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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 9

Verse 1

1 Corinthians 9:1 . Οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐλεύθερος , οὐκ εἰμὶ ἀπόστολος ;) am I not free? am I not an apostle? ) There is a transposition of these two clauses in the present received reading: [68] but Paul first lays down the proposition, I am free; then, the reason of it [by aetiology. Append.], I am an apostle; and there is a hendiadys in this sense, I am entitled not only to Christian, but also to apostolic liberty . We have a chiasmus [69] in the discussion of the subject: for in it he first claims for himself the apostleship , 1 Corinthians 9:1-3 , then he asserts his liberty , and that too as an apostle, 1 Corinthians 9:4-5 ; 1 Corinthians 9:19 , [whereas in the statement of subject, 1 Corinthians 9:1 , ‘ free ’ comes first, ‘ apostle ’ next]. That, which free is in the adjective, 1 Corinthians 9:1 , ἐξουσία , power , is in the substantive, 1 Corinthians 9:4 ; comp. 1 Corinthians 8:9 . οὐχὶ εὥρακα , have I not seen? ) Observe the firmness of the apostle. τὸ ἔργον μου , my work ) A testimony derived from actual facts , which is the strongest.

[68] AB Vulg. Memph. Syr. Orig. 4,266 b , support the order as in Bengel D G fg later Syr. put ἀπόστολος before ἐλεύθερος , as in Rec. Reading. ED.

[69] See Appendix.

Verse 2

1 Corinthians 9:2 . Ὑμῖν , to you ) to whom I came; who have received the Gospel; you cannot deny it: ὑμῖν , as far as you are concerned . Similar datives are found at 1 Corinthians 9:21 . ἡ γὰρ σφραγὶς , for the seal ) From the Church of believers an argument may be derived for the truth of the Gospel, and of the Christian religion. ἀποστολῆς , of apostleship ) A person even, who was not an apostle, might bring men by means of the Gospel to the faith, as Philip, Epaphras, and others; but Paul calls the Corinthians the seal not of calling of whatsoever kind, but of his apostolic calling: because he had the signs of an apostle, 2 Corinthians 12:12 ; Romans 15:18-19 ; nor did the Corinthians merely receive faith, but also a singular abundance of gifts, 1 Corinthians 1:7 .

Verse 3

1 Corinthians 9:3 . Ἡ ) This is an anaphora with [70] ἡ σφραγίς , 1Co 9:2 ἀπολογία , a defence [or answer ]) The Roman Pontiff, in his desire to be irresponsible , ἀνυπεύθυνος , assumes more to himself. τοῖς ἐμὲ ἀνακρίνουσιν , to those who debate my case [ examine me ]) who have any doubt of my apostleship.

[70] See Append. The frequent repetition of the same word in the beginnings of sections.

Verse 4

1 Corinthians 9:4 . [72] ΜῊ ΟὐΚ ἜΧΟΜΕΝ ; have we not? ) He comes from the singular to the plural, including his colleagues [in the apostleship]. φαγεῖν καὶ πιεῖν , to eat and to drink ) without labouring with his hands.

[72] Αὕτη ἐστὶ , is this ) namely, that you are the seal of my office. V.g.

Verse 5

1 Corinthians 9:5 . Ἀδελφὴν γυναῖκα , a sister, a wife ) Expressed in the nominative case this is the proposition implied, this sister is my wife; wherefore the name, sister , does not prevent marriage. περιάγειν , to lead about ) an abbreviated expression [73] for to have and to lead about; for he had no wife. Expense was laid upon the Churches, not from having, but from leading about a wife. ὡς , as well as ) this word also refers to 1 Corinthians 9:4 . οἱ λοιποὶ , the others ) The article shows that all the others had done so. We may presume the same of John. καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ τοῦ Κυρίου , and the brethren of the Lord ) Acts 1:14 ; Galatians 1:19 . καὶ Κηφᾶς , and Cephas ) There is a gradation here; comp. 1 Corinthians 3:22 , note.

[73] See Appendix, “locutio concisa.”

Verse 6

1 Corinthians 9:6 . Τοῦ μὴ ἐργάζεσθαι ), to forbear working with the hand .

Verse 7

1 Corinthians 9:7 . Τίς , who ) The minister of the Gospel is beautifully compared to a soldier, a vine-dresser, a shepherd. The apostle speaks of that which is a common occurrence; although, even then, there had been some, who were soldiers on their own charges volunteers . φυτεύει ; plants ) 1 Corinthians 3:6 .

Verse 8

1 Corinthians 9:8 . Καὶ ) also . Not only do I not speak this as a man [according to mere human modes of thought], but with the approbation of the law itself.

Verse 9

1 Corinthians 9:9 . Οὐ φιμώσεις βοῦν ἀλοῶντα ) So the LXX., Deuteronomy 25:4 . ἀλοῶντα , threshing ) Horses in the present day are employed in threshing corn in some parts of Germany. μὴ τῶν βοῶν , does God care for oxen ) It is not at all denied, that God cares for oxen, since the man, who would have muzzled the ox, threshing the corn, would have committed a sin against the law. But the conclusion proceeds from the less to the greater. [If God cares for mere oxen, much more for men]. This is a specimen of the right mode of handling the Mosaic laws, enacted regarding animals.

Verse 10

1 Corinthians 9:10 . Πάντως , altogether ) The word, ‘saying,’ is put into the question itself. ὃτι ) namely, that ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι ), לבטח , which the LXX. always render ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι : comp. Acts 2:26 . ὀφείλει , ought) There is a change of person. The obligation [implied in ὀφείλει ] is with them that remunerate, not with them that labour; otherwise the latter would commit sin by not receiving. So also regarding the precept, 1 Corinthians 9:14 : comp. I ought, 2 Corinthians 12:11 . ὁ ἀροτριῶν , that [animal] which ploweth [or he that ploweth]) This also is the labour of oxen. It seems to be an adage, something like this; hope supports the husbandman. τῆς ἐλπίδος ἀυτοῦ , [74] of his hope ) The abstract for the concrete: of the fruits, in the hope of which he, who now threshes, plowed , μετέχειν , to become partaker ) viz. ought. To become partaker of his hope is a periphrasis for the verb to thresh . Namely, he who plows, plows in the hope of threshing and eating; he, who threshes, possesses that hope , which he had in plowing, and threshes in the hope of eating.

[74] The margin of the 2d Ed. prefers the shorter reading, ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι τοῦ μετέχειν , of which there is not a vestige, either in the older Ed., or in the Gnomon, or in the Germ. Vers. E. B.

ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι τοῦ μετέχειν is the reading of ABC both Syr. (Memph.) Theb. Vulg. (in spe fructus percipiendi) Orig. 1,170; 541 c . But D ( Λ ) corrected later, G fg read τῆς ἐλπίδος αὐτοῦ μετέχειν : to which Rec. Text adds ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι . ED.

Verse 11

1 Corinthians 9:11 . Ὑμῖν , unto you ) he does not say yours , as afterwards. μέγα , a great thing ) Comp. 2Co 11:15 ; 2 Corinthians 11:14 , where it is explained as the same as “ a marvel .”

Verse 12

1 Corinthians 9:12 . Ἄλλοι , others ) true apostles, 1 Corinthians 9:5 : or false ones, 2 Corinthians 11:20 . ὑμῶν ) over you . μᾶλλον , rather ) on account of our greater labour. τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ ταύτῃ ) The repetition gives force to the meaning; this power [such a power as this]. στέγομεν ) στέγω signifies properly to cover; them to protect, to defend; likewise to conceal, to bear and endure with a desire to conceal , as here [75] and in 1 Corinthians 13:7 . On the other hand, Οὐ ΣΤΈΓΕΙΝ , not to forbear , in a burst of strong feeling, 1 Thessalonians 3:1 ; 1 Thessalonians 3:5 . [ The minister of the Gospel requires to put in practice this forbearance: For reproaches of this kind are cast upon him, viz. on the ground of arrogance or avarice, which among politicians (or men of the world ) are considered virtues . V. g.] ἵνα μὴ ἐγκοπήν τινα δῶμεν , lest we should hinder ), i.e. that we should as far as possible forward the Gospel. Those, who are least encumbered, do more work and cause less expense; hence the celibacy of the priests among the Papists and of soldiers in the commonwealth.

[75] “We suffer without speaking or complaining.” ED.

Verse 13

1 Corinthians 9:13 . Τὰ ιἑρὰ ) sacred things . ἐκ τοῦ ιἑροῦ , of the temple ) θυσιαστηρίῳ , at the altar ) If the Mass were a sacrifice, Paul would have undoubtedly accommodated to it the apodosis in the following verse.

Verse 14

1 Corinthians 9:14 . Ὁ Κύριος , the Lord ) Christ Matthew 10:10 .

Verse 15

1 Corinthians 9:15 . Ἔγραψα , I have written ) lately. μᾶλλον , rather ) construed with die . The reason of such a solemn affirmation is explained at 2 Corinthians 11:7 , etc. τὶς , any man ) who should either give me a livelihood by the Gospel, or should declare that I thus gained my living.

Verse 16

1 Corinthians 9:16 . Γὰρ , for ) He now states, in what this glorying consists. εὐαγγελίζωμαι [if], I preach ) This must be taken in the exclusive sense; if I preach, and do so not gratuitously; if I do nothing besides. ἀνάγκη , necessity ) Owing [duty] takes away glorying. οὐαὶ δὲ , but [yea] woe) but intensive; not only have I nothing, whereof I may glory, but even woe [to me, if I do not], Jonah 1:4 ; Exodus 4:14 ; Jeremiah 20:9 .

Verse 17

1 Corinthians 9:17 . Ἑκὼν , willingly ) This is here used instead of gratuitously , whence I have a reward makes an oxymoron; [76] moreover he defines the reward and gain in the following verses. Paul often, when speaking of his own affairs, uses increase and diminution [ αὔξησις and ΜΕΊΩΣΙς ], not unlike a catachresis, and suitable to express his self-abnegation. He might have willingly preached the Gospel, and yet have received a reward from the Corinthians; but if he should receive a reward, he considers that as equivalent to his preaching unwillingly; so in the following verse the use of his legitimate ‘ power ’ might be without abuse; but he considers in his case the former in the light of the latter; [77] comp. Romans 15:15 ; 2 Corinthians 11:8-9 ; 2Co 1:24 ; 2 Corinthians 2:5 ; 2 Corinthians 7:2-3 . οἰκονομίαν πεπίστευμαι , a dispensation of the Gospel is committed to me ) I cannot withdraw myself, although I should fail of my reward. Again, the language is exclusive, as in 1 Corinthians 9:16 .

[76] See Appendix. The pointed combination of contraries. “ Gratuitously , yet I have a reward .” ED.

[77] i.e . He would regard his using his power as if it were an abuse . ED.

Verse 18

1 Corinthians 9:18 . Ἴνα , that ) This is an answer to the question. θήσω , future subjunctive. [78] ΕἸς ΤῸ ΜῊ ΚΑΤΑΧΡΉΣΑΣΘΑΙ ) that I abuse not, i.e. that I may withdraw myself as far as possible from any abuse.

[78] Fut. subj. is an obsolete form seldom found, but legitimate. Indeed, the subjunctive itself is an old future. See Donaldson’s New Cratylus. ED.

Verse 19

1 Corinthians 9:19 . Ἐκ πάντων , from all men ) Masculine, as we have immediately after, unto all; comp. the more . I was free from all men, i.e. no one could have held me as subject to his power. ἐδούλωσα , I made myself a servant ) a servant suits himself entirely to another. τοὺς πλείονας , the more ) The article has a force relative to all, i.e. as many of them as possible . κερδήσω , I might gain ) This word agrees with the consideration of a reward .

Verse 20

1 Corinthians 9:20 . Ὡς Ἰουδαῖος , as a Jew ) in regard to those things which are not defined by the law; for as under the law follows, although even those, who observed the laws of Noah, might have been called men occupying a place midway between the Jews under the law and men without the law . ὡς ὑπὸ νόμον ) μὴ ὢν αὐτὸς ὑπὸ νόμον is subjoined in the oldest copies. [79] It was an omission easily made in others from the recurrence of the word νόμον . τοὺς ) The article seems to be put here not so much for the sake of emphasis as of necessity, as ὑπὸ under follows.

[79] And, therefore, both in the margin of the 2d ED. it is elevated from the mark γ to the mark β , and in the Germ. Vers. it is inserted in the context. E. B. These words, μὴ νόμον , are read in ABCD (A) G fg Vulg. Theb. But Rec. Text omits the words with Memph. Syr. and Orig. 1,391 c ; 3,515 f , 4,166 d . ED

Verse 21

1 Corinthians 9:21 . Ἀνόμους ) This is here used in that sense, which the meaning of the primitive word precisely produces, as ἀνυπότακτον , Hebrews 2:8 . ὡς ἀνόμος , as without law ), by omitting things that may be omitted in regard to things ceremonial. μὴ ὤν ἄνομος , who am not without the law ) Paul was not ( anomus ) without the law , much less was he ( antinomus ) opposed to the law . μὴ ἄνομος , Θεῷ , ἀλλʼ ἔννομος Χριστῷ ) Χριστὸς , Θεοῦ ἐστι , 1 Corinthians 3:23 : whence, he who is without the law to God , ἄνομος Θεῷ , is also without the law to Christ , ἄνομος Χριστῷ : he who is under the law to Christ , ἔννομος Χριστῶ , is under the law to God , ἔννομος Θεῷ . Concerning the law of Christ, comp. Galatians 6:2 , note. Ἔννομος has a milder meaning than ὑπὸ νόμον .

Verse 22

1 Corinthians 9:22 . Τοὺς ἀσθενεῖς , the weak ) The article is not added to Ἰουδαίους , nor to ἀνόμους . It is added to ἀσθενεῖς , because he is chiefly speaking of them, 1 Corinthians 8:7 : all these are easily gained, if they be rightly treated. γέγονα , I am become ) When the verb is thus put [in the Perf. middle, a tense almost present in meaning], the transition is easily made from the past ἐγενόμην to the present ποιῶ .

Verse 23

1 Corinthians 9:23 . Ἴνα συγκοινωνὸς ἀυτοῦ γένωμαι ) The Σὺν and γίνομαι show great modesty. Those things which follow, are referred to this verse, as to the proposition [the theme to be handled]. ἀυτοῦ , of it ) of the Gospel and salvation; comp. the words, I might save , 1 Corinthians 9:22 .

Verse 24

1 Corinthians 9:24 . Οὐκ οἴδατε , know ye not? ) The comparison is to a thing very well known to the Corinthians. [80] εἷς , one ) Although we knew, that one alone would be saved, still it would be well worth our while to run. [ For what will become of those, who never cease to defend themselves by the inactivity of others . Comp. 1 Corinthians 10:5 . V. g.] οὔτω τρέχετε , ἼΝΑ ΚΑΤΑΛΆΒΗΤΕ , so run that ye may obtain ) Paul speaks of himself to the end of the chapter; he does not yet exhort the Corinthians directly; therefore he seems here to introduce into his discourse by a third party [81] that sort of encouragement, which P. Faber, i. 2, Agonist. c. 32, shows that the judges of the combats, the instructors of the young in gymnastics and the spectators were accustomed to give; also Chrysostom Hom. on the expression εἂν πεινᾷ ; and Caesarius, quaest. 29; for the words, he says, they say , [82] are more than once omitted. See ch. 1 Corinthians 5:13 , 1 Corinthians 15:32-33 ; Ephesians 6:2 ; Colossians 2:21 ; Psalms 137:6 ; Jeremiah 2:25 ; Jeremiah 51:9 . Therefore this is the sense here; they say, so run , etc.; and this clause belongs to the protasis, which is continued at the beginning of the following verse, οὓτω , so , a particle expressive of praise as well as of exhortation, Philippians 4:1 . τρέχετε , run ) All are urged, as if each, not merely one, was to obtain the prize. ἳνα , that ) to the end that.

[80] πάντες , all ) Comp. 1 Corinthians 10:1 . V. g.

[81] See Appendix, under the title Sermocinatio. “So run that ye may obtain” is not Paul’s direct exhortation to the Corinthians, but the language of the spectators of the games, etc., to the racers, quoted by Paul as applying to himself. Comp. v. 26. Obliquely reference was meant to the Corinthians. ED.

[82] Beng. means that Paul’s omitting, in the allusion or quotation, “As the saying is,” does not militate against its being a quotation. For he elsewhere omits this express marking of quotations. ED.

Verse 25

1 Corinthians 9:25 . Πᾶς , every man ) There were many sorts of contests. δὲ , but ) an emphatic addition ( ἐπίτασις ). The race was among those contests that were of a lighter description; wrestling, to which allusion is presently made, is among those that were more severe. πάντα , all things ) supply κατὰ , as to, throughtout . ἐγκρατεύεται , is temperate ) Those, who were to strive for the mastery, were distinguished by their admirable mode of living. See the same Faber, and the same Chrysostom de Sacred., l. 4, c. 2, at the end. ἐκεῖνοι ) they , who run and wrestle. Christians had abandoned the public games. φθαρτὸν , corruptible ) formed of the wild olive, of the apple tree, of parsley and of the fir tree. Not only the crown, but the remembrance of it perishes.

Verse 26

1 Corinthians 9:26 . Ἐγὼ ) I for my part. οὕτως ) so , as I said, 1 Corinthians 9:23 : comp. οὒτω , so , 1 Corinthians 9:24 . οὐκ ἀδήλως , not uncertainly , I know what I aim at, and how to aim at it. He who runs with a clear aim looks straight forward to the goal, and makes it his only object, he casts away every encumbrance, and is indifferent to what the standers bye say, and sometimes even a fall serves only to rouse him the more. πυκτεύω , I fight ) Paul adds the pugilistic contest to the race, in preference to the other kinds of contest. ὡς οὐκ αἔρα δέρων , not as one beating the air ) In the Sciamachia [sparring in the school for mere practice] which preceded the serious contest, they were accustomed to beat the air; comp. [ye shall speak to] the air , 1 Corinthians 14:9 .

Verse 27

1 Corinthians 9:27 . Ὑπωπιάζω ) Eustathius says, ὑπώπια φασὶ τὰς περὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς πληγάς · ἐξ ὧν ἐκ μέρους καιριωτάτου , καὶ το ὑπωπιάζειν , καὶ σώματος ὑπωπιασμὸς μεταφορικῶς , ὁ κατα συντηξιν . [83] He at the same time shows, that πρόσκομμα , applies to the foot, as ὑπώτιον to the head; therefore compare πρόσκομμα and τύπτοντες with ὑπωπάζω , 1Co 7:9 ; 1 Corinthians 7:12 . τὸ σῶμα , the body) A near antagonist, Romans 8:13 ; 1 Peter 2:11 . δουλαγωγῶ ) I lay my hand upon my body, as on a slave , and restrain it; comp. respecting a slave, Sir 33:25 . ὑπωπιάζω , as a pugilist , δουλαγωγῶ , as a runner . The one word is put after the other; the one denotes rather the act, the other the state; the one is weightier than the other; for at first greater austerity is necessary, till the body is subdued. κηρύξας ) Κήρυκες were present at the games [ who placed the crowns on the brows of the conquerors announcing their names . V. g.] ἀδόκιμος , one rejected, cast away ) Unworthy of a prize, of a crown. It is a word which was used in the public games.

[83] Blows around the eyes are termed ὑπώπια ; from which, on account of it being a most tender [susceptible] part, we have both ὑπωπιάζειν , and ὑπωπιασμὸς , applied to the severe disciplining of the body metaphorically, viz., that disciplining which is in the way of mortification.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.