Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 4:15-16
“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus, I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore, I urge you, imitate me.” – 1 Corinthians 4:15-16
According to statista.com, for the years 2017 – 2018 (current numbers I found more difficult to 1 Corinthians 4:15-16 track down), the religious book sales revenue in the United States alone was almost $600,000,000! According to the Nielsen BookScan statistics, the approximate average of Christian book unit sales is about 60 million books sold each year in the U.S. Since 2017-2018 Christian brick-and-mortar stores have been slowly becoming less prominent. Independent Christian publishing is on the rise. E-books, on-line sales, Kindle, etc., are all continuing to show steady numbers in volume and dollars. I would guess that ‘most’ of you reading this article would recognize the name(s) of 90% of the (quote-un-quote) Top 30 Christian non-fiction writers!
Evidently, the church of predominately Gentile believers in the city of Corinth in the mid-50’s A.D. had a similar phenomenon: they had plenty of people attempting to ‘instruct’ others concerning Christ, but no one had so much care for them as the Apostle Paul – who taught them and had instructed them in the truth of the gospel; in other words, the ‘good news’ of the efficiency of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the means of salvation, by God’s grace, and through ‘believing’ through ‘faith’ that this message was True. Paul was the ‘apostle sent to the Gentiles’. He recounted this unique calling from the Ascending Lord in Acts 22:21 where Paul reminds his listeners that Jesus said to him: “Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.” It was through Paul that the believers in Corinth would be taught the whole truth and nothing but the truth of this glorious ‘good news’.
Though the city of Corinth might have had ten thousand other instructors in Christ, it was Paul who was the greatest caretaker and father to them. The term ‘instructors’ in VS 15 is a Greek word that only occurs twice in the New Testament but has many variations due to the ‘root word’. The first definition is that of a ‘teacher or instructor’ similar to a teacher in High School or College that brings instructions and corrections to its class members. This is NOT the word Paul uses here. THIS word in VS 15 is speaking about ‘a guide, a leader, or a guardian’. Elsewhere for example it is translated as ‘tutor’ in Galatians 3:24, 25. “Therefore the law was our ‘tutor’ (our guide, our leader, our guardian) to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a ‘tutor’”. The law, the Mosaic law of Judaism is no longer our ‘tutor and guide and guardian and leader’ once we have come to ‘faith’ in Christ, being justified by faith alone!
Read how personal Paul’s words are to the Corinthian believers. “For in Christ “I” have begotten you through the gospel.” It was Jesus who ultimately sent Paul to these Corinthians. Paul was not just ‘like’ a father to them, but it was through Paul’s message that these Corinthians came to ‘believing faith in Jesus Christ’! No one had a greater investment in their lives literally more than Paul. Please listen closely: It was NOT just Paul’s message through words that made this so. It was Paul’s life as an example in every way! This is why Paul could say without boasting nor without any arrogance “Therefore I urge you, imitate me” (VS 16). This is why Paul could write under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit here and in I Timothy 1:16 “However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that IN ME FIRST Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a PATTERN to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (emphasis mine).
There are 10,000 other ‘instructors’ of Christ out there in the world of Christendom that evidently Christians turn to for guidance to some degree at least. Six million dollars’ worth of guidance a year. Yet what an amazing privilege we have as true believers to have the very Word of God recorded for us from the one who was first sent to the Gentile world with His glorious gospel message. I for one, am 100% confident that if you read and study Paul’s writings first and foremost, the Lord Himself by His Written Word will encourage you to the depths of practical living that no other person can do. Please do not take lightly Paul’s word written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit when he writes: “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.”
Jaca Kier, Board Member, True Devotion Ministries, Inc.