1 Corinthians 4:5 Index
"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God."
Research Material

" . . . judge nothing . . . "

  • Paul makes it plain that it is wrong to entertain a harsh or unkind opinion regarding fellow men. Being imperfect ourselves, we are not qualified to form correct estimates of the characters of others (Matthew 7:1; Matthew 7:2; Matthew 7:3; Romans 2:1; Romans 2:2; Romans 2:3; James 4:11; James 4:12). It is particularly dangerous to indulge in destructive criticism of God's workers (1 Timothy 5:1; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Timothy 5:19; Numbers 16:3; Numbers 16:13; Numbers 16:14). The Christian cannot avoid noticing defects of conduct in his fellow men, but he must refrain from judging motives and from passing judgment upon his fellow men in the sphere of their spiritual relationship to God. (6BC 682)
  • We cannot read the heart. Ourselves faulty, we are not qualified to sit in judgment upon others. Finite men can judge only from outward appearance. To Him alone who knows the secret springs of action, and who deals tenderly and compassionately, is it given to decide the case of every soul. (MB 124)
  • Whose soever sins ye remit,” said Christ, “they are remitted; ... and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained "(John 20:23). Christ here gives no liberty for any man to pass judgment upon others. In the Sermon on the Mount He forbade this. It is the prerogative of God. But on the church in its organized capacity He places a responsibility for the individual members. Toward those who fall into sin, the church has a duty, to warn, to instruct, and if possible to restore. “Reprove, rebuke, exhort,” the Lord says, “with all long-suffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). Deal faithfully with wrongdoing. Warn every soul that is in danger. Leave none to deceive themselves. Call sin by its right name. Declare what God has said in regard to lying, Sabbathbreaking, stealing, idolatry, and every other evil. “They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21). If they persist in sin, the judgment you have declared from God's word is pronounced upon them in heaven. In choosing to sin, they disown Christ; the church must show that she does not sanction their deeds, or she herself dishonors her Lord. She must say about sin what God says about it. She must deal with it as God directs, and her action is ratified in heaven. He who despises the authority of the church despises the authority of Christ Himself.
    • But there is a brighter side to the picture. “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted” (John 20:23). Let this thought be kept uppermost. In labor for the erring, let every eye be directed to Christ. Let the shepherds have a tender care for the flock of the Lord's pasture. Let them speak to the erring of the forgiving mercy of the Saviour. Let them encourage the sinner to repent, and believe in Him who can pardon. Let them declare, on the authority of God's word, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). All who repent have the assurance, “He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
    • Let the repentance of the sinner be accepted by the church with grateful hearts. Let the repenting one be led out from the darkness of unbelief into the light of faith and righteousness. Let his trembling hand be placed in the loving hand of Jesus. Such a remission is ratified in heaven.
    • Only in this sense has the church power to absolve the sinner. Remission of sins can be obtained only through the merits of Christ. To no man, to no body of men, is given power to free the soul from guilt. Christ charged His disciples to preach the remission of sins in His name among all nations; but they themselves were not empowered to remove one stain of sin. The name of Jesus is the only “name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). (DA 805-806)
  • It is not given to any human being to judge between the different servants of God. The Lord alone is the judge of man's work, and He will give to each his just reward. (AA 276)
  • You will have many perplexities to meet in your Christian life in connection with the church, but do not try too hard to mold your brethren. If you see that they do not meet the requirements of God's word, do not condemn; if they provoke, do not retaliate. When things are said that would exasperate, quietly keep your soul from fretting. You see many things which appear wrong in others, and you want to correct these wrongs. You commence in your own strength to work for a reform, but you do not go about it in the right way. You must labor for the erring with a heart subdued, softened by the Spirit of God, and let the Lord work through you, the agent. Roll your burden on Jesus. You feel that the Lord must take up the case where Satan is striving for the mastery over some soul; but you are to do what you can in humility and meekness, and put the tangled work, the complicated matters, into the hands of God. Follow the directions in His word, and leave the outcome of the matter to His wisdom. Having done all you can to save your brother, cease worrying, and go calmly about other pressing duties. It is no longer your matter, but God's. (5T 347-348)

" . . . before the time . . . "

  • Greek hairos, "the proper season," "opportune time" (Mark 1:15). Paul refers to the time appointed by God for judgment. It is possible for men to hide their true characters from their fellow men, but at God's duly considered season, when Christ comes again, nothing will remain covered, not even the most carefully guarded secret thoughts and purposes that are harbored in the minds of men. (Psalm 44:21; Ecclesiastes 12:14). (6BC 682)

" . . . have praise of God."

  • Literally, "the praise," that is, the reward.
  • At that time when the plans and purposes of men are revealed, every worker for God will receive his just measure of approval. We can safely leave the apportioning of praise to the righteous Judge, who never errs. Men should beware of giving praise to God's servants. God's ministers are merely His instruments and it is God who uses them to accomplish His purposes; therefore it is He alone who should be praised and exalted. (6BC 682)