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9
The Rights of Those Who Preach the Gospel
1Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? 2If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.
3Mine answer to them that do examine me is this: 4Have we not power#9.4,5,6 power or right. to eat and to drink? 5Have we not power#9.4,5,6 power or right. to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 6Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power#9.4,5,6 power or right. to forbear working? 7Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
8Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 9#Deut 25.4. For it is written in the law of Moses,
Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox
that treadeth out the corn.
Doth God take care for oxen? 10or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.#9.10 should be partaker of his hope. Some early manuscripts have of partaking. 11#Rom 15.27. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12If others be partakers of this power#9.12 power or right. over you, are not we rather?
Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13#Deut 18.1. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14#Matt 10.10; Luke 10.7. Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
15But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. 16For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 17For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. 18What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
19For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
24Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
9
CHAPTER 9#This chapter is an emotionally charged expansion of Paul’s appeal to his own example in 1 Cor 8:13; its purpose is to reinforce the exhortation of 1 Cor 8:9. The two opening questions introduce the themes of Paul’s freedom and his apostleship (1 Cor 9:1), themes that the chapter will develop in reverse order, 1 Cor 9:1–18 treating the question of his apostleship and the rights that flow from it, and 1 Cor 9:19–27 exploring dialectically the nature of Paul’s freedom. The language is highly rhetorical, abounding in questions, wordplays, paradoxes, images, and appeals to authority and experience. The argument is unified by repetitions; its articulations are highlighted by inclusions and transitional verses.
Paul’s Rights as an Apostle.
1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?#a. [9:1] 1 Cor 9:19 / 2 Cor 12:12 / 15:8–9 / Acts 9:17; 26:16. 2Although I may not be an apostle for others, certainly I am for you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3My defense against those who would pass judgment on me#My defense against those who would pass judgment on me: the reference to a defense (apologia) is surprising, and suggests that Paul is incorporating some material here that he has previously used in another context. The defense will touch on two points: the fact of Paul’s rights as an apostle (1 Cor 9:4–12a and 1 Cor 9:13–14) and his nonuse of those rights (1 Cor 9:12b and 1 Cor 9:15–18). is this. 4#Apparently some believe that Paul is not equal to the other apostles and therefore does not enjoy equal privileges. His defense on this point (here and in 1 Cor 9:13–14) reinforces the assertion of his apostolic character in 1 Cor 9:2. It consists of a series of analogies from natural equity (7) and religious custom (1 Cor 9:13) designed to establish his equal right to support from the churches (1 Cor 9:4–6, 11–12a); these analogies are confirmed by the authority of the law (1 Cor 9:8–10) and of Jesus himself (1 Cor 9:14). Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5Do we not have the right to take along a Christian wife, as do the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6Or is it only myself and Barnabas who do not have the right not to work?#b. [9:6] Acts 4:36–37; 13:1–2; Gal 2:1, 9, 13; Col 4:10. 7Who ever serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating its produce? Or who shepherds a flock without using some of the milk from the flock?#c. [9:7] 2 Tm 2:3–4. 8Am I saying this on human authority, or does not the law also speak of these things? 9It is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.”#d. [9:9] Dt 25:4; 1 Tm 5:18. Is God concerned about oxen, 10or is he not really speaking for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope, and the thresher in hope of receiving a share.#e. [9:10] 2 Tm 2:6. 11If we have sown spiritual seed for you, is it a great thing that we reap a material harvest from you?#f. [9:11] Rom 15:27. 12If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we still more?#g. [9:12] 2 Cor 11:7–12; 12:13–18; 2 Thes 3:6–12.
Reason for Not Using His Rights.
Yet we have not used this right.#It appears, too, that suspicion or misunderstanding has been created by Paul’s practice of not living from his preaching. The first reason he asserts in defense of this practice is an entirely apostolic one; it anticipates the developments to follow in 1 Cor 9:19–22. He will give a second reason in 1 Cor 9:15–18. On the contrary, we endure everything so as not to place an obstacle to the gospel of Christ. 13#The position of these verses produces an interlocking of the two points of Paul’s defense. These arguments by analogy (1 Cor 9:13) and from authority (1 Cor 9:14) belong with those of 1 Cor 9:7–10 and ground the first point. But Paul defers them until he has had a chance to mention “the gospel of Christ” (1 Cor 9:12b), after which it is more appropriate to mention Jesus’ injunction to his preachers and to argue by analogy from the sacred temple service to his own liturgical service, the preaching of the gospel (cf. Rom 1:9; 15:16). Do you not know that those who perform the temple services eat [what] belongs to the temple, and those who minister at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings?#h. [9:13] Nm 18:8, 31; Dt 18:1–5. 14In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel.#i. [9:14] Mt 10:10; Lk 10:7–8.
15#Paul now assigns a more personal motive to his nonuse of his right to support. His preaching is not a service spontaneously undertaken on his part but a stewardship imposed by a sort of divine compulsion. Yet to merit any reward he must bring some spontaneous quality to his service, and this he does by freely renouncing his right to support. The material here is quite similar to that contained in Paul’s “defense” at 2 Cor 11:5–12; 12:11–18. I have not used any of these rights, however, nor do I write this that it be done so in my case. I would rather die. Certainly no one is going to nullify my boast.#j. [9:15] 2 Cor 11:9–10. 16If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!#k. [9:16] Acts 26:14–18. 17If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.#l. [9:17] 4:1; Gal 2:7. 18What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.#m. [9:18] 2 Cor 11:7–12.
All Things to All.
19#In a rhetorically balanced series of statements Paul expands and generalizes the picture of his behavior and explores the paradox of apostolic freedom. It is not essentially freedom from restraint but freedom for service—a possibility of constructive activity. Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.#n. [9:19] Mt 20:26–27. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win over those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became like one outside the law—though I am not outside God’s law but within the law of Christ—to win over those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.#o. [9:22] 10:33; Rom 15:1; 2 Cor 11:29. 23All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.
24#A series of miniparables from sports, appealing to readers familiar with Greek gymnasia and the nearby Isthmian games. Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win.#p. [9:24] Heb 12:1. 25Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.#q. [9:25] 2 Tm 2:5 / 2 Tm 4:7–8; Jas 1:12; 1 Pt 5:4. 26Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. 27No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.#For fear that…I myself should be disqualified: a final paradoxical turn to the argument: what appears at first a free, spontaneous renunciation of rights (1 Cor 9:12–18) seems subsequently to be required for fulfillment of Paul’s stewardship (to preach effectively he must reach his hearers wherever they are, 1 Cor 9:19–22), and finally is seen to be necessary for his own salvation (1 Cor 9:23–27). Mention of the possibility of disqualification provides a transition to 1 Cor 10.