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One Corinthians Nine

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

1 Corinthians 9:1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?

an apostle. Evidently a key requirement for the apostolic office was that of having been directly chosen and called by Jesus Christ in person, as Paul had been on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6, 15-16). Note also the requisites for choosing a successor to Judas (Acts 1:21-22), indicating they also must have witnessed the resurrected Christ. Thus, no true apostles are living today.

1 Corinthians 9:2 If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 9:3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,

1 Corinthians 9:4 Have we not power to eat and to drink?

1 Corinthians 9:5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?

a sister, a wife. Although Paul had recommended the celibate state as conducive to full-time dedication to the Lord's service (1 Corinthians 7:32-33), he clearly recognized that it was also good to be married (1 Corinthians 7:2, 38), and that even the apostles had such a right if they so chose. There is no Biblical requirement for a celibate clergy. Peter (same as “Cephas”), for example, had a wife (Matthew 8:14).

1 Corinthians 9:6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

1 Corinthians 9:7 Who 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?

1 Corinthians 9:8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?

1 Corinthians 9:9 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?

it is written. This passage is quoted from Deuteronomy 25:4. See also 1 Timothy 5:18. Paul stressed that, even though he had a right to marry, he chose not to for the gospel's sake. Similarly, he and others who preach the gospel had the right to be supported by those who had profited thereby (1 Corinthians 9:14), but he chose not to, in order not to be a stumblingblock to those who needed it (1 Corinthians 9:15).

1 Corinthians 9:10 Or 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.

1 Corinthians 9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

1 Corinthians 9:12 If others be partakers of this power 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.

1 Corinthians 9:13 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?

1 Corinthians 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

ordained. The principle that God-called pastors and others who have been called by God to devote full time to the gospel ministry should be supported by those whose income is from secular sources is thus actually an ordinance of God. They may choose, as Paul did on occasion, to support themselves in other ways, but this should not be expected or required of them.

1 Corinthians 9:15 But 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.

1 Corinthians 9:16 For 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!

1 Corinthians 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

1 Corinthians 9:18 What 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.

1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

1 Corinthians 9:20 And 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;

1 Corinthians 9:21 To 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.

1 Corinthians 9:22 To 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.

all things to all men. Paul's obsession to “gain” people for Christ had constrained him to learn how to approach all types of prospects in terms of their own particular backgrounds and concerns. This can be a great example to modern Christians provided they do not carry it beyond the bounds set by the apostle. That is, his purpose was always “for the gospel's sake” (1 Corinthians 9:23), and it was vital to him that the gospel was not “another gospel” and that the Christ he preached was not “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4). Being “made all things to all men” does not involve compromise of God's truth concerning Christ and His gospel, as is often the case today. People are not really won to the true Christ and His saving gospel by compromising with the beliefs and behaviors of the ungodly world.

1 Corinthians 9:23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

1 Corinthians 9:25 And 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.

1 Corinthians 9:26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

1 Corinthians 9:27 But 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.

a castaway. The Greek for “castaway” (adokimos) means literally “disapproved,” but does not suggest being discarded altogether. Paul had just written about losing all rewards, but still being saved (1 Corinthians 3:15), and he realized that this could become possible even for him.