Paul now addresses various issues pertaining to apostleship, to his own mission and his rights as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Finding himself scrutinised, the apostle answers to insinuations of judaizers.
“1 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 9:1-2)
Paul declares himself an apostle based on two undeniable facts. First because he had seen the resurrected Lord, then he points out the church in Corinth which he planted, his seal of apostleship in Jesus Christ.
“3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we have no right to eat and drink? 5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?” (1 Corinthians 9:3-6)
Here Paul refers to Peter (Cephas), an apostle of Jesus Christ who unlike Barnabas and himself, had taken a wife and received wages for his ministry. Paul instead chose a life of celibacy and self-sustainability through tent making, along side Aquila and Priscilla whom the apostle dwelled and endeavored with.
“7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? 8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also?” (1 Corinthians 9:7-8)
Paul compares his mission to that of soldiers who were paid to fight battles against the enemy. However he would receive no wage in this war instead replying on himself for income. The apostle brings up the law by which those who sowed had every right to reap from their crop. The church in Corinth was Paul’s harvest yet he chose not to live off the church in spite of the fact he was entitled to according to the law of Moses and that of Christ.
“9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.” (1 Corinthians 9:9-10)
Much like oxen earned the right to feed on grain plowed under their strength, according to the law of Moses and that of Christ, apostles were entitled to reap the benefits of their work. Paul’s reluctance to reap financially from a harvest he sowed was based on choice rather than obligation.
“11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?” (1 Corinthians 9:11-13)
Paul makes reference to the priests and Levites who were sustained by temple offerings. Respectfully the apostle declares he has the same right based on his works in Corinth and the ministry he started there.
“14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. 15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.” (1 Corinthians 9:14-15)
Paul here states he did not rely on the Corinthians to support him nor was he writing to that effect instead choosing self-reliance as a means to his ministry.
“16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:16-18)
The apostle describes his ministry as stewardship by which he would continue to willingly feed his Master’s servants spiritually. Paul preached freely, without wages from the church which might otherwise be pose a hindrance in his mission.
According to the gospel of Jesus Christ disciples and apostles have responsibilities and rights. While free will allows for choice in our lives, believers should remember along with service to our Master come rewards and entitlements. In tune with the gospel servants should allow themselves to receive such blessings from God as we continue to fulfill our mission according to His perfect plan. Let us pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Paul,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre