The Meaning of 1 Corinthians 4:15 Explained

1 Corinthians 4:15

KJV: For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

YLT: for if a myriad of child-conductors ye may have in Christ, yet not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus, through the good news, I -- I did beget you;

Darby: For if ye should have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the glad tidings.

ASV: For though ye have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I begat you through the gospel.

What does 1 Corinthians 4:15 Mean?

Context Summary

1 Corinthians 4:14-21 - Teaching Converts Christ's Ways
The relationship between the Apostle and his converts was very tender. They were his children. They might have instructors and tutors, but they could have but one father; and as father he might have to use the rod. Love can be stern and punitive. Spare the rod and spoil the child. It is not pure but selfish love that forbears to speak and act strongly when eternal interests are at stake. This is an aspect of God's love which is likely to be overlooked. If we escape chastisement, we are bastards and not sons. "What son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" Hebrews 12:5-11.
The beloved Timothy was sent to bring the recreant church back to its old love and faith. He was well fitted to represent the Apostle till Paul could tear himself from his thronging duties at Ephesus. Notice that God's kingdom comes in power, not in word, 1 Corinthians 4:21. Is not this the reason why it comes so slowly? We treat it as though it would come through our much speaking, through eloquent and honeyed speech. But it is not so. It comes in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in that supremacy of the Divine Spirit over all other spirit forces. God send us more of this great dynamic! [source]

Chapter Summary: 1 Corinthians 4

1  In what account the apostles ought to be regarded
7  We have nothing which we have not received
9  The apostles spectacles to the world, angels, and men;
13  the filth and offscouring of the world;
15  yet our fathers in Christ;
16  whom we ought to follow

Greek Commentary for 1 Corinthians 4:15

To admonish [νουτετων]
Literally, admonishing (present active participle of νουτετεω — noutheteō). See note on 1 Thessalonians 5:12, note on. 1 Thessalonians 5:14. [source]
For though ye should have [εαν γαρ εχητε]
Third-class condition undetermined, but with prospect of being determined This old word (παις — pais boy, αγωγος — agōgos leader) was used for the guide or attendant of the child who took him to school as in Galatians 3:24 (Christ being the schoolmaster) and also as a sort of tutor who had a care for the child when not in school. The papyri examples (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary) illustrate both aspects of the paedagogue. Here it is the “tutor in Christ” who is the Teacher. These are the only two N.T. examples of the common word. I begot you Paul is their spiritual father in Christ, while Apollos and the rest are their tutors in Christ. [source]
Tutors [παιδαγωγους]
This old word (παις — pais boy, αγωγος — agōgos leader) was used for the guide or attendant of the child who took him to school as in Galatians 3:24 (Christ being the schoolmaster) and also as a sort of tutor who had a care for the child when not in school. The papyri examples (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary) illustrate both aspects of the paedagogue. Here it is the “tutor in Christ” who is the Teacher. These are the only two N.T. examples of the common word. [source]
I begot you [υμας εγεννησα]
Paul is their spiritual father in Christ, while Apollos and the rest are their tutors in Christ. [source]
spiritual father []
in Christ, while Apollos and the rest are their tutors in Christ. [source]
tutors []
in Christ. [source]
Tutors [παιδαγωγοὺς]
From παῖς boyand ἀγωγός leaderThe Paedagogus was a slave to whom boys were entrusted on leaving the care of the females, which was somewhere about their sixteenth year. He was often a foreigner, sometimes educated and refined, but often otherwise; for Plutarch complains that seamen, traders, usurers, and farmers are engaged in this capacity. The office was one of general guardianship, not of instruction, though sometimes the paedagogus acted as teacher. He accompanied the boy to school, carrying his books, etc., and attended him to the gymnasium and elsewhere. See, further, on Galatians 3:24. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for 1 Corinthians 4:15

Romans 6:5 We shall be also [ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐσόμεθα]
It is impossible to reproduce this graphic and condensed phrase accurately in English. It contains an adversative particle ἀλλά ; but. Morison paraphrases: “If we were united with Him in the likeness of His death (that will not be the full extent of the union), but we shall be also united,” etc. For similar instances see 1 Corinthians 4:15; Colossians 2:5. [source]
Galatians 4:19 I travail in birth again [πάλιν ὠδίνω]
Better as Rev. of whom I am again in travail. Ὡδίνω only here and Revelation 12:2. Galatians 4:27is a quotation. The metaphorical use of the word is frequent in O.T. See Psalm 7:14; 31:5; 43:17; Micah href="/desk/?q=mic+4:10&sr=1">Micah 4:10; Isaiah 26:18; Isaiah 66:8. Paul means that he is for the second time laboring and distressed for the Galatian converts, with the same anguish which attended his first efforts for their conversion. The metaphor of begetting children in the gospel is found in 1 Corinthians 4:15; Philemon 1:10. It was a Jewish saying: “If one teaches the son of his neighbor the law, the Scripture reckons this the same as though he had begotten him.” [source]
Galatians 3:24 Our schoolmaster [παιδαγωγὸς ἡμῶν]
Our. Paul speaks as a Jew of Jews especially. Schoolmaster ( παιδαγωγὸς P) is an error. The word means an overseer or guardian. See on 1 Corinthians 4:15. Tutor (Rev.) is defensible on the ground of etymology, tueri to look upon, thence to guard. In civil law a tutor is a person legally appointed for the care of the person and property of a minor. So Bacon (Adv. of Learning, ii. 19): “the first six kings being in truth as tutors of the state of Rome in the infance thereof.” The later use of the word, however, in the sense of instructor, has so completely supplanted the earlier, that the propriety of the Revisers' rendering is questionable. The law is here represented, not as one who conducts to the school of Christ; for Christ is not represented here as a teacher, but as an atoner; but rather as an overseer or guardian, to keep watch of those committed to its care, to accompany them with its commands and prohibitions, and to keep them in a condition of dependence and restraint, thus continually bringing home to them the consciousness of being shut up in sins, and revealing sin as positive transgression. [source]
Galatians 3:24 Our tutor unto Christ [παιδαγωγος υμων εις Χριστον]
See note on 1 Corinthians 4:15 for the only other N.T. example of this old and common word for the slave employed in Greek and Roman families of the better class in charge of the boy from about six to sixteen. The paedagogue watched his behaviour at home and attended him when he went away from home as to school. Christ is our Schoolmaster and the law as paedagogue kept watch over us till we came to Christ. [source]
Colossians 1:16 By him [ἐν αὐτῶ]
Rev., in Him. In is not instrumental but local; not denying the instrumentality, but putting the fact of creation with reference to its sphere and center. In Him, within the sphere of His personality, resides the creative will and the creative energy, and in that sphere the creative act takes place. Thus creation was dependent on Him. In Christ is a very common phrase with Paul to express the Church's relation to Him. Thus “one body in Christ,” Romans 12:5; “fellow-workers in Jesus Christ,” Romans 16:3. Compare Romans 16:7, Romans 16:9, Romans 16:11; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 4:15, etc. [source]
2 Timothy 2:23 Gender [γεννῶσι]
Only here in Pastorals. In Paul, metaphorically, 1 Corinthians 4:15; Philemon 1:10; Galatians 4:24. [source]
Philemon 1:10 Whom I have begotten in my bonds [ον εγεννησα εν τοις δεσμοις]
First aorist active indicative of γενναω — gennaō to beget. See note on 1 Corinthians 4:15 for this figurative sense. Paul is evidently proud of winning Onesimus to Christ though a prisoner himself. [source]
Hebrews 12:22 But [αλλα]
Sharp contrast to Hebrews 12:18 with same form προσεληλυτατε — proselēluthate Unto Mount Zion Dative case of ορος — oros as with the other substantives. In contrast to Mount Sinai (Hebrews 12:18-21). Paul has contrasted Mount Sinai (present Jerusalem) with the Jerusalem above (heaven) in Galatians 4:21-31. City As in Hebrews 11:10, Hebrews 11:16. Heaven is termed thus a spiritual mountain and city. The heavenly Jerusalem See Hebrews 11:10, Hebrews 11:16; Isaiah 60:14. Innumerable hosts of angels “Myriads of angels.” Μυριας — Murias is an old word (from μυριος — murios 1 Corinthians 4:15) as in Luke 12:1. [source]

What do the individual words in 1 Corinthians 4:15 mean?

If for ten thousand guardians you should have in Christ yet not many fathers Jesus through the gospel I you have begotten
ἐὰν γὰρ μυρίους παιδαγωγοὺς ἔχητε ἐν Χριστῷ ἀλλ’ οὐ πολλοὺς πατέρας Ἰησοῦ διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ἐγὼ ὑμᾶς ἐγέννησα

μυρίους  ten  thousand 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: μύριοι 
Sense: innumerable, countless.
παιδαγωγοὺς  guardians 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: παιδαγωγός  
Sense: a tutor i.
ἔχητε  you  should  have 
Parse: Verb, Present Subjunctive Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: ἔχω  
Sense: to have, i.e. to hold.
Χριστῷ  Christ 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: Χριστός  
Sense: Christ was the Messiah, the Son of God.
ἀλλ’  yet 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ἀλλά  
Sense: but.
πολλοὺς  many 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: πολύς  
Sense: many, much, large.
πατέρας  fathers 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: προπάτωρ 
Sense: generator or male ancestor.
Ἰησοῦ  Jesus 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: Ἰησοῦς  
Sense: Joshua was the famous captain of the Israelites, Moses’ successor.
διὰ  through 
Parse: Preposition
Root: διά  
Sense: through.
εὐαγγελίου  gospel 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Neuter Singular
Root: εὐαγγέλιον  
Sense: a reward for good tidings.
ἐγέννησα  have  begotten 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: γεννάω  
Sense: of men who fathered children.