1 Corinthians 9:10-18

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.
Paul now states that God wrote that Scripture for illustrative and comparative purposes. There are two principles of evangelism in this verse. The first one is plowing, this is when the seed is first sown. The next principle is threshing, when the final harvest of the crops is done. (Mark 4:29 KJV) But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. Notice that both of these illustrations have the word “hope” in them. When it comes to sending forth the Gospel, we both plant in hope and reap in hope. (Titus 2:13 KJV) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Heb 7:19 KJV) For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. Notice in the Hebrews verse how the word hope is used? It is used to describe the Gospel, since only those who become saved can draw nigh unto God. Paul is speaking about plowing and reaping in the Gospel.
1 Corinthians 9:11
If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
Paul now gets down to the heart of the matter. He reminds them that he came to Corinth and brought them the true Gospel which many became saved. Paul then compares that if we brought you the words and Gospel of eternal life, what is the big deal about us asking for money, which is carnal and earthly. The spiritual things which we brought you, far outweighs the doomed riches of this earth. Paul was not telling them that they would have to empty their pockets completely but was simply telling them that if he chose to, he could exact a living from them, and basically what are a few carnal Drachma in comparison to eternal life? It is like today, if a ministry is spiritually feeding you, if you send them support, what are those few dollars in comparison to the blessing you have received? That support which you send that ministry will be able to continue sending forth the Gospel so others may be blessed. A true ministry or minister does not covet money for carnal purposes but for the purpose of evangelism and discipleship.
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.
There were probably church leaders who were already making a living from the church and Paul brings up this fact that if they can do it, then what would make them think that they could not? Paul then states that he would rather endure all things instead of taking money from the individual churches which could possibly hinder the local ministries if funds were dried up from living expenses. Today, in many churches it is not uncommon for the pastor’s salary to exceed the missions budget by two or three times. Paying one man $100-500,000 per year is a sin. No pastor is worth that amount of money. (Jer 5:31 KJV) The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? The problem is that the congregations have no concept of what the local church is all about. Instead of the financial exaltation of one man, most of the times undeservedly, they need to look at what finances should be used for. There is a ministry called World Missionary Press which produces Scripture booklets for about 30 per dollar. If you take one of these overpaid pastors making $500,000 per year and pay him only $40,000 per year and sent the rest to World Missionary Press, they could produce 13,800,000 booklets each year for evangelism. Instead, that money goes for a Mercedes, big home with pool, Armani suits, and six weeks vacation every 6 months, because they are so busy, plus other things that Satan compels these frauds to divert the Lord’s money on. It is this very situation which rules in most churches that Paul was speaking against. Paying a man a ridiculously and undeserving large salary hinders the Gospel, as you can see to what extent in the example I gave.
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?
Paul now brings up the Old Testament practice of the priesthood. Those who were ministering in the temple or tabernacle, were entitled to portions of the sacrifices for their own sustenance. The sacrifice system would have been familiar to many especially since it was written in the Pentateuch plus the temple was still in Jerusalem until 70 AD when Roman General Titus razed it. Paul wants to let these people know that even in the Old Testament temple system the Priests and the other ministers in the temple were entitled to and given provisions from the ministry of the Temple.
1 Corinthians 9:14
Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
Ordained - Did order
The Lord Himself also gave the method whereby a preacher is allowed to receive his living from the preaching of the Gospel.
(Luke 10:8 KJV) And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
(Mat 10:9-10 KJV) Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, {10} Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
Paul now informs them that the Lord Himself endorses the ongoing support of those bringing the Gospel. If a person has to go to work to raise living expenses in every place they visit, this would surely hinder the preaching and expansion of the Gospel. The itinerant preachers need to be free to be able to minister in as many places as possible. God would supply all their needs as they go.
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.
Glorying - Boasting
Paul would rather die than give credence to anyone who might say that Paul was only skimming funds from the church for his own use. Although Paul was within his biblical rights to request funds for his journeys and ministries, he would not do that nor did he ever write anything to that end. Paul preached the Gospel to Corinth without placing a financial burden upon the church or any individual. Paul was glorying in the Gospel in that he preached the Gospel to them without taking anything from them and that is why he was able to biblically boast. His boasting was not the arrogant type but was of the type that brings glory to God. (2 Cor 8:24 KJV) Wherefore show ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf. Remember Paul claimed that the evidence of his apostleship was the Corinthian church itself. (Gal 6:14 KJV) But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. The word “glory” in the Galatians verse is a cognate of the word in 1 Corinthians 9:15. The only boasting that the true Christian can do is to boast or glory in the cross of Christ. If Paul was accused of taking money for wrong reasons, then his glorying in the cross of Christ would have had a blemish on it and he wanted no one to reproach the cause of Christ because of someone making a false accusation or misinterpreting his motives.
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!
Now Paul switches meanings on glorying. He states that even though he is preaching the Gospel, he has nothing to personally glory in. All glorying of the believer is to be done in Christ. We never glory in ourselves on a personal level. If a person has a great gift of preaching, they should never glory in that. If a person has a great gift of writing, they should never glory in that. No matter what talents or gifts a believer has, the world may see it as a reason for boasting, but the Bible tells us that in ourselves we have nothing to boast of. Paul had ability to convey Bible truth but he did not glory in that conveyance, instead he gloried in the essence of that conveyance which is the message of salvation.
Paul then says that he does not glory in himself because he must preach the Gospel. This is what he was called to do. This is why he refused to take money because of a fear of someone making a false accusation. He was so committed to bringing the Gospel that he considered himself under judgment if he did not bring the Gospel. A “woe” in scripture is a synonym for judgment. This is how serious Paul was about his calling and he was not going to allow an ancillary issue like fund raising from the churches to interfere with his calling.
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.
Dispensation - Commission
Many people will volunteer for something if they believe they will receive some type of reward for their efforts. Paul is saying the same thing that he chose to preach the Gospel, then he would have some type of reward. Yet when the life of the Apostle Paul is examined, we see that his life was filled with much opposition. On one hand he desires with all his heart to preach the Gospel but on the other hand as a Jew, the teaching of the Gospel of Christ was anathema so when he was called, it would have been against his will. In fact, every Christian who is called to preach will have both types of relationships with their ministry. They will desire to preach the Gospel but when opposition arises and they want to head for cover, then they must realize they have been commissioned to preach, and hiding is not an option. Paul is saying here that even if he doesn’t want to preach the Gospel, he will have to anyway because the Lord Jesus Christ has commissioned him to do so, and whether he likes it or not, he is commanded to do it. There are probably countless numbers of Christians who were initially called into the ministry and then refused to go. Then as God began to tighten the ropes around them, they found great release when they finally yielded to God’s irreversible calling and went into the ministry that God commissioned them to. In other words, if God is calling you into ministry, you are not going to run the other way.   Remember Jonah!
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.
Paul then goes on to explain the reward he receives. He rejoices in the fact that he can bring the Gospel without requesting any funds to do so, which means that he is not abusing his power. Basically, what he is saying that he can bring the Gospel with pure motives. He also does not have to be concerned with the anxious thoughts of something like, “how much are they going to give me or will it be enough to live on?” Paul makes what he knows he needs and that frees him up to bring the Gospel without any shackles on it in the area of money. This is what we need to adopt as our ministry philosophy. It is a very erroneous practice to sell cassette tapes of sermons in churches. That should be a ministry of the church. The essence of ministry is to bring the Gospel free of charge. One of the definitions of minister is to give aid or service. Can you imagine a poor person going into a ministry sponsored clinic and being told they have to pay for medicine? Then how is that ministry, it then becomes a business. Can you imagine a missionary going to a foreign country and handing out tracts to the people but charging them for it? Ridiculous isn’t it yet, churches do this as a regular practice. They take up a collection each Sunday which should be used for ministry, instead it is socked away and then the Gospel is sold. If churches would abandon this practice and give away the Gospel, there will be no lack of funding in that ministry.