From 1 Corinthians 9-11
Today’s passage helps us remember to support those who lead us. You might remember 1 Cor 4.1-21. Paul here continues defending his ministry describing the sacrifices he has made.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
9 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 2 If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3 This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? (1 Cor 9.1-7)
Paul needs support like any other person. He needs food, has no wife and has to work to provide for himself. I’m wondering if they thought less of Paul because he was a tentmaker. Verse 6 seems to draw attention to Paul’s working for a living. But in all this he serves others. Paul describes himself as a soldier, labourer and a shepherd. He fights for Christ and for them. He plants and nurtures churches. He pastors churches. If he does all this, should he not be provided for?
8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? (1 Cor 9.8-12a)
Paul wants their help. He needs their help. Its the material things he needs, financial support for food, clothing and shelter.
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. 15 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. 16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. (1 Cor 9:12b–18)
There are sometimes when Paul may not even get help. But this doesnt stop his gospel ministry. Whether he is supported or not, he will proclaim the gospel. He is under obligation (Rom 1.14) and necessity (1 Cor 9.16). Paul’s attitude and service is commendable.
Words for believers
Paul’s ministry lives on in people today who share the gospel in a variety of ways. We need to think about how we can support them as well. They would do it if we didnt, but we make it easier for them in their service if we do.