Lectionary Calendar
Friday, July 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 9

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

Am I not an apostle? Verse 2 indicates that some had questioned the apostleship of Paul. He will name some of the reasons for claiming to be an apostle, in both the present and the next verse. Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? It was one of the qualifications required of an apostle that he had seen Christ alive after the crucifixion. Ye my work in the Lord: Paul started this church (Act 18:1-11).

Verse 2

1Co 9:2. Aside from any work Paul might have done elsewhere, the Corinthians had the evidence in their own experience that Paul was an apostle. Seal is from SPHRAGIS, which Thayer defines at this place, "that by which anything is confirmed, proved, authenticated, as by a seal." When a legal paper has an official seal stamped on it, that proves the existence of the seal, just as the letters the reader is now looking at prove the existence of the type somewhere. The bestowal of spiritual gifts could be done only by an apostle (Act 8:18). The church at Corinth possessed those gifts after Paul had worked with them, which proved that he was an apostl

Verse 3

1Co 9:3. Paul gives an answer to the ones who wanted to examine him, which denotes the examination consisted of questions as to why he did or did not do some things.

Verse 4

1Co 9:4. Power is from EXOUSIA, which means right or authority. To eat and drink means to do so at the expense of those to whom he preaches. (See verse 14.)

Verse 5

1Co 9:5. Paul means he has the right to do so at the expense of the church, as well as to obtain his own food from it. He abstained from marriage voluntarily, but insists that had he chosen to do so, he would have the right to marry and have his wife travel with him at the expense of the church. His stipulation that his wife would be a sister (in Christ) is a strong recommendation that even the first marriage of Christians should be with one in the faith. As an approved example of his right in this matter, he cites that of other apostles including Cephas (Peter).

Verse 6

1Co 9:6. Paul narrows his discussion to himself and Barnabas. Forbear working means not to labor with their hands to obtain the necessities of life.

Verse 7

1Co 9:7. Nobody expects a soldier to support himself while fighting for his country. On the same principle, a man who produces fruit or stock is granted the right to partake thereof.

Verse 8

1Co 9:8-9. To show that he was not making these arguments on his personal authority only, Paul quotes from Deu 25:4 in regard to oxen. Before the days of machinery, small grain was piled down on a floor and the beast was driven round over it to break the husk from the grain. It was natural for the ox to help himself to the feed, and the command was not to muzzle him to keep him from eating the grain. Doth God take care for oxen?' The law against muzzling the ox was in force literally, but the circumstance was used as an example for something more important than the comfort of brute beasts.

Verse 10

1Co 9:10. For our sakes . . . this is written. The law indeed was intended as a merciful provision for the dumb creature, but it was written as a lesson for men who were to partake of the fruit of their own labors.

Verse 11

1Co 9:11. Paul is still discussing his right to financial support, not that he is asking for it. Carnal things is another term for the temporal necessities of life. The Corinthians had received spiritual things (the Gospel) from Paul, and it was right if they were asked to contribute to his necessities were he to ask for it.

Verse 12

1Co 9:12. Having shown his full right to the temporal support of the Corinthians, Paul informs them it is not his intention to require it.

Verse 13

1Co 9:13. The apostle adds another proof for his position by referring to an arrangement under the Mosaic system, in which the one officiating in the altar service got part of his living from that service. (See Lev 6:16 Lev 6:26 Lev 7:6 Lev 7:31-32.)

Verse 14

1Co 9:14. To live of the Gospel means to obtain a living from those to whom the Gospel is preached. This is taught also in Gal 6:6.

Verse 15

1Co 9:15. Again Paul explains that he is not hinting for favors. In truth, he would even refuse to receive them on account of a special circumstance to be commented on soon. But he wishes to correct a wrong attitude some had on the subject

Verse 16

1Co 9:16. Regardless of all other considerations, it was the duty of Paul to preach the Gospel, else the woe or condemnation of the Lord would be on him.

Verse 17

1Co 9:17. However, if he preaches independent of his fixed duty, there was a special favor offered to him. If he does not do it under a free motive, then the woe mentioned in the preceding 1 Corinthians 9 :, here called dispensation, would be upon him.

Verse 18

1Co 9:18. Paul asks and answers the question as to the reward mentioned in the preceding verse. That consisted in the privilege of preaching to the Corinthians and not taking any financial support from them. Verse 14 says the Lord ordained that preachers were to be supported by the ones who heard the preaching. Paul was given a special exemption from that law in order to have some satisfaction from the privilege of which he might glory (verse 15). It did not bring all of the enjoyment he expected, for afterward he apologized for it (2Co 12:13).

Verse 19

1Co 9:19. Paul was not legally bound to any man, yet he voluntarily put himself in a position of service to everybody for the good he could do.

Verse 20

1Co 9:20. The passages from this verse through 22 have been perverted, and made to represent Paul as a timeserver for the sake of peace and friendship, even to the extent of compromising the truth. Nothing could be more unjust toward a man whose integrity was shown in such expressions as, "let God be true, but every man a liar" (Rom 3:4). There are numberless incidentals in the conditions and lives of people that do not involve any principle of right and wrong. Paul means that in all such circumstances, he conformed to the conditions as he found them, in order to show a friendly interest in the happiness of the people. The customs of the Jews under the law included many items that were not especially of a religious obligation. Jews who were Christians had the right to practice them which Paul did while with them.

Verse 21

1Co 9:21. When Paul was mingling with those who were not Jews, he did not try to press the Jewish customs upon them, but he did advocate the law of Christ which was and is binding upon all mankind.

Verse 22

1Co 9:22. To the weak. Paul always respected the talents of those with whom he came in contact, and adapted his teaching and practices to their understanding.

Verse 23

1Co 9:23. By conforming himself to these various conditions, many of which existed in Corinth, the apostle showed a sincere interest in the Gospel. He also placed the whole relation between himself and the Corinthian brethren on a plane that enabled them all to be fellow partakers of the Gospel.

Verse 24

1Co 9:24. In the foot races that were common in those days, there could be but one successful contestant for the prize. There need be no limitation as to the number of winners in the Christian race. The point is that each man should run as if only one could win, and he was determined to be that one.

Verse 25

1Co 9:25. Paul is using the various athletic games of the country for his illustrations. The contestants were temperate, which denotes that they prepared themselves by a strict schedule of diet and exercise. Corruptible crown means the prize to be won in those games was material and subject to decay, while that for which the Christians were contending was "a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1Pe 5:4). For that reason all Christians should make the greater effort to qualify and perform to the utmost of their ability.

Verse 26

1Co 9:26. Not as uncertainly. If only one person could win in the race, then the success of another would mean de feat, and the whole contest would be hanging on uncertainty. But since it is an individual affair and based on faithfulness only, each runner may assure himself of victory. Beateth the air is an allusion to a practice of going through the motions of a boxer preparatory to the real fight, in which the performer threw his arms around in the air, similar to the modern practice with dumbbells for the purpose of physical training.

Verse 27

1Co 9:27. Instead of the actions de scribed in the preceding verse, Paul says he fights with a real person and that is himself. I keep under is from HUPOPIAZO, which Thayer defines, "to beat black and blue, to smite so as to cause bruises and livid [black and blue] spots," and he explains it at this passage to mean, "like a boxer I buffet my body, handle it roughly, discipline it with hardships." The great apostle Paul never considered himself to be out of reach of temptation as long as he lived, but believed it necessary to be always on his guard against the wiles of Satan. Castaway means one who becomes unfaithful before the end of life's contest.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/1-corinthians-9.html. 1952.
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