Posts filed under ‘Journey Thru the Bible’
I Corinthians 9:24-27: Run to win
Paul called upon the Christians to deny themselves as they looked forward to future reward. Paul compared this to a race, picturing the ancient “games.”
v.24-25, the Greek Olympic games were already operating in Paul’s time but they were 2nd in popularity to the Isthmian games celebrated every two years at Corinth. Athletes would come from all over Greece to win the highest honour “the prize.” To not only win the prize but just to get prepared for the games required “discipline in their training.” Typically for 10 months before the games the athletes denied themselves many ordinary pleasures in order to prepare and be in top condition for the games. But even though “everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize.” This prize was a great honour to the athletes and they would give up everything to get it. Paul told the believers in Corinth to be just like these athletes, however he did not mean that the believers were running AGAINST each other with only ONE winner. Instead he wanted every believer to “run to win.” Every believer should be putting the same effort forward to win an “eternal prize” not like one that “will fade away” like the pine wreath crown the athletes win at the Isthmian games. The eternal prize is not salvation or getting to go to heaven, no those in the race have already been saved through faith in Jesus Christ, no the eternal prize was the crown of life at the end of life where God says “well done, though good and faithful servant.” So the goal was to honour God with our lives by winning the lost and building up the Saints.
v.26-27, Paul’s next words are telling the Corinth believers that not only was he asking them to be self-disciplined but he also practiced what he preached to them. He too had to “discipline [his] body like an athlete, training” to run the race not aimlessly like a boxer who is “just shadowboxing” or punching at the air. But to practice with “purpose in every step”, with a goal in mind–the ultimate goal: honouring God. In the Isthmian games if you broke any rules including the training rules you were automatically disqualified. When Paul says “I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” he is not talking about the loss of Salvation but loss of reward. The disqualification for an athlete didn’t mean they would loose their citizenship, only their opportunity to win the prize. And Paul didn’t want to loose his reward when he stood for the Judgement Seat of Christ.
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? Simply I am going to start to “train” for my Christian life. I have already started to eat healthier physically, but now I am also going to do the same spiritually–spend regular times with Jesus each day in both study and prayer, no excuses. To focus on the eternal reward as I stand before Jesus. Also to deny myself anything that will potentially harm me. Stay away from those things I am so easily tempted by.
I know it has been awhile since I have posted my ”Journey Thru the Bible” but I am back. C’mon along with me as I journey through the Bible, as I discover amazing truths that I missed the first time I studied or great reminders of things I had forgotten about. It’ going to be an amazing adventure!
I Corinthians 9:19-23: Chameleon for the Gospel
Paul wanted people of all cultures, backgrounds and races to hear the Gospel and be saved. So Paul embraced and adapted to culture he was in except when those cultures hindered or violated the Gospel.
v.19, Paul’s goal was to glorify God and bring everyone to Christ. Though Paul was “a free man with no master” which is to say free from all human control, he chose to be a “slave to all” without compromising the Gospel message. Paul could vary the style or method of his message becoming a accommodating to his audience so that he could “bring many people to Christ.”
v.20-23, Paul chose to be like his audience without compromising the doctrine of God’s Word and the Gospel message. Paul was willing to “live like” his audience in order to “bring” them to Christ. Paul mentions three groups: Jews, Gentiles and those with weak consciences.
Jews: When he was with Jews he “lived like a Jew to bring Jews to Christ.” Paul conformed his life to the practices of those“who follow the Jewish law” even though he was no longer “subject to the law” himself because of his freedom in Christ just so he could “bring” Jews who are “under the law” to Christ. He gained an audience with many Jews because he conformed to their regulations and restrictions (after he had been a Pharisee). However he never conceded that those regulations had to be kept in order to become a believer. Examples in Acts 16:3, 18:18, 21:20-26.
Gentiles: When he was with Gentiles “who do not follow the Jewish Law” he met them on their own turf. Paul lived according to God’s law because he didn’t “ignore the law of God” no “he obey[ed]” it. But when he was with Gentiles he did not require them to follow the Jewish law, unlike the false teachers of that day (Judiazers), in order to become believers. Instead he spoke a message that would “bring them to Christ.” An example is Acts 17:1-34.
Weak consciences: The “weak” that Paul refers to are believers who are baby Christians who needed to grow deeper in their knowledge of Christ and deeper understanding of their freedom in Christ. So Paul set aside his freedoms and starting living by their restraints for a time so that he might “bring the weak to Christ.” Paul chose to do “everything [he] could to spread the Good News” to all people and “find common ground with everyone, doing everything [he] can to save some.” But Paul never compromised the Gospel truth, God’s Law or his own conscience in the process.
Paul had one purpose, to take the Gospel to the unbelieving world. He did not preach with pride, counting the numbers or converts, instead he preached with love for the Gospel and those who heard it and in the end he could “share in its blessing.”
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? There was a number of things I took away from today’s study. First, to find common ground with the unbelievers in my life as I try to reach them for Christ. However to never have a know-it-all attitude as I speak to them. Listen a lot more than I speak. Then share in their needs and concerns, genuinely care for them. And always look for opportunities to tell others about Christ.
1 Corinthians 9:7-18: Proper wages for Christian workers
Jesus said in Luke 10:7 that Christian workers deserve their wages and in this section Paul echoes this thought and urges the church to pay Christian workers that minister to the church–Pastors, elders and spiritual leaders.
v.7, This whole section is a continuation of Paul discussion about his apostleship that he and Barnabas were indeed apostles, even though they didn’t take advantage of the rights they deserved. Paul also made it clear in the list of questions that he asks that he is not above other apostles. They all, including him, have the right to be supported by the churches they serve. Just like a “soldier” has all his “expenses” covered by the military, and a “farmer” who plants a “vineyard” can enjoy the fruits from it. And a “shepherd fare for his flock of sheep” should be allowed to enjoy the “milk” from the sheep. All were cared for by their occupation. The same holds true for Christian workers they should be cared for by their congregation or church.
v.8-10, “Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing?” To most what Paul was saying made common sense from a human point of view, he even had Scripture (or the law) to back up his statement: “the law of Moses says” in Deuteronomy 25:4 “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” In those days grain was “threshed” by placing sheaves on a hard surface and having oxen pull a very heavy object back and forth over it. The law said that oxen should be allowed to eat some of the grain while they worked. The law made a very clear point, God’s people were to care for their animals by allowing their to eat while they worked. Paul asks “wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest.” In other words Christian workers deserve to be cared for by those they minister to–the congregation or the church.
v.11-12, Paul then uses the farming analogy to talk about “plant[ing] spiritual seed among” the people of Corinth. Those who planted this spiritual seed “aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink?” Again Paul drives the point across that those who laboured in planting spiritual should be compensated physically for what they did spiritually. Paul continues “if you support others who preach to you” most likely Apollos and Peter then those who brought the Gospel message to the Corinthian people and planted this church (Paul) should have “an even greater right to be supported.” But Paul chose to give up the right to be supported so that his being payed by the church would not be“an obstacle to the Good News about Christ.” Paul’s only reason for not accepting support from the churches he planted was he would not be an obstacle or some translations say “hinder.” This implies breaking up a road to prevent the enemy’s advance. Paul wanted to have a clear road for spreading the Good News or Gospel. He “put up with anything” [working two jobs] so that no unbeliever inquiring about Christianity would be put off by the financial obligation of supporting him as a missionary.
v.13, Paul gives two more examples of his right to receive support: “those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple” and “those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings.” Those who had “sacred jobs” received livelihood from their occupations. They did not have to go elsewhere to find food. It was part of the pay to receive a portion of the offering as their food. Both in Christian temples and pagan ones.
v.14, “In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.” Paul is probably referring to Luke 10:7 where those who benefit (congregation or church) from the preaching of the Gospel should support the preacher. This command allowed the preacher of the Gospel to focus entirely on preaching and the growth of the church and not to have to be concerned with making money.
v.15-17, Even though the churches were commanded to support God’s preachers and workers and they had a right to expect it, Paul chose to “never used any of these rights” at least in Corinth. Because he felt it would hinder the Gospel in that city. Maybe he felt by accepting money from the Corinthians would have caused some to think he was after money and not souls, that his motives were impure. Then he writes “I am not writing this to suggest that I want to start now. In fact I would rather die than loose my right to boast about preaching without charge.” Paul wanted the Corinthians to know he would continue to preach the Gospel without expecting support, this was his “boast.” Even though Paul boasted in serving the Corinthian believers freely, he could not boast about what he did–preaching the Gospel. Paul was “compelled by God” or called by God, to preach the Gospel. Paul then said “how terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!” Some translation use “woe” which refers to an undescribed calamity that would happen to him if he stopped preaching the Gospel. However the reason Paul continued to preach was not because something terrible would happen to him but because “I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust” Paul saw his call from God to be a sacred trust so he had no choice but to freely serve God as an apostle / preacher without expecting payment.
v.18, “What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News.” Paul’s pay or reward was preaching the Gospel without financial support so that the Gospel would not be hindered. His reward was being able to show genuine love and concern for the Corinthian believers.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? Instead of giving my opinion because this topic is so close to me being I am a full-time pastor, I want to quote something I found in a commentary about his passage that I agree with:
“These verses concerning Paul’s rights and the church’s responsibility have a two-part challenge for the church today. First, the church must support its workers in a fair and equitable way. That is the church’s responsibility. It can research pay scales, examine the standard of living in its community, and do what is right and fair. Second, Christian workers must not let their attitude about pay and benefits hinder the Gospel. It is too easy to desire for more pay to enter into a person’s mind and distract from serving. Ministers need Paul’s attitude: I have not used any of these right.” — Life Application Bible Commentary.
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? I think the thing I took away from today’s study is as a pastor I should not focus on pay or be distracted by it so much so that my ministry and caring of the Saints gets affected. I know that there have been times when we were living from pay cheque to pay cheque were I was very much distracted. Worrying about how we were going to pay rent, etc. But thankfully at my current position I am being taken care of. Yes, I am human, I do think about how we are going to pay for this or that, but I don’t allow it to distract away from my true calling–teaching and caring for the Saints.
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?