14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.
15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.
17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.
Paul was correcting the Corinthians, not to get them to feel guilty, but to get them to change (v.14).
instructors (v.15) = pedagogue — a guardian slave who supervised a child
imitate (v.16) — as children do of a father
Timothy (v.17) — He stood in the same relation to Paul as the Corinthians did, except that he was faithful while they were not.
in the Lord (v.17) — The phrase “in the Lord” is to be distinguished from “in Christ” (see next clause). The latter speaks of our heavenly position. “In the Lord” suggests His authority over us, and is consequently connected with our circumstances, activities and relationships on earth. In the first part of Ephesians, which deals with earthly matters, the phrase “in the Lord” is prominent (4:1, 17; 6:1, 10, 21). In the present verse the phrase is closely connected with “beloved and faithful.” — Vine, page 34.
my ways (v.17) — Some people hold that believers should be followers of Christ alone — that is, of Christ as He lived and taught while on earth. Yet the above exhortation [v.17], in identical or similar phraseology, is repeated again and again in Paul’s epistles. And remember, these were divinely inspired as the Word of God to us. But, alas, it is not always carelessness or ignorance that causes so many to pass over these exhortations so lightly. In many cases it is rebellion, sheer rebellion against the distinctive ministry and authority of Paul as God’s ordained apostle to the Gentiles. — Stam, page 98.
The risen, glorified Lord did not commit His long-hidden purpose and proclamation to any man but Paul, the chief of sinners, saved by grace. See Galatians 1:11-12; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Ephesians 3:1-3; Romans 16:25; 2 Timothy 1:9-11; Titus 1:2-3; et al).
This is why Paul is the only apostle who exhorts us again and again , “Be ye followers of me.” And it explains why he wrote to these same Corinthians, “Be ye followers of me, evan as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). It also explains why he forewarns the Corinthian believers with the words: … If I come again, I will not spare; since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me … (2 Corinthians 13:2-3).
Thus the apostle Paul had legitimate reason to exhort believers, both in a general way and in particular: “Be ye followers of me.” — Stam, page 101.