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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 9

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

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Verse 1

Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?

Am I not an apostle, … — That is to say, Do I require you to do anything more than I myself do daily, in parting with my proper rights? All things in a minister should be exemplary, and for imitation; Titus 2:7 ; "In all things show thyself a pattern of good works." The word τυπος , there used, signifies a thing that makes the stamp on the coin, or the mould whereinto the vessel is cast and shaped.

Have I not seen the Lord? — viz. In visions and ecstasies. The false apostles reported him no apostle because he had not conversed with Christ in the flesh. It is ordinary with seducers to detract from the truth’s champions, that they may be the better esteemed of. Thus Bellarmine rejecteth the fathers and others that make not for him as heretics. To Iraneus, Tertullian, Eusebius, and Luther (said he) I answer, Omne manifesti haeretici sunt, they are all manifest heretics. So Arminius’s course was to detract from the authority and fame of Calvin, Zanchius, Beza, Martyr, …, that he might build himself upon better men’s ruins. (Synod. Dordec. Praefat.) The Jesuits speak most basely of St Paul, a making much against many of their tenets; and stick not to teach in their pulpits, that he was not secure of his preaching but by conference with St Peter; nor that he dared publish his Epistle till St Peter had allowed them. Zuinglius mentioneth some bold fellows in his time, A. D. 1519, who spake very contemptuously of this great apostle: Quis tandem Paulus, … Calvin telleth that Quintinus the Libertine called him Vas fractum, a broken vessel. And Leo Judae, in his preface to Bullinger’s book against the Catabaptists, noteth, that albeit there were various sorts of those sects, and all at odds among themselves, yet they all concurred in this, that they vexed and disparaged the godly preachers of the truth. And do they not still antiquum obtinere, hold to their old wont?

Verse 2

If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.

The seal of mine apostleship — See the like, Jeremiah 23:21 ; Matthew 21:27 , where our Saviour proveth John Baptist’s ministry to be from heaven, by the success.

Verse 3

Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,

Mine answer to them, … — Or, this is mine apology to those that cavil and quarrel my calling, viz. that I have converted you and others; a real proof, a visible demonstration. So 2 Corinthians 13:3-5 .

Verse 4

Have we not power to eat and to drink?

To eat and to drink — At the Church’s charge; so that we do it moderately without excess, as Josiah did, and it went well with him, Jeremiah 22:15 .

Verse 5

Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?

To lead about a sister — At the Church’s charge likewise. The Papists that deny the lawfulness of ministers’ marriage, are condemned and cursed by their own canon law (Distinct 29 and 31.) See Acts and Monuments, fol. 1008. Paphnutius opposed this proposition in the Nicene Council, and prevailed.

Verse 6

Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

To forbear working — At our trade? Yes, or else I should easily be of Melancthon’s mind, who when one had said of the ministry, that it was the art of arts, and the science of sciences; if he had added (said Melancthon) that it is the misery of miseries, he had hit the nail on the head. (Joh. Manl. loc. com. 471.)

Verse 7

Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

Who goeth a warfare, … — Ministers as they should be valiant as soldiers, diligent as husbandmen, vigilant as shepherds ( Pastor, arator, eques, … ), so should they live from their labour, as every tinker and tapster doth. It is a sign of gasping devotion, when men are so close handed to their ministers whose very cold water goes not unrewarded.

Verse 8

Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?

Or saith not the law — Not of nations only, as 1 Corinthians 9:7 , but of God expressly, Verbis non solum disertis, sed et exertis?

Verse 9

For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

Doth God take care for oxen? — He doth, doubtless, John 4:11 ; he preserveth man and beast; he heareth the young ravens that cry to him only by implication. Doth he not then much more take care for men, for ministers? The Hebrews have a proverb, Bos debet edere ex tritura sua, The ox should eat of the grain he treadeth out. But today, by slight or might, they so muzzle the poor labouring ox that they make an ass of him, saith one. In many places they allow him nothing but straw, for treading out the grain; and so much straw as themselves please, saith another. Do they not now go about to deal by Christ’s faithfulest servants, as those Grecians did, that put an engine about their servants’ neck (called πανσικοπη ) which reached down to their hands, that they might not so much as lick of the meal, when they were sifting it (Dr Stoughton.) It was long since complained about, that many dealt by their ministers as carriers do by their horses, they laid heavy burdens upon them, and then hung bells about their necks: hard work and good words they shall have; but easy commons and slight wages; as if they were of the chameleon kind, and could live by air, … The statute of mortmain The figurative use is often based on the notion that the ‘dead hand’ means the posthumous control exercised by the testator over the uses to which the property is to be applied. ŒD provided that men should give no more to the Church, but now tempera mutantur. Let it control be changed.

Verse 10

Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

Should plough in hope — Of maintaining his life by his labour, which is therefore called "the life of our hands," because it is upheld by the labour of our hands: Ludit, qui sterili semina mandat humo. (Propert.)

Verse 11

If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

Is it a great thing, … — Do not we give you gold for brass? Cast we not pearls before you? Alexander the Great gave Aristotle for his book de Natura Animalium, 800 talents, which is 800,000 crowns at least. Theodorus Gaza translated that book into Latin, and dedicated it to Pope Sixtus. The Pope asked him how much the rich outside of the book stood him in; Gaza answered, forty crowns. Those forty crowns he commanded to be repaid him, and so sent him away without any reward for so precious a piece of work. Interrogavit asinus papa quanti ornatus constaret? (John Manl. loc. com.) How well might the poor old Grecian sit and sing,

" Heu male nune artes miseras haec saecula tractant,

Spes nulla ulterior. " (Juven. Satir. 7.)

Verse 12

If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.

If others be partakers — If your ordinary pastors, …, for the false apostles preached gratis (as some gather out of 2 Corinthians 11:12 ), partly to draw more disciples, and partly to bring an odium upon the apostle, if he should not do the like.

Verse 13

Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?

Live of the things of, … — Yea, they lived plentifully and richly, as appears by the liberal gifts of those Levites for Passover Offerings, 2 Chronicles 35:9 .

Verse 14

Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

Even so hath the Lord — Note that "so," saith one; "that is, as they of old lived at the altar by tithes, so ministers now. How else will men satisfy their consciences in the particular quantity they must bestow upon the ministers? The Scripture speaks only of the tenth part."

Verse 15

But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

Better for me to die — To be hunger starved than to do anything to the prejudice of the gospel. Affliction is to be chosen rather than sin, Job 36:21 . Quas non oportet mortes praeeligere, saith Zuinglius, Epist. 3. What death should not a man choose, nay, what hell, rather than to sin against his conscience? Daniel chose rather to be cast into the lions’ den than to bear about that lion in his own bosom. The primitive Christians thought it far better to be thrown to lions without, than to be left to lusts within. Ad leonem magis quam lenonem. (Tertul.) Potius in ardentem rogum insiluero, quam ullum peccatum in Deum commisero, said a good man once. I will rather leap into a bonfire than wilfully commit any wickedness. The mouse of Armenia will rather die than be defiled with any filth. If her hole be besmeared with dirt, she will rather choose to perish with hunger than be polluted. Such was Paul here, and such we ought all to be.

Verse 16

For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

I have nothing to glory of — My glorying is, that I preach it gratis, and thereby stop an open mouth, 2 Corinthians 12:16-18 , give them the lie that falsely accuse me that I make a prize of you.

Yea, woe is unto me — It was death for the high priest to enter the tabernacle without his bells. Preach, man, preach; thou wilt be damned else, said one to his friend. Be instant, or stand over the work in season, out of season, επιστηθι . See Jacob’s diligence,Genesis 31:40; Genesis 31:40 . And Paul’s, Acts 20:20-28 , …, which one rightly calleth St Paul’s trumpet, the voice whereof may be to every minister, like that trumpet in Mount Sinai, that hath both clangorem et horrorem: or as Samuel’s message, making Eli’s two ears to tingle and his heart to tremble. (Barlow.) Let him give good heed to it, and then say with the civilian (Ulpian), Perquam durum est: sed ita lex scripta est. Hard or not hard it must be done, or I am utterly undone. Preach I must, or perish.

Verse 17

For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

I have a reward — Yet not earned, but of free grace, God crowning his own works in us. He was a proud Papist that said, Caelum gratis non accipiam, I will not have heaven for nought. (Vega.) And he another, that said, Opera bona mercatura regni caelestis, Good works are the price of heaven. (Bellarm.) God will cast all such merit merchants out of his temple.

But if against my willVirtus nolentium, nulla est. God will strain upon no man. All his servants are a free people, Psalms 110:3 . All his soldiers volunteers. They fly to their colours as the doves to their windows, Isaiah 60:8 .

Verse 18

What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

What is my reward then? — My merces mundi, reward of the world, all that I have here.

That I abuse noti.e. That I make no indiscreet use of it. Non opes, non gloriam, non voluptates quaesivi (said holy Melancthon). Hanc conscientiam aufero quocunque discedo. I never sought wealth, honour, or pleasure. This my conscience tells me, whatever becomes of me.

Verse 19

For though I be free from all men , yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

That I may gain the more — The Greek word for gain signifieth also the joy and delight of the heart in gaining. It signifies also craft or guile, such as is that of the fox; which when he is very hungry after prey, and can find none, he lieth down and feigneth himself to be a dead carcase, and so the fowls fall upon him, and then he catcheth them. So must a minister deny himself to gain his hearers. κερδος because κεαρ ηδει

Verse 20

And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

And unto the Jews, … — Not in conforming to their impieties; but, 1. In the use of things indifferent; 2. In merciful compassion toward them.

To them that are under the law — Though not Jews born, yet proselytes, as the Ethiopian eunuch, Cornelius, …

Verse 21

To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

That I might gain them — A metaphor from merchants, Qui κερδαινοντες ου κοπιωσι , who are never weary of taking money. (Naz.) St Paul harps much upon this string, out of a strong desire of winning souls to God. Ministers must turn themselves into all shapes and fashions both of spirit and speech to gain souls to God. Christ useth every engine of wisdom ( παση σοφιας μηχανη , saith Clemens Alexand.) that he may convert some. Ministers should labour to be masters of their people’s affections, δημαγωγοι , as the Athenian orators were called, i.e. people leaders.

Verse 22

To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men , that I might by all means save some.

To the weak — Not pressing upon them the austerities of religion, but condescending and complying with them, as far as I could with a good conscience.

That I might save some — This is the highest honour in the world, to have any hand in the saving of souls. Let all of an ability put forth themselves hereunto; and if they have not fine manchet, yet give the poor people barley bread, or whatsoever else the Lord hath committed unto them, as Bucer bade Bradford. (Acts and Mon.)

Verse 23

And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you .

That I might be partakeri.e. That I might be saved together with you. For the bell may call men to the Church, though itself never enter. The field may be well sowed with a dirty hand; the well yield excellent water, though it have much mud. Noah’s builders were drowned: and the sign that telleth the passenger there is wholesome diet or warm lodging within, may itself remain in the storms without. See 1 Timothy 4:16 . Nihil turpius est Peripatetico claudo. Oh how many heavenly doctrines are in some people’s ears, that never were in the preacher’s heart. So true is that of Hilary, Sanctiores sunt aures plebis, quam corda sacerdotum. More consecrated are the ears of the common people than the hearts of the priests.

Verse 24

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

Know ye not — The apostle argueth from their profane sports, yet approveth them not; as neither doth the Lord patronize usury, Matthew 25:27 ; injustice, Luke 16:1 ; thefts, 1 Thessalonians 5:2 ; dancing, Matthew 11:17 .

So run that ye may obtain, — Here is the race, but above the crown, saith Ignatius to Polycarp. ( ωδε μεν εστι το σταδιον, εκει δε οι στεφανοι .) Run to get the race, said Mr Bradford to his fellow sufferers, you are almost at your journey’s end. I doubt not but our Father will with us send to you also, as he did to Elias, a fiery chariot to convey us into his kingdom. Let us therefore not be dismayed to leave our cloak behind us, that is, our bodies to ashes. (Acts and Mon.)

Verse 25

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

Is temperate in all things — These luxurious Corinthians were much addicted to their belly; he calls them therefore to temperance. Ill doth it become a servant of the Highest to be a slave to his palate, to have animum in patinis et calicibus, as the Sybarites. A man may eat that on earth that he must digest in hell. (Aug.)

Verse 26

I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

Not as uncertainly — For, 1. I forget those things that are behind, all worldly things. I set those by. 2. I have oculum ad metam (which was Ludovicus Vives’ motto), an eye upon the Mark 3:1-35 . I strain and stretch toward it. See all these Philippians 3:13-14 . Duties are not to be done in a lazy, formal, customary strain, like the pace the Spaniard rides; but with utmost diligence and expedition.

That beats the air — As young fencers use to do, but I beat mine adversary.

Verse 27

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

My body — My body of sin in the whole man, not mine outward man only. If we find the devil practising upon the flesh, the way is not to revile the devil, but to beat the flesh. Give it a blue eye, leave a blot in the face of it, as the word υπωπαιζω signifieth, batter it as those were wont, that tried masteries with plummets of lead; we owe it nothing but stripes, Romans 8:12 . It is of a slavish nature, and must be held hard under, δουλαγωγω ; as slaves thrust into a mill, or bound to an oar.

A castaway — Cast out of heaven, as they were out of the fencing schools, that were either cross or cowardly; or that could offend, but not defend. An orator (how much more a preacher!) should be vir bonus dicendi peritus, a good man able to discourse. (Quintilian.) Diogenes blamed those orators that studied bene dicere, non bene facere, to speak well, but not to do accordingly. And Chrysostom saith, Nihil frigidius est doctore verbis solummodo philosophante. Hoc non est doctoris sed hishrionis. A wordy doctor is an unworthy creature, and more fit to make a stageplayer than a preacher.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/1-corinthians-9.html. 1865-1868.
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