Faithlife
Faithlife

Untitled Sermon

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 1 view
Notes & Transcripts

Designing the Message

1. Paul claims His Rights
2. Paul Gives Up His Rights
3. Paul's Reason is to be a Slave
4. Paul's Attitude for Service
1. What is My Message About?
It's about Evangelism.
2. Why is it important?
As believers, we need to be reminded that the rights and freedoms we enjoy as a Christian living in America sometimes need to be denied to reach people with the Gospel.
3. What do I want them to do?
Look for ways to build common ground with their non-believing friends to share the Gospel.
4. What is the single most persuasive idea?
What can I give up to gain more towards Christ?
Giving up to gain more towards Christ.
A winning strategy: Give up your freedom to gain more towards Christ.
In other words, what comforts, preferences, pleasures and priorities can I deny myself in order to better serve the people God has put in my midst to hear the good news of Jesus.

Passage Outline

1 Corinthians 9:1–27 LEB
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, yet indeed I am to you, for you are my seal of apostleship in the Lord. My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a sister as wife, like the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or do only I and Barnabas not have the right to refrain from working? Who ever serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Who shepherds a flock and does not drink from the milk of the flock? I am not saying these things according to a human perspective. Or does the law not also say these things? For in the law of Moses it is written, “You must not muzzle an ox while it is threshing.” It is not about oxen God is concerned, is it? Or doubtless does he speak for our sake? For it is written for our sake, because the one who plows ought to plow in hope and the one who threshes ought to do so in hope of a share. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too great a thing if we reap material things from you? If others share this right over you, do we not do so even more? Yet we have not made use of this right, but we endure all things, in order that we may not cause any hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those performing the holy services eat the things from the temple, and those attending to the altar have a share with the altar? In the same way also the Lord ordered those who proclaim the gospel to live from the gospel. But I have not made use of any of these rights. And I am not writing these things in order that it may be thus with me. For it would be better to me rather to die than for anyone to deprive me of my reason for boasting. For if I proclaim the gospel, it is not to me a reason for boasting, for necessity is imposed on me. For woe is to me if I do not proclaim the gospel. For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward, but if I do so unwillingly, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That when I proclaim the gospel, I may offer the gospel free of charge, in order not to make full use of my right in the gospel. For although I am free from all people, I have enslaved myself to all, in order that I may gain more. I have become like a Jew to the Jews, in order that I may gain the Jews. To those under the law I became as under the law (although I myself am not under the law) in order that I may gain those under the law. To those outside the law I became as outside the law (although I am not outside the law of God, but subject to the law of Christ) in order that I may gain those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, in order that I may gain the weak. I have become all things to all people, in order that by all means I may save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, in order that I may become a participant with it. Do you not know that those who run in the stadium all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes exercises self-control in all things. Thus those do so in order that they may receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Therefore I run in this way, not as running aimlessly; I box in this way, not as beating the air. But I discipline my body and subjugate it, lest somehow after preaching to others, I myself should become disqualified.
9:1-2 - Paul Defends His Rights as an Apostle to the Corinthians
Am I not Free?
Am I not an apostle?
Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?
Are you not my work in the Lord?
Paul uses four rhetorical questions to argue his legitimate authority and use of liberty as an apostolic ministry to the Corinthian church.
Commentators have diff interpretations of the word "free" - elutheros that Paul is using here... Calvin think he is talking about "freedom" from his apostlic rights in contrast to the false apostles who benefit from the rights of being paid for their services for example.
Ciampa and Rosner (2010, 397–98) distinguish the legal freedom Paul discusses in ; and the “freedom” mentioned in the present verse. In their view, refers to the “divinely given freedom from the imposition of the norms of this world to live by the norms of the Spirit.” In other words, it is a uniquely Christian freedom that empowers believers to serve God and to “do as we ought” in the power of the Spirit.
9:3-12
3-6 - Paul Uses Examples of Rights Extended to other Apostles
vs. 4 - Do we not have a right to eat and drink?
vs. 5 - Do we have a right to take along a believing wife even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord, Cephas?
vs. 6 - Or do only Barnabas and I not have the right to refrain from working?
7- Paul Illustrates the Rights with Soldiers, Farmers, Shepherds
Soldiers serve not on their own expense - they are paid.
Farmers plant a vineyard and eat of it.
Shepherds tend a flock and use the milk.
8-10 - Paul Supports this Argument from Moses in the Law
You shall not muzzle the Ox ()
God is not talking about Oxen but our sake (10)
Point: The plowmen ought to plow in hop and the thresher to thresh in hope of SHARING THE CROPS.
11-12 - Paul summarizes his Point of Sowing Spiritual Things and their Right
If we sowed spiritual things, is it too much if we should reap material things in you? (No, in light of the previous argument says Paul)
Paul compares this right with what the Corinthians already are doing with other "philosophers" and yet Paul says, how more does Paul have a right because of the nature of his apostleship which is greater than any other traveling philosopher.
IRONY: But Paul doesn't use this even greater deserving of right from the Corinthians, instead he "endures all things"...
PURPOSE: that we may cause NO HINDRANCE to the gospel of Christ.
13 - 18 - Paul Argues for His Rights and His Giving Up of Those rights for the Gospel
(13) Illustrates from those who perform sacred services eating the food at the temple
" " those who attend have their share with the altar
(14) So also the Lord directs those preaching the gospel, get living from the Gospel
(15) Paul uses none of these things and not writing to have them done for him for it would be "better" for him to DIE than have any man make my boast an empty one... (hyperbolic statement meaning that Paul would rather lose his life than have his proclamation of the Gospel be misunderstood as a way for Paul to benefit materially when His greatest desire, even though it is his right, is for people to be "won for the gospel")
(16) Paul's rationale is for if he preaches the gospel he has nothing to boast of, for he is under compulsion (by whom????), for WOE is me, if I do not preach the Gospel
(17) If he does this voluntarily (how so since he is saying he is under compulsion... but it is from his calling from Jesus himself?) on his own without his calling... he gets a reward (from them or from God) but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me by God ().
(18) What is Pau;'s reward?
Preach the gospel with out charge even though he deserves it from the Corinthians
So as not to make full use of his right...
19-23 - How Paul Uses His Freedom to Give Up His Rights to Preach the Gospel and Win More

Notes from NT Wright

1 Corinthians 9:1–27 LEB
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, yet indeed I am to you, for you are my seal of apostleship in the Lord. My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a sister as wife, like the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or do only I and Barnabas not have the right to refrain from working? Who ever serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Who shepherds a flock and does not drink from the milk of the flock? I am not saying these things according to a human perspective. Or does the law not also say these things? For in the law of Moses it is written, “You must not muzzle an ox while it is threshing.” It is not about oxen God is concerned, is it? Or doubtless does he speak for our sake? For it is written for our sake, because the one who plows ought to plow in hope and the one who threshes ought to do so in hope of a share. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too great a thing if we reap material things from you? If others share this right over you, do we not do so even more? Yet we have not made use of this right, but we endure all things, in order that we may not cause any hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those performing the holy services eat the things from the temple, and those attending to the altar have a share with the altar? In the same way also the Lord ordered those who proclaim the gospel to live from the gospel. But I have not made use of any of these rights. And I am not writing these things in order that it may be thus with me. For it would be better to me rather to die than for anyone to deprive me of my reason for boasting. For if I proclaim the gospel, it is not to me a reason for boasting, for necessity is imposed on me. For woe is to me if I do not proclaim the gospel. For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward, but if I do so unwillingly, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That when I proclaim the gospel, I may offer the gospel free of charge, in order not to make full use of my right in the gospel. For although I am free from all people, I have enslaved myself to all, in order that I may gain more. I have become like a Jew to the Jews, in order that I may gain the Jews. To those under the law I became as under the law (although I myself am not under the law) in order that I may gain those under the law. To those outside the law I became as outside the law (although I am not outside the law of God, but subject to the law of Christ) in order that I may gain those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, in order that I may gain the weak. I have become all things to all people, in order that by all means I may save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, in order that I may become a participant with it. Do you not know that those who run in the stadium all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes exercises self-control in all things. Thus those do so in order that they may receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Therefore I run in this way, not as running aimlessly; I box in this way, not as beating the air. But I discipline my body and subjugate it, lest somehow after preaching to others, I myself should become disqualified.
One of the great moral gains of the 20th century is the belief shared by most people around the world that all people are to be respected and valued.
Weak people, prro people, hungry people, little people, frightened people, of diff color, sex while the strong, rich, well fed, confident and socially advantaged of the world have no right to do what they like with them.
'human rights" is used to express this sentiment
Talking about rights has its own set of problems - it can be a way of standing up for the weak but it can also be a way of asserting all kinds of things about people being independent and doing whatever they like in every sphere of their life, the right to be arrogant, selfish, greedy or whatever.
Paul faces the problem of rights in the Chaopt 8, comes to them again in 10 and is dealing with food sacrificed to idols for the Corinthians. Some of them asre stressing they have a right to eat whatever they want knowing God's truth that food is just food . Maybe some are reminding Paul the have a right to join in on the imperial celebration and Paul agrees with them 'strong minded' christians... and is prepared to make use of his right as a roman citizen when app (, ; ).
But knowing your giths is only part of the story. There may be an occasion that the correct thing to do is not to act on your rights.
How does Paul make this case?
1. by describing his rights as an apostle that he is deliberately nottaking advantage of them
2. Paul wants to show them that there is more than 'rights" and that rights by themselves can lead to arrogance, the cure for which is about the demands of the Gospel
This text:
1. Example of rights not used for the purpose of the Gospel
2. Tells us about hat it meant to be an apostle (this was a matter of dispute in Corinth... )
PAUL SHARES HIS RIGHTS AS AN APOSTLE (1-12a)
1. Someone who had Jesus the risen Lord.... (15:5-8)... therefore could tell the world first hand the good news... one true God broken power of death and all the other powers that enslave human kind. Paul was an apostle and the Corinthians should treat him as such since he was the one that shared with them this good news in the first place,.
2. Paul hasn't operated like other apostles have. Peter have set a standard of how apostles should live and work... theecomas occupation deserved support. (4-5) it was Paul and Barnabas who had not made use of this right.
3. He explains the point using three examples from ordinary life
4. He supports this from the Mosaic Law - and even from a later Jewish writing, Ecclesiasticus or Ben Sirach (vs 10 quoting ).
PAUL GIVES UP HIS RIGHTS FOR THE GOSPEL (12b-18)
Illus: Joni Mitchell shares in a song about clarinet player playing on a street corner in a bustling city not with mediocrity or boredom but out of love for music and doing it all for free. Mitchell reflects on how people pay her lots of money to hear her play , the cars, the concert halls she gets to play in and how her work may be starting to lack an authenticity like the one she hears from this clarinet player... He is playing for 'free' and maybe his is echoing, embodying, celebrating a deeper freedom as a result...
Paul was announcing the gospel 'for free'. He cherished and guarded the privilege... as if his life depended on it.... he would rather die than accept payment.
Wouldn't it be easier? More productive? Legitimizing for the heareres?
1. Paul does it because he's aware of the need to be present a role model for Christians to follow. Certain rights may have to be given up for particular reasons.
2. From earlier in the letter, Paul makes it clear - diff being a worker for and in the church of Jesus vs a traveling teacher of wisdom and sophistry, rhetoric. Such teachers would ask for money, if special interest, they could come and teach a class for a higher fee... this isn't the GOSPEL of Jesus and how it worked. The Gospel is for everyone and not just those who can afford it.
3. Maybe Paul's sense of indebtedness to Jesus himself. He had persecuted the young church, reminds them in 15:9. Rescued from angry and bitter life by Jesus and commissioned to announce the good news. He had no choice... out of love that welled up in him (Gal 2:19-20). Even if hadn't wanted to, he had no choice, he had been set free in order to do this.
4. Paul's unique position of being an apostle who had to be stopped and turned around from such persecution had to embody a practice of sharing the gospel free of charge and his reward would be no reward.
5. Uses one more illustration - those who work in the Temple. IN verse 13, those who work in the temple in eat food from the temple.
- Not referring to local temples in Corinth
- When Paul speaks of the temple singlular he probably meant the temple in Jerusalem
- Isn't the church individuals and together the God's temple (3:16, 6:19) - the HS lives in the, and Jews believed the presence of the living God made his dwelling in the Temple.
Paul believes that the gospel which works through the power of the spirit creates Christians indiv and corp as Gods new temple. thus, the ministry of the gospel is an extension of the ministry of the temple...
6. And the actual command of Jesus (, Luke 10:7) is clear... worker deserves his hire. So although Paul is clearly not taking his right, He makes it clear from the Bible, precedent of the apostles, the close link to the Temple practice and finally from Jesus himself... those who share the gospel should make a living by the gospel...
PAUL'S USE OF FREEDOM TO BE ENSLAVED TO EVERYONE (19-23)
Illustration: Cicero was one of the great thinkers, statesman of the roman world before Paul. He was a philosopher, lawyer, politician and above all passionate about the glory of Rome. He said Rome was naturally free while other cities and antions were by nature slaves. Rome had a republican system of government, her citizens were free and other nations should be grateful when Rome took them over. Rome was sharing their gift of freedom. Then one of Cicero's rivals got him exiled, destroyed his home and had the statue of the goddess liberty put on top of the land where his house had stood as a backhanded compliment. Cicero comes back but dies in one of the civic purges after Julius Caesar's death. He was considered too dangerous to live - he might criticize the new regime which said "freedom was finally restored". It's what every regime wants to tell its subjects, esp while its enslaving them.
The Corinthian church prided themselves on their freedom. They were free because Corinth as a roman colony had freedoms and right that other cities did not. They were free because Corinth in the pop philosophies of the day people who had true knowledge and wisdom had discovered true human freedom. And now as Christians they were free unlike those who had been under the Jewish law, were now free from it, and they were free from the corruption of the world as a whole... now they could do what they liked... or could they?
Paul starts off chap 9 saying he has rights as an apostle (9:1) but he has chosen not to use them even tho he is 'free".
He returns to this theme and as an example he is free in all the important senses but has made himself a slave to all for the sake of the gospel.
His point is to make them see that Christian freedom is not freedom to do what you like but freedom from all the things that stop you from being the person God really wants you to be which is freedom for the service of God and the Gospel.
Shines a light on what he does as an apostle (messenger who has seen Jesus... we now are Jesus' messengers)
and the reason he does it... of his vocation and his self-understanding.
Free from everything and a slave to everyone.
1. The Christian slave is the Lords freedman.
2. The Christians' free person is the Messiah's slave.
Christian freedom is important but it is always freedom FOR the Messiah, for God's people for all those who need the Gospel.
Paul is a slave to all.
1. There are people outside the fellowship that need to be won (5 x in this passage) and then turns it to save (vs. 22).
2. Not winning a prize but making a significant ROI... He invested everything, his own son Jesus... he wants to gain something back... specifically rescued sinners to be restored in to his image and adopted back into his family, released from slavery.
What's he do... He is a Jew to the Jews but he is a Jew?
Christianity is a new thing not a sub branch of Judaism... its a fulfillment not bound by geography or ethnic identity... but he would still go to the synagogues to participate in prayers, liturgy using the opp to tell them about Jesus and receive the beatings as he willingly submitted to their discipline ().
To those under the Law... While presenting the gospel to Jewish people, he was prepared to observe customs and key commands of the law, keeping sabbath and food laws, even though God's regard of his true covenant people didn't depend on these observances... if anyone tried, he would argue from Galatians... Paul would allow any restrictions upon his liberty in Christ if it would bring more people and win them to Gods kingdom.
Many people are without God's law... (see )
natural condition of gentiles. Paul has become like one of them, living alongside them without regard for the regulations of the Jewish law... but he is not a lawless person in God's eyes... a new law of the Messiah and His whole way of life (;).
Paul states that he becomes "all things to all people" (22b)
For the sake of those in Corinth who want to use their ''rights" and "freedom" to do whatever they like... regardless of consciences of others in the church.
Weak to the weak... weak "weak consciences)... 8:7-13.
Some have twisted this to mean Paul was a spin doctor, a mere pragmatist, to suit different audiences... not what he is saying. His message is constant... the messenger must swallow his pride, give up his rights, who must chose to give up his freedom into slavery...

Background on Corinth

City of Corinth
A check of the map will show that Corinth was located on a narrow strip of land, called an isthmus, connecting the Peloponnesus with northern Greece. This isthmus also formed the land bridge between the Aegean and the Adriatic seas. Located forty miles west of Athens, Corinth was the capital of this southern province called Achaia. The Romans had destroyed the city in 146 b.c., but because its location was so important, they later rebuilt it under Julius Caesar in 46 b.c. By the time Paul arrived in the city (a.d. 50–52), the city had grown to a population of 500,000. Today only the ruins of the city remain.
The Corinth Canal, near the site of ancient Corinth. The canal, completed in 1893, was partially excavated in ancient times under Nero with forced labor including Jewish captives.
In that day Corinth was the crossroads for travel and commerce, both north and south for the Greek peninsula and east and west from Rome to the Near East. It had two seaports, Cenchrea on the Aegean Sea to the east and Lechaeum on the edge of the Gulf of Corinth to the west. Commercial ships, instead of sailing around the dangerous southern tip of Greece, were portaged across the isthmus from one port to the other. This saved time and was less risky. Thus Corinth became a city of wealth and pleasure. People went there with money to spend and to indulge themselves in varied pleasures.
On the highest point in the city stood the pagan temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, full of religious prostitutes to serve the wishes of its devotees. These women also entertained in the night life of the city. Also located at Corinth was a stadium where athletic contests, next best to the Greek Olympics, were held every two years. Although Corinth was influenced by the philosophy of Athens, it never became a center of intellectual learning. The citizens and the tourists were too busy making and spending money to do much rationalistic speculation. Because it was a mercantile center, all kinds of people settled there: Romans, Greeks, and Jews. Corinth became a cosmopolitan city with all of the attending vices attached to that type of society.

Church Established in Corinth

Establishment of the Church
The founding of the Corinthian church was recorded by Luke in . From Athens Paul had sent his associates Silas and Timothy back to the Macedonian churches at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea (; cf. ), started earlier on this same second missionary journey. When Paul therefore left Athens for Corinth, he went alone. Cut off from his friends and supporting churches, Paul worked in tentmaking, a craft he had learned as a youth, to meet his financial needs. He found both work and lodging with a Jewish couple, Aquila and Priscilla, who practiced this same craft and who had been expelled from Rome because of the anti-Semitic decree of Caesar Claudius. Perhaps through personal conversation with Paul and his subsequent synagogue preaching, this couple came to know Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Savior. During the week, Paul worked with his hands, but every Sabbath he was in the synagogue, logically proving from the Old Testament that the promised Messiah had to suffer death and to be raised from the dead and that Jesus was indeed that promised Savior (cf. ). Many in attendance, both Jews and Gentile proselytes to the Jewish religion, were convinced and believed. When Silas and Timothy joined Paul at Corinth with a good report of the faith and stedfastness of the Macedonian Christians, Paul was constrained to press the claims of Jesus Christ more strongly upon his synagogue listeners. When this occurred, the Jews resisted and blasphemed, forcing Paul to leave the synagogue with this declaration: “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles” (). It was also about this time that Paul wrote First Thessalonians, based upon the content of Timothy’s report.
Paul then moved his ministry into the house of Justus which was adjacent to the Jewish synagogue. Soon after, the chief ruler of the synagogue, Crispus, along with his family, believed. From this new site, a ministry to the pagan, idolatrous Corinthians was begun with much success. The opposition must have been intense at that time because Paul received special encouragement from God. He was informed that he would not suffer bodily harm and that many would be converted through his ministry. Paul then labored for eighteen months (a.d. 50–52) both as an evangelist and as a teacher of the new congregation.
In the midst of his ministry, the Jews brought charges against Paul before Gallio, the political deputy or proconsul of Achaia. Since the accusations were religious and not political in nature, Gallio refused to arbitrate the matter. In driving the Jews from the judgment seat, Gallio declared the innocence of Paul and recognized the troublesome character of the Jews. Later the Gentile proselytes to Judaism smote Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, who probably was a Gentile himself and a recent convert to Christianity; again, Gallio reacted negatively

Writing of Corinthian Letter

Time and Place
Paul left Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus and sailed for Caesarea (). On his arrival he visited the Jerusalem church and then returned to his home church at Antioch. After spending “some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples” (). Thus began his third missionary journey. During this period of Paul’s absence from Ephesus, Apollos, an eloquent Jewish teacher of the doctrine of John the Baptist, came to that city and was led to a knowledge of Christ by Aquila and Priscilla. With his new faith Apollos traveled to Corinth in Achaia where he was received by the Corinthian believers and where he had a successful public ministry among the Jews ().
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul reached Ephesus where he would minister for the next three years (a.d. 52–55; ; ). Many believe that Paul, either before or shortly after reaching Ephesus, wrote a short letter to the Corinthian church concerning the problem of fornication (; to be discussed, p. 208–09). About this time, because of increasing factionalism in the Corinthian church, Apollos left that city and returned to Ephesus (; ). Some have suggested that Paul made a quick, personal visit to Corinth to arbitrate the controversy but was unsuccessful (; ). Since Corinth was only two hundred miles west across the Aegean Sea from Ephesus, travel and communication between the two cities was easy.
The situation at Corinth continued to deteriorate. Members of the household of Chloe brought a firsthand report of the divisions within the assembly (). They were followed by three members of the Corinthian church (Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus) who brought Paul a financial gift (). Perhaps they also carried to Paul a letter from the church in which questions were asked about various doctrinal and moral issues (). Thus, through personal conversations with Apollos, the Chloe household, and the three church emissaries plus the content of the letter, Paul learned about the troubled state of the Corinthian church. Unable to leave Ephesus at that time (), Paul did the next best thing; he wrote this letter to resolve the many problems. It was probably written near the end of his ministry at Ephesus because he had already made plans for leaving the province of Asia (). Thus, it was composed during the fall or winter of a.d. 55 because he said that he would stay at Ephesus until Pentecost ().
Who took the letter from Paul to Corinth? It is difficult to be positive here. Some speculation has centered around Timothy, but would Paul have written “Now if Timotheus comes” () if he had planned to send the letter by him? Timothy did leave Ephesus for Macedonia () probably before Paul wrote the letter. It may be that Paul was informing the Corinthian church that Timothy might visit it after his ministry in Macedonia was over. Paul did want to send Apollos back to Corinth, but he refused to go (). It may be that the return of the three church members afforded Paul the chance to send the Epistle back with them (; cf. ). This latter view seems to be the most plausible.

Purpose of 1 Corinthians

Purposes
The purposes are very clear. First, Paul wanted to correct the problems mentioned to him in the personal reports (chs. ). He rebuked the existence of church factions and tried to bring unity out of division (). He introduced this section with these words:
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you ().
He then attempted to discipline in absentia the fornicators in their midst (). This problem was introduced in this way: “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you …” (). Apparently, all visitors to Paul from Corinth brought news of this incest. He also tried to prevent warring church members from going to civil court against each other (). To those who abused themselves sexually, he taught the sanctity of the believer’s body ().
Second, the rest of the book deals with the questions raised in the letter: “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me” (). With that letter probably before him, Paul logically moved from one issue to another. He marked his movement and change of subject with the key introductory word “Now” (, ; ; , ; ; ; ). He answered their questions concerning the necessity and the problems of marriage (), the status of virgins and widows (), the application of Christian liberty to the eating of meat sacrificed to idols (), the conduct of women in the church (), the order of the communion service (), the nature and use of spiritual gifts, especially those of tongues-speaking and prophecy (), the necessity and nature of the resurrection body (), and the financial collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem ().
In addition, he wanted to announce to them his plans to visit Corinth after a tour of the Macedonian churches (). He then closed by extending greetings to them from the Asian churches and brethren ().

Survey of 9:1-27

As an illustration of not using one’s rights, Paul referred to his own apostolic prerogative to be supported financially by the gifts of God’s people. The Corinthians knew that Paul had been commissioned by the risen Christ to be an apostle through his spiritual ministry in their midst. Paul stated that both Barnabas and he had the same power to eat, to drink, to lead about a wife, and to stop manual labor as the other apostles. Both human logic and the Old Testament agreed that a minister should be supported materially; however, Paul chose not to exercise that right. He elected to work with his own hands as a tentmaker in Corinth so that none could accuse him of being in the ministry for what he could get out of it. Paul’s motivation was clear: “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” (). Paul wanted to win men to Christ, and to do that he adjusted his life-style and approach so that he would not offend the person he was trying to win. He also made sure that he had complete control of the desires of his body so that he would not forfeit the rewards of faithful service.
Bible Readers Companion
Outline
Place
Finder
UNITY
DISCIPLINE
DIVORCE
DOCTRINE
WORSHIP
TONGUES
RESURRECTION
ENCOURAGE
BACK
to Outline
Chapter summary. Paul has called on the “strong” brothers in Corinth to give up their rights to eat meat sacrificed to idols for the sake of their weaker brothers (). Now he reminds his readers that he himself has rights (), which he has consistently given up (vv. ). Paul has chosen this way of life in order to share Christ with all (vv. ) and because he is committed to pleasing God (vv. ).
Key verse. : Others first.
Personal application. Never insist on your rights at the possible expense of others.
INSIGHT
Illustration (). Paul sets his sights on his goals, not on his rights. As an athlete gladly surrendered pleasures while in training to win a crown woven of leaves, Paul sets aside his rights in order to achieve spiritual goals.
The seal of Paul’s apostleship (). Paul established the church of Corinth and won its first converts. The very existence of the church testifies to Paul’s commission as Jesus’ apostle.
“A believing wife” (). This is Scripture’s only reference to the other apostles’ practice of taking wives with them. It specifically mentions Peter’s wife, another proof he was married.
Financial support of those in ministry (). Paul argues from an O.T. precedent that those who give full time to meeting the spiritual needs of people deserve to receive financial support from them. Most pastors in our churches actually deserve considerably more financial support than they are given!
Paul’s choice (). Paul has chosen not to accept financial support. In preaching “without charge” Paul not only wins reward but also proves that his motives in ministry are genuine. In another epistle Paul tells the Thessalonians that he supported himself to give them an example of the importance of work ().
Why surrender rights (). Paul does what he encourages the Corinthians to do. He gives up things that are not important to relate better to those who need his ministry. This is not “compromise,” rather evidence of a deep love for others that puts their well-being first. He follows Jewish customs when with Jews and Gentile customs when with Gentiles, knowing the customs of each group have no real significance. And when he is with the “weak” he does nothing to violate the conscience of them.
It is truly difficult to live a selfless life. But that is what Paul lived, and that is what God calls us to live as well.
“Disqualified” (). The rules of the Christian “game” are strict and call for consistent self-discipline. We cannot lose our salvation. But we can lose the prizes our dedication to the Lord might otherwise win.
Chapter summary. Paul has called on the “strong” brothers in Corinth to give up their rights to eat meat sacrificed to idols for the sake of their weaker brothers (). Now he reminds his readers that he himself has rights (), which he has consistently given up (vv. ). Paul has chosen this way of life in order to share Christ with all (vv. ) and because he is committed to pleasing God (vv. ).
Key verse. : Others first.

Literary Context

Chapter 8 - BRC
Outline
Place
Finder
UNITY
DISCIPLINE
DIVORCE
DOCTRINE
WORSHIP
TONGUES
RESURRECTION
ENCOURAGE
BACK
to Outline
Chapter summary. Paul moves now to a heated Corinthian dispute over an issue of doctrine. Should Christians eat meat from animals that have been offered first to pagan deities, and can they take part in a dinner party the host dedicates to a god or goddess?
Paul begins by teaching that such disputes must be approached not on the basis of “knowledge” but of “love” (). Those who argue that pagan idols are “nothing at all” and only God is real have a point (vv. ). But not everyone has this “knowledge” and those who indulge “defile” the weaker conscience of those who do not realize the eating or not eating is irrelevant to true spirituality (vv. ). By failing to be sensitive to the harm the exercise of their freedom does to the “weak,” the “strong” Christian sins against love, which is far worse than being “wrong” about a point of doctrine (vv. ).
Key verse. : Love is the key.
Personal application. Differ in doctrine, but continue to love.
Key concepts. Idols » Isaiah 44–45. Sacrifice » Genesis 3. Freedom » Jeremiah 34–35, John 8. Conscience » Romans 2. Sin » Genesis 13–14, Psalm 51.
INSIGHT
Background. In 1st-century cities animals offered to pagan deities were divided into three portions: one was burned, one was given to the priest, and the third to the offerer. Typically priests sold unused portions of meat. The knotty doctrinal problem resulted. Was this meat contaminated or not? Some insisted it was not, because the gods of the pagans were unreal. Others were troubled by the association with idolatry.
“Knowledge” (). Such disputes typically feature deductions drawn from what an individual knows. The problem is all have “knowledge” from which they draw conclusions. But none of us know enough to be sure. The other problem is that a claim to superior knowledge “puffs up” individuals. Such arrogance divides us rather than helps us work through our differences productively.
“Love” (). Paul says that love is a better way to approach differences. Why? J.B. Phillips paraphrases, “While this ‘knowing’ may make a man look big, it is only love that can make him grow to his full stature” (ph). The person who loves opens himself up to God and to others, grows spiritually, and comes to understand the issue more clearly!
“We know” (). Paul here summarizes not his own teaching but the argument of one of the factions in Corinth. Paul does agree in principle with this point of view. It is true that God, the Father, is the Creator of the entire universe, and that Jesus is Lord of both its material and spiritual dimensions. The question is, does this “knowledge” mean that the person who sees this truth is free to visit temple meat markets.
Let’s always remember that we can be “right” if judged on the basis of knowledge and totally “wrong” when our actions are evaluated on the basis of love.
The conscience is weak (). A “weak” conscience here is one which is frail or faulty. It condemns a person for doing something that is not intrinsically wrong. Paul reminds the “strong” in Corinth that some (perhaps new Christians?) have been so immersed in paganism that any contact with it seems corrupting. Paul wants the Corinthians to stop arguing about who is “right” and see what the insistence of the strong’s point of view is doing to other believers.
Defiled (). The word moluno here indicates a sense of guilt.
Food is irrelevant (). In arguing that food is irrelevant to one’s relationship with God the “strong” have in fact convicted themselves. What we eat is irrelevant—but how our actions affect others in the body is not irrelevant.
If the food we eat is so unimportant, the Corinthians should be glad to give up their right to eat food until the conscience of their weaker brothers has become strong.
RELATED MEDIA
See the rest →
RELATED SERMONS
See the rest →