Join me in to 1 Corinthians 4:14-21 …
I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
This section takes something of a tender tone. Which, to be honest, is a rather nice break considering what’s coming up in the next chapter. Now it’s pretty evident that Paul is big on Jesus, but this is an instance where Paul suggest that he is something of a father-figure even though Jesus said “Don’t do that!” in Matthew 23:9.
Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?
The commentators say that at this point, he’s talking about his detractors, the people who personally don’t like Paul. They’ve been arrogant and so far, a bunch of talk. Paul plans to deal with them in person. I think today, there is a remarkable preference for power, in so much as it grants the powerful person privilege over others; we’re not interested in power if it’s puts us in the weaker position of not having any at all. But we forget that the power of love is far much more powerful than the power of authority. If Paul were around today, we’d probably prefer that he shows up in love and gentle spirit as he corrects our theology explaining where we’ve gone wrong because like the Corinthian church, we’ve got our share of problems.
So far there’s been thirty-four mentions of Jesus’ name and Paul has dealt with the divisions in the church first. Now he’s ready to move onto the second problem the Corinthians have presented him with something sin-related.
One other thing – this is the last post where I continued to count the mentions of Lord, Jesus, Christ, or Son – it occurred to me to use BibleGateway – and the total mentions of Jesus sum up to 150, while Father and God get almost 100 mentions. The way that some people are thought to think about God as if the Father and Son were in a hierarchy, were it so, one would expect far more attention to be paid to the more important party – the Father. Few would go to the Prince for answers when the King has more authority. Yet Paul’s message flips the script and focuses more on the Son than the Father. If we are to truly imitate Paul, then we have to ask ourselves where our focus lies. Which name do we drop the most? Which name ought we to call upon even more?