Really, 1 Corinthians 11:1 belongs at the end of chapter 10. Paul has just explained how he behaves (10:33), and so he urges Christians to do the same. As he said in 1 Corinthians 4:6, he was using his own life as an example, to teach the Christians in Corinth.
So Paul urges those Christians to copy his behaviour and his attitudes. Such advice was necessary because nobody in Corinth had been a Christian for a long time yet. Usually, new Christians can learn from older Christians in their church (Hebrews 13:7).
Paul was not asking the Christians in Corinth to praise him as a great leader. He cared very little whether they approved of him or not (4:3). However, he cared very much whether they were loyal to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:28-29). Because he started their church, he felt a sense of responsibility towards them. They seemed as if they were his children in their relationship with Christ (4:14-16).
So Paul repeats his instruction in 1 Corinthians 4:16 that they should imitate him. We are glad to see Paulís reason for this instruction. He urges them to imitate him, because he too is imitating Christ. In other words, as they learn from him, they will really be learning from Christ. That is the aim. They are learning to think and to act as Christ did.
That is the only reason why Paul wanted them to copy him. He wanted to make their relationship with Christ stronger.
Please use the links at the top of the page to find our other articles in this series. You can download all our articles if you go to the download page for our free 450 page course book.
© 2014, Keith Simons.