1 So, a person should look at us as servants of Christ and property managers entrusted with the secret truths of God. 2 Furthermore, one thing required of [good] property managers is that they prove dependable. 3 But it is a small matter for me to be judged by you or by any human court, for I do not [even] judge myself [to be wrong]. 4 For I am not aware of anything [wrong] against myself, but that does not make me right. But the One who judges me is the Lord. 5 So, do not judge anything until the appointed time, when the Lord returns [i.e., to do the judging]. He will both shed light on the hidden things done in the dark and make known the motives of people's hearts. Then each person [i.e., who deserves it] will receive praise from God.
6 Now I have applied these things, brothers, to myself and to Apollos as an illustration for your benefit, so that you might learn to "follow the written message." [Note: This is thought to have been a common way of referring, in that day, to the importance of adhering to Old Testament Scripture]. So, none of you should be more proud of one [leader] than of another. 7 For who makes you different [from each other]? [i.e., with some being viewed as superior and others inferior]. And what do you have that you did not receive [from God]? But if you received it [from Him], then why do you boast as though you did not [receive it as a gift]? 8 [Now] you already have all you want! You have already become wealthy! You have begun to rule as kings without our help! How I wish that you had [really] begun to rule as kings, so that we also could rule with you! 9 For I think that God has displayed us apostles last in line, as men doomed to die. [Note: The picture here is that of gladiators in the arena]. We are being stared at [i.e., as performers on a theater stage] for the whole world to see, both angels and people. 10 We are "fools" for Christ's sake, but you people [think you] are "wise" in [the fellowship of] Christ. We are weak, but you people [think you] are "strong." You are honored, but we are despised. 11 Even to this moment, we [apostles] are hungry and thirsty; we have inadequate clothing; we have been beaten; we do not have a permanent place to live; 12 we work hard with our hands. [Though] we are cursed, we [ask God's] blessing [on people]; [though] we are persecuted, we persevere; 13 [though] we are slandered, we reply kindly. We have become [like] the scum of the earth, the dregs of all society, to this day.
14 I am not writing this to shame you but to warn you, as my dearly loved children. 15 For although you have ten thousand guardians [Note: This word means someone who transported a child to his teacher] in [the fellowship of] Christ, you do not have many [spiritual] fathers. For I [spiritually] conceived you people through [preaching to you] the good news [about Christ]. [Note: Paul here refers to his work in establishing the church at Corinth]. 16 So, I urge you to imitate my lifestyle. 17 This is the reason that I am sending Timothy to you. He is my dearly loved and faithful [spiritual] son in [the service of] the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways [i.e., my teaching and conduct] which are in [the service of] Christ. I teach these things in every congregation wherever [I go]. 18 Now some of you have become arrogant, thinking that I would not [dare to] come to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wants me to. Then I will determine not [only] what these arrogant people are saying, but how much power they have. 20 For God's kingdom is not a matter of [impressive] words, but of [spiritual] power. 21 Which do you [really] want? Shall I come to you with a rod [of discipline], or lovingly, and with a spirit of gentleness?