Christian Lineage
1 Corinthians 4:14-21
I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.…

As a child who has been kept in ignorance of his parentage rejoices to know those who have given him life, so we in times of evil condition and days of questioning may be made glad in the knowledge that we belong to a noble race.


1. The propagating power of the Divine life in men is one of the distinctive features of Christ's religion. Other systems have made provision for carrying down their tenets, but the office of the Spirit of God is to recreate. The Founder of Christianity and His disciples claimed those in their day as "children," those who had been born again into a new family circle.

2. In looking up the genealogy of any line, the fact that there were known to be numerous descendants gives us the best evidence that we shall be able to trace the branches to the parent stock. The Church has as well authenticated outlines from the time of Constantine, in 325, as have the governments of the greatest nations of the past or their ruling houses.

3. You will realise, however, that a Church which has reached this stage of organisation and influence must have some time allowance for its crystallisation. Your scientist wants you to grant him thousands of years for the erosion of the bed of Niagara and the glacier tracts and deposits of natural forces. He must not deny some fair period of Christianising energy to cut the channel in which we find the love of God moving within the visible Church, so that the gospel might spread as it had done from India to Spain and Britain. The graves of the saints would bridge the gulf from to , if there were no other records. Their inscriptions of the Christian virtues, hopes of immortality, and faith in Jesus would restore the materials for our family history, and the types by which we could trace our ancestry if all other lines should fail.


1. Paul traces his own new birth and life to Jesus, so that we may consider the great apostle to the Genthes as a representative of what men had begun to he in the line of Christian descent, and compare ourselves with him. We are told what .was the character of other people before they also were changed (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). In order to set forth more clearly the type of the new family, an example is given of one of Paul's pupils (ver. 17). Timothy is, as it were, a spiritual grandson of Jesus. We can tell what the gospel was as it worked in the son, sire, and founder of our faith. Then Timothy is particular not to teach doctrines only, but to put the people in remembrance of Paul's ways. They could see whether the child's walk and features were like those of the parent, and were "in Christ."

2. There are many varieties of temperament among children of the same household, and the Christian family presents us those with differing and peculiar traits. But does any candid man dare to say he cannot find to-day the type of those who formed the early Church in spirit, love, and works? If the men of the kingdom come short of your ideal, ask yourself where you received this noble image of the mind save from the gospel history. It should not be a matter of surprise that grotesque forms come to us from the isolated frontier communities of the world. The wonder is that they have preserved any likeness to our great ancestors. Select the best examples of faith and service in our world to-day, and you will be careful how you say you cannot find Christ, or His truth, or His will for you to obey. Through all the ages of darkness, idolatry, and persecution, the Spirit has been among men.


(W. R. Campbell.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

WEB: I don't write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.

Censoriousness and Faithfulness Contrasted
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