Paul uses the metaphor of a household. Workers in the gospel are both "servants" and "stewards" (translated as the word "those"). The term "servant" is used to reemphasize their humble position and their belonging to Christ alone; the term ‘steward' is used to emphasize both their trusted position (of God's mysteries) and their accountability to God.
Being "faithful" or trustworthy is the single criterion used to judge a servant, not whether he possesses eloquence or wisdom.
Since the criterion is faithfulness to a committed trust, only God from whom Paul had received the trust can judge him. Human judgment is of no consequence. This includes: (1) judgment by the Corinthians, (2) judgment by human court, (3) evaluation by Paul himself.
Paul says that his clear conscience does not mean that I am thereby actually vindicated or acquitted." ("Make me innocent" is not the best translation.) "The Lord" here implies both ‘Christ' and the ‘master' of the house (as both terms use the same Greek word).
Paul tells them to stop reaching a verdict on anything before the appointed time. "Anything" only refers to their judgments about Paul and his ministry, not all things, as Paul actually commanded them to use judgment in 5:12 and 6:5. Paul again says that he has nothing to hide (v.4) and reminds them again of the future judgment that everyone must face.
The meaning of "Do not go beyond what is written" is obsolete, probably meaning "live according to scripture" which may refer to 1:31 "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." The reason is that they boast in favour of "the one" (Apollos) over against "the other" (Paul).
Paul uses the rhetorical questions to say that they lack gratitude and fail to recognize that everything is a gift. Those who think of themselves as especially gifted with the Spirit and wisdom, thereby enabling them to judge another and to look down on the apostle who seems to lack so much, reflect a total misunderstanding of grace.
The Corinthians think that: (1) they have "become rich" in spiritual giftedness; (2) they have launched upon God's final reign ("have become kings") and have already entered the final kingdom of God. But that is wrong, as can be seen from the apostles' weaknesses.
Paul uses the image of a Roman triumph in which a conquering general staged a parade, at the end of which were captives who had been condemned to die in the arena.
Most Corinthians are not among the "wise, powerful, or honoured" (1:26) but they are puffed up and acted as if they were.
The tribulations endured by Paul demonstrate his "sharing in the sufferings of Christ". "To this very hour" and "up to this moment" remind them the continuing harsh realities of Christian life.
Paul tries to reestablish his unique, and therefore authoritative, relationship to them as their founder. "Unique" because as the founder, he is their only father.
Describing Timothy as "faithful" reminds them the single requirement of the Lord's servants.
"very soon" = "without delay". His plans are always subject to the divine will.
Paul asks: when he returns, will they have merely "talk" (Greek logos meaning word or speech) in their worldly wisdom, or will they also be able to demonstrate the "power" of the Spirit?
"Whip", literally a "rod" of correction (Pr 10:13, 22:15), again using the father-child metaphor.