Today’s bible study is 1 Corinthians 4:5: Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
While this verse if familiar to many of us and actually seems quite easy to understand, there are many questions we might ask: If we are to judge nothing before the appointed time, when is that time to be? When will the Lord come to bring a light into the darkness and expose the motives of our hearts? Are there motives within our hearts that we do not want the Lord to see of know of? And, finally, when will each of us receive praise from God? What must we do to be worthy of that praise?
To understand these questions a bit better, we need to understand that the fourth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the people of Corinth was addressing the ministry of the apostles. The chapter break is not the beginning of a new topic, as Paul continues to speak about the divisions within the Corinthian church and sums up and concludes his understanding of apostolic Christian ministry. The Corinthians had exalted ministers who impressed them with wisdom. Paul himself did not measure up well by those standards.
In the fifth verse, Paul tells us not to pronounce judgment before the time. This is not a general statement about having a judgmental attitude, but a particular statement about evaluating Christian ministers: only the eschaton will reveal who has been a good minister and who has not. Paul calls on the people of Corinth (and us as well) to judge, to critically discern and make a decision, and he himself is judging the Corinthians in this sense throughout the first four chapters.
Are we worthy ministers? Will we be judged by our own personal ministries? Perhaps, as with the people of Corinth, we will. And when that time does come, may our hearts be pure of motive so that we will receive the blessings of God.
References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.
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