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1 Corinthians 9

Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Paul’s Authority

Freedom and Apostleship

Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 2 If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

3 This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Paul Surrenders His Rights

9 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 2 If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

3 This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?

Freedom Continued

It seems that Paul is speaking to an apostleship that exists a part from having witnessed Christ. This is more of an authoritative title stemming from his relationship with the church not with Christ.
First it is important to note that Paul is continuing his though from verse 8 (giving up his “freedom” for the sake of others) we see this in “Am I not free” directly speaking to “I am free to do anything” and his expounding on that idea with Chapter 8 in regards to “their freedoms hurting those with weaker conscience”

Apostleship

It seems that Paul is speaking to an apostleship that exists a part from having witnessed Christ. This is more of an authoritative title stemming from his relationship with the church not with Christ.
It seems that Paul is speaking to an apostleship that exists a part from having witnessed Christ. This is more of an authoritative title stemming from his relationship with the church not with Christ.
In much of our understanding of “Apostle” it is the person who was personally commissioned by the living Christ to preach the Gospel. We see here (in part) that can be implied because it’s seal or “evidence” is that they believed because of what he preached.
However as he continues in the chapter we see him extend this theme of apostleship and rights (authority in this case) and including Barnabas ( Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?)
Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016. Print.
Barnabas was not included in the 12 Apostles listed in the early part of Acts however he was listed very specifically as an Apostle later in
The only thing that we can explicitly pull from these passages was that there was another idea of apostleship other than what we have stated. Barnabas was not commissioned by christ and there wasn’t evidence that he was included with the 12. However Paul does place a distinction on the seeing of Jesus and fruit of ministry. So we can assume that there were two types of apostles in the first century church one that had seen Jesus and were personally commissioned by him to preach the Gospel and then those who were believers who preached the Gospel and established church as well as had some level of positional, relational and ecumenical authority (seen later in the section of “rights”

The Rights of an Apostle

Freedom Revisted

7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you

7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

3 This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

First of all, Paul needed to establish his apostolic position (v.1&2) in order for them to see what he is trying to say here. He had to establish that not only was he an apostle but he had authority in the Corinthian church and therefore was entitled to certain benefits and freedoms.
Building on the idea of rights as well as both Barnabas and his apostolic authority Paul is trying to demonstrate his
He is also using the examples of a soldier, farmer shepherd as well as a scriptural references to show that every person is entitled to reap from their efforts. Therefore what Paul is saying is that he and Barnabas are entitled to be paid for their efforts in bringing the gospel, training them up and investing in their discipleship. After all they are his harvest.
He has just asked some rhetorical questions comparing eating and drinking marriage and being supported by the church. We can see that he is referencing previous questions that he has been asking he is also likely directly answering some of the accusations the church has been laying against him and Paul is simply stating that they are questioning his authority and yet don’t lay the same accusations against other Apostles.
His argument is not based on his own opinion (v.8) but rather scripture.

Paul gives up his rights

Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

After establishing his authority and establishing that it is right that they honor apostles the way they do and therefore should honor Paul and Barnabas because they brought the Gospel to Corinth and established the church, he now explains that he lays aside those “rights” for their sake and for the sake of the Gospel.
Paul is setting himself up as the example for the Corinthian church to follow. He had just told them that they should give up their “freedom” for the sake of younger or weaker believers and no is showing that he does the same thing for them when he doesn’t ask them for support

15 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. 16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

Paul expounds on this saying that he hasn’t asked for anything and is still not asking for anything because he desires to boast in serving the Lord only. His justification is that if he was reliant upon them then it wouldn’t be a choice and therefore not a sacrifice to serve them because they were paying him. However he does say that if they were paying him and supporting him then he still has the responsibility to steward the work well.
So either way Paul is saying that there is a responsibility to steward the work whether his is supported by them or not.
Remember with Paul there is a deeper reward that is a part of Christianity and more specifically in our service to God and that is sacrifice truly exemplifying Agape - self-sacrificial love. It is its own reward.

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

This is a huge point for me and I believe should be a guiding principle for every leader and that is that the more freedom you have the more you must actually make yourself a servant. And that is especially true in Christianity.
We are called to become servants not masters even though we are masters (remember earlier in the book we would judge the world). But in that we humble ourselves to model Christ - who humbled himself even to the point of death on the cross - in order to win people to Jesus.
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