King or Servant?

Main Point: To the Corinthians: The Corinthians needed to get off their high horse and understand that while they were kings in Christ, serving Christ meant following the apostles example of being a servant, not reigning like a king and looking the same as unsaved people.

Main Point for all time and Key application: Christians need to avoid being prideful and living like they are kings and should follow the apostle’s example of humble service to King Jesus.


Our church is hosting an event next month, and the names of six people who volunteered to help caught my attention because I know them to be men and women who always show up when there is work to be done. They serve at church and as Scout leaders and on parent-teacher organizations. They take meals to the sick and the homeless. And they never draw attention to themselves or seek prestigious positions. They just serve. As I read today’s passage and consider these volunteers, I wonder how often I serve only if I have a position of “power” or “influence”? How often am I prideful and “puffed up” about my own participation?

  • Who comes to your mind when you think of a selfless servant? How about someone seeking prestige or position?


I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, 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 held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.


  1. What, specifically, do you learn about the Corinthian Christians from this passage?
  2. What contrasts did Paul draw between the Corinthian Christians and the apostles (vs. 10)?
  3. List all the ways that Paul described himself and the apostles (vss. 11-13). What was the response of the apostles to being reviled? Persecuted? Slandered?
  4. What point was Paul driving home about being a follower of Jesus?
  5. As you examine your life and priorities, are you more like the Corinthian Christians—seeking prestige, material gain, and social position—or like Paul and the apostles? What does this say about how you are following Jesus?


Being a Christian means living life in light of the cross—a life that is not structured around worldly recognition, material gain, and high position. Rather, as Paul argued, it is about following the example of the apostles as they imitated Jesus. Paul paints a picture of a life of faith lived humbly as a servant of God. If we’re honest, it’s not an easy life to embrace; yet, it is the life that Jesus chose to live for us, and it is the life we are called to live as servants of the Most High King.

  • Ask God to remind you that a servant is not greater than his master (John 13:16).
  • Talk to God about the places where you are proud or think more highly of yourself than you should (Romans 12:16).