1 Corinthians 9


St. Paul vindicates his apostleship, and shows that he has

equal rights and privileges with Peter and the brethren of our

Lord; and that he is not bound, while doing the work of an

apostle, to labour with his hands for his own support, 1-6.

He who labours should live by the fruit of his own industry, 7.

For the law will not allow even the ox to be muzzled which

treads out the corn, 8-10.

Those who minister in spiritual things have a right to a

secular support for their work, 11-14.

He shows the disinterested manner in which he has preached the

Gospel, 15-18.

Now he accommodated himself to the prejudices of men, in order

to bring about their salvation, 19-23.

The way to heaven compared to a race, 24.

The qualifications of those who may expect success in the games

celebrated at Corinth, and what that success implies, 25.

The apostle applies these things spiritually to himself; and

states the necessity of keeping his body in subjection, lest,

after having proclaimed salvation to others, he should become a

castaway, 26, 27.


Verse 1. Am I not an apostle?] It is sufficiently evident

that there were persons at Corinth who questioned the apostleship

of St. Paul; and he was obliged to walk very circumspectly that

they might not find any occasion against him. It appears also

that he had given them all his apostolical labours gratis; and

even this, which was the highest proof of his disinterested

benevolence, was produced by his opposers as an argument against

him. "Prophets, and all divinely commissioned men, have a right

to their secular support; you take nothing:-is not this from a

conviction that you have no apostolical right?" On this point the

apostle immediately enters on his own defence.

Am I not an apostle? Am I not free?] These questions are all

designed as assertions of the affirmative: I am an apostle; and I

am free-possessed of all the rights and privileges of an apostle.

Have I not seen Jesus Christ] From whom in his personal

appearance to me, I have received my apostolic commission. This

was judged essentially necessary to constitute an apostle.

See Ac 22:14, 15; 26:16.

Are not ye my work] Your conversion from heathenism is the

proof that I have preached with the Divine unction and authority.

Several good MSS. and versions transpose the two first

questions in this verse, thus: Am I not free? am I not an apostle?

But I cannot see that either perspicuity or sense gains any

thing by this arrangement. On the contrary, it appears to me that

his being an apostle gave him the freedom or rights to which he

refers, and therefore the common arrangement I judge to be the


Verse 2. If I be not an apostle unto others] If there be

other Churches which have been founded by other apostles; yet it

is not so with you.

The seal of mine apostleship are ye] Your conversion to

Christianity is God's seal to my apostleship. Had not God sent

me, I could not have profited your souls.

The σφραγις or seal, was a figure cut in a stone, and that set

in a ring, by which letters of credence and authority were

stamped. The ancients, particularly the Greeks, excelled in this

kind of engraving. The cabinets of the curious give ample proof

of this; and the moderns contend in vain to rival the perfection

of those ancient masters.

In the Lord.] The apostle shows that it was by the grace and

influence of God alone that he was an apostle, and that they were

converted to Christianity.

Verse 3. Mine answer to them] ηεμηαπολογιατοιςεμε

ανακρινουσιν. This is my defence against those who examine me.

The words are forensic; and the apostle considers himself as

brought before a legal tribunal, and questioned so as to be

obliged to answer as upon oath. His defence therefore was this,

that they were converted to God by his means. This verse belongs

to the two preceding verses.

Verse 4. Have we not power to eat and to drink?] Have we not

authority, or right, εξουσιαν, to expect sustenance, while we

are labouring for your salvation? Meat and drink, the

necessaries, not the superfluities, of life, were what those

primitive messengers of Christ required; it was just that they

who laboured in the Gospel should live by the Gospel; they did not

wish to make a fortune, or accumulate wealth; a living was all

they desired. It was probably in reference to the same moderate

and reasonable desire that the provision made for the clergy in

this country was called a living; and their work for which they

got this living was called the cure of souls. Whether we derive

the word cure from cura, care, as signifying that the care of

all the souls in a particular parish or place devolves on the

minister, who is to instruct them in the things of salvation, and

lead them to heaven; or whether we consider the term as implying

that the souls in that district are in a state of spiritual

disease, and the minister is a spiritual physician, to whom the

cure of these souls is intrusted; still we must consider that such

a labourer is worthy of his hire; and he that preaches the Gospel

should live by the Gospel.

Verse 5. Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife] The

word εξουσιαν is to be understood here, as above in 1Co 9:4, as

implying authority or right; and authority, not merely derived

from their office, but from Him who gave them that office; from

the constitution of nature; and from universal propriety or the

fitness of things.

When the apostle speaks of leading about a sister, a wife, he

means first, that he and all other apostles, and consequently all

ministers of the Gospel, had a right to marry. For it appears

that our Lord's brethren James and Jude were married; and we have

infallible evidence that Peter was a married man, not only from

this verse, but from Mt 8:14, where his

mother-in-law is mentioned as being cured by our Lord of a fever.

And secondly, we find that their wives were persons of the same

faith; for less can never be implied in the word sister. This is

a decisive proof against the papistical celibacy of the clergy:

and as to their attempts to evade the force of this text by saying

that the apostles had holy women who attended them, and ministered

to them in their peregrinations, there is no proof of it; nor

could they have suffered either young women or other men's wives

to have accompanied them in this way without giving the most

palpable occasion of scandal. And Clemens Alexandrinus has

particularly remarked that the apostles carried their wives about

with them, "not as wives, but as sisters, that they might minister

to those who were mistresses of families; that so the doctrine of

the Lord might without reprehension or evil suspicion enter into

the apartments of the women." And in giving his finished picture

of his Gnostic, or perfect Christian, he says: εσθιεικαιπινει

καιγαμειεικοναςεχειτουςαποστολους, He eats, and drinks, and

marries-having the apostles for his example. Vid. Clem. Alex.

Strom., lib. vii., c. 12.

On the propriety and excellence of marriage, and its

superiority to celibacy, see the notes on chap. 7.

Verse 6. Or I only and Barnabas] Have we alone of all the

apostles no right to be supported by our converts? It appears

from this, 1. That the apostles did not generally support

themselves by their own labour. 2. That Paul and Barnabas did

thus support themselves. Some of the others probably had not a

business at which they could conveniently work; but Paul and

Barnabas had a trade at which they could conveniently labour

wherever they came.

Verse 7. Who goeth a warfare-at his own charges?] These

questions, which are all supposed from the necessity and propriety

of the cases to be answered in the affirmative, tend more forcibly

to point out that the common sense of man joins with the

providence of God in showing the propriety of every man living by

the fruits of his labour. The first question applies particularly

to the case of the apostle, τιςστρατευεταιιδιοιςοψωνιοις. Does

a soldier provide his own victuals? οψωςιος is used to express

the military pay or wages, by the Greek writers; for the Roman

soldiers were paid not only in money but in victuals; and hence

corn was usually distributed among them. See Clarke on Lu 3:14.

Verse 8. Say I these things as a man?] Is this only human

reasoning? or does not God say in effect the same things?

See Clarke on Ro 6:19.

Verse 9. Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox] See this

largely explained in Clarke's note on "De 25:4".

Doth God take care for oxen?] This question is to be

understood thus: Is it likely that God should be solicitous for

the comfort of oxen, and be regardless of the welfare of man? In

this Divine precept the kindness and providential care of God are

very forcibly pointed out. He takes care of oxen; he wills them

all that happiness of which their nature is susceptible; and can

we suppose that he is unwilling that the human soul shall have

that happiness which is suited to its spiritual and eternal

nature? He could not reprobate an ox, because the Lord careth for

oxen; and surely he cannot reprobate a man. It may be said the

man has sinned but the ox cannot. I answer: The decree of

reprobation is supposed to be from all eternity; and certainly a

man can no more sin before he exists, than an ox can when he


Verse 10. And he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of

his hope.] Instead of οαλοωντηςελπιδοςαυτουμετεχεινεπ

ελπιδι, many of the best MSS. and versions read the passage thus:

οαλοωνεπελπιδιτουμετεχειν. And he who thresheth in hope

of partaking. "The words τηςελπιδος, which are omitted by the

above, are," says Bp. Pearce, "superfluous, if not wrong; for men

do not live in hope to partake of their hope, but to partake of

what was the object and end of their hope. When these words are

left out, the former and latter sentence will be both of a piece,

and more resembling each other: for μετεχειν may be understood

after the first επελπιδι, as well as after the last." Griesbach

has left the words in question out of the text.

Verse 11. If we have sown unto you spiritual things] If we

have been the means of bringing you into a state of salvation by

the Divine doctrines which we have preached unto you, is it too

much for us to expect a temporal support then we give ourselves up

entirely to this work? Every man who preaches the Gospel has a

right to his own support and that of his family while thus


Verse 12. If others be partakers of this power] If those who

in any matter serve you have a right to a recompense for that

service, surely we who have served you in the most essential

matters have a right to our support while thus employed in your


We have not used this power] Though we had this right, we have

not availed ourselves of it, but have worked with our hands to

bear our own charges, lest any of you should think that we

preached the Gospel merely to procure a temporal support, and so

be prejudiced against us, and thus prevent our success in the

salvation of your souls.

Verse 13. They which minister about holy things] All the

officers about the temple, whether priests, Levites, Nethinim,

&c., had a right to their support while employed in its service.

The priests partook of the sacrifices; the others had their

maintenance from tithes, first fruits, and offerings made to the

temple; for it was not lawful for them to live on the sacrifices.

Hence the apostle makes the distinction between those who minister

about holy things and those who wait at the altar.

Verse 14. Even so hath the Lord ordained] This is evidently a

reference to our Lord's ordination, Mt 10:10:

The workman is worthy of his meat. And Lu 10:7:

For the labourer is worthy of his hire. And in both places it is

the preacher of the Gospel of whom he is speaking. It was a

maxim among the Jews, "that the inhabitants of a town where a wise

man had made his abode should support him, because he had forsaken

the world and its pleasures to study those things by which he

might please God and be useful to men." See an ordinance to this

effect in the tract Shabbath, fol. 114.

Verse 15. Neither have I written, &c.] Though I might plead

the authority of God in the law, of Christ in the Gospel, the

common consent of our own doctors, and the usages of civil

society, yet I have not availed myself of my privileges; nor do I

now write with the intention to lay in my claims.

Verse 16. For though I preach the Gospel] I have cause of

glorying that I preach the Gospel free of all charges to you; but

I cannot glory in being a preacher of the Gospel, because I am not

such either by my own skill or power. I have received both the

office, and the grace by which I execute the office, from God. I

have not only his authority to preach, but that authority obliges

me to preach; and if I did not, I should endanger my salvation:

yea, wo is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel. As every genuine

preacher receives his commission from God alone, it is God alone

who can take it away. Wo to that man who runs when God has not

sent him; and wo to him who refuses to run, or who ceases to run,

when God has sent him.

Verse 17. For if I do this thing willingly] If I be a cordial

co-operator with God, I have a reward, an incorruptible crown,

1Co 9:25. Or, if I freely preach this Gospel without being

burthensome to any, I have a special reward; but if I do not, I

have simply an office to fulfil, into which God has put me, and

may fulfil it conscientiously, and claim my privileges at the same

time; but then I lose that special reward which I have in view by

preaching the Gospel without charge to any.

This and the 18th verse have been variously translated: Sir

Norton Knatchhull and, after him, Mr. Wakefield translate the two

passages thus: For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if

I am intrusted with an office without my consent? what is my

reward then? to make the Gospel of Christ, whilst I preach it,

without charge, in not using to the utmost my privileges in the


Others render the passage thus: But if I do it merely because I

am obliged to it, I only discharge an office that is committed to

me, 1Co 9:18.

For what then shall I be rewarded? It is for this, that,

preaching the Gospel of Christ, I preach it freely, and do not

insist on a claim which the Gospel itself gives me.

Verse 18. That I abuse not my power] I am inclined to think

that καταχρησασθαι is to be understood here, not in the sense of

abusing, but of using to the uttermost-exacting every thing that

a man can claim by law. How many proofs have we of this in

preachers of different denominations, who insist so strongly and

so frequently on their privileges, as they term them, that the

people are tempted to believe they seek not their souls'

interests, but their secular goods. Such preachers can do the

people no good. But the people who are most liable to think thus

of their ministers, are those who are unwilling to grant the

common necessaries of life to those who watch over them in the

Lord. For there are such people even in the Christian Church! If

the preachers of the Gospel were as parsimonious of the bread of

life as some congregations and Christian societies are of the

bread that perisheth, and if the preacher gave them a spiritual

nourishment as base, as mean, and as scanty as the temporal

support which they afford him, their souls must without doubt have

nearly a famine of the bread of life.

Verse 19. For though I be free] Although I am under no

obligation to any man, yet I act as if every individual had a

particular property in me, and as if I were the slave of the


Verse 20. Unto the Jews I became as a Jew] In Ac 16:3, we

find that for the sake of the unconverted Jews he circumcised

Timothy. See the note there.

To them that are under the law] To those who considered

themselves still under obligation to observe its rites and

ceremonies, though they had in the main embraced the Gospel, he

became as if under the same obligations; and therefore purified

himself in the temple, as we find related, Ac 21:26, where also

see the notes.

After the first clause, to them that are under the law as under

the law, the following words, μηωναυτοςυπονομον, not being

myself under the law, are added by ABCDEFG, several others; the

later Syriac, Sahidic, Armenian, Vulgate, and all the Itala;

Cyril, Chrysostom, Damascenus, and others; and on this evidence

Griesbach has received them into the text.

Verse 21. To them that are without law] The Gentiles, who had

no written law, though they had the law written in their hearts;

See Clarke on Ro 2:15.

Being not without law to God] Instead of θεω, TO God, and

χριστω, TO Christ, the most important MSS. and versions have

θεου, OF God, and χριστου, OF Christ; being not without the

law of God, but under the law of Christ.

Them that are without law.] Dr. Lightfoot thinks the Sadducees

may be meant, and that in certain cases, as far as the rites and

ceremonies of the Jewish religion were concerned, he might conform

himself to them, not observing such rites and ceremonies, as it is

well known that they disregarded them; for the doctor cannot see

how the apostle could conform himself in any thing to them that

were without law, i.e. the heathen. But, 1. It is not likely

that the apostle could conform himself to the Sadducees; for what

success could he expect among a people who denied the

resurrection, and consequently a future world, a day of judgment,

and all rewards and punishments? 2. He might among the heathen

appear as if he were not a Jew, and discourse with them on the

great principles of that eternal law, the outlines of which had

been written in their hearts, in order to show them the necessity

of embracing that Gospel which was the power of God unto salvation

to every one that believed.

Verse 22. To the weak became I as weak] Those who were

conscientiously scrupulous, even in respect to lawful things.

I am made all things to all men] I assumed every shape and

form consistent with innocency and perfect integrity; giving up my

own will, my own way, my own ease, my own pleasure, and my own

profit, that I might save the souls of all. Let those who plead

for the system of accommodation on the example of St. Paul, attend

to the end he had in view, and the manner in which he pursued that

end. It was not to get money, influence, or honour, but to

save SOULS! It was not to get ease but to increase his labours.

It was not to save his life, but rather that it should be a

sacrifice for the good of immortal souls!

A parallel saying to this of St. Paul has been quoted from

Achilles Tatius, lib. v., cap. xix., where Clitophon says, on

having received a letter from Leucippe: τουτοιςεντυχων


εχατρονηχθομην. "When I read the contents, I became all things

at once; I was inflamed, I grew pale, I was struck with wonder; I

doubted, I rejoiced, became sad." The same form of speech is

frequent among Greek writers. I think this casts some light on

the apostle's meaning.

That I might by all means save some.] On this clause there are

some very important readings found in the MSS. and versions.

Instead of παντωςτιναςσωσω, that I might by all means save some;

πανταςσωσω, that I might save all, is the reading of DEFG,

Syriac, Vulgate, AEthiopic, all the Itala, and several of the

fathers. This reading Bishop Pearce prefers, because it is more

agreeable to St. Paul's meaning here, and exactly agrees with what

he says, 1Co 10:33, and makes his design more extensive and

noble. Wakefield also prefers this reading.

Verse 23. And this I do for the Gospel's sake] Instead of

τουτο, this, παντα, all things, (I do all things for the

Gospel's sake,) is the reading of ABCDEFG, several others, the

Coptic, AEthiopic, Vulgate, Itala, Armenian, and Sahidic; the two

latter reading ταυταπαντα, all these things.

Several of the fathers have the same reading, and there is much

reason to believe it to be genuine.

That I might be partaker thereof with you.] That I might

attain to the reward of eternal life which it sets before me; and

this is in all probability the meaning of τοευαγγελιον, which we

translate the Gospel, and which should be rendered here prize or

reward; this is a frequent meaning of the original word, as may be

seen in my preface to St. Matthew: I do all this for the sake of

the prize, that I may partake of it with you.

Verse 24. They which run in a race run all] It is

sufficiently evident that the apostle alludes to the athletic

exercises in the games which were celebrated every fifth year on

the isthmus, or narrow neck of land, which joins the Peloponnesus,

or Morea, to the main land; and were thence termed the Isthmian

games. The exercises were running, wrestling, boxing, throwing

the discus or quoit, &c.; to the three first of these the apostle

especially alludes.

But one receiveth the prize?] The apostle places the Christian

race in contrast to the Isthmian games; in them, only one received

the prize, though all ran; in this, if all run, all will receive

the prize; therefore he says, So run that ye may obtain. Be as

much in earnest to get to heaven as others are to gain their

prize; and, although only one of them can win, all of you may


Verse 25. Is temperate in all things] All those who contended

in these exercises went through a long state and series of painful

preparations. To this exact discipline Epictetus refers, cap. 35:



καυματιενψυχειμηψυχρονπινεινμηοινονωςετυχεν. απλωςως

ιατρωπαραδεδωκεναισεαυτοντωεπιστατη. ειταειςτοναγωνα

παρερχεσθαι. κτλ "Do you wish to gain the prize at the

Olympic games?-Consider the requisite preparations and the

consequences: you must observe a strict regimen; must live on food

which you dislike; you must abstain from all delicacies; must

exercise yourself at the necessary and prescribed times both in

heat and in cold; you must drink nothing cooling; take no wine as

formerly; in a word, you must put yourself under the directions of

a pugilist, as you would under those of a physician, and

afterwards enter the lists. Here you may get your arm broken,

your foot put out of joint, be obliged to swallow mouthfuls of

dust, to receive many stripes, and after all be conquered." Thus

we find that these suffered much hardships in order to conquer,

and yet were uncertain of the victory.

Horace speaks of it in nearly the same way:-

Qui studet optatam cursu contingere metam,

Multa tulit fecitque puer: sudavit et alsit:

Abstinuit Venere et Baccho.

De Arte Poet., ver. 412.

A youth who hopes the Olympic prize to gain,

All arts must try, and every toil sustain;

Th' extremes of heat and cold must often prove;

And shun the weakening joys of wine and love.


These quotations show the propriety of the apostle's words:

Every man that striveth for the mastery, παςταεγκρατευεται, is

temperate, or continent, in all things.

They do it to obtain a corruptible crown] The crown won by the

victor in the Olympian games was made of the wild olive; in the

Pythian games of laurel; in the Nemean games of parsley; and

in the Isthmian games of the pine. These were all corruptible,

for they began to wither as soon as they were separated from the

trees, or plucked out of the earth. In opposition to these, the

apostle says, he contended for an incorruptible crown, the

heavenly inheritance. He sought not worldly honour; but that

honour which comes from God.

Verse 26. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly] In the

foot-course in those games, how many soever ran, only one could

have the prize, however strenuously they might exert themselves;

therefore, all ran uncertainly; but it was widely different in the

Christian course, if every one ran as he ought, each would receive

the prize.

The word αδηλως, which we translate uncertainly, has other

meanings. 1. It signifies ignorantly; I do not run like one

ignorant of what he is about, or of the laws of the course; I

know that there is an eternal life; I know the way that leads to

it; and I know and feel the power of it. 2. It signifies without

observation; the eyes of all the spectators were fixed on those

who ran in these races; and to gain the applause of the multitude,

they stretched every nerve; the apostle knew that the eyes of all

were fixed upon him. 1. His false brethren waited for his

halting: 2. The persecuting Jews and Gentiles longed for his

downfall: 3. The Church of Christ looked on him with anxiety:

4. And he acted in all things as under the immediate eye of God.

Not as one that beateth the air] Kypke observes, that there

are three ways in which persons were said, αεραδερειν, to beat

the air. 1. When in practising for the combat they threw their

arms and legs about in different ways, thus practising the

attitudes of offence and defence. This was termed σκιαμαχια,

fighting with a shadow. To this Virgil alludes when representing

Dares swinging his arms about, when he rose to challenge a

competitor in the boxing match:-

Talis prima Dares caput altum in praelia tollit,

Ostenditque humeros latos, alternaque jactat

Brachia protendens, et verberat ictibus auras.

AEn. v., ver. 375.

Thus, glorying in his strength, in open view

His arms around the towering Dares threw;

Stalked high, and laid his brawny shoulders bare,

And dealt his whistling blows in empty air. Pitt.

2. Sometimes boxers were to aim blows at their adversaries which

they did not intend to take place, and which the others were

obliged to exert themselves to prevent as much as if they had been

really intended, and by these means some dexterous pugilists

vanquished their adversaries by mere fatigue, without giving them

a single blow. 3. Pugilists were said to beat the air when they

had to contend with a nimble adversary, who, by running from side

to side, stooping, and various contortions of the body, eluded the

blows of his antagonist; who spent his strength on the air,

frequently missing his aim, and sometimes overturning himself in

attempting to hit his adversary, when this, by his agility, had

been able to elude the blow. We have an example of this in

Virgil's account of the boxing match between Entellus and Dares,

so well told AEneid. v., ver. 426, &c., and which will give us a

proper view of the subject to which the apostle alludes: viz.

boxing at the Isthmian games.

Constitit in digitos extemplo arrectus uterque,

Brachiaque ad superas interritus extulit auras.

Abduxere retro longe capita ardua ab ictu;

Immiscentque manus manibus, pugnamque lacessunt.

Ille [Dares] pedum melior motu, fretusque juventa;

Hic [Entellus] membris et mole valens; sed tarda trementi

Genua labant, vastos quatit aeger anhelitus artus.

Multa viri nequicquam inter se vulnera jactant,

Multa cavo lateri ingeminant, et pectore vasto

Dant sonitus; erratque aures et tempora circum

Crebra manus; duro crepitant sub vulnere malae,

Stat gravis Entellus, nisuque immotus eodem,

Corpore tela modo atque oculis vigilantibus exit.

Ille, velut celsam oppugnat qui molibus urbem,

Aut montana sedet circum castella sob armis;

Nunc hos, nunc illos aditus, omnemque pererrat

Arte locum, et variis assultibus irritus urget.

Ostendit dextram insurgens Entellus, et alte

Extulit: ille ictum venientem a vertice velox

Praevidit, celerique elapsus corpore cessit.

Entellus VIRES IN VENTUM EFFUDIT; et ultro

Ipse gravis, graviterque ad terram pontere vasto

Concidit: ut quondam cava concidit, aut Erymantho,

Aut Ida in magna, radicibus eruta pinus.--

Consurgunt studiis Teucri et Trinacria pubes;

It clamor coelo: primusque accurrit Acestes,

AEquaevumque ab humo miserans attollit amicum.

At non tardatus casu, neque territus heros,

Acrior ad pugnam redit, ac vim suscitat ira:

Tum pudor incendit vires, et conscia virtus;

Praecipitemque Daren ardens agit aequore toto;

Nunc dextra ingeminans ictus, nunc ille sinistra

Nec mora, nec requies: quam multa grandine nimbi

Culminibus crepitant; sic densis ictibus heros

Creber utraque manu pulsat versatque Dareta.

Both on the tiptoe stand, at full extent;

Their arms aloft, their bodies inly bent;

Their heads from aiming blows they bear afar,

With clashing gauntlets then provoke the war.

One [Dares] on his youth and pliant limbs relies;

One [Entellus] on his sinews, and his giant size.

The last is stiff with age, his motions slow;

He heaves for breath, he staggers to and fro.--

Yet equal in success, they ward, they strike;

Their ways are different, but their art alike.

Before, behind, the blows are dealt; around

Their hollow sides the rattling thumps resound;

A storm of strokes, well meant, with fury flies,

And errs about their temples, ears, and eyes:

Nor always errs; for oft the gauntlet draws

A sweeping stroke along the crackling jaws.

Hoary with age, Entellus stands his ground;

But with his warping body wards the wound;

His head and watchful eye keep even pace,

While Dares traverses and shifts his place;

And, like a captain who beleaguers round

Some strong-built castle, on a rising ground,

Views all the approaches with observing eyes; *

This, and that other part, in vain he tries, *

And more on industry than force relies. *

With hands on high, Entellus threats the foe; *

But Dares watched the motion from below, *

And slipped aside, and shunned the long descending blow. *

Entellus wastes his forces on the wind;

And thus deluded of the stroke designed,

Headlong and heavy fell: his ample breast,

And weighty limbs, his ancient mother pressed.

So falls a hollow pine, that long had stood

On Ida's height or Erymanthus' wood.--

Dauntless he rose, and to the fight returned;

With shame his cheeks, his eyes with fury burned:

Disdain and conscious virtue fired his breast,

And, with redoubled force, his foe he pressed;

He lays on loads with either hand amain,

And headlong drives the Trojan o'er the plain,

Nor stops, nor stays; nor rest, nor breath allows; *

But storms of strokes descend about his brows; *

A rattling tempest, and a hail of blows. *


To such a combat as this the apostle most manifestly alludes: and

in the above description the reader will see the full force and

meaning of the words, So fight I, not as one that beateth the

air-I have a real and a deadly foe; and as I fight not only for my

honour but for my life, I aim every blow well, and do execution

with each.

No man, who had not seen such a fight, could have given such a

description as that above; and we may fairly presume that when

Virgil was in Greece he saw such a contest at the Isthmian games,

and therefore was enabled to paint from nature.

Homer has the same image of missing the foe and beating the

air, when describing Achilles attempting to kill Hector, who, by

his agility and skill, (Poetice by Apollo,) eluded the blow:-



ILIAD, lib. xx., ver. 445

Thrice struck Pelides with indignant heart,

Thrice, in impressive air, he plunged the dart.-Pope.

Verse 27. But I keep under my body, &c.] This is an allusion,

not only to boxers, but also to wrestlers in the same games, as we

learn from the word υπωπιαζω, which signifies to hit in the eyes;

and δουλαγωγω, which signifies to trip, and give the antagonist a

fall, and then keep him down when he was down, and having obliged

him to acknowledge himself conquered, make him a slave. The

apostle considers his body as an enemy with which he must contend;

he must mortify it by self-denial, abstinence, and severe labour;

it must be the slave of his soul, and not the soul the slave of

the body, which in all unregenerate men is the case.

Lest-having preached to others] The word κηρυξας, which we

translate having preached, refers to the office of the κηρυξ, or

herald, at these games, whose business it was to proclaim the

conditions of the games, display the prizes, exhort the

combatants, excite the emulation of those who were to contend,

declare the terms of each contest, pronounce the name of the

victors, and put the crown on their heads. See my observations on

this office in Clarke's notes at "Mt 3:17".

Should be a castaway.] The word αδοκιμος signifies such a

person as the βραβευται, or judges of the games, reject as not

having deserved the prize. So Paul himself might be rejected by

the great Judge; and to prevent this, he ran, he contended, he

denied himself, and brought his body into subjection to his

spirit, and had his spirit governed by the Spirit of God. Had

this heavenly man lived in our days, he would by a certain class

of people have been deemed a legalist; a people who widely differ

from the practice of the apostle, for they are conformed to the

world, and they feed themselves without fear.

ON the various important subjects in this chapter I have

already spoken in great detail; not, indeed, all that might be

said, but as much as is necessary. A few general observations

will serve to recapitulate and impress what has been already said.

1. St. Paul contends that a preacher of the Gospel has a right

to his support; and he has proved this from the law, from the

Gospel, and from the common sense and consent of men. If a man

who does not labour takes his maintenance from the Church of God,

it is not only a domestic theft but a sacrilege. He that gives up

his time to this labour has a right to the support of himself and

family: he who takes more than is sufficient for this purpose is a

covetous hireling. He who does nothing for the cause of God and

religion, and yet obliges the Church to support him, and minister

to his idleness, irregularities, luxury, avarice, and ambition, is

a monster for whom human language has not yet got a name.

2. Those who refuse the labourer his hire are condemned by God

and by good men. How liberal are many to public places of

amusement, or to some popular charity, where their names are sure

to be published abroad; while the man who watches over their

souls is fed with the most parsimonious hand! Will not God abate

this pride and reprove this hard-heartedness?

3. As the husbandman plows and sows in hope, and the God of

providence makes him a partaker of his hope, let the upright

preachers of God's word take example and encouragement by him.

Let them labour in hope; God will not permit them to spend their

strength for nought. Though much of their seed, through the fault

of the bad ground, may be unfruitful, yet some will spring up unto

eternal life.

4. St. Paul became all things to all men, that he might gain

all. This was not the effect of a fickle or man-pleasing

disposition; no man was ever of a more firm or decided character

than St. Paul; but whenever he could with a good conscience yield

so as to please his neighbour for his good to edification, he did

so; and his yielding disposition was a proof of the greatness of

his soul. The unyielding and obstinate mind is always a little

mind: a want of true greatness always produces obstinacy and

peevishness. Such a person as St. Paul is a blessing wherever he

goes: on the contrary, the obstinate, hoggish man, is either a

general curse, or a general cross; and if a preacher of the

Gospel, his is a burthensome ministry. Reader, let me ask thee a

question: If there be no gentleness in thy manners, is there any

in thy heart? If there be little of Christ without, can there be

much of Christ within?

5. A few general observations on the Grecian games may serve to

recapitulate the subject in the four last verses.

1. The Isthmian games were celebrated among the Corinthians;

and therefore the apostle addresses them, 1Co 9:24:

KNOW ye not, &c.

2. Of the five games there used, the apostle speaks only of

three. RUNNING; 1Co 9:24:

They which run in a race; and 1Co 9:26:

I therefore so run, not as uncertainly.

WRESTLING, 1Co 9:25:

Every man that striveth; οαγωνιζομενος, he who wrestleth.

BOXING, 1Co 9:26, 27:

So fight I, not as one that beateth the air; ουτωπυκτευω, so fist

I, so I hit; but I keep my body under; υπωπιαζω, I hit in the

eye, I make the face black and blue.

3. He who won the race by running was to observe the laws of

racing-keeping within the white line which marked out the path or

compass in which they ran; and he was also to outrun the rest, and

to come first to the goal; otherwise he ran uncertainly,

1Co 9:24, 26, and was αδοκιμος, one to whom the prize could not

be judged by the judges of the games.

4. The athletic combatants, or wrestlers, observed a set diet.

See the quotation from Epictetus, under 1Co 9:25. And this was

a regimen both for quantity and quality; and they carefully

abstained from all things that might render them less able for the

combat; whence the apostle says they were temperate in all things,

1Co 9:25.

5. No person who was not of respectable family and connections

was permitted to be a competitor at the Olympic games. St.

Chrysostom, in whose time these games were still celebrated,

assures us that no man was suffered to enter the lists who was

either a servant or a slave, ουδειςαγωνιζεταιδουλοςουδεις

στρατευεταιοικετης. and if any such was found who had got himself

inserted on the military list, his name was erased, and he was

expelled and punished. αλλεαναλωδουλοςωνμετατιμεριας

εκβαλλεταιτουτωνστρατιωτωνκαταολου. To prevent any person of

bad character from entering the list at the Olympic games, the

kerux, or herald, was accustomed to proclaim aloud in the theatre

when the combatant was brought forth: μητουτουκατηγορειωστε


αγωναςεμβηναι: Who can accuse this man? For which he gives this

reason: "that being free from all suspicion of being in a state of

slavery, (and elsewhere he says of being a thief, or of corrupt

morals,) he might enter the lists with credit." Chrysost. Homil.

in Inscript. Altaris, &c., vol. iii. page 59, Edit. Benedict.

6. The boxers used to prepare themselves by a sort of

σκιαμαχια, or going through all their postures of defence and

attack when no adversary was before them. This was termed beating

the air, 1Co 9:26; but when such came to the combat, they

endeavoured to blind their adversaries by hitting them in the eye,

which is the meaning of υπωπιαζειν, as we have seen under

1Co 9:27.

7. The rewards of all these exercises were only a crown made of

the leaves of some plant, or the bough of some tree; the

olive, bay, laurel, parsley, &c., called here by the apostle

φθαρτονστεφανον, a corruptible, withering, and fading crown;

while he and his fellow Christians expected a crown incorruptible

and immortal, and that could not fade away.

8. On the subject of the possibility of St. Paul becoming a

castaway, much has been said in contradiction to his own words.

HE most absolutely states the possibility of the case: and who has

a right to call this in question? The ancient Greek commentators,

as Whitby has remarked, have made a good use of the apostle's

saying, ειδεπαυλοςτουτοδεδοικενοτοσουτουςδιδαξαςτιαν

ειποιμενημεις; "If Paul, so great a man, one who had preached and

laboured so much, dreaded this, what cause have we to fear lest

this should befall us?"

9. On the necessity of being workers together with God, in

order to avoid apostasy, Clemens Alexandrinus has some useful

observations in his Stromata, lib. vii., page 448, Edit. Oberthur:

ωςδε, says he, οιατροςυγειανπαρεξεταιτοιςσυνεργουσιπρος


γνωσιντεκαιευπραγιαν. "As a physician gives health to those

who cooperate with him in their cure; so God also gives eternal

salvation to them who are workers together with him in knowledge

and a godly life." "Therefore," says he, "it is well said among

the Greeks, that when a certain wrestler, who had long inured his

body to manly exercises, was going to the Olympic games, as he was

passing by the statue of Jupiter he offered up this prayer: ει


φερωνδικαιωςτηννικηνεμοι. 'O Jupiter, if I have performed

every thing as I ought in reference to this contest, grant me the

victory!'" May we not feel something of this spirit in seeking

the kingdom of God? And can any thing of this kind be supposed to

derogate from the glory of Christ? St. Paul himself says, if a

man contend for the mastery, yet is he not crowned except he

strive lawfully. Shall we pretend to be wiser than the apostle;

and say, that we may gain the crown, though we neither fight the

good fight nor finish the course?

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