1 Corinthians 9

  • 1Corinthians 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?
  • 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.
  • 3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,

Seems as if Paul was a victim of fault finders. While we are to be careful not to follow those that teach contrary to the scriptures and we need to speak out against false doctrines, we must be careful not to nit pick and take it upon ourselves to purposely look for faults in those bringing us the gospel. There are only two things we should judge.

1. If they speak contrary to the scriptures or teach false doctrine. In this though, we must be careful to discern what is serious error and what is minor disagreements.

2. If they live or teach unholy living while claiming to represent God. For example: One may be in the ministry that is living in open adultery that he or she has not repented of. Fault finding is picking at trivial things and criticizing little things that have nothing to do with anything pertaining to one's salvation or serious matters.

Let's take the case of the rebellion in the Old testament against Moses. Some criticized Moses and questioned his authority. Moses was a meek person and was under the authority of God. He taught truth and loved the people. If someone had found fault with him for leading the people into sin, that would have been justified but their fault finding was just jealousy over the authority Moses had.

If a leader teaches and compels us to sin against the known word of God, we have a right and duty to refuse to follow that leader. If he makes decisions different that we agree with on trivial things, we should keep silent. I am pretty sure that we can know whether we are fault finding or not. Something deep down will tell us.

Sometimes there is a fine line between troublemaking and standing up for the truth. Examining our motives may help us decide whether or not to speak or listen to that which is spoken against another person.

1. Do we really desire to hear evil of someone?

2. Do we secretly desire to spread openly the fault of someone. In other words, do we hear of a fault and can't wait to repeat it or do we grieve at the fault and desire to not make it known?

Sin in another member should grieve us and we should have the attitude that, "I hope it isn't true." I don't want it to be truth. We never should delight in hearing of another's sin.

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

The apostle Paul had the right to accept support for his ministry and also receive support for any wife, sister or children he might have had.

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

They didn't have to work for a living but chose to in order that they wouldn't take away from others and no one could say that they were in it for the money.

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

He is making it clear that it is okay to support local pastors so that the pastors and their families do not have to work outside the home.

I will add here that it is perfectly okay if a pastor chooses to work outside the home. It is okay also and sometimes preferable if they live by what is provided for them by the generous giving of the church. The pastor then has more time to pray and remain in constant study of the word. It is more beneficial to the congregation that he has time for the Lord in between services. Yet we know that in many cases the funds are not enough for a pastor and his family to live on without hardship and may have to work. Let's not guilt them for this.

Paul, chose not to take from the local churches except to gather funds to help the poor. Paul didn't have a wife and kids as far as we know and it was his choice.

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

If a visiting evangelist came to us and brought us a message God laid on his heart and we did nothing to relieve his travel expenses or feed him, we would not be showing much love. We live and should walk in love. On other hand there are those today that are so much in the money trap that they wouldn't go speak at a small church because they couldn't pay enough. There is extremes on either position.

  • 1Corinthians 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.

This should be our attitude. Not to hinder the gospel of Christ in any way. Our motive for doing anything for the gospel's sake should never be for material gain.

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

Paul is making it clear that we are to support our pastors and workers in the Lord. I know so many are taking advantage of this and devouring widow's houses but we must realize that we are to give to those who minister the gospel and trust the Holy Spirit to show us who the charlatans are. We don't have to support the charlatans.

  • 1Corinthians 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.

Our blessed Paul did not use this power for himself. He must have been a completely unselfish person who was sold out for God.

  • 1Corinthians 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!

He felt so strong about spreading the gospel that he thought he was doomed if he did not preach the gospel.

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

He was so completely sold out for the gospel's sake that he wouldn't even ask for a dime of support. Paul was not married and didn't have any dependents and could choose this lifestyle freely. Others may not be able to do that.

  • 1Corinthians 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;

Paul's understanding of the law was a great help to him in bringing Jews to Christ. He could show them through the law and the words of the prophets of the Christ to come and even prove that Jesus was the Christ through the Old Testament. 

  • 1Corinthians 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.

To those who were not Jews he didn't use the law but preached only Christ.

  • 1Corinthians 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.

He did not compromise as far as sin goes but he became one of them whom he was trying to win to Christ. For instance if he went to China he most probably would have adopted their dress codes and culture in order to become one of them and they would be more comfortable around him so that he could present the gospel. I'm sure Paul doesn't mean that we are to adopt any sinful ways of the people we are trying to win.

If you go down south to the bible belt and sit down in a bar and have a drink with those in the bar in order to win them to Christ, I doubt very much it would work. People in the south would know that a preacher of the gospel should not be sitting in a bar drinking and they most likely would not listen to a word you said on the subject. I know someone who tried something similar and he was faced with the attitude, "Who are you to tell us anything" and "What are you doing here?" They need to be shown the way out of the mess they are in, not shown how to have Christ and sin too. So many have misunderstood what Paul is saying here. His previous chapters bring out the fact that we can't do things that offend others so we have to be careful not to misunderstand this part.

I think this is one reason Jesus didn't leave us all alone when He returned to the Father. He sent the Holy Spirit because He knew we would need His guidance and leadership. Lets try to make a commitment to walk in love and walk in the spirit.

  • 1Corinthians 9:23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
  • 24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
  • 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.
  • 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
  • 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.

Paul doesn't run wild with his freedom in the gospel. He had a right to take money and support from those he ministers to, but he chose not to. He had a right to eat, drink, marry, go here and there but he brings himself in subjection to the Holy Spirit for the gospel's sake. This is the goal we all should strive for.

I have a right to sit and watch TV all day but would that rob me of what I need from God and His word?

Paul was saying that he could do many things but for the sake of the furtherance of the gospel he chose to submit himself to the leading of the Holy Spirit. His whole life was given to God completely. Before He was converted, he gave his all to the wrong things. Now he was giving his all to the cause of Christ.

1 Corinthians 10


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