1 Corinthians 9In the present chapter Paul asserts his personal rights and privileges as an apostle, verses 1Co 9:1-14; and then proceeds to show how he has willingly given them up for Christ's sake, therein proposing his own example for the imitation of those among the Corinthians who were disposed to insist on the use of their Christian liberty without regard to the consciences of the weak.Am I not free? as much at liberty as the other apostles in regard to the rights and privileges of my office.Seen Jesus Christ; seen him personally, and received from him my commission as an apostle. He mentions this to show that he is not behind the other apostles in regard to his apostolic office.My work; converted by my ministry. Seat of mine apostleship; their conversion was evidence that Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ. Examine me; concerning his credentials as an apostle, and his privileges as such. Power to eat and to drink; a right to be maintained at their expense, instead of supporting himself by manual labor. Ac 18:3; 2Co 11:7-9. Power to lead about a sister, a wife; he had as good a right to be married, and have his family supported, as Peter and other apostles had. Ministers of the gospel, whether settled in Christian or missionaries to heathen lands, have a right to be married, and with their families to be supported; though it may sometimes be wise not to exercise this right. Power to forbear working; to abstain from working for their own support. As a man; merely on the common principles of justice.The law; the law of God. De 25:4. Not muzzle the mouth of the ox; the ox had a right to support from those for whom he labored, and they could not withhold it without sinning against God, who required it of them.Take care for oxen; is it for the sake of oxen that this precept is given? that is, oxen alone, or chiefly. The apostle proceeds to show that the law in question is designed to contain a general principle for the benefit of those who labor in spiritual things. For our sakes--this is written; to show that it is the will of God that ministers of the gospel should receive support from the people for whom they labor, and that all who labor are entitled to a just reward for their services. Specific directions contained in the Old Testament, even with regard to beasts and inanimate things, are often illustrations of principles, and are designed to instruct men in all ages as to the character and will of God, and the nature, variety, and extent of human duties. Sown unto you spiritual things; labored for the good of your souls.Reap your carnal things; receive in return what is needful for support. This power; the right to a maintenance.Suffer all things; all the inconveniences and hardships of not being supported by the people. They which minister--and they which wait; the priests and the Levites, who, under the Old Testament, conducted and waited upon the religious services at the temple.Are partakers with the altar; they were supported from the offerings and contributions which the people brought to the altar. Ordained; appointed; required.Live of the gospel; be supported. The support of ministers of Christ who devote their lives to the preaching of the gospel is not a charitable donation, but a debt justly due, and cannot be withheld without injustice to them, and dishonor to Christ. Used none of these things; he had not required them to support him, nor did he write this to induce them to do it. He judged that such was then the peculiar state of things, that he could do more good by supporting himself.Make my glorying void; his glorying that he preached the gospel free of charge, by inducing him to take a different course. Nothing to glory of; nothing from the fact of his preaching.Necessity is laid upon me; after the commission he had received from Christ, he could not, consistently with duty, refrain from preaching. I have a reward; for fulfilling the charge committed to me with a willing mind.Against my will; even if reluctantly, I still have a trust which I must fulfill. When ministers of the gospel relinquish their just rights, submit to inconveniences, perform labors, and make sacrifices for the sake of doing greater good, they imitate the example of Christ, show the excellence of his religion, and may, through grace, expect from him a distinguished reward. What is my reward then? in the course he was willing and joyfully pursuing for their good. It was the satisfaction arising from his disinterested labors, the approval of conscience and of God.That I abuse not my power; or right, by requiring them to support him, when this would hinder his usefulness. Free from all; free from obligation to men to preach the gospel without charge.Gain the more; lead more souls to Christ. Became as a Jew; complied with their customs so far as he innocently could. Them that are without law; the Gentiles, who had not the written law of God.As without law; he omitted those compliances with the ceremonial law which he practised when among Jews.Under the law to Christ; bound in all things to obey him. Made all things to all men; complied, in all things lawful, with their wishes. Partaker thereof; of the blessings which the gospel confers. Run in a race; the foot-race, with which the Corinthians were familiar. Is temperate in all things; the Grecian racers subjected themselves to a very severe training, that they might thus bring their body to the most perfect condition for the race. So run, not as uncertainly; not as one who runs at random, without knowing his goal or how to reach it. The apostle means, that he so lived as to be sure of obtaining the approbation of God, and receiving a crown of glory. Keep under my body; literally, beat it in the face, after the manner of a boxer. This represents the severe discipline to which he subjected his appetites and passions according to God's word. Ministers of Christ who have long preached the gospel, are not on that account sure of heaven. Nor can they safely depend upon any former experience. They must habitually govern their appetites, passions, and conduct by the revealed will of God, or they will be in danger of losing their souls. If this is the case with ministers, it must be with all others; and that hope of salvation which does not lead men to obey the commands of God, will perish at the giving up of the ghost.
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