1 Corinthians, Chapter 9
© Copyright 2002 Darroll Evans, all rights reserved 

1 Corinthians 9:1 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?

Only in his letters to the Philippians, Thessalonians, and Philemon does Paul fail to begin by establishing his Apostleship.

Paul asks a few questions:

Am I not an apostle? Yes!

Am I free? Yes!

Have I seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Yes!

Are you all my work in the Lord? Yes!

1 Corinthians 9:2-9
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.
3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,
4 Have we not power to eat and to drink?
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?
6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
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?

Paul tells them that if he is not an Apostle to some Churches, he surely must be to the Corinthian Church.

They are the result of his work as an Apostle.

Paul was not universally accepted.

Paul’s life as a single minister was not universally accepted.

Even in the early days of the Church they fought over such trivia.

Things have not changed.

Now, comes the controversy in this chapter:

Paul writes, don’t “we” have the right to be accompanied by a sister (in Christ) (who is also) a wife as do other Apostles, and the brothers of Jesus (the other children of Joseph and Mary), and also Peter? Or, are Barnabas and I the only ones that are barred from marriage?

I have talked with Doctors of Theology that did not know the history of Paul.

Some time ago, I sat down with a student who would soon graduate from a major Seminary and go out to pastor within a major denomination.

I had to explain grace to him. He had not idea what it was or how it worked, but he would soon have a Master’s degree.

You may be saying, "Look at his paragraphing. He could use an education himself."

Let me assure you that it is by design.

It is obvious that Paul was single by choice and Peter married by choice.

Being single or married is not the point here, but following God’s call is!

Then, Paul relates his position to worldly situations:

Does a man go to war at his own expense? No!

Does a person plant a garden and not eat at least some of the crop?


Does a farmer care for the dairy herd and not drink at least some of the milk?


In verses 8-9, Paul uses the law in a manner that would make most students of hermeneutics squirm.

He bases his teaching concerning Pastor pay on the OT Levitical law.

With one exception, Melchizedek, only Levites could accept a tithe. 

However, since there are no genealogies to prove who is and who is not a Levite today, and since Gentiles do not qualify as Levites, Paul is not referring to tithes.

Paul is referring to free will offerings not mandatory tithes.

In verse 9, Paul quotes Deuteronomy 25:4 as if it applies to ministers of the gospel.

Paul reminds us that the Pentateuch says, "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn."

Paul just committed the unpardonable hermeneutics sin.

He used a verse out of context.

Many Pastors cry from the pulpit that the law is fading away, and Christians are not under the law. Except when it comes to tithing.

The fact is that if a Pastor preaches mandatory tithes, Church income goes up due to the guilt trip he laid on the congregation, but if he preaches free will offerings the church income may go down.

There is a large Church in my hometown, which was originally built by not "passing the plate" for a Sunday offering.

That principle lasted until a change the pastorate caused greed to enter the leadership.

Until recently, it was a very wealthy Church until greed caused a split.

What is my opinion on this matter?

If your Pastor says that he is a "spiritual" Levite, give him a "spiritual" tithe.

If the hearts of the leaders are in line with Christ, no tithing will be needed.

More than enough free will offerings will come is.

But that requires faith.

Any Church should pay in accordance with the prosperity of the members.

The last time I checked, and it has been a few years.

The Pastor of the world’s largest evangelical Church lived in an apartment.

He refused to live above the means of the median of the Church he Pastors.

He is unique!

1 Corinthians 9:10-11 
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.
11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

Paul reminds his readers that those who till the soil and those who harvest the crop do so with hope of sharing in that harvest.

Those who toil in God’s garden should gain what is necessary for their well being.

1 Corinthians 9:12-15 
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.
13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
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.

While others exercised financial power over the Churches, Paul and those around him did not.

Paul did not deny that the right to gain a decent income was within the power of those that minister.

Paul did not pass the plate at each meeting.

He did not want to hinder the gospel of Christ.

Pastors should always be respected, and always be accountable to God and to their flock.

The Lord ordained that those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

It was Paul’s choice not to accept payment. 

There are very few like “Paul” around today.

1 Corinthians 9:16-18
16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
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.
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.

Paul was the prototype of Pastoral humility.

He as called to preach the gospel to all, not to just those that could pay well.

He says, "Woe unto me, if I preach not the gospel!"

If we do that which is righteous with a willing heart a reward is waiting for us.

However if we do it begrudgingly that is another matter.

Paul proclaimed the gospel with joy, and without charge.

He did not want to abuse his power in the gospel.  

1 Corinthians 9:19-23
19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
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;
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.
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.
23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

Paul knew the Truth and the Truth made him free to serve Christ.

I pray that we all come to know the truth in that manner.

Paul did not stand on formality.

He willingly used the tools needed to get the job done.

To Jews, he assumed non-conflicting Jewish attitudes. 

To Gentiles, Paul assumed non-conflicting Gentile attitudes. 

To those weak in the faith, he sympathized to make them stronger.

For the gospel’s sake, Paul found common ground.  

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
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.
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
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.

Paul must have been an athlete in his youth. This relates to sports.

Many may run a competitive race, but only one wins first place.

We are to run as if our lives depended on it---they do!

As those chosen and sent by God we are to strive for the faith with self-restraint, moderation in all things.

Our striving is not to gain faith. It is to disseminate information!

We are running with, not against, our brothers in Christ.

Have you ever shadowboxed? Did you win?

When we shadowbox, all we do is beat the air. It may be good practice, but not much of a contest.

Verse 27 is one of those difficult verses that many would rather skip.

With all of Paul’s confidence, he still had some lingering negative thoughts, but he also had no fear in saying those thoughts were there!

Paul was spiritually honest!

He was not timid is saying that the sin nature as expressed in Romans 6 was a continuing and continual source of negativity!

Paul was explicit!

He was attempting to bring his mortal body into alignment with the spirit!

As Christians, we are justified, sanctified, purified, saved, and sealed spiritually.

And yet knowing that Paul pleads with Christians not to allow the sin nature that is resident within our flesh to run and ruin our lives.

Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Remember that it was literally years after Paul had a personal and overwhelming experience with Christ that he cried out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom 7:24)

As long as we live physically the body shall be in conflict with the spirit and The Spirit!

Verse 27 addresses that continual conflict!

This may come under the “why take chances category!”

Paul brought his body into subjection as a “slave”, lest that declaring Christ publicly to others he may find that he has been rejected.

This speaks to maturing in Christ!

How do we do that?

Do we beat our bodies into subjection?

Absolutely not!

Paul tells the “hows” in the very next chapter.

2 Cor 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

I was discussing this verse with a friend, Travis Ogletree, whom I consider to be a Spirit-led teacher of God’s word, and we agreed that the teaching of morality within the Church today has become lax!

That lack of teaching has caused the teaching of grace to come into disrepute!

Grace brings us to a moral stance that is sadly lacking among many “Christians” today!

Paul warned us concerning false or lazy teaching!

Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Many speak of “carnal” Christians, and yet that is a contradiction of terms!

You will never lose your salvation!

Rom 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

However, your testimony before men is not God given!

It is earned as a result of your life lived in public!

When you follow Christ, you will follow Him into immorality!

1 Cor 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

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