“…not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” (1 Corinthians 4:6).
Various speakers had been preaching and teaching within the Corinthian church. These preachers were real characters coming from different walks of life. What they taught was based on their experience of life and on the change that faith in Jesus Christ had brought about in them.
Apollos was a man of great oratory skill. For this reason many at Corinth admired him.
Paul was more scholarly in approach. He had been trained by a leading Jewish theologian at Jerusalem. He had been very enthusiastic about the Jewish law. He even had persecuted believers in Jesus. One day Jesus Christ met him.
The apostle Peter had been a fisherman in Galilee. He became a disciple of Jesus while He lived and taught on this earth. He had experienced Jesus’ apprehension. He had seen the resurrected Jesus and he had been with Him just before He had ascended into heaven.
Naturally people at Corinth would say: What this or the other man tells me, really speaks to me. Depending on their own background and mindset some would be more impressed by Apollos. Others would specially appreciate the well reasoned teaching of Paul. Several would particularly like the straightforward speech of St. Peter.
There is nothing wrong with Christian believers adhering to preachers through whose ministry they have received help. It is quite natural that individuals would be humanly attracted by one speaker more than by another.
Yet there is more to the Christian faith than that. Paul is trying to teach the Corinthian believers they should not take pride in following their favourite speakers. The main thing is that Christian believers follow Jesus Christ and believe in him.
The message of God is more important than the particular emphasis of one or another speaker. Paul says here, we should not go beyond that which is written. God is trying to speak to us in various ways and he wants us to grow in maturity. We are not to put our personal inclinations and favouritisms above God’s word.
In those days Christian maturity required believers to appreciate that Christ had called Jews as well as Gentiles. Some in the Corinthian church were comparatively rich, others were poor. Some were slaves, others were free.
Jesus saves people from various walks of life. As we realise this we become more aware of God’s love. God has appointed ministers from various backgrounds so that we should grow in understanding.
May be have a look at the goals that God pursues with believers: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a prefect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (Ephesians 4:13+14/KJV).
Christian maturity means that we should grow beyond our personal favouritisms. It leads us to set our eyes on Jesus and to worship Him.