1. Thus let man esteem us, as ministers of Christ, and dispensers of the mysteries of God.
2. Now here it is required among dispensers, that one be found faithful.
3. But to me it is of very little moment to be judged
by you, or by a human day: but neither do I judge myself.
4. For I am conscious of nothing to myself: but not in this am I justified: but he who judges me, is the Lord.
5. Therefore do not judge before the time, until the Lord come: who both will illuminate what is hidden in darkness, and manifest the counsels of hearts: and then shall be praise to everyone from God.
Chapter 4. In this chapter the Apostle severely censures the conceited and presumptuous teachers who had undertaken the instruction of the Christians of Corinth, and threatens them with the Divine displeasure.
1. Do not glory in men (3:21), but when you pay us honour, honour us only as the ministers of Christ, not for any eloquence or attainments of our own. Let man esteem us, is a Hebraism: Let everyone so esteem us. As ministers serving: and representing Christ : as dispensers, in the Greek stewards, of his mysteries, the doctrine of the Gospel, and the sacraments of the Church. The admonition is addressed to both sides. Prelates to remember that they are Christ’s servants; the faithful, not to glorify them for their personal merits, but not despise them, for the honour of him whose ministry they bear.
2. Now here. The Greek has, for the rest. The Syriac version reads as the Vulgate. What is required of a steward is not eloquent language, rhetoric, or philosophy; but fidelity. This is certainly his principal recommendation. How do your teachers stand this test? Are they faithful to the ministry they exercise?
3. It is of very little moment to be judged by you. For the Corinthians were always discussing their teachers, and comparing them. They ridiculed men who were good and holy, for their simplicity; but they thought a great deal of others, who were evil and full of faults, on account of their power of speaking. Saint Chrysostom. To me, your judgment is a matter I cannot seriously regard; compared with God’s, it is nothing, a very little thing. Or by a human day. A trial before an earthly tribunal, from the day fixed for the hearing.
Jer 17:6. The day of man I have not desired. I have had no solicitude about earthly judgment and human opinion. I do not even judge myself, for I am often ignorant from what end I act, with what motive, with what degree of knowledge. I am not indeed conscious of having neglected the ministry entrusted to me. I am conscious of nothing to myself; but it does not follow from this that I am free from fault in the sight of God. Who understands his faults? Ps 18:13. He finds error in his angels, Job 4:18. Of the greater part of our offences against God we are absolutely ignorant. St. Basil, in const, monach. 1. It is God who will judge me; and he knows not only what I do, but all my thoughts, intentions, objects, and motives, of which I am very imperfectly cognizant myself, and of which others know nothing.
5. Therefore do not judge before the time. Suspend your judgment upon your teachers, until you learn what the judj:3fment of God will be at the last day. Until the Lord comes. Wait for the arrival of Christ, the Judge of all. He will throw the full light of day upon all the actions of men, whether good or evil; and bring into that light not actions only, but the counsels of hearts, the will, latent in the heart, the design and intention with which all was done. Then shall it appear what degree of praise is really due to each of us, whose merits you so eagerly and busily compare. That praise will be real and true, as coming from him who searches the hearts of all men. That which comes from man is vain and worthless.