What do you think of when you think of “rights”? Are these things worth fighting for? When do you decide that particular rights are NOT worth fighting for? If the scripture says something that is contrary to your current position, would you be humble enough to admit you are wrong in your belief and to ask the Lord to help you believe differently?
There are things woven within us because of the culture and country in which we exist; but we must take time to remember that our true citizenship is not in America (this country). We have a heavenly citizenship, and we should show forth the beliefs and behaviors consistent with our heavenly citizenship. These are found in the scriptures. Again, if I were to tell you that there is something more important to you than your rights, as an American citizen, could you handle that?
What about your rights as a citizen of heaven - could there be anything more important than those rights? What rights do we have as part of the family of God? All of these rights are in Christ and they include many:
You have a right to no more trials before God for the judgment of sin.
You have a right to an inheritance incorruptible.
You have a right to live without fear of retribution or a conscience of sins.
You have a right to access the living and true God.
You have a right to live joyfully as a servant of Jesus Christ.
You have a right to enjoy life in liberty — to eat, drink, and enjoy pleasure freely.
As an individual who has these rights in Jesus Christ, could there be anything more important than these rights? Being that these rights are in Jesus Christ, should there be anything or anyone who should cause me to NOT live within these established rights? The answer is YES.
Paul is continuing the truth from that we affirm that there is one Lord and we have sworn allegiance to this Lord Jesus. In that truth, we have been brought into new relationship with each other within the church and we are our brother’s keeper. (. Partaking in anything in a way that sends a confusing message about my allegiance to the Lord — thereby, causing a weaker brother to partake and self-condemn is to sin against Jesus Christ. We have identified three cultural idols today that we relate to differently now that we are in Christ - EDUCATION, ECONOMIC STATUS, ENTERTAINMENT.
For most of us, our pre-Christ idolatries were not as vivid as those in Corinth; but there are nonetheless just as real. In Corinth, the way they relate to food and sexual practices was not different. These two things were part of their worship practices. In Middletown, the way we relate to everything is different. Though education, economic status, and entertainment are not things that commend us to God, we are prone to treat them as if they have saving worth.
This passage continues by affirming that there is a time when every Christian must be willing to give up their rights and privileges. There is a motivation for this relinquishing. There is a time when what you deserve [in Jesus] you willingly let go of. Just because you deserve it does not mean that the best course of action is to do everything to get it! It is our responsibility to understand what is worthy of an exchange for my rights! This means that you will yield your independence. This means that you will surrender! This means that you will sacrifice. This means that it’s NOT “your way or the highway.”
The apostles should be considered as servants (4:1)
The word “judged” here means “verdict” (4:3)
Paul is saying that he’s not concerned about what verdict they pronounce upon him
Paul is not even concerned with what verdict is self-pronounced
The reason we should understand this is because as we enter this passage, Paul calls again upon what he could use as leverage that he does not - his apostleship.
Paul uses 4 rhetorical questions to point to the following truths (v. 1 - 2):
(1) He is free in Jesus Christ
(2) He is an apostle (sent one) - particular office
(3) He meets the criteria for this office by having seen the resurrected Lord
(4) He has fruit that validates his apostleship -
Paul uses another series of 3 rhetorical questions (v. 3 - 6)
(1) Don’t we (apostles) have the right to eat and drink freely? (a right to physical nourishment) (whether by meat sacrificed or not - irrelevant) (see )
(2) Don’t we (apostles) have the right to be married to a believer and supply for them? ()
(3) Don’t Barnabas and I have the right to be supported for the work?
Congregations should not think of their giving as providing a salary, however, in ways that tempt them to demand satisfaction of their personal whims. “The church does not pay its ministers; rather, it provides them with resources so that they are able to serve freely.”
Blomberg, C. (1994). 1 Corinthians (p. 176). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
But that authority must be used for the best interests of others, not self, and used for that which will best promote the gospel in a world quick to ridicule and reject it. The heavy “top-down” hierarchies of many Christian organizations find no support from Paul’s (or Jesus’) models of servant ministry (recall our discussion above, pp. 92–93).
Blomberg, C. (1994). 1 Corinthians (p. 179). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
The matter is personal in that Paul shows his person interaction with these particular individuals. [it follows the idea of having obligations to those who are more closely related to you]
(i). Paul uses three examples to basically say, "Who gives without the hope of reward?" Paul is saying this about having basic needs met. ()
First, the example of the soldier
Second, the farmer
Third, the shepherd
(ii). Paul quotes and shows that the application is good for those who minister as well. ()
this is not a poor Hermeneutic, but Paul is arguing from the lesser to the greater. For example, "if God cares about the ox that is labouring, how much more does he care about the minister?" Jesus used this type of argument. ()
(iii). Paul refers to another OT example about those who minister in the temple (v. 13 - 14) (see also )
"carnal" here has the idea of things for the body. See also .
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This passage both affirms scripturally that we should properly care for those who minister and that it is also good to volunteer without any pay - so long as in both cases the gospel is not hindered.
Not only does Paul have rights to be supported because of the personal nature of their relationship and because of the scriptures, but notice now how he responds.
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(3) An Examination of Paul's Response because of his Rights (v. 15 – 23)
(*) The carnal mind is continually declaring his own independence while the spiritual mind is willing to sacrifice his rights for something greater than those rights – the gospel.
(i). There is a reward that is greater than money or gain (v. 15 - 18) - That the gospel goes forth without any charge...that Paul is free from any strings that may be attached...that Paul can clear say he is free from any ill-motive
(ii). (v. 19) Gives a dualism that would be quite clear. Freedom and slavery were two things clearly understood in the Greco-Roman world. Historically, for a person to become a slave was considered to be a "social death."
this needs to be understood that the ongoing inversion of values - in consideration of the "wisdom of the cross." (V. 19) "gain" used 5 x's corresponds with "save some"
Though Paul has rights as an apostle, he submits himself to the consciences of those to whom he is ministering. This is not saying that Paul participates in pagan practices or lustful pursuits. He is pointing to the fact that he is willing to give up his rights so that others might hear and receive the gospel.
Fee: "The difference” between Paul’s behavior “and that of his social companions is not in the behavior itself, which will be identical to the observer, but in the reasons for it. The latter abstain because they are ‘under the law’; it is a matter of religious obligation. Paul abstains because he loves those under the law and wants to win them to Christ. Despite appearances, the differences are as night and day.”
We cannot truly understand why Paul would do this apart from understanding how the gospel of Jesus Christ has completely changed his motives and perspective:
(i.) God has a right to be glorified -
Specifically, Jesus Christ has a right to be glorified -
(ii.) Man refused to glorify God -
(iii.) Christ, the one who had right to glory, descended for the sake of the gospel coming to the Jew, the Greek, & the church.
(iv.) We will either live with our rights as our priorities or the gospel as our priority.
What have you given up, that you have a right to partake in, for the sake of the gospel being propagated?
Who are the people that are the religious, the non-religious that you have associated with for the sake of the gospel?
The country club members
The quilting club members
Do you as a believer go to all of those events for the same reasons they do?
What rights have you limited so that you might gain them?
Here's what I mean?
You and I both know that our social pursuits make us no better and not less with God.
You have a right to enjoy that activity without fear that God will think less of you.
But you limit yourself in that right by:
Getting to know the people &
And clearly sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ within the context of their conscience.
The three main idols: Education, Entertainment, & Economic Status [Do you see these as ends in themselves or means for Gospel propagation?]
The carnal mind is continually declaring his own independence while the spiritual mind is willing to sacrifice his rights for something greater than those rights - the gospel.