Servants of Christ
1Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. 3But to me it is a very small thing that I should be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 4For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 5Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
6Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. 7For who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 8You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and I would indeed that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you. 9For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. 11To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; 12and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.
14I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me. 17For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. 18Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power. 20For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power. 21What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness?