1Corinthians 4:14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

15 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.

16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

When this section of Corinthians is first considered it would seem as if Paul is referring to himself as the father and the Corinthians as the children. However, when reading it in context with the preface of 1Co 1:3 "Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. " , Is it grammatically incorrect to read the sons and children as beloved children to Paul (endeared) to him but being Children of God through the seed of the Gospel and not Children of Paul?

  • Interesting. Call no man on earth, father says Jesus, Matthew 23:9. Yet the Corinthians have 'fathers' in the faith. Is it a matter of One Father, yet many fathers ? Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 23:16
  • @NigelJ It's clear from the rest of Jesus' teaching in that sermon that He is using hyperbole: call NO ONE truly good, God alone is good, for example, even though in His parable he calls people 'good.' The force of the teaching is that no one is to be looked to as an ultimate authority—everyone works for God, and all good and any good in them comes from Him. After all, it includes no qualification (not 'but you can call your earthly father 'father' or 'Abraham father'). It's just assumed you know He is speaking hyperbolically. Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 0:19
  • @NigelJ . Your sentiments are close to my reason for entertaining this investigation. Particularly, 1Cor 1:3 in taking Paul's Epistle as a whole. But again, is there an exegetical/grammatical objection to this understanding? As it seems that it is not the comment interpretation.
    – Lowther
    Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 4:00
  • See also 2 Corinthians 6:13; Galatians 4:19; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2, 2:1; Philemon 1:10; 1 Peter 5:13; 1 John 2:1, 3:18; 3 John 1:4.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 22:21

2 Answers 2


I think you’re fine to read it as Paul being their spiritual earthly father in context

“my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And another example

“To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” ‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

  • Your first quote is about motherhood, not fatherhood. And the second is ambiguous.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 23:18

The simple answer is that Paul is their father, since Paul himself calls them “my beloved sons.” If they are Paul’s sons, then Paul is claiming to be their father.

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