The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.
I Corinthians 4:6-13 is proof that Christians ought to accept the idea of persecution. All believers should be willing to allow it in their life. Because Christians accept everything comes from, and He has promised persecution, they accept it. The proof are the ten words or phrases in this section.
#1 – Paul and Apollos were “sentenced to death” (vs. 9). They were condemned to die. This terminology comes from the Greek and Roman culture of the gladiator games where fighters were sent into the arena for a fight, and presumed to be overwhelmed by their opponent(s). Humble men are willing to accept martyrdom, if God allows.
#2 – Paul and Apollos were a “spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men” (vs. 9). Like the imagery of the gladiator sentenced to death, this refers to a winning general parading his prisoners of war before a crowd. These POW’s were spectacles to the world. Humble men are willing to be persecuted in front of others.
#3 – Paul and Apollos were “fools” (vs. 10). The Corinthians thought they were intellectually special; humility sees itself as ignorant and moronic (I Cor 3:18) without Him.
#4 – Paul and Apollos were “weak” (vs. 10). Back in I Corinthians 2:1-3, we saw the Corinthians revered their strength, but humility knows when it is weak, then he is strong.
#5 – Paul and Apollos were of “disrepute” (vs. 10). The Corinthians loved being honored and rewarded; they loved their accomplishments. A humble man is okay with dishonor – as long as the dishonor is not because of real sin.
#6 – Paul and Apollos were “reviled” (vs. 12). When the Corinthians were hurt, they fought back. A humble man takes his pains and prays for his enemies. He turns the other cheek (Matt 5:39); he prays for those who persecute him (Matt 5:44).
#7 – Paul and Apollos were “persecuted” (vs. 12). When persecution came, they prayed for endurance. Humble men endure; they don’t run away or shy from it.
#8 – Paul and Apollos were “slandered” (vs. 13). They took the abusive vocabulary meant to destroy them as a badge of faithfulness. They took it as a small victory of encouragement that told them they must have been doing something right.
#9 – Paul and Apollos were “scum of the world” (vs. 13). The word “scum” is a word that refers to that dirt or filth on the edges of a container (e.g., dishwasher grime). It was a word also used for the condemnation of a criminal of the lowest class to be sacrificed as offerings for the cleansing of a city as ransom.
#10 – Paul and Apollos were “refuse of all things” (vs. 13). Humble men are willing to be viewed as trash – or worth casting away from this world. Martyrdom is just that: it is the world’s way of throwing out their trash.
Humble men are willing to be persecuted. Next Wednesday, we will consider how humble men do not feel entitled. Persecution is a promise; it is not optional. Paul would write late in his life after a life time of experiencing persecution, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (II Tim 3:12). The “wonderful plan” is a promise of persecution; humble men accept that, like Paul and Apollos lived.