1 Corinthians 9:1-9
(Rom 11:13 KJV) For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the
apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: The word
apostle in the Greek in this verse is apostolos which simply means
a messenger. Paul was a special messenger to the church at Corinth as he was commissioned
by the Lord Jesus Christ to build the churches in various areas. The true signs of an
Apostle are found in: (2 Cor 12:12 KJV) Truly the
signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and
mighty deeds. There was no lack of the mighty miracles that Paul
worked, through the power of the Lord Jesus, in various places. Based on his ministry and
spiritual reputation, he asks these Corinthians if he was not an Apostle. If he was not,
then how could he possess so much divine power in his ministry? He asks them to dwell upon
this question. After the completion of the Bible, all of the true believers became
Apostles, in the sense that all are messengers, and are being sent into the world to bring
the Gospel by the preaching of the Scriptures.
am I not free? - Paul speaks that the same liberty which he teaches that all true
Christians have is the same liberty that he has. He is not talking about free to sin, he
is speaking about being free to serve Christ. In other words, some like to throw our past
life at us and try to place us back under bondage. In Christ, all our sins have been
forgiven and forgotten by God. Since they are all gone, this means that each Christian is
free to serve Christ without any guilt for their past sins. Paul is saying that he has the
same liberty that the Corinthian Christians have but many of the Corinthians were using it
as license to sin but Paul is showing them that the freedom in Christ is not to be used to
sin, rather to serve Him. (Gal 5:13 KJV) For,
brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to
the flesh, but by love serve one another. Once a Christian
becomes entangled in sin again, it is no more liberty, but bondage. This is what Paul is
counseling these Christians to discern between true liberty and the bondage of false
have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? - Here Paul states that he has physically
seen the Lord Jesus Christ. On the road to Damascus, he saw the Lord when he received his
commission. He may even be referring to the fact that he may have seen the Lord Jesus when
He was here on Earth. Whatever the scenario was, Paul saw the Lord. He includes this
because the other Apostles were still alive except James who was martyred very early. The
other Apostles walked with Jesus and this may have been an accusation brought against Paul
that he was not among the original twelve, so his authority was assumed and not appointed
by the Lord.
are not ye my work in the Lord? - Paul now states that he was directly
responsible for bringing the true Gospel to Corinth and establishing the church there. He
addresses these Christians as being his work. Paul was a people person but he
always knew what his work was, and that was to establish churches and bring the true
Gospel. He personalizes the fact that the Corinthians were his mission field. He sees the
living proof of his ministry in this church and he has no intention of letting false
teaching take over this church. He started the church and now he is going to help nurture
it so it can continue to grow.
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.
Paul is now telling them that even if he was not an Apostle to others, he was still an
Apostle to this church. He was saying that even if his ministry did not extend beyond
Corinth, the fact is, that his ministry is here, alive and well. Paul is, in essence,
telling them, dont worry about what happens somewhere else, concern yourself with
the matters at hand. He then states that this congregation is his seal of his
Apostleship. In ancient times, a seal by an official was a very legal and binding thing.
If a person received the Kings seal or the Governors seal on a document, then
that document was law and to be obeyed. Paul is declaring that his apostleship has the
same authority as the government except his seal is sealed by the Lord Jesus Christ who is
far above earthly government. (Eph 1:21 KJV) Far above
all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not
only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
1 Corinthians 9:3
Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,
Examine - Inquire or Investigate
Paul answers the query of some who were questioning his apostleship. As we see the word,
examine carries with it the meaning of inquiry. Maybe with all the
problems the Corinthian church had, there might have been those who chose to look into
Pauls claim, just to make sure he was not another false teacher usurping authority.
However, the general picture in these verses seems like he was put under scrutiny by those
who were the progenitors of the false teachings and erroneous practices which infiltrated
the church. False teachers will always lead the hunt to destroy a true teacher, yet, they
themselves, forbid to be investigated, for obvious reasons. Paul was not necessarily
defending his character but his legitimate spiritual authority as an Apostle.
1 Corinthians 9:4
Have we not power to eat and to drink?
Power - Authority
Here Paul is stating that since he is an Apostle, he retains the right, by authority, to
charge his living expenses to the church. (3 John 1:8
KJV) We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. Paul made it a practice to never overburden any church and he worked for his
sustenance, or he was given his supplies by Christians, but he never exacted any type of
financial burden on the congregation. He never charged for his services. This is the
principle that he is trying to get across to these people. If he chose too, he could take
his living from the church and he would not be wrong in do so. However, he states that
even though he has the authority to do so, he will not. This is part of the true testimony
of Paul. A false teacher would love to be showered with gifts and money. The true
Christian knows that the church money can be used for other things. It is a question of
outlook, the difference between the false and the true.
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?
Power - Authority
Paul continues his question stream as he now turns to the authority he has to have
others accompany him on his missionary journeys. Many times missionaries travel to heathen
lands and it is best that a missionary be married when they do because the local customs
of the area may challenge their singleness. Paul is stating here that he has the right to
bring along others just as the other Apostles who were traveling from place to place. He
even mentions those who were related as half-brethren to the Lord Jesus and then he brings
into the question Peter. From this statement it seems that Peter would bring his wife on
his missionary endeavors also. Paul had mentioned these specific individuals because they
would still be fresh in the minds of the Christians. 1 Corinthians was written in 54 AD,
which means that only 21 years had passed since the Lords resurrection and
ascension. Paul continues to maintain his apostleship by using the term as well as
1 Corinthians 9:6
Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
He ends the question from verse 5 by saying that only he and Barnabas are forbidden to
do these things? A rhetorical question! Then Paul goes on to say that he also possesses
the authority to stop working to support himself and live off the churches as he has
already broached this subject previously.
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?
Paul now brings three different scenarios to these people. First, who goes out to war
and pays for it themselves? The soldier is fed, clothed, and trained by the army of the
country that he is fighting for. He doesnt join the army and bring his checkbook to
pay as he goes. Then Paul brings in the husbandman or the owner of a vineyard. Does he
plant it and nurture it, then when it is time for the harvest he doesnt touch one
piece of fruit? Then he brings in the shepherd, the shepherd spends much time with the
flock and is also allowed to prepare meals from the flock. So we see three separate
vocations and each supply the needs to the one who does the work. In essence, Paul is
saying that he too can receive from the churches that he planted so he may continue on his
missionary work without having to take time to work a job for wages.
1 Corinthians 9:8
Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
Now Paul is asking the question, is he saying these things just as a man who wants money
or is he saying that there is biblical precedence for supporting such work? Paul wanted
them to know definitely that he was not coming to them as someone who just wanted their
funds simply because he had founded the church.
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?
The scripture that Paul quotes comes from Deuteronomy 25:4: (Deu 25:4 KJV) Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the
corn. God cared enough to include this in His law. When a
mouth is muzzled, it prevents the Oxen from eating. If the Oxen do not eat, then from
where do they get their energy to do a hard days work? Animals depend on food for their
ability to do their assigned work. He then asks the question, Doth God take care for oxen? The
answer is yes, God cares for His creation. (Prov 12:10
KJV) A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the
wicked are cruel. A saved person also cares for the life
of the animals in his possession. The answer to that question that Paul is trying to
elicit from these believers is that God cares for His creation but not as much as He does
for His Very Elect, since it was Christ who redeemed the Elect. The animals are going to
perish on the last day when the world comes to an end but the believers will go to live
with God in eternity. Paul brings up the scenario about the oxen to make a meager
comparison, that if the oxen are allowed to eat their fodder or provender, then it would
also be permissible for Paul to exact a living from each church since Pauls mission
was much more important than that of an ox.
- 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?
- Now the Apostle Paul begins a different subject as he begins to vindicate his
apostleship. Have you ever been in a situation and made a suggestion and then the comment
comes back, who does he think he is? Well, before anyone in the Corinthian
church can discredit Paul, he is laying open his spiritual credentials to the church so
they know that he has the right to author such a letter and to make the corrections in the
church. Obviously, someone probably had tried to harm the reputation of Paul, so Paul now
begins his defense. He doesnt really have to do this because the letter that he
wrote was filled with proper corrections but to stave off any further questioning of his
right to be in that position, he responds. In this verse he asks four questions.
- Am I not an apostle? - Paul was considered to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.