1 Corinthians 9 Commentary

Please choose a passage:

1 Corinthians 9:1-2

Paul begins a defense of his apostleship. First he points to the fact that he brought the gospel to the Corinthian believers. They would not exist as a church without him.

1 Corinthians 9:3-7

Paul defends the right of apostles to be supported for their ministry work. Common sense shows that a soldier expects pay, a shepherd expects milk from his flock. Thus it is right that ministers of the gospel receive payment to keep their ministry going.

1 Corinthians 9:8-12a

Paul proves that not only common sense shows the right of ministers to be financially supported for their work, but the Old Testament Law illustrates this as well. Do not muzzle an ox while he works, so that he can eat and continue to work.

1 Corinthians 9:12b-14

Paul points to the Levitical priesthood which feeds itself with a portion of the sacrifices brought to the temple. It is right for ministers to be paid for their ministry. But, Paul does not participate in this compensation. For his ministry, it would get in the way.

1 Corinthians 9:15-18

Paul preaches the gospel because Jesus has called him to. While he defends the right for ministers to be financially supported, he does not want payment. He preaches the gospel without charging people for it, out of voluntary obedience to Jesus. This supports his higher aim.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Though Paul is not beholden to any man since he is not paid by man, his ministry’s purpose is to meet every person right where they are to share the gospel. He continues to practice Judaism to witness to the Jews, he works and lives among the Gentiles to witness to them.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Paul uses an analogy about athletes competing for a prize to show the ultimate goal in his ministry. He runs, and he urges the Corinthians to also run, to win the race of life so that they might win the prize of life.