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Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 9

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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Verse 1

1 .] He sets forth, (1) his independence of men (contrast 1Co 9:19 ); (2) his apostolic office (for the order, see var. readd.): (3) his dignity as an Apostle, in having been vouchsafed a sight of Christ Jesus our Lord; (4) his efficiency in the office, as having converted them to God.

ἐλεύθ . ] So that the resolution of ch. 1Co 8:13 is not necessitated by any dependence on my part on the opinion of others .

ἑώρακα ] Not, during the life of our Lord on earth, as Schrader, nor is such an idea supported by 2 Corinthians 5:16 ; see note there; but, in the appearance of the Lord to him by the way to Damascus (Acts 9:17 ; ch. 1 Corinthians 15:8 ; see Neand. Pfl. u. Leit. p. 151, note); and also, secondarily, in those other visions and appearance , recorded by him, Acts 18:9 (?), Acts 22:18 , and possibly on other occasions since his conversion. οὐ μικρὸν δὲ καὶ τοῦτο ἀξίωμα ἦν , Chrys. Hom. xxi. p.180.

ἐν κυρίῳ is not a mere humble qualification of τὸ ἔργον μου , as Chrys. ib., τουτέστι τοῦ θεοῦ τὸ ἔργον ἐστίν , οὐκ ἐμοῦ , but designates, as elsewhere, the element, in which the work is done: they were his work as an Apostle , i.e. as the servant of the Lord enabled by the Lord , and SO IN THE LORD. See ch. 1 Corinthians 4:15 .

Verses 1-27


Verse 2

2 .] At least my apostleship cannot be denied by you of all men, who are its seal and proof.

εἰ .… οὐκ εἰμί ] οὐκ , because it belongs closely to the hypothesis: ‘if I am no-Apostle ,’ see ch. 1 Corinthians 7:9 .

ἄλλοις , to others , i.e. in the estimation of others .

ἀλλά γε , yet at least , is stronger than ἀλλά alone. The particle shews that the sentiment which it introduces has more weight than the other to which the ἀλλά is a reply. See Hartung, Partikellehre, i. 385. Meyer (after Klotz) remarks that “in the classics ἀλλά γε is never found without one or more words intervening:” those words being emphatic: e.g. Aristoph. Nub. 399, πῶς οὐχὶ Σίμων ʼ ἐνέπρησεν .… ἀλλὰ τὸν αὑτοῦ γε νεὼν βάλλει ;

σφραγίς ] as being the proof of his apostolic calling and energy, by their conversion ; better than, by the signs and wonders which he wrought among them, as Chrys. (al.) from 2 Corinthians 12:11-13 , and perhaps misled by the similarity of σημεῖον and σφραγίς . Their conversion was the great proof: so Theodoret, ἀπόδειξιν γὰρ τῶν ἀποστολικῶν κατορθωμάτων τὴν ὑμετέραν ἔχω μεταβολήν .

ἐν κυρ . ] belongs to the whole sentence, see above, on 1 Corinthians 9:1 .

Verse 3

3 .] This belongs to the preceding , not to the following verses:

αὕτη , viz. the fact of your conversion : this word is the predicate, not the subject as in John 1:19 ; John 17:3 , and stands here in the emphatic place before the verb; referring to what went before. With 1 Corinthians 9:4 a new course of questions begins, which furnish no ἀπολογία .

τοῖς ἐμὲ ἀνακρ . ] For the dat. see Acts 19:33 ; 2 Corinthians 12:19 : to those, who call me in question : ἐμέ , emphatic, as Chrys. says, of 1 Corinthians 9:2 , κἂν βούληταί τις … μαθεῖν ποθεν ὅτι ἀπόστολός εἰμι , ὑμᾶς προβάλλομαι , p. 181.

Verse 4

4 .] He resumes the questions which had been interrupted by giving the proof of his Apostleship.

μὴ οὐκ ἔχ . ] μή asks the question : οὐκ ἔχομεν is the thing in question : Is it so, that we have not power.… ? The plur. seems to apply to Paul alone : for though Barnabas is introduced momentarily in 1 Corinthians 9:6 , there can be no reference to him in 1 Corinthians 9:11 . It may perhaps be used as pointing out a matter of right , which any would have had on the same conditions (see 1Co 9:11 ), and as thus not belonging personally to Paul, as do the things predicated in 1 Corinthians 9:1-2 ; 1 Corinthians 9:15 . This however will not apply to 1 Corinthians 9:12 , where the emphatic ἡμεῖς is personal.

φαγεῖν κ . πεῖν ] To eat and to drink , sc. at the cost of the churches : not with any reference to the eating of things offered to idols (as Schrader, iv. 132), nor to Jewish distinctions of clean and unclean (as Billroth and Olshausen); see below, 1 Corinthians 9:6-7 .

Verse 5

5. ] Have we not the power to bring about with us (also to be maintained at the cost of the churches, for this , and not the power to marry, is here the matter in question) as a wife, a (believing) sister (or, ‘ to bring with us a believing wife :’ these are the only renderings of which the words are legitimately capable. Augustine, De Opere Monachorum, 4 (5), vol. vi. p. 552, explains it thus: “Ostendit sibi licere quod ceteris Apostolis, id est ut non operetur manibus suis, sed ex Evangelio vivat:.… ad hoc enim et fideles mulieres habentes terrenam substantiam ibant cum eis, et ministrabant eis de substantia sua,” &c., and similarly Jerome adv. Jovin. 1 Corinthians 1:26 , vol. ii. p. 277. So likewise Tertull., Theodoret, Œcum., Isid [37] Pelus., Theophylact, Ambrose, and Sedul [38] So too Corn.-a-Lap. and Estius. See Estius, and Suicer, γυνή , II. And from this misunderstanding of the passage grew up a great abuse, and such women are mentioned with reprobation by Epiphan. Hær. 78, vol. i. (ii. Migne), p. 1043, under the name of ἀγαπηταί . They were also called ἀδελφαί : and were forbidden under the name of συνείσακτοι by the 3rd Canon of the 1st Council of Nicæa. See these words in Suicer), as also the other Apostles (in the wider sense, not only the twelve, for 1 Corinthians 9:6 , Barnabas is mentioned. It does not follow hence that all the other Apostles were married : but that all had the power , and some had used it ) and the brethren of the Lord (mentioned not because distinct from the ἀπόστολοι , though they were absolutely distinct from the Twelve , see Acts 1:14 , but as a further specification of the most renowned persons , who travelled as missionaries, and took their wives with them. On the ἀδ . τοῦ κυρ . see note, Matthew 13:55 . They were in all probability the actual brethren of our Lord by the same mother, the sons of Joseph and Mary. The most noted of these was James, the Lord’s brother (Galatians 1:19 ; Galatians 2:9 ; Galatians 2:12 , compare Acts 12:17 ; Acts 15:13 ; Act 21:18 ), the resident bishop of the Church at Jerusalem: the others known to us by name were Joses (or Joseph), Simon, and Judas, see note on Matt, ib.), and Cephas (Peter was married, see Matthew 8:14 . A beautiful tradition exists of his encouraging his wife who was led to death, by saying μέμνησο , ὦ αὕτη , τοῦ κυρίου , Clem [39] Alex. Strom. vii. § 11 (63), p. 868 P. Euseb. H. E. iii. 30. Clem [40] Alex. Strom, iii. § 6 (52), p. 535 P., relates that he had children)? On a mistake which has been made respecting St. Paul’s (supposed) wife, see note on ch. 1 Corinthians 7:8 .

[37] Isidore of Pelusium, 412

[38] Sedul ius , 430

[39] Clement of Alexandria, fl. 194

[40] Clement of Alexandria, fl. 194

Verse 6

6. ] Or (implying what the consequence would then be, see ch. 1Co 6:2 ; 1 Corinthians 6:9 ; does not introduce a new ἐξουσία , but a consequence of the denial of the last two) have only I and Barnabas (why Barnabas? Perhaps on account of his former connexion with Paul, Acts 11:30 ; Acts 12:25 ; Act 13:1 to Acts 15:39 ; but this seems hardly enough reason for his being here introduced. It is not improbable that having been at first associated with Paul, who appears from the first to have abstained from receiving sustenance from those among whom he was preaching, Barnabas, after his separation from our Apostle, may have retained the same self-denying practice. “This is the only time when he is mentioned in conjunction with St. Paul, since the date of the quarrel in Acts 15:39 .” Stanley) not power to abstain from working (i.e. power to look for our maintenance from the churches, without manual labour of our own. The Vulg. has ‘ hoc operandi ,’ so also Tertull., Ambrose, al., omitting μή , and against the usage of ἐργάζεσθαι , see reff.)?

Verse 7

7 .] from the analogies of human conduct . (1) The soldier .

ἰδίοις ὀψωνίοις ] with pay furnished out of his own resources, the dativus modalis, see Winer, edn. 6, § 31. 7.

στρατεύομαι , of the soldier , who serves in the army: στρατεύω , of the general , or the nation , that leads, or undertakes, the war. So Thucyd. iii. 101, of the states which joined the Peloponnesians, οὗτοι καὶ ξυνεστράτευον πάντες : but Xen. Cyr. viii. 4. 29, of the wife of Tigranes, ἀνδρείως ξυνεστρατεύετο τῷ ἀνδρί . See Kühner, ii. 18 (§ 398).

(2) The husbandman .

τὸν καρπ . αὐτ . οὐκ ἐσθ . ] τὸν καρπόν , as Meyer observes, is simply objective: he does eat the fruit , though it may be only part of it.

(3) The shepherd . Here it is ἐκ τοῦ γάλ ., perhaps on account of the inappropriateness of τὸ γάλα .… ἐσθίει , and also of τὸ γάλα πίνει , milk being for the most part made into other articles of food, which sustain the shepherd partly directly, partly by their sale.

Verses 7-12

7 12 ] Examples from common life, of the reasonableness of the workman being sustained by his work .

Verse 8

8. ] Am I speaking these things merely according to human judgment of what is right? Or (see note, 1Co 9:6 ) does the law too not say these things?

Verse 9

9 .] (It does say them): for in the law of Moses it is written, Thou shalt not (on the fut. with an imperative meaning, ‘Thou shalt not,’ i.e. ‘This I expect of thee, that thou wilt not,’ common to all civilized languages, see Winer, edn. 6, § 43. 5. c; Kühner, § 446. 2) muzzle (the reading φιμώσεις probably came in from the similar place, 1 Timothy 5:18 , and LXX. The verb κημόω occurs, with its substantive κημός , in Xen. de re equestri, 1 Corinthians 9:3 , ἀεὶ ὅποι ἂν ἀχαλίνωτον ἄγῃ , κημοῦν δεῖ · ὁ γὰρ κημὸς ἀναπνεῖν μὲν οὐ κωλύει , δάκνειν δὲ οὐκ εᾷ ) an ox while treading out the corn (in the sense = ‘the ox that treadeth out:’ but strictly that would require τὸν β . τὸν ἀλοῶντα ) “ ἀλοᾷν dicuntur boves, quum grana ex aristis exterunt pedibus, qui mos Orientis, sed et Græciæ, ut ex Theophrasto et aliis discimus. Hic triturandi mos in Asia hodieque retinetur. Solent enim illarum regionum incolæ, postquam demessæ fruges sunt, non domum eas ex agris, more nostro, granis nondum excussis, in horrea convellere: sed in aream quandam sub dio comportare: deinde, sparsis in aream manipulis frugum, boves et bubalos immittunt, qui vel pedibus calcantes (see Mic 4:13 ), vel curruum quoddam genus trahentes super frumenta, ex aristis eliciunt grana.” Rosenmüller. Is it for OXEN (generic) that God is taking care ? We must not, as ordinarily, supply μόνον , only for oxen, and thus rationalize the sentence: the question imports, ‘In giving this command, are the oxen , or those for whom the law was given , its objects?’ And to such a question there can be but one answer. 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. So Philo (de victimas offerentibus, § 1, vol. ii. p. 251) rightly explains the spirit of the law: οὐ γὰρ ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀλόγων ὁ νόμος , ἀλλ ʼ ὑπὲρ τῶν νοῦν κ . λόγον ἐχόντων · ὥστε οὐ τῶν θυομένων φροντίς ἐστιν , ἵνα μηδεμίαν ἔχοι λώβην , ἀλλὰ τῶν θυόντων , ἵνα περὶ μηδὲν πάθος κηραίνωσι .

Verse 10

10. ] Or (the other alternative being rejected) on OUR account ( δι ʼ ἡμᾶς , emphatic not on account of men generally, but as Estius, “propter nos evangelii ministros:” cf. the ἡμεῖς of 1 Corinthians 9:11-12 , with which this ἡμᾶς is inseparably allied) altogether ( τὸ πάντως προσθείς ,.… ἵνα μὴ συγχωρήσῃ μηδ ʼ ὁτιοῦν ἀντειπεῖν τῷ ἀκροατῇ . Chrys. p. 183) does it ( ὁ νόμος : or perhaps ὁ θεός , but better the former, as above, τῷ θεῷ being only incidentally introduced as the confessed Author of the law, and ὁ νόμος remaining the subject of the sentence) say (this)? (on our account): for on our account it (viz. οὐ κημώσεις κ . τ . λ ., not, that which follows, q. esset γέγραπται ) was written: because (argumentative, as the ground of ἐγράφη , not, as in some of my earlier editions, containing the purpose of ἐγράφη , expressed in its practical result ) the plougher (not literal but spiritual, see below) ought to plough in hope, and the thresher ( to thresh , see var. readd.) in hope of partaking (of the crop). The words used in this sentence are evidently spiritual , and not literal . They are inseparably connected with δι ʼ ἡμᾶς which precedes them: and according to the common explanation of them as referring to a mere maxim of agricultural life, would have no force whatever. But spiritually taken, all coheres. “The command (not to muzzle, &c.) was written on account of us (Christian teachers) because we ploughers (in the γεώργιον θεοῦ , ch. 1Co 3:9 ) ought to plough in hope, and we threshers (answering to the βοῦς ἀλοῶν ) ought to work in hope of (as the ox) having a share.” So Chrys. and Theophyl.: τουτέστιν , ὁ διδάσκαλος ὀφείλει ἀροτριᾷν , καὶ κοπιᾷν ἐπ ʼ ἐλπίδι ἀμοιβῆς κ . ἀντιμισθίας . So also Meyer and De Wette: but by far the greater part of interpreters (also Stanley) take it literally; understanding ἡμᾶς of mankind in general, and ὁ ἀροτριῶν and ὁ ἀλοῶν of labourers in agriculture . No minute distinction must be sought between the ἀροτριῶν and the ἀλοῶν . The former is perhaps mentioned on account of the process answering to the breaking up the fallow ground of Heathenism: the latter on account of its occurrence in the precept.

Verse 11

11 .] The ἡμεῖς (both times strongly emphatic : we need sorely some means of marking in our English Bibles, for ordinary readers, which words have the emphasis ) is categoric, but in fact applies to Paul alone. The secondary emphasis is on ὑμῖν … ὑμῶν . It is one of those elaborately antithetical sentences which the great Apostle wields so powerfully in argument. The ἡμεῖς ἡμεῖς , being identical, stand out in so much the stronger relief against the triple antithesis, ὑμ ῖν , πνευματικά , ἐσπείραμεν , and ὑμων , σαρκικά , θερίσωμεν .

If we read the subjunctive, for the usage after εἰ , see Winer, edn. 6, § 41. b. 2, end; ch. 1 Corinthians 14:5 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:10 ; Kühner, § 818 A. 1. The usage is common in Homer, Od. α . 204, al. fr., doubtful in Her od. 2:13; 8:49, 118 , and hardly ever found in Attic writers. See Soph. Œd. Tyr. 198, εἴ τι νὺξ ἀφῇ , and Œd. Col. 1442, εἴ σου στερηθῶ .

πνευμ . and σαρκ . (see Rom 15:27 ) need no explanation. The first are so called as belonging to the spirit of man (De W. and Meyer, as coming from the Spirit of God ; but it is better to keep the antithesis exact and perspicuous), the second as serving for the nourishment of the flesh.

Verse 12

12. ] ἄλλοι does not necessarily point at the false teachers; others may have exercised this power.

ὑμῶν is the objective genitive: power over you , see reff.

The second ἀλλά is not in apposition with the first, but in opposition to the idea implied in ἐχρ . τῇ ἐξ . ταύτῃ . Meyer compares Hom. Il. α . 24 f., ἀλλ οὐκ Ἀτρείδῃ Ἀγαμέμνονι ἥνδανε θυμῷ , Ἀλλὰ κακῶς ἀφίει .

στέγομεν ] The word was commonly used, as may be seen in Wetst., of vessels containing, holding without breaking , that which was put into them; thence of concealing or covering , as a secret; and also of enduring or bearing up against . In this last sense Diod. Sic. iii. 34, uses it literally of ice, στέγοντος τοῦ κρυστάλλου διαβάσεις στρατοπέδων κ . ἁμαξῶν ἐφόδους , and (xi. 25, Wetst. but?) of a besieged fort, οὐ μήνγε τὴν ὁρμὴν … ἔοτεγεν … τὸ … τεῖχος , … ἀλλὰ ὑπείκειν ἠναγκάζετο . So also Æsch. Sept. c. Theb. 216, πύργου στέγειν εὔχεσθε πολεμίων δόρυ . These last usages are very near akin to this of our text, We endure all things : viz. labour, privations, hardships. The ἐγκοπαί (hindrances so Diod. Sic. i. 32, speaks of the Nile as being πολλάκις διὰ τὰς ἐγκοπὰς ἀνακλώμενος ) would arise from his being charged with covetousness and self-seeking, which his independence of them would entirely prevent.

Verses 13-14

13, 14 .] Analogy of the maintenance of the Jewish priesthood from the sacred offerings, with this right of the Christian teacher, as ordained by Christ .

Meyer rightly remarks, that οἱ τὰ ἱερὰ ἐργαζόμενοι can only mean the priests, not including the Levites : and therefore that both clauses apply to the same persons.

ἐργάζεσθαι , ἔρδειν , ῥέζειν , are technical words for the offering of sacrifice . See reff. to LXX.

ἱεροῦ here, as θυσιαστηρίου is parallel with it below, is probably not ‘ the sacrifice ,’ ‘ the holy thing ,’ but the temple the holy building .’ Similarly Jos. B. J. v. 13. 6, makes the Zealots say, δεῖ … τοὺς τῷ ναῷ στρατευομένους ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ τρέφεσθαι .

παρεδρ . ] So Jos. contra Apion. 1 Corinthians 1:7 , speaks of the priests as τῇ θεραπείᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ προσεδρεύοντας .

On the practice referred to, see Numbers 18:8 ff.; Deuteronomy 18:1 ff.

No other priesthood but the Jewish can have been in the mind of the Apostle. The Jew knew of no θυσιαστήριον but one : and he certainly would not have proposed heathen sacrificial customs, even in connexion with those appointed by God, as a precedent for Christian usage: besides that the idea is inconsistent with οὕτως καί : see below.

Verse 14

14. ] So also (i.e. in analogy with that His other command) did the Lord (Christ; the Author by His Spirit of the O. T. as well as the New) command (viz. Matthew 10:10 ; Luk 10:7-8 ) to those who are preaching the gospel, to live of (be maintained by. Themistius (Kypke) has ζῇν ἐξ ἐργασίας ) the gospel . 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 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 omitted , we may fairly infer that no such character of the Christian minister was then known. As Bengel remarks on 1 Corinthians 9:13 ; ‘Si missa esset sacrificium, plane Paulus versu sequente apodosin huc accommodasset.’

Verse 15

15. ] οὐδενὶ τούτων is best explained of the different forms of ἐξουσία , not, with Chrys. al., τῶν πολλῶν παραδειγμάτων πολλῶν γάρ μοι παρεχόντων ἐξουσίαν , τοῦ στρατιώτου , τοῦ γεωργοῦ , τοῦ ποιμένος , τῶν ἀποστόλων , τοῦ νόμου , τῶν παρ ʼ ἡμῶν εἰς ὑμᾶς γενομένων , τῶν παρ ʼ ὑμῶν εἰς τοὺς ἄλλους , τῶν ἱερέων , τοῦ προστάγματος τοῦ χριστοῦ , οὐδενὶ τούτων ἐπείσθην εἰς τὸ καταλῦσαι τὸν ἐμαυτοῦ νόμον , καὶ λαβεῖν . Hom. xxii. p. 193. True, that each of these examples pointed to a form of ἐξουσία , and none of these forms had he made use of . See ref. on ch. 1 Corinthians 7:21 .

ἔγραψα is the epistolary aorist I wrote (write) not these things however, that it may be thus (viz. after the examples which I have alleged) done to me (in my case, see reff.): for it were good (reff.) for me rather to die (or, better for me to die , see ref. Mark) than that any one should make void (the remarkable reading of the great MSS. appears to have arisen from the unnatural look of the future with ἵνα . It can only be explained by supposing an aposiopesis; the Apostle breaking off at ἤ , and exclaiming with fervour, τὸ καύχημά μου οὐδεὶς κενώσει ) my (matter of) boasting . To understand ἀποθανεῖν as Chrys., Theophyl., Œc [41] , Estius, Billroth, al., ἀποθ . λιμῷ , seems quite unnecessary. Further on, Chrys. himself expresses the true sense: οὕτω καὶ ζωῆς αὐτῷ γλυκύτερον ἦν τὸ γινόμενον : and Calvin, “tantum Evangelii promovendi facultatem nimirum propriæ vitæ præferebat.”

[41] Œcumenius of Tricca in Thrace, Cent y . XI.?

Verse 16

16 ff.] The reason why he made so much of this materies gloriandi: viz. that his mission itself gave him no advantage this way, being an office entrusted to him , and for which he was solemnly accountable: but in this thing only had he an advantage so as to be able to boast of it, that he preached the gospel without charge .

οὐαὶ γάρ explains the ἀνάγκη . On οὐαί ἐστιν , see ref. Hos.

Verse 17

17. ] For (illustration and confirmation of οὐαὶ γὰρ κ . τ . λ . above) if I am doing this (preaching) of mine own accord (as a voluntary undertaking , which in Paul’s case was not so , as Chrys., τὸ ἑκὼν κ . ἄκων ἐπὶ τοῦ ἐγκεχειρίσθαι καὶ μὴ ἐγκεχειρίσθαι λαμβάνων : not, as E. V., al., willingly , for this was so ), I have a reward (i.e. if of mine own will I took up the ministry, it might be conceivable that a μισθός might be due to me. That this was not the case, and never could be , is evident, and the μισθός therefore only hypothetical): but if involuntarily (which was the case, see Acts 9:15 ; Acts 22:14 ; Act 26:16 ), with a STEWARDSHIP ( οἰκ . emphatic) have I been entrusted (and therefore from the nature of things, in this respect I have no μισθός for merely doing what is my bounden duty, see Luke 17:7-10 ; but an οὐαί , if I fail in it. Chrys. observes well: οὐδὲ γὰρ εἶπεν , εἰ δὲ ἄκων , οὐκ ἔχω μισθόν , ἀλλ ʼ οἰκ . πεπίστ . δεικνὺς ὅτι καὶ οὕτως ἔχει μισθόν , ἀλλὰ τοιοῦτον , οἷον ὁ τὸ ἐπιταχθὲν ἐξανύσας , οὐχ οἷον ἐκεῖνος ὁ ἐκ τῶν ἑαυτοῦ φιλοτιμησάμενος κ . ὑπερβὰς τὸ ἐπίταγμα . p. 194).

The above interpretation, which is in the main that of Chrys., Theophyl., Œcum. (altern.) al., Meyer, and De Wette, is the only one which seems to me to satisfy, easily and grammatically, all the requirements of the sentence, and at the same time to suit the logical structure of the context. The other Commentators go in omnia alia , and adopt various forced and arbitrary constructions of the verse.

Verse 18

18. ] Ordinarily, and even by De Wette, thus arranged and rendered: ‘What then is my reward? ( It is ), that in preaching I make the gospel to be without cost, that I use not my power in the gospel.’ But this, though perhaps philologically allowable (against Meyer, see John 17:3 , αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ αἰώνιος ζωή , ἵνα γινώσκωσι … also John 15:8 ; 1 John 4:17 (?)), is not true . His making the gospel to be without cost, was not his μισθός , but his καύχημα only: and these two are not identical . The καύχημα was present: the μισθός , future .

Meyer’s rendering is equally at fault. He would make τίς οὖν μού ἐστιν ὁ μισθός ; a question implying a negative answer ‘ What then is my reward? None: in order that I preach gratuitously ,’ &c. But thus he severs off (see below) the whole following context, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 ; and as it seems to me, stultifies the καύχημα , by robbing it altogether of the coming μισθός . I am persuaded that the following is the true rendering: What then is my reward (in prospect) that I ( ἵνα , like ὅπως in classical Greek, with a fut. indic., points to the actual realization of the purpose, with more precision than when followed by the subjunctive. So Xen. Cyr. ii. 4.31, Κῦρος , ὦ Ἀρμένιε , κελεύει οἵτω ποιεῖν σε , ὅπως ὡς τάχιστα ἔχων οἴσεις καὶ τὸν δασμὸν καὶ τὸ στράτευμα , Kühner, Gramm. ii. 490, where see more examples) while preaching, render the gospel without cost (i.e. what reward have I in prospect that induces me to preach gratuitously ) in order not to use (as carrying out my design not to use) [to the full] ( καταχρ . see ref. and note: not, to abuse , as E. V.) my power in the gospel (= τῇ ἐξους . μου τῇ ἐν τῷ εὐαγγ ., as often; cf. τοῖς κυρίοις κατὰ σάρκα , Ephesians 6:5 ; οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν χριστῷ , 1 Thessalonians 4:16 , al. fr.)?

Verse 19

19 ff. ] He now proceeds to answer the question, ‘ What prospect of reward could induce me to do this ?’

[ Yea (literally] For , q. d. the reward must have been great and glorious in prospect) being free from ( the power of ) all men, I enslaved myself (when I made this determination: and have continued to do so) to all, that I might gain (not τοὺς πάντας , which he could not exactly say, but) the largest number ( of any : that hereafter Paul’s converts might be found to be οἱ πλείονες : see below on 1Co 9:24 ).

Bengel has remarked on κερδήσω , ‘congruit hoc verbum cum consideratione mercedis :’ but ‘ congruit ’ is not enough: it is actually THE ANSWER to the question τίς μού ἐστιν ὁ μισθός ; This ‘lucrifecisse’ the greater number is distinctly referred to by him elsewhere, as his reward in the day of the Lord: τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος καυχήσεως ; ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς , ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ παρουσίᾳ ; ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαρά . 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 . And it is for this reason that ἵνα .… κερδ . is three times repeated : and, as we shall presently see, that the similitude at the end of the chapter is chosen.

Verse 20

20. τοῖς Ἰουδ . ὡς Ἰουδ . ] See examples, Acts 16:3 ; Acts 21:26 . οὐκ εἶπεν , Ἰουδαῖος , ἀλλ ʼ ὡς Ἰουδαῖος , ἵνα δείξῃ ὅτι οἰκονομία τὸ πρᾶγμα ἦν , Theophyl. after Chrys. The Jews here are not Jewish converts , who would be already won in the sense of this passage.

τοῖς ὑπὸ νόμον ] These again are not Jewish converts (see above); nor proselytes , who would not be thus distinguished from other Jews, but are much the same as Ἰουδαῖοι , only to the number of these the Apostle did not belong , not being himself ( αὐτός contrasts with ὡς above) under the law, whereas he was nationally a Jew .

Verses 20-22

20 22. ] Specializes the foregoing assertion πᾶσιν ἐμ . ἐδούλωσα , by enumerating various parties to whose weaknesses he had conformed himself, in order to gain them .

Verse 21

21. τοῖς ἀνόμοις ὡς ἄν . ] The ἄνομοι are the Heathen ; hardly, with Chrys., such as Cornelius , fearing God but not under the law. Paul became as a Heathen to the Heathen, e.g., when he discoursed at Athens (Acts 17:0 ) in their own manner, and with arguments drawn from their own poets.

μὴ ὢν κ . τ . λ .] not being (being conscious of not being, remembering well in the midst of my ἀνομία that I was not. This is implied by μή , which is subjective, giving the conviction of the subject , not merely the objective fact , as οὐκ ὤν would do) an outlaw from God ( θεοῦ and χριστοῦ are genitives of dependence, as after κατήκοος , ἔνοχος , &c.) but a subject-of-the-law of Christ (the words seem inserted rather to put before the reader the true position of a Christian with regard to God’s law revealed by Christ, than merely with an apologetic view to keep his own character from suffering by the imputation of ἀνομία ) that I might gain those who had no law . κερδανῶ (here only in N. T.) and κερδήσω are both found in the classics; see Matthiæ, § 239, and Lobeck on Phrynichus, p. 740.

Verse 22

22. ] The ἀσθενεῖς here can hardly be the weak Christians of ch. 8 and Romans 14:0 , who were already won , but as in ref., those who had not strength to believe and receive the Gospel . This sentence then does not bring out a new form of condescension, but recapitulates the preceding two classes, τοῖς ὑπὸ νόμον .… τοῖς ἀνόμοις .

τοῖς πᾶσιν ] This sums up the above, and others not enumerated, in one general rule, and the various occasions of his practising the condescension (aorists) in one general result (perfect). To all men I am become all things (i.e. to each according to his situation and prejudices) that by all means (‘omnino:’ or perhaps as Meyer, in all ways : but I prefer the other) I may save some ( τινάς is emphatic: some , out of each class in the πάντες . It is said, as is the following verse, in extreme humility, and distrust of even an Apostle’s confidence, to shew them the immense importance of the μισθός for which he thus denied and submitted himself).

Verse 23

23. ] But (q. d. ‘not only this of which I have spoken, but all ’) all things I do on account of the gospel, that I may be a fellow-partaker (with others) of it (of the blessings promised in the gospel to be brought by the Lord at His coming).

Verse 24

24. ] The allusion is primarily no doubt to the Isthmian games [‘celebrated under the shadow of the huge Corinthian citadel’ (Stanley)]; but this must not be pressed too closely: the foot-race was far too common an element in athletic contests, for any accurate knowledge of its predominance in some and its insignificance in others of the Grecian games to be here supposed. Still less must it be imagined that those games were to be celebrated in the year of the Epistle being written. The most that can with certainty be said, is that he alludes to a contest which, from the neighbourhood of the Isthmian games, was well known to his readers. See Stanley’s note: who, in following out illustrations of this kind, writes with a vivid graphic power peculiarly his own.

βραβεἶον ] Wetst. quotes from the Schol. on Pindar, Olymp. 1, λέγεται δὲ τὸ διδόμενον γέρας τῷ νικήσαντι ἀθλητῇ ἀπὸ μὲν τῶν διδόντων αὐτὸ βραβευτῶν βραβεῖον , ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἀθλούντων ἆθλον ,, and from the Etymol., βραβεῖον λέγεται ὁ παρὰ τῶν βραβευτῶν διδόμενος στέφανος τῷ νικῶντι .

οὕτως τρ . ] Thus (after this manner viz. as they who run all, each endeavouring to be the one who shall receive the prize : not, as the one who receives it (Meyer, De Wette), for the others strive as earnestly as he: still less must we take ἵνα καταλάβητε for ὡς καταλαβεῖν , which is barely allowable, and here would not suit the sense; the οὕτως being particularized presently by one point of the athletes’ preparation being specially alleged for their imitation) run (not καὶ ὑμεῖς τρέχετε , because the evident analogy between the race and the Christian conflict is taken for granted. If, as Dr. Peile imagines, a contrast had been intended, between the stadium where one only can receive the prize, and the Christian race where all may, it must have stood οὕτως δὲ ὑμεῖς τρέχετε , ὡς καὶ ( πάντας ?) καταλαβεῖν . But such contrast would destroy the sense), in order that ye may fully obtain (the prize of your calling, see Philippians 3:14 . On λαμβάνω and κατα λαμβάνω see note, ch. 1Co 7:31 ).

Verse 25

25. ] The point in the οὕτως , the conduct of the athletes in regard of temperance , which he wishes to bring into especial prominence for their imitation: as concerning the matter in hand, his own abstinence from receiving the world’s pelf , in order to save himself and them that heard him.

The δέ specifies, referring back to οὕτως . The emphasis is on πᾶς , thus shewing οὕτως to refer to the πάντες who τρέχουσιν .

ἀγωνιζόμενος is more general than τρέχων , q. d. ‘Every one who engages, not only in the race , but in any athletic contest ,’ and thus strengthening the inference. The art. ( ὁ ἀγων .) brings out the man as an enlisted and professed ἀγωνιζόμενος , and regards him in that capacity. Had it been πᾶς δὲ ἀγωνιζ ., the sense would have been, ‘Now every one, while contending ,’ &c., making the discipline to be merely accidental to his contending which would not suit the spiritual antitype, where we are enlisted for life.

Examples of the practice of abstinence in athletes may be seen in Wetst. in loc. I will give but two: (1) Hor. de Arte Poet. 412: “Qui studet optatam cursu contingere metam, Multa tulit fecitque puer, sudavit et alsit: Abstinuit venere et vino.” (2) Epict. c. 35: θέλεις ὀλύμπια νικῆσαι ; κἀγὼ νὴ τοὺς θεούς , κομψὸν γάρ ἐστιν . ἀλλὰ σκόπει καὶ τὰ καθηγούμενα καὶ τὰ ἀκόλουθα , καὶ οὕτως ἅπτου τῶν ἔργων . δεῖ σ ʼ εὐτακτεῖν , ἀναγποτροφεῖν , ἀπέχεσθαι πεμμάτων , γυμνάζεσθαι πρὸς ἀνάγκην ἐν ὥρᾳ τεταγμένῃ , ἐν καύματι , ἐν ψύχει , μὴ ψυχρὸν πίνειν , μὴ οἶνον · ὡς ἔτυχεν ἁπλῶς , ὡς ἰατρῷ παραδεδωκέναι σαυτὸν τῷ ἐπιστάτῃ , εἶτα εἰς τὸν ἀγῶνα παρέρχεσθαι .

ἐκεῖνοι ] scil. ἐγκρατεύονται .

μὲν οὖν , ‘immo vero’ (reff.).

The School. on Pind. Isthm. ὑπόθεσις , cited by Meyer, says: στέφος δέ ἐστι τοῦ ἀγῶνος πίτυς , τὸ δὲ ἀνέκαθεν σέλινα καὶ αὐτοῦ ἦν ὁ στέφανος .

ἡμεῖς δέ , scil. ἐγκρατευόμεθα ἵνα λάβωμεν στέφανον . He takes for granted the Christian’s temperance in all things, as his normal state.

Verse 26

26. ] I then ( ἐγώ emphatic recalls the attention from the incidental exhortation, and reminiscence of the Christian state, to the main subject, his own abstinence from receiving, and its grounds.

τοίνυν , as distinguished from other particles which imply restriction of what has been generally said to some particular object, indicates the dropping of minute or collateral points, and returning to the great necessary features of the subject , and this, as introducing some short and pithy determination or conclusion: see Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. 348. E.g., Xen. Cyr. vi. 3. 17, τούτων μὲν τοίνυν ἅλις εἴη , ἃ δὲ καιρὸς ἡμῖν εἰδέναι , ταῦτα , ἔφη , διηγοῦ ) so run as ( οὕτως ὡς , see reff.) not uncertainly (reff.: cf. also Polyb. iii. 54. 5, τῆς χιόνος ἄδηλον ποιούσης ἑκάστοις τὴν ἐπίβασιν : ‘ uncertainly ,’ i.e. without any sure grounds of contending or any fixed object for which to contend; both these are included. Chrysostom rightly brings it into subordination to the main subject, the participation with idolaters: τί δέ ἐστιν , οὐκ ἀδήλως ; πρὸς σκοπόν τινα βλέπων , φησίν , οὐκ εἰκῆ καὶ μάτην , καθάπερ ὑμεῖς , τί γὰρ ὑμῖν γίνεται πλέον ἀπὸ τοῦ εἰς εἰδωλεῖα εἰσιέναι , καὶ τὴν τελειότητα δῆθεν ἐκείνην ἐπιδείκνυσθαι ; οὐδέν . ἀλλ ʼ οὐκ ἐγὼ τοιοῦτος , ἀλλὰ πάντα ἅπερ ποιῶ , ὑπὲρ τῆς τῶν πλησίον σωτηρίας ποιῶ . κἂν τελειότητα ἐπιδείξωμαι , δι ʼ αὐτούς · κἂν συγκατάβασιν , δι ʼ αὐτούς · κἂν ὑπερβῶ Πέτρον ἐν τῷ μὴ λαμβάνειν , ἵνα μὴ σκανδαλισθῶσι · κἂν καταβῶ πλέον πάντων , περιτεμνόμενος καὶ ξυρώμενος , ἵνα μὴ ὑποσκελισθῶσι . Hom. xxiii. p. 201); so fight I, as not striking the air (and not my adversary). The allusion is not to a σκιαμαχία or rehearsal of a fight with an imaginary adversary, as Chrys. ( ἔχω γὰρ ὃν πλήξω ), Theophyl. al. m., but to a fight with a real adversary (viz. here, the body) in which the boxer vainly hits into the air, instead of striking his antagonist. So Entellus in the pugilistic combat, Æn. v. 446, ‘vires in ventum effudit,’ when Dares ‘ictum venientem a vertice velox Prævidit, celerique elapsus corpore cessit.’ See examples both of what is really meant, and of the σκιαμαχία , in Wetst.

Obs., in both places οὐκ is used and not μή , as importing the matter of fact, and joined closely with the adverb in one case and the verb in the other.

Verse 27

27. ] But I bruise my body ( ὑπωπιάζω , lit. to strike heavily in the face so as to render black and blue, “ ὑπώπια , τὰ ὑπὸ τοὺς ὦπας τῶν πληγῶν ἴχνη , ut ait Pollux: sed latius dici sic cœpere ἀφ ʼ οἱασδηποτοῦν πληγῆς τραύματα , ut ait Scholiastes ad Aristoph. Acharn., Cicero Tusc. 2, ‘Pugiles cæstibus contusi,’ i.e. ὑπωπιαζόμενοι .” Grot. The body is the adversary, considered as the seat of the temptations of Satan, and especially of that self-indulgence which led the Corinthians to forget their Christian combat, and sit at meat in the idol’s temple. The abuse of this expression to favour the absurd practice of the Flagellants, or to support ascetic views at all, need hardly be pointed out to the rational, much less to the Christian student. It is not even of fasting or prayer that he is here speaking, but as the context, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 , shews, of breaking down the pride and obstinacy and self-seeking of the natural man by laying himself entirely out for his great work the salvation of the greatest number: and that, denying himself “solatium” from without: “My hands have been worn away (cf. χεῖρες αὗται , Act 20:34 ) with the black tent-cloths, my frame has been bowed down with this servile labour (cf. ἐλεύθερος .… ἐδούλωσα , 1Co 9:19 ).” Stanley) and enslave it (‘etiam δουλαγωγεῖν a pyctis desumptum est; nam qui vicerat, victum (vinctum?) trahebat adversarium quasi servum.’ Grot. But this seems to want confirmation. I can find no account of such a practice in any of the ordinary sources of information. Certainly Dares is not made the slave of Entellus in Æn. v.: and Virgil is generally accurate in such matters. I had rather give a more general meaning: that viz. of the necessary subjection, for the time, of the worsted to the prevailing combatant), lest perchance having proclaimed ( κηρ . absolute [answering to our use of preach ]: as in Æsch. Eum. 566, κήρυσσε , κῆρυξ , καὶ στρατὸν κατειργάθου (peile). The subject of the proclamation might be the laws of the combat , or the names of the victors (Æn. v. 245), each by one in the capacity of herald : probably here the former only, as answering to the preaching of the Apostles. The nature of the case shews, that the Christian herald differs from the agonistic herald, in being himself a combatant as well , which the other was not: and that this is so, is no objection to thus understanding κηρύξας . “This introduces indeed a new complication into the metaphor: but it is rendered less violent by the fact, that … sometimes the victor in the games was also selected as the herald to announce his success. So it was a few years after the date of this Epistle, in the case of Nero. Suet. Nero, c. 24.” Stanley) to others, I myself may prove rejected (from the prize : not, as some Commentators, from the contest altogether , for he was already in it ). An examination of the victorious combatants took place after the contest, and if it could be proved that they had contended unlawfully, or unfairly, they were deprived of the prize and driven with disgrace from the games. Such a person was called ἐκκεκριμένος , and ἀποδεδοκιμασμένος , see Philo de Cherub., § 22, vol. i. p. 152. So the Apostle, if he had proclaimed the laws of the combat to others, and not observed them himself, however successful he might apparently be, would be personally rejected as ἀδόκιμος in the great day. And this he says with a view to shew them the necessity of more self-denial, and less going to the extreme limit of their Christian liberty; as Chrys. εἰ γὰρ ἐμοὶ τὸ κηρῦξαι , τὸ διδάξαι , τὸ μυρίους προσαγαγεῖν οὐκ ἀρκεῖ εἰς σωτηρίαν , εἰ μὴ καὶ τὰ κατ ʼ ἐμαυτὸν παρασχοίμην ἄληπτα , πολλῷ μᾶλλον ὑμῖν . p. 202.

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/1-corinthians-9.html. 1863-1878.
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