This chapter forms a chiastic structure:
1 Cor 4
1a) 1 Cor 4:1-5, Paul judged by no man, but God alone;
1b) 1 Cor 4:6a, That you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written;
1c) 1 Cor 4:6b-7, That none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against another;
1d) 1 Cor 4:8, The Corinthians full, rich, and reigning as kings;
1e) 1 Cor 4:9, God has displayed us apostles as last, men condemned to death;
central axis) We are fools but you are wise … you are distinguished and we dishonored;
2e) 1 Cor 4:11-13, We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now;
2d) 1 Cor 4:14-17, Paul, the Corinthians’ father in Christ, not to shame them but to warn them;
2c) 1 Cor 4:18-19, Now some are puffed up as though I were not coming to you;
2b) 1 Cor 4:20, For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power;
2a) 1 Cor 4:21, Paul to judge the church (Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?).
I was thinking about the central axis … that the apostles, who are our fathers in the faith, who begot us in Christ (2d), are treated as the offscouring of all things. God said about fathers, to honor them. He even goes so far to say in Torah, that anyone who curses or strikes his father or mother deserves the death penalty.
The d pair reveals that if the offspring are full and rich, it is the father who provides for them so they can be full, and rich. The offspring are reigning as kings and distinguished in the eyes of all, because of the self- sacrificial work of the fathers who go in want and receive dishonor for their trouble.
Giving honor to whom honor is due: because the world denies it to the fathers, and the apostles, it is our responsibility, who benefit from all that the fathers and apostles have done for us, to bestow it on them. Wives and children, let us have ears to hear!