Search the Bible
* powered by Bible Study Tools

1 Corinthians 4:9

    1 Corinthians 4:9 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    For I think that God has set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    For, I think, God hath set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, both to angels and men.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    For it seems to me that God has put us the Apostles last of all, as men whose fate is death: for we are put on view to the world, and to angels, and to men.

    Webster's Revision

    For, I think, God hath set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, both to angels and men.

    World English Bible

    For, I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last of all, like men sentenced to death. For we are made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and men.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    For, I think, God hath set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

    Clarke's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:9

    God hath set forth us the apostles last - This whole passage is well explained by Dr. Whitby. "Here the apostle seems to allude to the Roman spectacles, της των θηριομαχων, και μονομαχιας ανδροφονου, that of the Bestiarii and the gladiators, where in the morning men were brought upon the theatres to fight with wild beasts, and to them was allowed armor to defend themselves and smite the beasts that assailed them; but in the meridian or noon-day spectacles the gladiators were brought forth naked, and without any thing to defend themselves from the sword of the assailant; and he that then escaped was only kept for slaughter to another day, so that these men might well be called επιθανατιοι, men appointed for death; and this being the last appearance on the theater for that day, they are said here to be set forth εσχατοι, the last." Of these two spectacles Seneca speaks thus, Epist. vii.: "In the morning men are exposed to lions and bears; at mid-day to their spectators; those that kill are exposed to one another; the victor is detained for another slaughter; the conclusion of the fight is death. The former fighting compared to this was mercy; now it is mere butchery: they have nothing to cover them; their whole body is exposed to every blow, and every stroke produces a wound," etc.

    We are made a spectacle - Ὁτι θεατρον εγενηθημεν, We are exhibited on the theater to the world; we are lawful booty to all mankind, and particularly to the men of the world, who have their portion in this life. Angels are astonished at our treatment, and so are the more considerate part of men. Who at that time would have coveted the apostolate?

    Barnes' Notes on 1 Corinthians 4:9

    For I think - It seems to me. Grotius thinks that this is to be taken ironically, as if he had said, "It seems then that God has designed that we, the apostles, should be subject to contempt and suffering; and be made poor and persecuted, while you are admitted to high honors and privileges." But probably this is to be taken as a serious declaration of Paul, designed to show their actual condition and trials, while others were permitted to live in enjoyment. Whatever might be their condition, Paul says that the condition of himself and his fellow-laborers was one of much contempt and suffering; and the inference seems to be, that they ought to doubt whether they were in a right state, or had any occasion for their self-congratulation, since they so little resembled those whom God had set forth.

    Hath set forth - Has "showed" us; or placed us in public view.

    The apostles last - Margin, or, "the last apostles" τοὺς ἀποστόλους ἐσχάτους tous apostolous eschatous. Grotius supposes that this means in the lowest condition; the humblest state; a condition like that of beasts. So Tertullian renders it. And this interpretation is the correct one if the passage be ironical. But Paul may mean to refer to the custom of bringing forth those in the amphitheater at the conclusion of the spectacles who were to fight with other men, and who had no chance of escape. These inhuman games abounded everywhere; and an allusion to them would be well understood, and is indeed often made by Paul; compare 1 Corinthians 9:26; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7; see Seneca Epis. chapter 7. This interpretation receives support from the words which are used here, "God hath exhibited," "spectacle," or "theater," which are all applicable to such an exhibition. Calvin, Locke, and others, however, suppose that Paul refers to the fact that he was the last of the apostles; but this interpretation does not suit the connection of the passage.

    As it were - (ὡς hōs). Intimating the certainty of death.

    Appointed unto death - ἐπιθανατίους epithanatious. Devoted to death. The word occurs no where else in the New Testament. It denotes the certainty of death, or the fact of being destined to death; and implies that such were their continued conflicts, trials, persecutions, that it was morally certain that they would terminate in their death, and only when they died, as the last gladiators on the stage were destined to contend until they should die. This is a very strong expression; and denotes the continuance, the constancy, and the intensity of their sufferings in the cause of Christ.

    We are made a spectacle - Margin, "theater" θέατρον theatron. The theater, or amphitheater of the ancients was composed of an arena, or level floor, on which the combatants fought, and which was surrounded by circular seats rising above one another to a great height, and capable of containing many thousands of spectators. Paul represents himself as on this arena or stage, contending with foes, and destined to death. Around him and above him are an immense host of human beings and angels, looking on at the conflict, and awaiting the issue. He is not alone or unobserved. He is made public; and the universe gazes on the struggle. Angels and human beings denote the universe, as gazing upon the conflicts and struggles of the apostles. It is a vain inquiry here, whether he means good or bad angels. The expression means that he was public in his trials, and that this was exhibited to the universe. The whole verse is designed to convey the idea that God had, for wise purposes, appointed them in the sight of the universe, to pains, and trials, and persecutions, and poverty, and want, which would terminate only in their death; see Hebrews 12:1, etc. What these trials were he specifies in the following verses.

    Wesley's Notes on 1 Corinthians 4:9

    4:9 God hath set forth us last, as appointed to death - Alluding to the Roman custom of bringing forth those persons last on the stage, either to fight with each other, or with wild beasts, who were devoted to death; so that, if they escaped one day, they were brought out again and again, till they were killed.