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1 Corinthians Chapter 9

1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Haven't I seen Jesus Christ, our Lord? Aren't you my work in the Lord?

2 If to others I am not an apostle, yet at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

3 My defence to those who examine me is this:

4 Have we no right to eat and to drink?

5 Have we no right to take along a wife who is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

6 Or have only Barnabas and I no right to not work?

7 What soldier ever serves at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, and doesn't eat of its fruit? Or who feeds a flock, and doesn't drink from the flock's milk?

8 Do I speak these things according to the ways of men? Or doesn't the law also say the same thing?

9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it for the oxen that God cares,

10 or does he say it assuredly for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake, because he who ploughs ought to plough in hope, and he who threshes in hope should partake of his hope.

11 If we sowed to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your fleshly things?

12 If others partake of this right over you, don't we yet more? Nevertheless we didn't use this right, but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the Good News of Christ.

13 Don't you know that those who serve around sacred things eat from the things of the temple, and those who wait on the altar have their portion with the altar?

14 Even so the Lord ordained that those who proclaim the Good News should live from the Good News.

15 But I have used none of these things, and I don't write these things that it may be done so in my case; for I would rather die, than that anyone should make my boasting void.

16 For if I preach the Good News, I have nothing to boast about; for necessity is laid on me; but woe is to me if I don't preach the Good News.

17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward. But if not of my own will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.

18 What then is my reward? That when I preach the Good News, I may present the Good News of Christ without charge, so as not to abuse my authority in the Good News.

19 For though I was free from all, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more.

20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain those who are under the law;

21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law towards God, but under law towards Christ), that I might win those who are without law.

22 To the weak I became as weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.

23 Now I do this for the sake of the Good News, that I may be a joint partaker of it.

24 Don't you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win.

25 Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.

26 I therefore run like that, not aimlessly. I fight like that, not beating the air,

27 but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.

Footnotes

Verse 9
Deuteronomy 25:4

Version: World English Bible


1 Corinthians Chapter 9 Guide

The words, "my defence to them that examine me is this," reveal the opposition to him in Corinth. The two words, "defence" and "examine," are purely legal, and are in the language of the courts of justice. The apostle is speaking of himself as on his defence and under examination. The apostle declares that his right in the case of the Corinthians at least is based on his work. Whatever relation he may bear to others, he is an apostle to them at least, for they are the very seal of his apostleship in that they are, as he has said previously, his children in the Gospel.

While defending his rights, he declared his abandonment of them in the power of that compulsion of the Gospel through which he became all things to all men. The same principles are here enforced by a general illustration. The apostle used the race as an illustration, and laid down this one simple principle, "So run that ye may attain." The goal is always to be kept in view, and all present action is to be governed by the passion for reaching that goal and receiving the crown. There is therefore to be self-control in all things, in order that there may be ultimate victory.

The solemn closing words reach the very heart of the argument. The apostle, speaking now of himself, again for the sake of illustration, declares that he runs not uncertainly; that he fights not as beating the air; that he brings his body into bondage, even by buffeting, and all this because he sees the terrible possibility of himself being rejected, even though he has been a herald to others; the meaning of which most evidently is that failure to regulate life so as to help others imperils our own salvation.

From "An Exposition of the Whole Bible" by G. Campbell Morgan.