Untitled Sermon (2)
State of the Body
State of the Body
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. 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Paul’s Message and Purpose in 1 Corinthians
In Paul’s letters (maybe with exception of Galatians) the main theme of the letter can be identified by the content of the thanksgiving or by the stated reason(s) for giving thanks.
1 Corinthians’ main theme is identified in 1:2 - all believers belong to hte Lord. Jesus is Lord. Thus, believers are His possession.
So any issue discussed by Paul throughout this epistle is sure to point to this underlying premise.
There are over 75 idioms from 1st century slavery used when describing our relationship to the Lord, our master.
Those that call upon the name of the Lord do so as a sign of submission.
“Name” in this epistle is almost always synonymous with “authority”
2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
or those who call upon the AUTHORITY of our Lord Jesus Christ...
During this time, this city that sat on an isthmus between Greece and the Peloponnesian Peninsula, was at the heart of important trade routes. 3rd largest city in the Roman empire, a city rich in wealth, and because of the bi-annual Isthmian games, it drew large crowds from Greece.
Much like current-day cities that thrive on trade (NYC, Miami, San Francisco, LA, etc), there’s a reputation for sexual immorality, religious diversity, and corruption. The first church he planted there was failing under the influence of all these, and began to fracture over various issues. This letter addresses many questions that were currently dividing the church.
The answer could be found in a unification of the church through total surrender to Jesus Christ.
chapter 3 - reminds the church that there is no room for rivalries. All should be built upon and lead on a single principle - Jesus Christ.
chapter 5 - addresses the churches tolerance of sexual immorality
chapter 6 - settling grievances with other believers internally, than appealing to authorities outside the church
19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.
1 corinthians 9:
There is an implied concessive relationship between his status as a free person (though I am free) and his decision to enslave himself Paul lives a life that’s no longer about himself, but rather in a position to serve others, so that God can use him to bring people to Jesus. Don’t get confused!!! Paul is not winning them - he’s not a “savior”. He’s allowing himself to be an instrument through which someone may be able to hear the gospel and BE saved.
He adapts to his audience - now pay attention - but doesn’t compromise the gospel or himself (and message, by extension) so that he can remove any obstacles to their acceptance of the gospel message.
16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
Paul adopts the position of the powerless slave to bring salvation to those he serves. “Paul does not lead from a secure position above others but from a position below them, incarnating the folly of the cross.” One can only imagine how a member of the Corinthian elite might respond to the idea that another free person would willingly become their slave in order to save them. It has been suggested that a free person might sell themselves into slavery “to pay off debt, to secure a more stable life or to climb socially.”136 Paul makes him a slave of all not to gain some advantage for himself but for those he would serve. As Chrysostom points out, Paul’s attitude reflects his “zeal and love for Christ” and his “insatiable desire for the salvation of mankind.” Although Paul is free of all and has enslaved himself to all, he knows that he will not be able to save all people, so the final clause of the verse indicates that his strategy is intended to win as many as possible.
Paul’s intention is clear: more people would be won to Christ by his strategy than if he were to set a higher priority to his rights than to the ministry of the gospel.
In this and the next two verses Paul clarifies what it means to make himself a slave of all people. His explanation has to do with the way he ministers in different contexts to different kinds of people.
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.
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.
What Paul describes here is more than just behavior, but also strategy. With respect to the Jews (not the Jewish Christians, but the Jews he sought to “win”), he’d behave in Jewish fashion observing Jewish customs. Notice, he didn’t say he’d become a Jew, but that he’d behave like a Jew under the law:
3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
Talk about taking one for the team...
26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.
Among the Gentiles, who were without law, Paul gave up his rights in order to maximize the gospel’s advancement. Under God’s law, he had the right to receive wage for his apostolic work, and refrain from outside work and devote himself entirely to ministry.
1 corinthians 9:
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.
Another way of putting this: “I identified as one outside Mosaic jurisdiction with those outside it; not, of course, being outside God’s jurisdiction, but inside Christ’s.” He is not bound by the law of Moses but is bound to obey God as one living under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.