Tag Archives: I Corinthians

Unsettled on Account of Christ

“We are foolish on account of Christ, but you all are reasonable in Christ; we are weak but you all are strong; you are distinguished, but we are dishonored. Up until now, even the present hour, we are hungering, and are thirsting, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated and are unsettled and while, working, we labor with our own hands, when we are reviled we bless, when we are persecuted we endure, when we are slandered we exhort, we became as the refuse of the world, the scum of all, until now (even now).” I Corinthians 4:10-13

Unsettled – astateo – to be without permanent residence, be unsettled, be homeless… of Paul’s way of life (BDAG)

This has been an encouraging word to translate and read. Paul doesn’t say that he had no house to sleep in. Or that he was constantly moving from town to town, never staying more than a week. Rather, he stayed in Corinth for some time (a year or more), and Ephesus for 3 years. Some places he left quickly, but where he could he did stay. To say that he had no home might have been offensive to the people who gave him housing when he came to town. Rather, Paul is unsettled. He is nomadic, having no ‘home’ in the most significant sense of the word. Paul didn’t seek a hard life, he received it willingly as part of his ministry, “on account of Christ”.

We have a home of our own. But it is difficult to name where ‘home’ is. ‘Home’ has changed several times. And it will likely change again once we finish seminary. This hasn’t been horrible, just…tiresome. Its good to know we have company with Paul (and everyone else who is, or has been, in seminary, or done missionary work). We are very grateful that most of the other items on the list are not true of us. God is gentle to his more fragile servants. But it is good to be reminded that our God has been using people in this way for a long, long time.

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Fee on I Corinthians 13:12 – Our knowledge of Christ is partial but true

"a poor reflection as in a mirror"(648) This literally reads "we look through a looking-glass in enigma/έν αἰνιγματι". The setting or Corinth helps to sift out the particular nuance that seems to be intended. "Corinth was famous as the producer of some of the finest bronze mirrors in antiquity." Thus it is unlikely that "έν αἰνιγματι" is to be understood as a puzzle, or riddle, nor as a poor reflection as if the image of mirror produced was qualitatively deficient because of the mirror. Rather, the emphasis ought to be understood as emphasis falling on "the indirect nature of looking into a mirror as opposed to seeing someone face to face." This means that Paul is not degrading the craftsmanship of the Corinthians, nor is he suggesting that we have "a distorted image… in Christ through the Spirit". Rather the knowledge of Christ that we have is "indirect, not complete", and yet is not thereby any less accurate or true.


The Context and Genre of I Corinthians 13

A little bit of the work my group has been putting together. This section on the context of chapter 13 in the letter as a whole brings to light much of the value of this chapter.

Context of 12-14: Chapter 13 fits into the middle section of a three part argument, wherein Paul argues for the right use of tongues in public worship: for the edification of the body. The argument structure is an A-B-A pattern following the basic chapter divisions (571):
A – chapter 12
B – 12:31- chapter 13
A – chapter 14

This is important for understanding chapter 13 as a “theological interlude”(571). He does not step aside from his argument on gifts and their function in the body in order to warm the Corinthians’ hearts with some thoughts on ‘love’as if it were some notion or idea to which they ought to assent. Rather, love is to be the central motivation for using gifts and therefore determines how they are used as well. “Love … is not set forth in contrast to tongues” (572). Rather “[t]he reason for the gifts is the edification of the church, which is precisely what love aims at, but uninterpreted tongues does not” (572).

References from Fee’s NICNT commentary on I Corinthians