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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 9

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-24

1 The Corinthians questioned the apostleship of Paul. The phrase, "the twelve apostles" has been used to throw doubt on his commission, for if there were but twelve apostles, Paul could not have been one of them. He did not have the qualifications, and Matthias was duly chosen to fill Judas' place. Only one who had been with the Lord from John's baptism onward to His ascension was qualified to be counted with the twelve ( Act_1:22 ). Paul did not meet the Lord until some years later. The kingdom apostles are limited to twelve, for there will be only twelve thrones provided for them when they rule the tribes of Israel in the kingdom ( Mat_19:28 ). It is evident that Paul and Barnabas and Timothy and Apollos will have no apostolic reward in that kingdom. Their apostleship is of an entirely different order. The gospel of the Uncircumcision was committed to Paul as that of the Circumcision had been to Peter. James, Cephas and John, chief of the twelve apostles, recognized this and gave Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that they should go to the nations. The twelve confined themselves to the Circumcision. Thus there are two distinct orders of apostles, the twelve to the Circumcision, connected with the kingdom on earth, and an indefinite number, of whom Paul was chief, sent to the nations and connected with the successive ministries of the apostle Paul. Though the Corinthians denied his apostolic authority, he was not a whit behind Peter,

the chief of the Circumcision apostles.

3 Paul had the undoubted right to do as the other apostles, but he chose the higher privilege of doing everything in his power to help the evangel. He worked with his own hands to supply his necessities when he might have demanded support.

8 It is God's pleasure that His servants who minister spiritual things should be requited with carnal things. In the present low state of spirituality spiritual things are accounted of no value, while material things are held in high repute. To acquire a sum of money without recompense is a crime, but many receive vast spiritual wealth without any sense of obligation.

13 God has always made due provision for the support of His servants. The priests and Levites were not concerned with their own livelihood, hence had no allotment of land to till, but depended on the labors of their brethren. They were wholly devoted to God's service. The same rule applies to the proclamation of the evangel.

15 It seems a marvel that the saints who owed so much to the apostle would have allowed him to engage in menial labor, when they could easily have supplied his meager needs. Yet herein was his glory, that, though supporting himself, at least in part, he still found time and strength to do more than any other apostle. The natural course would have been to use his authority to the full so that he could give himself wholly to the work of the ministry. The marks of true greatness are apparent in his anxiety not to use his full authority, but to do everything which in any way may be a benefit to the evangel. Such a course as this ought to be all the more effective in these days when the stain of filthy lucre is a prominent mark on many religious enterprises. The world has learned to look upon religion as a means of gain. The history of the church has been one long endeavor on the part of the clergy (with many noble exceptions) to enrich themselves at the expense of the laity. Had Paul's spirit prevailed, what a different story there would be to tell!

19 Many otherwise inexplicable events in Paul's career, as narrated in the book of Acts, are to be explained on the principle of conduct here laid down by the apostle. His course often seems to contradict the truth he had enunciated in the epistles he had penned. However strongly he insisted on freedom from the law, he could, nevertheless, take part in the rites and ceremonies of the temple when among his Jewish brethren. The whole narrative of Acts shows him becoming all things to all with whom he came in contact. On his journeys, in Jerusalem, in jail, on board the foundering ship wherever he was he adapted himself to the men and means at his disposal to forward the claims of the evangel. The same principle should regulate our efforts that we also may gain some.

Verses 25-27

25 Contestants in the Grecian games had to take an oath that they had been ten months in training, and that they would violate none of the regulations. They lived on a prescribed diet and exercised severe self-restraint. The wreath or "crown" was made of the leaves of the pine. Groves of these trees surrounded the stadium near Corinth. Other leaves were used in other cities. For some time parsley was substituted for pine, but it seems that, in the time of the apostle, they used the pine wreaths. To avoid confusing these chaplets with the symbol of regal authority they are never called a "crown" in this version.

26 The subject before the apostle is not salvation, but service and reward. The apostle is not concerned lest he should be a "castaway", but whether he should win the prize. Two things are necessary, self-control and obedience to the rules of the game. Both are essential in order to win a wreath. In these days, when "success" is measured by human standards, it is of the utmost importance to press the fact that a violation of the rules absolutely bars the contestant from all hope of a prize. Service at the expense of truth or of conscience, to gain a livelihood or win popularity, no matter how strenuous, wins no prize. God looks on the motive and method, not on the apparent results. May we all so strive that He will be able to bestow the amaranthine wreath upon us!

1 The redemption of Israel out of Egypt was typical of the spiritual deliverance which is ours in Christ. All, indeed, were redeemed by the blood of the paschal lamb, but not all by any means pleased God in the wilderness journey. They all went through the Red Sea dry shod, all were identified with Moses, all ate the manna, and all drank the water brought forth by Moses' rod in the desert. Yet, notwithstanding these privileges, they failed in self-control, they went back in heart to the flesh pots of Egypt, reverted to idolatry, sinned and murmured. These are the very sins into which some of the Corinthians were ensnared. And these things still have their appeal to us unless we, like the apostle, reduce our bodies to bondage.

11 The eons are divided into two classes, the first three, which are preparatory, and the last two, called the "eons of the eons", which turn the evil of the first class into good. The last two eons, including the thousand years' reign and the reign of the saints in the new heavens and new earth, are the fruit and consummation of the evil eons. In spirit , Paul brought those under his ministry into the new creation, which is the spiritual counterpart of the eon inaugurated by the new heavens and new earth. It is only thus that the consummations of the eons had already reached the Corinthians.

12 Here again, the apostle is not considering salvation but the endurance of trial on the part of those who are saved. Salvation is entirely of God, through Christ. No one need be concerned about its efficacy or power. But beyond salvation there is the possibility of earning a reward, of winning a prize. This requires us to take due heed to our conduct.

13 God does not try us to break us down but to build us up. Hence He sends nothing insupportable. He does not however, make "a way of escape ", as many of His saints have found by experience. If He did, why or how could that enable them to undergo it? They would not need to endure it if He took them out of it. He makes a sequel. This word occurs again in Heb_13:7 : "contemplating the sequel (A.V. end ) of their behavior." All the great examples of trial were sustained by a contemplation of its sequel. Joseph held the sceptre in the prison.

David wore the crown in Adullam. Even Job knew that he would see his Redeemer. We should not try to escape trial, but seek grace to endure it. We should not occupy ourselves with it, but contemplate the blessed outcome which it is designed to produce.

20 There seems little doubt but that the heathen divinities were not mere myths, but actual demons. These are rampant today in Spiritism and often deceive the saints into believing that they are the holy Spirit of God by mimicking the gifts which were bestowed during the proclamation of the kingdom.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/1-corinthians-9.html. 1968.
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