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1 Corinthians Chapter Nine


1 Corinthians 9

The apostle was exposed to the accusations of false teachers, who asserted that he carried on his evangelisation and his labours from interested motives, and that he took the property of Christians, availing himself of their devotedness. He speaks therefore of his ministry. He declares openly that he is an apostle, an eye-witness of the glory of Christ, having seen the Lord. Moreover, if he was not an apostle to others, doubtless he was to the Corinthians, for he had been the means of their conversion. Now the will of the Lord was that they who preached the gospel should live of the gospel. He had a right to take with him a sister as his wife, even as Peter did, and the brethren of the Lord. Nevertheless he had not used this right. Obliged by the call of the Lord to preach the gospel, woe unto him if he failed to do it! His glory was to do it gratuitously, so as to take away all occasion from those who sought it. For, being free from all, he had made himself the servant of all, that he might win as many as he could. Observe that this was in his service; it was not accommodating himself to the world, in order to escape the offence of the cross. He put this plainly forward (chap. 2:2); but in preaching it, he adapted himself to the religious capacity and to the modes of thought belonging to the one and to the other, in order to gain access for the truth into their minds; and he did the same in his manner of conduct among them. It was the power of charity which denied itself in all things, in order to be the servant of all, and not the selfishness which indulged itself under the pretence of gaining others. He did so in every respect for the sake of the gospel, desiring, as he said, to be a partaker with it, for he personifies it as doing the work of God's love in the world.

It was thus they should run; and, in order to run thus, one must deny oneself. In this way the apostle acted. He did not run with uncertain steps, as one who did not see the true end, or who did not pursue it seriously as a known thing. He knew well what he was pursuing, and he pursued it really, evidently, according to its nature. Every one could judge by his walk. He did not trifle as a man who beats the air-easy prowess. In seeking that which was holy and glorious, he knew the difficulties he resisted in the personal conflict with the evil that sought to obstruct his victory. As a vigorous wrestler, he kept under his body, which would have hindered him. There was reality in his pursuit of heaven: he would tolerate nothing that opposed it. Preaching to others was not all. He might do that, and it might be, as regards himself, labour in vain; he might lose everything-be rejected afterwards himself, if not personally a Christian. He was a Christian first of all, then a preacher, and a good preacher, because he was a Christian first. Thus, also (for the beginning of chapter 10 connects itself with the close of chapter 9), others might makes a profession, partake of the initiatory and other ordinances, as he might be a preacher, and after all not be owned of God. This warning is a testimony to the condition to which, in part at least, the assembly of God was already reduced: a warning always useful, but which supposes that those who bear the name of Christian, and have partaken of the ordinances of the church, no longer inspire that confidence which would receive them without question as the true sheep of Christ. The passage distinguishes between participation in christian ordinances and the possession of salvation: a distinction always true, but which it is not necessary to make when christian life is bright in those who have part in the outward privileges of the assembly.

── John DarbySynopsis of 1 Corinthians


1 Corinthians 9

Chapter Contents

The apostle shows his authority, and asserts his right to be maintained. (1-14) He waved this part of his Christian liberty, for the good of others. (15-23) He did all this, with care and diligence, in view of an unfading crown. (24-27)

Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:1-14

(Read 1 Corinthians 9:1-14)

It is not new for a minister to meet with unkind returns for good-will to a people, and diligent and successful services among them. To the cavils of some, the apostle answers, so as to set forth himself as an example of self-denial, for the good of others. He had a right to marry as well as other apostles, and to claim what was needful for his wife, and his children if he had any, from the churches, without labouring with his own hands to get it. Those who seek to do our souls good, should have food provided for them. But he renounced his right, rather than hinder his success by claiming it. It is the people's duty to maintain their minister. He may wave his right, as Paul did; but those transgress a precept of Christ, who deny or withhold due support.

Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:15-23

(Read 1 Corinthians 9:15-23)

It is the glory of a minister to deny himself, that he may serve Christ and save souls. But when a minister gives up his right for the sake of the gospel, he does more than his charge and office demands. By preaching the gospel, freely, the apostle showed that he acted from principles of zeal and love, and thus enjoyed much comfort and hope in his soul. And though he looked on the ceremonial law as a yoke taken off by Christ, yet he submitted to it, that he might work upon the Jews, do away their prejudices, prevail with them to hear the gospel, and win them over to Christ. Though he would transgress no laws of Christ, to please any man, yet he would accommodate himself to all men, where he might do it lawfully, to gain some. Doing good was the study and business of his life; and, that he might reach this end, he did not stand on privileges. We must carefully watch against extremes, and against relying on any thing but trust in Christ alone. We must not allow errors or faults, so as to hurt others, or disgrace the gospel.

Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

(Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

The apostle compares himself to the racers and combatants in the Isthmian games, well known by the Corinthians. But in the Christian race all may run so as to obtain. There is the greatest encouragement, therefore, to persevere with all our strength, in this course. Those who ran in these games were kept to a spare diet. They used themselves to hardships. They practised the exercises. And those who pursue the interests of their souls, must combat hard with fleshly lusts. The body must not be suffered to rule. The apostle presses this advice on the Corinthians. He sets before himself and them the danger of yielding to fleshly desires, pampering the body, and its lusts and appetites. Holy fear of himself was needed to keep an apostle faithful: how much more is it needful for our preservation! Let us learn from hence humility and caution, and to watch against dangers which surround us while in the body.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 1 Corinthians


1 Corinthians 9

Verse 1

[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 free? am I not an apostle? — That is, Have not I the liberty of a common Christian? yea, that of an apostle? He vindicates his apostleship, 1 Corinthians 9:1-3: his apostolical liberty, 1 Corinthians 9:4-19.

Have I not seen Jesus Christ? — Without this he could not have been one of those first grand witnesses.

Are not ye my work in the Lord — A full evidence that God hath sent me? And yet some, it seems, objected to his being an apostle, because he had not asserted his privilege in demanding and receiving such maintenance from the churches as was due to that office.

Verse 2

[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.

Ye are the seal of my apostleship — Who have received not only faith by my mouth, but all the gifts of the Spirit by my hands.

Verse 3

[3] Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,

My answer to them who examine me — Concerning my apostleship.

Is this — Which I have now given.

Verse 4

[4] Have we not power to eat and to drink?

Have we not power — I and my fellowlabourers.

To eat and to drink — At the expense of those among whom we labour.

Verse 5

[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?

Have we not power to lead about with us a sister, a wife — And to demand sustenance for her also? As well as the other apostles - Who therefore, it is plain, did this.

And Peter — Hence we learn, 1. That St. Peter continued to live with his wife after he became an apostle: 2. That he had no rights as an apostle which were not common to St. Paul.

Verse 6

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

To forbear working — With our hands.

Verse 8

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

Do I speak as a man — Barely on the authority of human reason? Does not God also say, in effect, the same thing? The ox that treadeth out the corn - This was the custom in Judea, and many eastern nations. In several of them it is retained still. And at this day, horses tread out the corn in some parts of Germany.

Verse 9

[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 — In this direction.

Take care for oxen — Only? Hath he not a farther meaning? And so undoubtedly he hath in all the other Mosaic laws of this kind.

Verse 10

[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.

He who ploweth ought to plow in hope — Of reaping. This seems to be a proverbial expression.

And he that thresheth in hope — Ought not to be disappointed, ought to eat the fruit of his labours. And ought they who labour in God's husbandry. Deuteronomy 25:4

Verse 11

[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 matter if we shall reap as much of your carnal things — As is needful for our sustenance? Do you give us things of greater value than those you receive from us?

Verse 12

[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 — Whether true or false apostles.

Partake of this power — Have a right to be maintained.

Do not we rather — On account of our having laboured so much more? Lest we should give any hinderance to the gospel - By giving an occasion of cavil or reproach.

Verse 14

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

Matthew 10:10

Verse 15

[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.

It were better for me to die than — To give occasion to them that seek occasion against me, 2 Corinthians 11:12.

Verse 17

[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.

Willingly — He seems to mean, without receiving anything. St. Paul here speaks in a manner peculiar to himself. Another might have preached willingly, and yet have received a maintenance from the Corinthians. But if he had received anything from them, he would have termed it preaching unwillingly. And so, in the next verse, another might have used that power without abusing it. But his own using it at all, he would have termed abusing it.

A dispensation is intrusted to me — Therefore I dare not refrain.

Verse 18

[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 then is my reward — That circumstance in my conduct for which I expect a peculiar reward from my great Master? That I abuse not - Make not an unseasonable use of my power which I have in preaching the gospel.

Verse 19

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

I made myself the servant of all — I acted with as self-denying a regard to their interest, and as much caution not to offend them, as if I had been literally their servant or slave. Where is the preacher of the gospel who treads in the same steps?

Verse 20

[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;

To the Jews I became as a Jew — Conforming myself in all things to their manner of thinking and living, so far as; I could with innocence.

To them that are under the law — Who apprehend themselves to be still bound by the Mosaic law.

As under the law — Observing it myself, while I am among them. Not that he declared this to be necessary, or refused to converse with those who did not observe it. This was the very thing which he condemned in St. Peter, Galatians 2:14.

Verse 21

[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.

To them that are without the law — The heathens.

As without the law — Neglecting its ceremonies.

Being not without the law to God — But as much as ever under its moral precepts.

Under the law to Christ — And in this sense all Christians will be under the law for ever.

Verse 22

[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.

I became as weak — As if I had been scrupulous too.

I became all things to all men — Accommodating myself to all, so far as I could consistent with truth and sincerity.

Verse 24

[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 that — In those famous games which are kept at the isthmus, near your city. They who run in the foot race all run, though but one receiveth the prize - How much greater encouragement have you to run; since ye may all receive the prize of your high calling!

Verse 25

[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.

And every one that there contendeth is temperate in all things - To an almost incredible degree; using the most rigorous self denial in food, sleep, and every other sensual indulgence.

A corruptible crown — A garland of leaves, which must soon wither. The moderns only have discovered that it is "legal" to do all this and more for an eternal crown than they did for a corruptible!

Verse 26

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

I so run, not as uncertainly — I look straight to the goal; I run straight toward it. I cast away every weight, regard not any that stand by.

I fight not as one that beateth the air — This is a proverbial expression for a man's missing his blow, and spending his strength, not on his enemy, but on empty air.

Verse 27

[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.

But I keep under my body — By all kinds of self denial.

And bring it into subjection — To my spirit and to God. The words are strongly figurative, and signify the mortification of the body of sin, "by an allusion to the natural bodies of those who were bruised or subdued in combat.

Lest by any means after having preached — The Greek word means, after having discharged the office of an herald, (still carrying on the allusion,) whose office it was to proclaim the conditions, and to display the prizes.

I myself should become a reprobate — Disapproved by the Judge, and so falling short of the prize. This single text may give us a just notion of the scriptural doctrine of election and reprobation; and clearly shows us, that particular persons are not in holy writ represented as elected absolutely and unconditionally to eternal life, or predestinated absolutely and unconditionally to eternal death; but that believers in general are elected to enjoy the Christian privileges on earth; which if they abuse, those very elect persons will become reprobate. St. Paul was certainly an elect person, if ever there was one; and yet he declares it was possible he himself might become a reprobate. Nay, he actually would have become such, if he had not thus kept his body under, even though he had been so long an elect person, a Christian, and an apostle.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on 1 Corinthians


Chapter 9. The Authority of the Gospel

I Discipline My Body
Bring It Into Subjection

I. Preacher’s Self-defense

  1. Approval of Apostleship
  2. Various Rights
  3. Rather To Forfeit

II. Diligent To Preach the Gospel

  1. Do This Thing Willingly
  2. Made Myself Servant To All Men
  3. That I Might Gain Them

III. To Obtain An Incorruptible Crown

  1. Temperate I All Things
  2. Run the Race and Fight the Battle
  3. May Receive the Prize
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Chapter Nine General Review
1) To be impressed with Paul's own example of restricting his liberty
   in Christ so as to save others
2) To understand the Biblical authority for supporting those who labor
   in the preaching of the gospel
3) To see the importance of self-control, and the danger of apostasy
After warning in chapter eight that the improper exercise of one's 
liberty in Christ might lead to the damnation of those who are weak in 
faith and conscience, Paul now illustrates how he was willing to 
exercise restraint even when it came to the liberties he had as an 
apostle of Jesus Christ.  Though he had the right to have a believing 
wife and be supported in the preaching the gospel (1-14), he freely 
chose not to exercise these and other rights.  One reason was so he 
might be able to freely offer some sort of service to the Lord (15-18), 
but it also was because he desired to save others (19-23).  There was 
also the realization that self-restraint was a necessary quality to 
assure his own salvation as well (24-27)!
      1. By virtue of being an eyewitness of the Lord (1a)
      2. By virtue of his work among the Corinthians (1b-2)
      1. The right to eat and drink (4)
      2. The right to take along a believing wife, as other apostles,
         the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas were doing (5)
      3. The right to refrain from working and be supported by others
         a. Illustrations of a soldier, farmer, and shepherd (7)
         b. As illustrated by the Law of Moses (8-10)
         c. An exchange of spiritual things for material things (11)
         d. If others could, why not Paul, if he wanted? (12)
         e. The example of priests in the temple (13)
         f. The clear decree of the Lord Himself (14)
    HIMSELF (15-27)
      1. His purpose in writing is not to raise support, for that would
         make his boasting void (15)
      2. Preaching the gospel was a necessity laid upon him by the Lord
         a. He had no choice, he would be lost if he did not (16)
         b. If he had chosen to preach on his own, he would have a
            reward (17a)
         c. But he was like a slave, entrusted with a stewardship
            regardless of his will (17b)
      3. But by choosing to present the gospel without charge, he could
         have a reward, and also not abuse his authority in the gospel
      1. Though free from all men, he made himself a servant to all to
         save them (19-22a)
         a. To the Jews and those under the Law (20)
         b. To those not under the Law (21)
         c. To the weak (22a)
      2. He became all things to all men, desiring to save them and share
         the gospel with them (22a-23)
      APOSTASY (24-27)
      1. Not who run in a race win a prize, so one needs to run so as
         to win (24)
      2. Those who compete for perishable crowns exercise self-control
         in all things, how much should we who seek for an imperishable
         crown! (25)
      3. So Paul runs his race, and fights the good fight, with
         determined discipline and control over his own body (26-27a)
      4. For he knows he could be lost (disqualified) after preaching
         to others! (27b)
1) List the main points of this chapter
   - Paul's Liberty As An Apostle (1-14)
   - Paul's Example Of Restricting His Liberty To Save Others And
     Himself (15-27)
2) What two things helped to verify Paul's apostleship? (1-2)
   - He had seen the Lord
   - The conversion of the Corinthians
3) What were two things that the apostles had the right to do? (5-6)
   - To take along a believing wife
   - To refrain from working
4) What arguments does Paul make to justify preachers receiving
   support? (7-14)
   - Illustrations of a soldier, farmer, and shepherd
   - Illustrated by the Law of Moses
   - An exchange of spiritual things for material things 
   - The fact others were receiving support
   - The example of priests in the temple
   - The clear decree of the Lord Himself 
5) Why did Paul choose not to accept support? (15-18)
   - So he might receive a reward for doing something willingly, not
     out of necessity
6) Why was Paul willing to make himself a servant to all men? (19,22)
   - So he could save some of them
7) What two athletic events did Paul compare with the Christian life?
   - Running a race
   - Boxing
8) Why was Paul so concerned about exercising self-control? (27)
   - He was aware of the real possibility of being "disqualified"
     himself after having preached to others


--《Executable Outlines


The Authority of the Gospel

Beat the Body

Make It Slave


I.  Sweetness and Bitterness of Preachers

1.    The Seal of an Apostleship

2.    Numerous Rights

3.    Would Rather Surrender the Rights He Deserves

II.Preach the Gospel by All Means

1.    Volunteer

2.    A Slave to Everyone

3.    The Gospel Wins Different Kinds of People

III.       Win a Crown that Will Last Forever

1.    Exercise Restraint

2.    Foot Race and Boxing

3.    Run to Get the Prize

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament