Day 74…1 Corinthians 9:1-6
I Corinthians 9:1-6: Paul’s apostleship
Paul takes a few verses here in chapter 9 to defend his apostleship and his freedom to exercise or not to exercise his rights as a apostle in Christ.
v.1-2, Unfortunately there were some people in Corinth that doubted they should listen to Paul so he presents his credentials as an “apostle.”
In order to be an apostle you had to show 3 evidences:
- “Have I not seen Jesus with my own eyes?” Personally seen Jesus after his resurrection. [Paul saw Jesus in Acts 9:3-18]
- Signs, wonders and mighty acts. [Paul did so in Acts 13:9-12]
- “Isn’t because of my work that you belong to the Lord?…you yourselves are proof that I am the Lord’s apostle.” Successful ministry. [Paul had described his work among the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7 & Acts 18:1-17]
These credentials make the advice Paul gives in this letter authority. Paul goes into even greater detail of his apostleship in 2 Corinthians 10-13.
v.3-5, “This is my answer to those who question my authority.” Those who were questioning Paul’s authority brought up the issue that Paul wasn’t taking advantage of everything he could do as an apostle and thus were questioning whether he was an apostle at all. As an apostle in the Greco-Roman world, it was quite an issue how missionaries, traveling teachers and philosophers were supported. They could charge, beg, work or accept gifts. Paul accepted support from Lydia in Acts 16, but since then had stopped that practice. However because other leaders continued to accept support, the issue arose: maybe Paul was not getting support anymore because he wasn’t really an apostle. But the truth was Paul chose to not take the support so as not to bring the gospel under suspicion. Then Paul names some rights that accompany being an apostle: “Don’t we have the right to live in your homes and share your meals?” which is the right be financially supported by the church–a place to stay and meals. “Don’t we have the right to bring a Christian wife with us as the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers do, and as Peter does?” which is the right to marry, and if Paul had a wife like many others he mentions, to take her with him and also to be supported by the church.
v.6, “Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves?” Barnabas and Paul worked together on Paul’s first missionary journey but just before Paul started his second the two parted ways and Barnabas started his own missionary journey. Paul mentions Barnabas here because they were the only apostles who made it a habit to work and earn their living as they travelled and spread the Gospel.
Paul chose to work as a tentmaker (Acts 18:3) and not receive support from the Corinthian believers because it could hinder his work for the Gospel.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? Paul used himself as an example of giving up personal rights. He had the right to be married and to receive financial support for his work, but he willingly gave up these rights to win people to Christ. When I focus on living for Christ my right should become unimportant.
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? I was thinking about the rights I have as a believer and even as a citizen of Canada. The question I have been thinking about is…would I be willing to give them up for the furtherance of the Gospel?