the influence of the false teachers, who had insinuated many things among them to the prejudice of the apostle's character; wherefore he set it at nought and rejected it, and rightly refused to submit to it, and, indeed, to any mere human judgment:

or of man's judgment: it is in the Greek text, "or of man's day": in distinction from the day of the Lord, or the day of judgment; and because that men have their stated days for judgment, and because of the clearness of evidence, according to which judgment should proceed. This is not a Cilicism, as Jerom thought, but an Hebraism; so the Septuagint render , in Jeremiah 17:16 , "man's day"; and very frequently in the Talmud (r) is the distinction of , "the judgments of God" and , "the judgments of men"; the former the apostle was willing to be subject to, but not to the latter; he appealed from men to God; he cared not what any man thought or said, or judged of him; he not only was indifferent to the judgment of the Corinthians concerning him, whether they did or did not praise him, but of any other person; and so the Syriac version renders it, , "or of any man": he adds,

yea I judge not mine own self; for though as a spiritual man he judged all things, and so himself, his conduct, state, and condition; examined his own heart and ways, and was able to form a judgment of what he was and did; yet he chose not to stand and fall by his own judgment; and since he would not abide by his own judgment, who best knew himself, much less would he be subject to theirs, or any human judgment, who must be greater strangers to him; and this he said, not as conscious to himself of any unfaithfulness in his ministerial work.

(r) T. Bab Bava Koma, fol. 22. 2. 29. 1. 47. 2. 55. 2. 56. 1. 91. 1. 98. 1. & Bava Metzia, fol. 82. 2.

{3} But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, {4} or of man's {b} judgment: yea, {5} I judge not mine own self.

(3) In reprehending others, he sets himself for an example, and anticipates an objection. Using the gravity of an apostle, he shows that he does not care for the contrary judgments that those have of him, in that they esteemed him as a vile person, because he did not set forth himself as they did. And he brings good reasons why he was not moved with the judgments which they had of him.

(4) First, because that which men judge in these cases of their own brains is not to be considered any more than when the unlearned judge of wisdom.

(b) Literally, day, after the manner of Cilician speech.

(5) Secondly, he says, how can you judge how much or how little I am to be made responsible for, seeing that I myself who know myself better than you do, and who dare profess that I have walked in my calling with a good conscience, dare not yet nonetheless claim anything to myself. Nonetheless, I know that I am not blameless: much less therefore should I flatter myself as you do.

1 Corinthians 4:3. I, for my part, however, feel myself in no way made dependent on your judgment by this ζητεῖται κ.τ.λ[608]

εἰς ἐλάχιστόν ἐστιν] εἰς, in the sense of giving the result: it comes to something utterly insignificant, evinces itself as in the highest degree unimportant. Comp Pindar, Ol. i. 122: ἐς χάριν τέλλεται, Plato, Alc. I. p. 126 A; Buttmann, neutest. Gramm. p. 131 [E. T. 150].

ἵνα] does not stand for ὅταν (Pott), nor does it take the place of the construction with the infinitive (so most interpreters); but the conception of design, which is essential to ἵνα, is in the mind of the writer, and has given birth to the expression. The thought is: I have an exceedingly slight interest in the design of receiving your judgment.

ἀνακριθῶ] “fidelisne sim nec ne,” Bengel.

ἢ ὑπὸ ἀνθρ. ἡμ.] or by a human day at all. The day, i.e. the day of judgment, on which a human sentence is to go forth upon me, is personified. It forms a contrast with the ἡμέρα Κυρίου, which Paul proceeds hereafter, not indeed to name, but to describe, see 1 Corinthians 4:5.

ἀλλʼ οὐδέ] yea, not even, as in 1 Corinthians 3:2.

ἐμαυτόν] Billroth and Rückert think that the contrast between the persons properly demanded αὐτὸς ἐμαυτ. here, which, however, has been overlooked by Paul. But the active expression ἐμαυτὸν ἀνακρίνω is surely the complete contrast to the passive ὑφʼ ὑμ. ἀνακρ.; hence αὐτός might, indeed, have been added to strengthen the statement, but there was no necessity for its being so.

The ἀνακρίνειν in the whole verse is neither to be understood solely of unfavourable, nor solely of favourable judging, but of any sort of judgment regarding one’s worth in general. See 1 Corinthians 4:4-5.

[608] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

1 Corinthians 4:3. ἐμοὶ δὲ εἰς ἐλαχιστόν ἐστιν ἵνα κ.τ.λ.: “For myself however it amounts to a very small thing that by you I should be put to trial, or by a human day (of judgment).” Fidelity is required of stewards: yes, but (δέ) who is the judge of that fidelity? Not you Cor[638], nor even my own good conscience, but the Lord only (4: cf. Romans 14:4); P. corrects the false inference that might be drawn from 1 Corinthians 3:22. ἐμοὶ δὲ takes up the general truth just stated, to apply it as a matter between me and you. P. is being put on his trial at Cor[639]—his talents appraised, his motives scrutinised, his administration canvassed with unbecoming presumption. For εἰς in this somewhat rare, but not necessarily Hebraistic sense, cf. 1 Corinthians 6:16, Acts 19:27; see Wr[640], p. 229. ἵναἀνακριθῶ (construction more unclassical than in 1) equals τὸ ἀνακριθῆναι—unless the clause should be rendered, “that I should have myself tried by you,”—as though P. might have challenged the judgment of the Cor[641] (see 1 Corinthians 9:2, 2 Corinthians 3:1; 2 Corinthians 12:11) but dismissed the thought. Ἀνακρίνω (see note, 1 Corinthians 2:15) speaks not of the final judgment (κρίνω, 5, 1 Corinthians 5:12, etc.), but of an examination, investigation preliminary to it. The “human (ἀνθρωπίνης, cf. 1 Corinthians 2:13) day,” of which P. thinks lightly, is man’s judgment—that of any man, or all men together; he reserves his case for “the day (of the Lord”: see 1 Corinthians 1:8).—ἀλλʼ οὐδὲ ἐμαυτὸν ἀνακρίνω: “nay, I do not even try myself!” The ἀλλʼ οὐδέ (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:3) brings forward another suggestion, contrary to that just rejected (ἵνα ὑφʼ ὑμῶν ἀνακρ.), to be rejected in its turn. In another sense P. enjoins self-judgment, in 1 Corinthians 11:28-32; and in 1 Corinthians 2:16 he credited the “spiritual man” with power “to try all things”. Ὁ ἑαυτὸν ἀνακρίνων, the self-trier, is one who knows no higher or surer tribunal than his own conscience; Christ’s Ap. stands in a very diff[642] position from this. This transition from Cor[643] judgment to self-judgment shows that no formal trial was in question, such as Weizsäcker supposes had been mooted at Cor[644]; arraigned before the bar of public opinion, P. wishes to say that he rates its estimate εἰς ἐλαχιστὸν in comparison with that of his heavenly Master.

[638] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[639] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

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

[641] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[642] difference, different, differently.

[643] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[644] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

3. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment] Faithfulness is no doubt more urgently required in the discharge of this duty than of any other. But it is not man’s province to make the inquiry, but God’s. The word translated judged is the same which is used in ch. 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, and should be translated ‘tried,’ ‘examined.’ As the Apostle ‘could not speak unto the Corinthians as spiritual’ (ch. 1 Corinthians 3:1), for they were ‘men’ and ‘walked as men’ (1 Corinthians 3:3-4), so he altogether refuses to admit their right, or that of any other purely human tribunal, to institute an inquiry into his motives. The word translated judgment is ‘day’ in the original As instances of the use of the word day as in some sense equivalent to judgment, we may adduce the Latin diem dicere, to appoint the day of trial, and our word daysman, i.e. arbitrator, as in Job 9:33. So Chaucer, Chanonnes Yemannes Tale, lines 15, 16:

“Lene me a mark, quod he, but dayes thre

And at my day I will it quyte the.”

And the Dutch dagh vaerden to fix a day, daghen to cite, as in a legal process.

1 Corinthians 4:3. Ἐμοὶ) to me, for my part.—δὲ) but, although I be capable of being found faithful.—εἰς, unto) a particle of mitigation. I do not despise your judgment in itself; but when I think of the judgment of God, then yours comes almost to nothing.—ἐλάχιστον, a very little thing) The judgment of God alone should be held of great account.—ὑφʼ ὑμῶν, by you) privately. An antithesis to by human or man’s day of judgment, publicly. [He limits what had been said at 1 Corinthians 3:21, “All things are yours.”—V. g.]—ἀνακριθῶ, I should be judged) whether I am faithful, or not. The Corinthians certainly appeared not to be contented with faithfulness alone, but the apostle cuts the matter short [agit ἀποτόμως].—ἀνθρωπίνης, human) This word has the effect of diminishing. [All days previous to the day of the Lord are man’s days.—V. g.].—ἡμέρας, day) So he calls it as an antithesis to the day of the Lord: ἡμέρα, the day appointed for the trial. It is here the abstract for the concrete; compare, by you: it is likewise a hypothetical phrase; for none of the believers was likely to appoint a day for the trial of the apostle.—ἀνακρίνω, I decide in judgment on) for we ought not to decide in our own case, but to form a judgment of it. ἀνακρίσις, is the decision in judgment [dijudicatio] upon [of] one, in respect of others;—κρίσις, simple judgment. Here we have set forth the happy forgetfulness of all that is good in one’s self. So the decision in judgment of the Corinthians respecting Paul is forcibly refuted.

Verse 3. - But. The Corinthians might have expected that the conclusion of St. Paul's remarks would be a recognition of their right to sit in judgment on his faithfulness; but it is, on the contrary, an expression of his complete indifference to their shallow and unfair estimate, and an appeal to the approval of his own conscience and to the judgment of the Lord. It is a very small thing; literally, it is for the least. That I should be judged of you; rather, that I should be examined by you (anakritho). Technically the word anakrisis means "an examination preliminary to trial." Or of man's judgment; literally, of man's day. The brief day of human life is bounded by too narrow an horizon for accurate judgments. Many of the greatest and best men have felt, like Lord Bacon, that they must leave to other generations the right estimate of their characters, views, and actions. St. Jerome reckons the expression "day" for "judgment" among the "Cilicisms" of St. Paul (Jeremiah, 'Ad Algas.,' 10), i.e. the expressions due to his early training in Cilicia. More probably (as Grotius thinks) there is a reference to the "day" fixed for earthly trials (diem dicere, equivalent to "to impeach"), and to the phrase "the day of judgment" - "the woeful day" of Jeremiah 17:16. The word "day" in all languages and idioms signifies "judgment" (Hammond). From dies, a day, comes the phrase "a diet." A "daysman" means an arbitrator. Yea, I judge not mine own self. Here, as in the previous clause and in 1 Corinthians 6:4, the verb is not krino, I judge, but anakrino, I examine. Thus the verse discourages all morbid self introspection. It also shows that St. Paul is not arrogantly proclaiming himself superior to the opinion of the Corinthians, but is pointing out the necessary inadequacy of all human judgments. The heart is too liable to self deceit (Jeremiah 17:9, 10) to enable it to pronounce a judgment with unerring accuracy. Hence neither a man's contemporaries nor the man himself can form any final estimate of him or of his fitting position, because their knowledge is too imperfect. History often reverses the decision of contemporaries. 1 Corinthians 4:3A very small thing (εἰς ἐλάχιστον)

Lit., unto a very small thing: it amounts to very little.


See on 1 Corinthians 2:14. Rev., in margin, examined.

Man's judgment (ἀνθρωπίνης ἡμέρας)

Lit., man's day, in contrast with the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:5).

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