In this passage, Paul explains the contrast between him and the Corinthians, as it regards his relationship with them. He begins by explaining why he has been using the kind of language, such as the building illustration, that he has been using: to explain what he and Apollos have been doing for them. The reason that he has been explaining this is so the Corinthians will not think that they are better than others. Then, he asks rhetorical questions to imply that none of them are superior, that they have received everything they have, and that they ought not to boast about what they have received.
In verse 8, Paul uses sarcasm to tell the Corinthians that they are not already filled with goodness, nor have they become rich, nor have they become kings. However, Paul says that he wishes that they had become kings so he could reign with them. The reason that he has this wish is that he, as an apostle, is suffering trouble that is close to death.
In verse 10, Paul again uses sarcasm to tell the Corinthians that they are not prudent, nor strong, nor distinguished. Furthermore, Paul is in need of food and drink, poorly clothed, treated unkindly, homeless, working strenuously, blessing those who revile him, enduring persecution, slander, and appearing to be one of the most lowly people.
In verse 14, Paul tells the Corinthians that he has contrasted himself with them to warn them as his children, whom he loves. The reason for this is that he is their only spiritual father by virtue of his identity as the one who shared the gospel with them at the time of their conversions. Therefore, Paul says, they ought to imitate him. In order to help them, he tells them, he is sending Timothy, one of his spiritual children, who will remind them of Paul’s lifestyle. Furthermore, he promises them that he intends to come to them, and to find out the identity of those who are taunting him about his absence. Finally, he asks them to take heed to his warning that he is willing to discipline them if they do not repent.