I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children. For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. So I urge you to imitate me.1 Corinthians 4:14-16
Note Paul’s heart here. Paul is not tied up in a slanging match between the Corinthians. Some of them have clearly attacked his apostleship and his character. He doesn’t retaliate. In the list we looked at yesterday he focuses on the lowly state of the apostle / teacher / preacher / himself and tries to make them think about their own state. But he states I am not trying to shame you. I am warning you as my kids that your position before the Lord is a tenuous one. Inference: You are not in a good position if you think as you do. You can have 10,000 teach you [and you can pick and choose among them] but you have one spiritual father. Me, Paul. You should follow your father. Like father; like son. Be like me in spiritual things just as you would be like me physically.
The Latin Vulgate, Chrysostom, Beza and Stephanus all add: “as I am of Christ”. This seems to have crept in from 1 Cor 11:1. “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.”
It is not likely that Paul wrote this to the Corinthians given the manuscript evidence but it is to be assumed this is Paul’s position. He was keen that his spiritual children would follow him in following the doctrine of and teaching and example of Christ.
Paul could see their growing pride, haughtiness and vain opinion of themselves. He heard of the divisions and factionalism which was stirring among them. In so doing he was jealous for unity to be expressed in body of Christ. That which the Corinthians were engaged in was the opposite of what they ought to be.
Think about the comment “Imitate me” for a moment. Would you want someone to imitate you? Or would you want to spell out to them, imitate me in these areas but don’t imitate me in other ways? Many would see the addition of the 1 Cor 11:1 to be an attempt to balance the “all-encompassing-imitate me”. Paul could say <imitate me full stop>. Paul was so totally sold out to Christ. To what degree would you want people to imitate you? Would you want to attach provisos? Think about it!
Will the road you’re on get you to my place?God