You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! 9 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.
— 1 Corinthians 4:8-13.
Paul sarcastically criticises the fact that some Christians in Corinth think they are already full, rich, and ruling as kings. By comparison, he says that he is among those apostles who are despised and facing death. Using the picture of a procession of condemned prisoners being led away to fight and die in the Romans’ bloodthirsty arena, he compares himself with their boasts and self-exalting claims. Those with him are ‘fools for Christ’s sake’ in the eyes of the world, and are weak, dishonoured, hungry, thirsty, poorly clothed, beaten, homeless, reviled, persecuted and defamed. Despite being treated as the world’s filth and offscouring, they respond as faithful servants, in grace and love to those who treat them so brutally and unfairly. [The Bible Panorama.]