Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 9:1 - 9:23

Online Resource Library

Return to | Commentary Index | Bible Index | Search | Prayer Request | Download

Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 9:1 - 9:23

(Show All Books | Show All Chapters)

This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

B. An Illustration of Self-denial drawn from the Apostle’s Life, in the Renunciation of his own Rights and Liberties for the Good of others


1. Statement of his own rights as an Apostle


1Am I not an apostle? am I not free? [Am I not free? am I not an apostle?] have I not seen Jesus Christ [om.Christ ] our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? 2If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. 3Mine answer to them that do examine 4me is this: Have we not power to eat and to drink? 5Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 6Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? 7Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or [om. or] who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 8Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 9For 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? 10Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is [was] written: that [because] he that plougheth should plough in hope; and that [om. that] he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope [in hope of partaking]. 11If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used [did not use] this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder, the gospel of Christ. 13Do 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? 14Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.


1Co_9:1-3. The fundamental principle and purpose of his, having been briefly stated in 1Co_8:13, he now proceeds to enlarge upon it, by showing how he had, in fact, been practising self-denial out of love to the Lord and his brethren, and how he had, in a far higher manner than he had demanded of them, renounced his own rights and prerogatives for the sake of winning souls and spreading the Gospel,—[“This whole passage, thus incidentally introduced, is one of the most elevated, heavenly, and beautiful discussions in the New Testament, and contains one of the most ennobling descriptions of the virtue of self-denial, and of the principles which should actuate the Christian ministry, any where to be found. All classic writings, and all records of antiquity, would be searched in vain for an instance of such pure and elevated principle as is presented in this chapter.” Barnes].—He begins with four questions [abruptly introduced, which bring to view the position from which he acted, and answer any objections they might be inclined to make against his appealing to his own conduct. “It would almost appear as if he had properly concluded the subject at 1Co_8:13, and then returned to it from this new point of view on the arrival of fresh tidings from Corinth, informing him of the imputations which he now proceeds to dispel.” Stanley]. In the first question [see critical notes] the asserts his independence,—a circumstance which might appear to exempt him from the need of such circumspection as he above speaks of; in the second, his high function as an Apostle, which fully warranted this independence, and rendered him responsible to Christ alone, whose ambassador he was; in the third, the grounds of his Apostleship in respect of the Lord; and in the fourth, the seal of his office in the Corinthian Church itself, and in his labors there. He thus takes ground from which naturally to pass over and speak of his own right to support—a right, however, of which he had made no use out of regard to higher interests. [And this is the point in his example which he wished to enforce as a lesson upon his readers].—Am I not free?—i. e., independent, [not in a moral sense, as having knowledge, and thus emancipated from foolish prejudices; but in a civil or legal sense, as at liberty to act as he chose, without being accountable to any man]. This point is resumed again in 1Co_9:19; and the fact that it is not discussed until after the full statement of his Apostolic rights, might have occasioned the transposition of the two questions in the Rec. [“The order here followed is not only that of the most ancient MSS., but is also in conformity with the sense. His freedom, and not his Apostleship, was uppermost in his thoughts, and was the special occasion of the digression.” Stanley.—But still more.—Am I not an Apostle?—and so, placed even in a position of authority over others]? But, because this fact was disputed by his opponents, he is disposed to linger here a little; and, by way of proof, asks still further,—Have I not seen the Lord?—He here implies that his Apostleship rested on the same foundation as that of the other Apostles, viz., the immediate call of Christ and the eye-witness of His glorified life. In this respect, therefore, he was their equal. The sight of Christ he speaks of refers primarily to that first manifestation of the Lord to him which effected his conversion (1Co_15:3; Act_9:22-26); yet not exclusive of the later revelations mentioned in Act_22:17; Act_18:9, by which he was confirmed in his labors at Corinth. In no case are we to suppose any reference to his having seen Christ during his earthly life; this would have no significance whatever for the Apostleship of a Paul. That he says this with an eye to the Christ-party, as one that laid great stress on having visions, so that this were an argumentum ad hominem, is a very doubtful assumption. In opposition to Rückert, who supposes that Paul here alludes to his ecstatic vision in the temple, Neander says: “It is impossible that such a vision should legitimate Apostleship.”—Are not ye my work in the Lord?—The designation, “in the Lord,” does not qualify merely “my work,” [q. d., ‘ye are the Lords work, not mine’ (Chrys.)], but it belongs to the whole question. They were his work as an Apostle, and were introduced by him into their new life, and constituted a Church of God, in the Lord, i. e., by virtue of his fellowship in the Lord. The phrase designates the element in which he wrought (comp. 1Co_3:5 ff., and 1Co_4:15). This thought he further expands.—If I be not an apostle to others.—By the others he means those coming into the church from abroad, it may be emissaries from Palestine who sought to mislead the Corinthians in regard to his Apostleship. Ἄëëïéò is the Dative of judgment: ‘in their view or opinion.’ Ïὐê åἰõß expresses the fact as it was; hence, ïὐ , not ìÞ .—Yet, doubtless, I am to you.—The ãÝ strengthens ἀëëÜ : ‘yet, at least,’ or ‘yet surely.’ More in full: ‘Ye certainly cannot but acknowledge me as an Apostle; for ye yourselves, by the simple fact of your conversion, serve to confirm my claim There is no allusion here to the miracles of the Apostle (Chrys.). These were wrought also by those not Apostles. But that his preaching produced such results as could only be ascribed to the power of Christ, this was the proof of his assertion that he was Christ’s ambassador (comp. 2Co_3:2).—for the seal of my apostleship are ye in the Lord.— Óöñáãßò , seal, that wherewith one concludes, designates, and confirms any thing; then, confirmation, witness, original testimony. The words “in the Lord” belong here, also, to the whole clause, and imply that the fact asserted was of the Lord, inasmuch as it was He that had vouchsafed to the Apostle so glorious a result in setting up a church so richly endowed in one of the chief seats of heathenism. [“This, although valid evidence, and as such adduced by the Apostle, is very liable to be abused. First, because much which passes for evidence is spurious; and, secondly, because the evidence of success is often urged in behalf of the errors of preachers, when that success is due to the truth they preach; thirdly, because small real success may be taken as evidence for more than it will fairly warrant.” “Still, there are cases when the success is of such a character, so undeniable and so great, as to supersede the necessity of any other evidence of a divine call. Such was the case with the Apostles, with the reformers, and with many of our modern missionaries.” Hodge].—These suggestions he concludes with 1Co_9:3.—This is my answer to them who examine me.—Here the words ἡ ἐìÞ ἀðïëïãßá stand first by way of emphasis, just as áὕôç ἐóôéí come last for the same reason. The phraseology is that of the courts,— ἀðïëïãßá , apology, defence, followed by the dative expressing the parties to whom it is made (2Co_12:19).— ἀíáêñßíåéí , to judge, investigate, as magistrates at a trial, and here, for the purpose of opposition [“a direct allusion to his antagonists.” Stanley]. Áὕôç , this, is the subject and not the predicate of the sentence (as in Joh_1:19; Joh_17:3), and relates to the fact expressed just before, viz., “the seal.” To connect this sentence with what follows, [Chrys. and the E. V.], as introductory to it, is inconsistent with the contents there found; [“for what follows is no answer to those who called his Apostleship in question.” Hodge].

1Co_9:4-6. He comes now to the first point touched, viz., to his power, his civil rights which he had voluntarily renounced. The indisputableness of these he indicates by employing the form of a question—Have we not power to eat and drink?— Ïὐêἔ÷ïìåí , taken together, expresses one idea (comp. 1Co_11:22, Rom_10:18); [so that “ ìÞ asks the question, and ïὐê ἕ÷ïìåí is the thing in question; lit. Is it so that we have not power? Alford]. He here passes over into the plural, because he now takes into view his associates also, or because he desires to be regarded, not in his private capacity, but in that official position which he had in common with all the apostles and servants of God. [This, however, is doubted by Alford, who says that, “at all events, it will not apply to 1Co_9:12, where the emphatic ἡìåῖò is personal.”] In the matter of ‘eating or drinking,’ he has no reference to the Jewish laws respecting food [as though he were claiming exemption from them (as Billr. and Olsh.)], since this would be remote from the context; nor yet to the flesh offered in sacrifices (as Schrader); but, as is shown in what follows, to his right to live at the expense of the Church, a right which was grounded on his apostolic office. The same principle is applied to his journeying officially in company with a Christian wife; for this is what he means when he says—Have we not power to lead about (with us) a sister wife? ( ἄäåëöí ãõíáῖêá ).—The allusion here is not to a serving matron [whose business it should be to minister out of her substance to the wants of the apostle as he went from place to place, according to the interpretation of Aug., Jerome, and most of the early fathers, and as is still maintained by the Romish commentators in the interest of celibacy—an interpretation which very early gave rise to great abuses], for the subsequent reference to Peter forbids this (Mat_8:14), and it is inconsistent also with the qualifying term ãõíáῖêá (comp. Osiander). Nor is it the right of marriage which is here in debate, for this is simply presupposed. The point made is Paul’s right to have a companion in travel at the cost of the Church, and for this he refers to the precedent set by the rest of the apostles,—as also the other Apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas.—The allusion here is general, and we are not to conclude from it that all these parties were married. But does he here use the word ‘Apostles’ in its broader or strict sense? Osiander infers the former from the mention made of the brethren of our Lord in a way which seems to assert for them a higher position. These did, indeed, occupy a very comprehensive sphere of mission labor and important responsibility (as James, Gal_1:19); but there is no reason to believe that they stood higher than the twelve. But who are these “brethren of the Lord?” A prevailing dislike, existing even among evangelical churches, of regarding the mother of our Lord, who was conceived in her by the power of the Holy Ghost, as the mother of other children also, born in lawful wedlock, has led to the supposition, either that they were only brothers in a broader sense, being the cousins of Jesus on the mother’s side (since such cases occurred among the Apostles, though never with this designation, see Luk_6:15 ff. and the parables in Matthew 10 and Mark 3), or that they were the sons of Joseph by an earlier marriage. “The statement, ‘born of the Virgin Mary,’ is an article in the Church’s creed; but the question, whether she bore children afterwards involves no point of Christian faith.”—Burger. Both the intimation given in Mat_1:25, as also the repeated association of these brethren with Mary by the evangelists, which points to a closer relationship with her than that of step-sons (comp. Act_1:14; Mat_12:46; Mat_13:55), render it probable that they were, in a literal sense, the sons of Mary, who at first followed in the train of Jesus with their mother (Joh_2:12), and later became estranged from Him (Joh_2:3 ff.; comp. Mar_3:21); but, finally, having rid themselves of their prejudices and unbelief by reason of His resurrection, entered the circle of His disciples (see Act_1:14, where they are expressly distinguished from the twelve). Among this number James stood preeminent. Him our Lord deemed worthy of a special manifestation of Himself after He was risen (1Co_15:7); and he was highly esteemed, and exercised great authority in the Church of Jewish converts (comp. Act_15:13; Act_21:18; Gal_1:19; Gal_2:9; also see Osiander and Meyer). By referring to the authority of James (in which his brethren shared according to their measure), Paul here puts them next to the Apostles in order to establish his own apostolic rights upon the matter in question more firmly against the opposition of the Judaizers. Osiander’s inference, therefore, in regard to the “rest of the Apostles” is untenable. In further self-justification, he adduces more particularly the example of Peter—and Cephas—who occupied so high a position in the apostolic college (Neander) among the Jewish Christians. The assumption of a climax here, which makes Peter out to be the first of the Apostles (Cath.), is contradicted by 1Co_9:6Or I only and Barnabas—Paul here associates with himself his early co-laborer, a man of high apostolic consideration (Act_4:36; Act_11:22 ff; Act_13:14). [“This is the only mention of him in conjunction with St. Paul since the date of the quarrel, in Act_15:39.” Stanley. “It is not improbable that after his separation from our apostle he may have maintained the same self-denying practice of abstaining from receiving sustenance by those to whom he preached, which he had learned from Paul at the first.” Alford. “Observe his humility of mind, and his soul purified from all envy, how he takes care not to conceal him whom he knew to be a partaker with himself in this perfection.” Chrys.]—Have we not power to forbear working?—The power or right ( ἐîïõóßá ) which he here speaks of is not distinct from those above mentioned, but is a consequence of the denial of them, apagogically introduced, q. d. ‘In that case, then, it would appear that Barnabas and I are not at liberty to forbear working.’ By ‘working’ ( ἐñãÜæåóèáé ) he means laboring for support (1Co_4:12; 2Th_3:8; Act_18:5); hence the sense is: ‘are we alone under obligation to work for our livelihood while we preach?’ The Vulgate, by omitting the ìÞ , translates hoc operandi, i. e., according to the Latin expositors, faciendi quod ceteri faciunt, according to Ambrose, ‘of giving instruction for the sake of support at the cost of the churches’)!

1Co_9:7-14. He next passes to establish the right claimed; and, first, from the analogy of secular laborers who are, at the same time, striking illustrations of the nature of apostolic labor (1Co_3:6; 2Ti_2:4). (1). The soldier.—Who ever goes to war?— Óôñáôåýåóèáé , means, to march to the field, and is used alike of generals and soldiers, the same as in the active voice. Here it denotes the service of a private (Passow II., p. 1562).—at his own charges?— Ἰäßïéò ὀøåíßïéò , the Dative of ways and means; i. e., so that he bears his own expenses. Ὀøþíéá , rations, cost, stipend (Luk_3:14; Rom_6:23), [“pr. ‘whatever is bought to be eaten with bread.’ Hired soldiers were at first paid partly in rations of meat, grain, fruit.” Rob. Lex.]. “Paul here is arguing on the ground of natural right.” Neander.—(2). The husbandman.—who planteth a vineyard, and eats not its fruit.— Ôὸí êáñðüí , the accusative, instead of genitive after the åóèßåéí , to eat, is to be taken as the simple objective (Kühner, II. p. 181)]. (3). The shepherd.—who feeds a flock, and eats not of the milk of the flock.— Ἐê ôïῦ ãÜëáêôïò , of the milk [Jelf, § 621, 3, 1]. The wages of the shepherd in the East is, even to this day, a portion of the milk. [And this is partly converted into other articles of food, and also partly sold to obtain other commodities. Hence the case of the prep, ἐê , with the gen. (Alford)].—From the analogy of human relations and usages, he passes to Scripture for proof, thus sustaining his position by a positive Divine ordinance.—Say I these things as a man?— Êáôὰ ἄíèñùðïí , in a different sense from that in 1Co_3:3; here it stands in contrast with the Law of God, [and means, according to the modes of talking and acting prevalent among men]. “Paul here puts an argument derived from human customs, and one taken from the Law over against each other.” Neander.—Or does the Law, too, ( êáß ) not speak these things?— êáß introduces the higher instance as something additional. ̓́ Ç , or stands apagogically as in 1Co_9:6 (Meyer), q. d., ‘I would not appeal to human analogies had not the Law also spoken in the matter.’ On account of the êáß , which would otherwise be superfluous, it were better to treat this as a question antithetic to the foregoing one, and specifying something in advance= ἤ ïὐ ( ïὐ÷ß ) ëÝãåé ôáῦôá êáὶ ὁ íüìïò . But this would put ὁ íüìïò first, as the object on which the emphasis lies, as the Rec., making a correct gloss here. Ëáëåῖí and ëÝãåéí [the former used by the Apostle of himself, and the latter, of the Law] are to be distinguished as ‘say’ and ‘speak,’ the latter having special reference to the contents (comp. Rom_3:19), (Meyer). [“ Ëáëåῖí expresses the general idea of talking, whether reasonably or otherwise,— ëÝãåéí implies speaking in a rational, intelligent manner.” W. Webster, Syn. of the Gr. Test. This discriminating use of terms, is an incidental evidence not only of Paul’s accuracy of language, but also of his delicate humility].—The legal statute referred to is introduced with ãÜñ .—For in the Law of Moses it is written, Thou shalt not muzzle an ox which treads out the corn.—This law is found in Deu_25:4. The same allusion occurs in 1Ti_5:18, [“from which passage the reading öéìþóåéæ probably came.” Alford].—Is it for oxen that God is concerned? or does he say this altogether ( ðÜíôåò ) on our account?—The most direct and natural reason of this command, viz., kindness to brutes, is here left out of view by the Apostle, since he disavows for the great Lawgiver (God) a special care for oxen in this provision, and applies it, not as an inference from the less to the greater, or by way of accommodation, but directly to teachers, as to persons engaged in a higher kind of service, viz., the preparation of spiritual nutriment for the people (not, as Philo does, to men in general, as creatures endowed with reason). This interpretation of the Law rests on the correct presumption that the Law has a typical character, and that its enactments provide for higher relations, of which those specified are but the shadow (Col_2:17). In the rapid reasoning of the Apostle the intermediate thoughts are not brought out; but the higher intent of the words is directly exhibited, to the entire omission of the more obvious one, which here seems to be denied, as though God did not care for oxen. The attempt to modify the language by supplying the word ‘only,’ is arbitrary. “We are not to press this language too far. Taken literally, it would appear as if Paul denied a general providence in contradiction to what our Lord says. All ho intends here is to obtain from the particular Mosaic statute a more general ethical principle, applicable to the relations existing between man and man; and in doing this he does not separate between the interpretation and the application.” Neander. And so Meyer says: “This class of creatures were not the object of the Divine solicitude in this statute; that which expresses care for oxen was said not for their sakes, but on our account.” [“Every duty of humanity has for its ultimate ground, not the mere welfare of the animal concerned, but its welfare in that system of which man is the head, and therefore man’s welfare. The good done to man’s immortal spirit by acts of humanity and justice, infinitely outweighs the mere physical comfort of a brute which perishes.” Alford].—Presupposing an assent to the second question, he proceeds to argue in its favor by explaining the statute in its higher sense.—For on our account was it written.—[The ãÜñ , for, gives the reason for the assertion implied in the previous question].—that,— ὅôé , is neither to be rendered ‘because’ [as, Alford, Hodge, Stanley], since what follows cannot possibly be construed as a possible reason; neither is it intended to introduce a supposed quotation [as Rückert, who finds here the language of the Apocrypha]; but it is merely explicative, as pointing to the practical result.—he that plougheth should plough in hope, and he that threshes, in the hope of partaking.—[See Critical notes]. The designations ‘plougher’ and ‘sower,’ are not to be taken literally, as denoting either the oxen themselves, or the persons who engage in husbandry, since we are now in the higher range of thought; but they are to be interpreted spiritually, as exhibiting typically the labors of Christian teachers in accordance with the language of the statute and under the forms of agriculture. The emphasis here lies on the words “in hope,” [which accordingly in the Gr. come first]. The obligation to plough rests on hope, viz., the hope of enjoying the products of the field (comp. 2Ti_2:6). And so in the matter of threshing. [The language here is elliptical]. As in the first clause we must supply to the word “hope” what is mentioned in the second, viz., “of partaking;” so in the second we must supply the verb ‘to thresh,’ or ‘should thresh,’ as suggested by the first. From ignoring this, persons have been betrayed into attempts at alteration, as is shown in the various readings in different MSS. (comp. Osiander). The meaning is: ‘that the teacher is bound to his office in hope of enjoying its compensations’ (Meyer); or, to express it more generally: the obligation to laborious efforts in our calling as laborers in the field of God (1Co_3:9), rests upon the hope, etc.—In 1Co_9:11 he applies what has been said to the particular relation which he and his fellow-laborers sustained to the Corinthian Church in respect of their rights.—If we sowed unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?—A like antithesis occurs in Rom_15:27. There is no reason for including Barnabas under the strongly prominent ἡìåῖò , we since nothing is known of his labors in Corinth. We may say with Meyer, “that Paul, though speaking categorically, means in fact himself alone. The corresponding collocation in ἡìåῖò ὑìῖí ἡìåῖò ὑìῶíwe to youwe yours, is emphatic. But the justification of his claim appears all the stronger, from the fact that the recompense to which the laborers are entitled, involves something far inferior to the blessings they have conferred. “Spiritual things” are the blessings which proceed from the Holy Spirit, the doctrines of revelation through which the germs of a Divine life are implanted in the heart which unfold themselves in knowledge, faith, love and hope; “carnal things” are such as belong to the lower natural life. In the figures of ‘sowing’ and ‘reaping,’ it is implied that the obtaining of the lower good is a natural sequence upon the bestowment of the higher, even as the harvest follows upon seed-time. The question: “is it a great thing?” points, however, to the disproportion which exists between the one and the other, q. d., ‘It is a very small thing.’—The subj. ( èåñßóùìåí ) after åß , occurs commonly both in the more ancient Greek (Homer and the lyric poets), and in the later impure style. According to Osiander, it denotes something midway between definiteness and indefiniteness; a definite assertion of the right, with an indefiniteness in regard to its application.

Having thus established his claim to recompense on the ground of having imparted to them an incomparably higher good, he proceeds to set forth his case in still stronger light by comparing himself in this respect with other teachers who, with far less cause, still used their right to support.—If others.—The allusion here is not to false teachers precisely, (as in 2Co_11:12-20), since he is treating of a veritable right; but only to those whose title to their help stood far below his ( ìᾶëëïí ).—be partakers of this power over you.—( ôῆò ὑìῶí ἐîïõóßáò )— Ὑìῶí is the objective genitive as in Mat_10:1; Joh_17:2, power of you, for power over you, viz: in reference to the reaping of carnal things, 1Co_9:11.—are not we rather.—The ellipsis is easily filled up from the preceding clause.—After this strong assertion and maintenance of his right, he states what his course had actually been, and the reason of his conduct.—nevertheless we did not use this power,—[not because he dared not, as some might suppose, and thus infer a consciousness on his part of lacking apostolical authority].—but we bear all things.— ÓôÝãåéí , as also in 1Co_13:7, and 1Th_3:1, lit. to cover, to protect, so that nothing shall penetrate, [used of vessels containing and holding without breaking], hence, to hold off, to hold out, to forbear, to endure in silence. (Passow II. e. p. 1526,)—in order that we may not present any hinderance,— ἐãêïðÞí , a cutting into the path, hence, impediment, hinderance. This would arise from charges of covetousness and self-seeking in the work of the ministry, which his independence of them would obviate.—to the Gospel of Christ,—[a prominent statement of that whose claim overrides every other, and in behalf of which it is fitting that one should do, and endure all things].—After this preliminary statement of how he had renounced his own rights, he adds yet another proof of his title, taken from the analogy presented by the Jewish priesthood. Observe, not heathen priests, for there would be no fitness in appealing to the usages of those in support of his position, since they, were not divinely instituted. And to the usages of the Levitical priesthood he refers, as to a matter already familiar to his readers.—Do ye not know, that those performing the things of the temple.— Ὁõôὰ ἱåñὰ ἐñãáæ üìåíïé , so the priests are first designated.—This may imply the care and ministration of offerings, as ἱåñüí often occurs in this sense among classic writers; or the performance of temple services in general. The latter is to be preferred, because the second designation points definitely to the duties at the altar.—live of the temple,— ἐóèßïõóéí , lit. eat, i. e., obtain support from the temple, from the tithes, first-fruits, shew-bread, and other gifts brought hither [“Comp. the speech of the Zealots in Jos. B. J. V. 1Co_13:6, äåῖ ôïýò ôῷ íáῷ óôñáôåõïìἑíïõò ἕê ôïῦ õáïῦ ôñÝöåóèáé ,” Stanley].—those waiting at the altar.— ðáñåäñåýåéí comp. 1Co_7:35. The reference of the first of these designations in this verse to the Levites and the second to the priests, is untenable. Both relate to the latter alone, and these only are analogous in their office to the Christian teachers.—share with the altar. Óõììåñßæïíôáé indicates that they received a portion of the sacrifices, and so partook with the altar of what was offered.—even so,—points to 1Co_9:13. (Pareus on the contrary: “In consistency with all that has hitherto been said”).—the Lordi. e., Christ, whose language in Mat_10:10; and Luk_10:7 the Apostle has in mind. “Here we meet with a citation from the sayings of our Lord, which affords fresh proof that Paul must have already had a collection of our Lord’s discourses.” Neander.—also,— êáß , in addition to the precepts of the old covenant to which this of our Lord’s corresponds. Were ὁ êýñéïò = ὁ èåüò it would have read: êáὶ ôïῖò êáôáããÝëïõóéí ὁ êýñéïò äéÝôáîå (Meyer).—commanded those preaching the Gospel.—[“It was a command to ministers themselves not to seek their support from secular occupations, but,—to live of the Gospel,—as the priests lived of the temple. This law of Christ is obligatory on ministers and people; on the latter to give, and on the former to seek a support from the church, and not for worldly avocations. There are circumstances, as the case of Paul shows, under which this command ceased to be binding upon preachers. These are exceptions, to be justified, each on its own merits; the rule, as a rule, remains in force.”—Hodge. To defraud ministers of their due is to rob God.—Wordsworth].— æῇí ἐê . i. e., the Gospel should be to them the means of support:—[“Observe, that here the Apostle is establishing an analogy between the rights of the sacrificing priests of the law, and of the preachers of the Gospel. Had those preachers been likewise themselves sacrificing priests, is it possible that all allusion to them in such a character should have been here omitted? But as all such allusion is here omitted, we may fairly infer that no such character of the Christian minister was then known. As Bengel remarks on 1Co_9:13 :—“If the mass were a sacrifice Paul would certainly have shaped to it the conclusion in the following verse.”—Alford.].


2. Testimony to his own self-denial in relation to his rights and powers


15But I have [om. 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 [cause for] glorying void. 16For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, [for ]woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 17For if I do this thing willingly, [of my own accord] I have a reward; but if against my will, [obligatorily] a dispensation [stewardship] of the Gospel is committed unto me. 18What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not 19[use not to the full] my power in the Gospel. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20And 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, [ins. although I myself am not under the law] that I might gain them that are under the law; 21To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ8),that I might gain8 them that are without law. 22To the weak became I as [om. as ]weak, that I might gain the weak: 23I am made all things to all men, that. I might by all means save some. And this [all things]I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.


1Co_9:15-18. After again reminding his readers that he had not made use of his rights, so clearly established, he goes on to protest, in the most positive manner, against the suspicion that he designed to avail himself of these arguments in the future.—But I used none of these thingsi. e., not the proofs adduced (Chrys.), but (comp. 1Co_9:12) the right itself in its several particulars (1Co_9:4-5).—And I wrote not these things in order that it might be so done,—i. e., as I have written, or “after the examples I have alleged,”—in me,— ἐí ἐìïß , as in Mat_17:12, in my case, and this he confirms with great emphasis.—for good were it for me,— êáëüí , suitable, reputable, honorable.—rather to die. There is no need of interpreting ἀðïèáíåἰí to mean death by hunger [as Chrys., Estius, Billr]. In what follows, the text is much disputed. If, with Lachmann (who, instead of , supposes íÞ , comp. 1Co_15:31), and with Meyer, we read ïὐäåὶò êåíþóåé (according to B. D. [Cod. Sin.], then there is no need of punctuating, as Lachmann, ìïõ ïὐäåéò ; but it were better to assume, with Meyer (2d ed.), an aposiopesis,* so that after we are to supply something like ÷ñὴóèé ôῇ ἐîïõóßá ôáýôῃ , or ìéóèὸí ëáìâÜíåéí (which it was incompatible with his feelings to express). Then upon this a new independent sentence would follow. The whole would then be rendered thus: Good were it for me rather to die than (to use this my right, or to receive my reward); my cause for boasting no one shall make void êáý÷çìá , matter for glorying, not the act of glorying itself; and this, as appears from the context, was the preaching of the Gospel without compensation. “Paul can here mean only a glorying in the presence of men.” Burger—From a failure to perceive the aposiopesis above asserted there have arisen various attempts at amending the text. Because ïὐäåßò did not suit, ôéò has been adopted (by others ôßò ), to which a ἵíá still appeared requisite, making it read: ‘than that any one, etc.;’ and finally the fut. ind. has been changed into the aor. subj. This is the received text. In behalf of ïὐäåὶò we have the authority of [Cod. Sin. and] A., which read ïὐäåὶò ìÞ . But if the aposiopesis is not allowed, then we must decide for reading of B. ἵíá ôéò êåíþóåé : ‘than that any one shall make void.’ Meyer, in Ed. 3. regards the aposiopesis too bold, and takes as=or, on the other hand, in the sense of, otherwise, in the opposite case. He would then translate: ‘Better for me to die,’ i. e., ‘rather than suffer myself to be supported, I will prefer to die; or, on the other hand, if such a thing need not occur, my boasting none shall make void.’ But this understanding of the passage appears so forced, that we are still disposed to prefer the aposiopesis. [Alford adopts the reading ἵíá ôßò êåíþóåé , and translates: ‘than that any one should make void my (matter of) boasting.’ Wordsworth the same, with the exception of êåíþóῃ for êåíþóåé . Stanley puts a colon after ìïõ . and makes ὀõäåὶò êåíþóåé , a separate clause, rendering the whole thus: ‘It were better for me to die than my boasting: no one shall make it void.’].

In 1Co_9:16, ff. he assigns the reason for putting so great a stress on discharging his office gratuitously.—For if I preach the Gospel there is for me no matter of boasting.— Êáý÷çìá 1Co_9:6, (materies gloriandi). He means, the mere proclamation of the Gospel was not, in and of itself, anything in which he could boast, in contrast with his opponents. His advantage lay in renouncing his right and preaching without recompense. To interpret åὐáããåëßæïìáé to mean: ‘if I take a reward for preaching, is, at all events, contrary to the New Testament usage, and inconsistent with the use of the word in the context.—Why the mere fact of preaching was no ground of boasting he goes on to explain. It was a duty imposed on him, from which he could not escape.—For a necessity is laid upon me.—[It was a moral necessity, put upon him by the call and commission of Jesus, and by the immeasurable obligations he was under to His pardoning grace]; and how imperative this necessity was he shows by pointing to the effects which his refusal to submit to it would draw down upon him.—For woe is unto me if I should not preach the Gospel.— Ïὐáé , properly an interj. is here to be taken substantially, and ἐóôßí to be supplied. It refers to the Divine judgments which would fall on him if he ventured to disobey the heavenly call. Hence the fearful nature of the necessity, originating primarily in the Divine will, demanding a punctilious obedience, and also the impossibility of any boast in fulfilling it. In this “necessity” Neander thinks he discovers something which distinguishes Paul from the other Apostles. The others had joined themselves to Christ of their own accord; while he had been, as it were, constrained to enter the service. Accordingly, we discern in this word the sense which Paul had of the overwhelming urgency of his calling.—This last statement (and so also the preceding ones, whether the first or the second, but these not primarily) he illustrates and confirms by a denial of the opposite.—For if I do this voluntarily, i. e., on my own motion, of my own accord, without having been obliged thereto—I have a reward,—i. e., from God,—but if involuntarily [i. e., obligatorily, having been called to it by another, whom I could not disobey],—with a stewardship have I been entrusted,—my position is that of a steward, who, when he has done all that he could, has no more than discharged his obligations, and so has no title to a reward, (comp, Luk_17:10). The first of the above cases, he means to say, does not suit his case [“a hypothetical statement,” de Wette says]; since he was constrained to preach by the obligations put on him by a higher will; hence he was in the condition of a steward, who was absolutely dependent on the will of his master, and who, while expecting no reward for the faithful discharge of duties, might yet look for punishment in case he failed. [Stewards, it must be remembered, were usually selected from among the slaves of the establishment, as was Eleazar by Abraham, and Joseph by Potiphar]. This interpretation of Meyer, and in part that of Osiander [adopted also by Hodge, Alford, de Wette] fully satisfies the words and the context. To translate the words ἐêþí and ἄêùí , willingly and unwillingly would hardly suit, if we are to understand the last clause as describing Paul’s case, since we can in no wise predicate reluctance or unwillingness of him in the discharge of his ministry.—But if we unite åἰ äå ἄêùí ïéê . ðåðßóôåõìáé in one clause, rendering it: ‘but if I am unwillingly entrusted with the stewardship,’ then the word ‘stewardship’ loses its significance for the argument; and it would be the same if we put: ‘I am entrusted with a stewardship,’ in a parenthesis; and to supply the ellipsis of, “if unwillingly” with the words, “I do this” is in any case simpler than to make an apodosis by the addition of ‘I have no reward.’ But to take the words following as the apodosis would be inadmissible on account of the ïὖí , then.—The meaning would be entirely changed if overleaping the two clauses: ‘woe is me, etc.,’ and: ‘a necessity is laid upon me,’ we find here the confirmation or explanation of the beginning of 1Co_9:16, so that the idea of gratuitousness (gratis) is involved in ἐêþí , and that of the opposite in ἄêùí , and in the phrase: ‘I have a reward,’ we understand him to speak of his ‘matter of boasting.’ [Billroth, Bloomfield]. The ἐêþí would then indicate that he was managing the thing as his own affair, and was omitting nothing which would serve to further it, and produce results happy and honorable for himself, in which ‘he would have his reward;’ but ἄêùí would mean that he was discharging his direct obligations, only so far as to escape the penalty of neglect, and so was acting as a steward, i. e., a slave charged with the domestic economy, so that all reward or boasting would be out of the question. But in such an interpretation there would be 1, a foisting into the words ἐêþí and ἄêùí as well as into ïἱêïí . ðåðßóôåõìáé of something foreign to them; and 2, he would, in what follows, be designating that as his reward, which, a little before, appears to be the ground of his having a reward.

After having substituted the term ‘reward’ for that of ‘boasting,’ in 1Co_9:17, he retains the expression, and referring back to 1Co_9:15 (to ôὸ êáý÷çìÜ ìïõ , he asks—what then is my reward?—To take this question as implying a negative answer (Meyer) in immediate connection with what precedes—as though the meaning were: ‘since I am a steward, not acting at my option, no reward can avail me, in order that (in accordance with the end appointed by God) I may preach unsupported’ (which, as lying beyond my obligation now really merits a reward)—is, on the one hand, somewhat forced, and, on the other, leads to that which Dr. Baur (Tub., Theol., Jahrb.) objects to Meyer’s interpretation, that it involves the germ of the doctrine of supererogation, in entire contradiction with Paul’s whole mode of thought, since if Paul regarded the gratuitous proclamation of the Gospel as conducive to its success, he must have recognized such a course as obligatory upon him. As Burger says: “not according to the rights belonging to him, but in accordance with his estimate of his own personal relation to his high office (1Co_15:8-9; Eph_3:8; 1Ti_1:15-16), did Paul consider himself bound to do what was not incumbent on the other apostles, and in order that he might demonstrate through his whole life the earnestness and depth of his gratitude for the salvation so undeservedly conferred on him, and the office entrusted to his charge.—[If, however, we regard the first of the two previous clauses as expressing Paul’s case—that in declining support he was showing how freely he accepted the obligation, he was thus rising above the condition of a steward, who was merely discharging his office from necessity, and so was having some occasion for boasting—some reason to look for a reward, we must here regard Paul as proceeding to state what reward he was looking for]. The answer to this question [is variously found; it either] lies in the following words, beginning with ἵíá åὐáããåëéæüìåíïò [and which may be rendered as in the E. V.],—That when I preach I shall make the Gospel without charge.—This was to him remuneration enough, that the Gospel which he proclaimed should prove no burden to the Church, [that he could enjoy the satisfaction of offering salvation without money and without price to all whom he addressed]. The ἵíá would then introduce the object had in view: “Wherein then does my reward consist? Why, in this, that I make, etc.” Thus the original signification of ἵíá is preserved, èÞóù , fut. indic., which elsewhere accompanies ἵíá (yet oftener ὅðùò ) when some continuous act is spoken of. [Or we may, with Alford, consider these words as simply continuing the question and stating the circumstances in which he is looking for his reward.—What then is my reward, that I while preaching shall render the Gospel without charge?—“ ἵíá , like ὅðùò in classical Greek, with a fut. indic. points to the actual realization of the purpose with more precision than when followed by the subjunctive. The question in other words would be: “What reward have I in prospect that induces me to preach gratuitously?” The answer to the question would in this case be found in the next verse.].—unto the end that, ( åἰò ôü ).—This may denote either the design in view (‘in order that’), or the simple result (‘so that I shall not, etc.’).—Either would consist with the use of language.—I shall not use my power.—K áôá÷ñῆóèáé [not as in the E. V. abuse, for this would yield no fit sense here], but as in 1Co_7:31, to use to the full.—in the Gospel,—i. e., in proclaiming the Gospel; [or, still better, “conferred upon me by preaching the Gospel.”—Stanley].

1Co_9:19-23. For being free from all, I enslaved myself to all.—The “for” indicates a connection between this and the previous words: “that I may not use my power.” This connection may be understood, either as implying only a remote relation between the expressions “power” and “free,” and introducing proof of that self-denial, which prompted him to renounce his right, as shown in other respects (so de Wette; in like manner, Osiander: “With an easy transition from the matter of his self-denial hitherto discussed, he passes rapidly on to show how he had exhibited the same in another and indeed the highest degree”); or, in a stricter manner, as though by the expression “my power,” he designated his Apostolic prerogative in general, and the “freedom” he here speaks of were included under it (1Co_9:4); (so Meyer). At all events the connection is moderated by the thought that it was, with him, a fundamental principle, to make no use of his right,—only to give and not to take; and so also to devote himself to others instead of subjecting them to himself or making himself dependent on them, rather than make them dependent on him. [Stanley gives yet another view: “In the first instance, the idea of enslavement to all is suggested by the servile labor he had undertaken, as distinct from the free independence which he might have enjoyed as an Apostle; but he rapidly passes from this to his accommodation to the various feelings of all his converts, in the hope that of this mass he might gain the greater part to the cause of Christ. For the same transition from the idea of servile labor to that of serving generally, comp. Php_2:7 ( äïýëïõ ).” Alford here finds the answer to the question: What is my reward? “For (q. d., the reward must have been great and glorious in prospect) being free from,” etc.].

This principle of his he exhibits more fully in connection with the purpose he had in view, wherein at the same time his matter of boasting ( êáý÷çìá ) in this respect may be seen. First, he mentions in general, how, for the sake of a higher object, he surrendered his independence, since, though as Christ’s Apostle, he was dependent on no man, he had made himself dependent on all, had accommodated himself to their customs and prejudices, and in the plenitude of his Apostolic power, had, for their sakes, descended to the low condition of a slave.—that I might gain, êåñäÞóù is explained by the concluding óþóù (1Co_9:22). It means a winning for Christ or for God’s kingdom by conversion (comp. 1Pe_3:1; Mat_18:15). This was ever deemed by Paul a ‘reward,’ a ‘cause for boasting’ [1Th_2:19-20