VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
1 CORINTHIANS 4
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Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
Stewards. See on Luke xvi. 1.
Judged. See on ch. ii. 14. Rev., in margin, examined.
Man's judgment (anqrwpinhv hmerav). Lit., man's day, in contrast with the day of the Lord (ver. 5).
Not to go beyond the things which are written (to mh uper a gegraptai). Lit. (that ye might learn) the not beyond what stands written. The article the introduces a proverbial expression. The impersonal it is written is commonly used of Old-Testament references.
Be puffed up (fusiousqe). Used only by Paul in Corinthians and Colossians. From fusa a pair of bellows.
Ye have reigned (ebasileusate). American Rev., better, ye have come to reign; attained to dominion, that kingship which will be bestowed on Christians only at Christ's coming.
Without us. Though it is through us that you are Christians at all.
Hath set forth (apedeixen). Only twice in Paul's writings; here, and 2 Thessalonians ii. 4. See on approved, Acts ii. 22. In classical Greek used of publishing a law; shewing forth, and therefore naming or creating a king or military leader; bringing forward testimony; displaying treasure, etc. So here, exhibiting.
Last (escatouv). As in Mark ix. 35, of relative rank and condition: as having in men's eyes the basest lot of all.
Appointed to death (epiqanatiouv). Rev., doomed. Only here in the New Testament. Probably an allusion to the practice of exposing condemned criminals in the amphitheatre to fight with beasts or with one another as gladiators. The gladiators, on entering the arena, saluted the presiding officer with the words Nos morituri salutamus, We who are to die greet you. Tertullian paraphrases this passage, God hath chosen us apostles last as beast-fighters. "The vast range of an amphitheatre under the open sky, well represents the magnificent vision of all created things, from men up to angels, gazing on the dreadful death-struggle; and then the contrast of the selfish Corinthians sitting by unconcerned and unmoved by the awful spectacle" (Stanley). For a similar image of spectators watching the contest in the arena, see Heb. xii. 1. Compare also 1 Corinthians xv. 32.
Spectacle (qeatron). Primarily, a theatre; then that which is exhibited. Compare the kindred verb qeatrizomenoi being made a gazing-stock, Heb. x. 33.
Unto the world (tw kosmw). The universe, a sense not usual with Paul; compare ch. viii. 4. The words to angels and to men define world; so that the rendering of the American Rev. is preferable, both to angels and men. Principal Edwards remarks: "This comprehensive use of the word kosmos is remarkable, because, on the one hand, it is an advance on the Old-Testament conception of two separate spheres of existence, heaven and earth, not comprehended under any wider designation; and, on the other, because it differs from the meaning attached to the word among the Greeks; inasmuch as the apostle uses it of the spiritual as well as the physical totality of existence." The spiritual oneness of the universe is a conception eminently characteristic of St. Paul; but it is foreshadowed by Plato. "Communion and friendship and orderliness and temperance and justice bind together heaven and earth and gods and men; and this universe is therefore called kosmos or order; not disorder or misrule" ("Gorgias," 508).
We bless (eulogoumen). See on blessed, John xii. 13.
We suffer (anecomeqa). Lit., we hold or bear up.
Intreat (parakaloumen). See on consolation, Luke vi. 24, and comfort, Acts ix. 31. The sense is, we strive to appease by entreaty.
Filth - offscouring (perikaqarmata - periyhma). The former word is from perikaqairw to cleanse all round. Hence that which is thrown off in cleansing; refuse. Kaqarma the refuse of a sacrifice. So Aeschylus. Electra says: "Should I, like one who has carried away refuse (kaqarmaq) from a purification, after tossing away the urn, go back again with unturned eyes?" ("Choephoroe," 90). In Prov. xxi. 18, Sept., it occurs in the sense of ransom. Some find an allusion here to an ancient Athenian custom of throwing certain worthless persons into the sea in case of plague or famine, saying Be our offscouring! These persons were called perikaqarmata offscourings, or periyhmata scrapings, in the belief that they would wipe away the nation's guilt. Ignatius says to the Ephesians, periyhma uJmwn I am your offscouring. The sense is twofold: I am as the meanest among you; and I devote my life for you. In the middle of the third century, periyhma sou had become a common expression of formal compliment: your humble servant. See Lightfoot, "Apostolic Fathers," on Ignatius to the Ephesians, 8. "Compare Lam. iii. 45, and Tobit v. 18. Periyhma that which is scraped or scoured off. Both words only here in the New Testament.
This tremendous piece of irony justifies the numerous allusions which have been made to Paul's vehemence and severity. Thus Dante, in his vision of the Earthly Paradise, pictures Paul:
"Two old men I beheld, unlike in habit, But like in gait, each dignified and grave.
One (Luke) showed himself as one of the disciples Of that supreme Hippocrates whom Nature Made for the animals she holds most dear, Contrary care the other (Paul) manifested, With sword so shining and so sharp, it caused Terror to me on this side of the river." "Purgatorio," xxix., 134-141.
"His words, indeed, seem to be those of a simple, and, as it were, an innocent and rustic man, who knows neither how to frame nor to avoid wiles; but whithersoever you look, there are thunderbolts" (Jerome). "Paul thunders, lightens, utters pure flames" (Erasmus). See a collection of quotations in Farrar's "Life and Work of St. Paul," i., 619. 86