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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not
seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
Although I may not be an apostle for others,
certainly I am for you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
My defense against those who would pass
judgment on me 2 is this.
3 Do we not have the right to eat and drink?
Do we not have the right to take along a
Christian wife, as do the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord,
Or is it only myself and Barnabas who do not
have the right not to work?
Who ever serves as a soldier at his own
expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating its produce? Or who shepherds a flock
without using some of the milk from the flock?
Am I saying this on human authority, or does
not the law also speak of these things?
It is written in the law of Moses, "You
shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is God
concerned about oxen,
or is he not really speaking for our sake? It
was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope, and the
thresher in hope of receiving a share.
If we have sown spiritual seed for you, is it a
great thing that we reap a material harvest from you?
If others share this rightful claim on you, do
not we still more? Yet we have not used this right. 4 On the
contrary, we endure everything so as not to place an obstacle to the gospel of
5 Do you not know that those who perform the
temple services eat (what) belongs to the temple, and those who minister at the
altar share in the sacrificial offerings?
In the same way, the Lord ordered that those
who preach the gospel should live by the gospel.
6 I have not used any of these rights, however,
nor do I write this that it be done so in my case. I would rather die.
Certainly no one is going to nullify my boast.
If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for
me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do
not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but
if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense? That, when I
preach, I offer the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my
right in the gospel.
7 Although I am free in regard to all, I have
made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.
To the Jews I became like a Jew to win over
Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law - though I myself
am not under the law - to win over those under the law.
To those outside the law I became like one
outside the law - though I am not outside God's law but within the law of
Christ - to win over those outside the law.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the
weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so
that I too may have a share in it.
8 Do you not know that the runners in the
stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win.
Every athlete exercises discipline in every
way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.
Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as
if I were shadowboxing.
No, I drive my body and train it, for fear
that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. 9
1 [1-27] This chapter is an
emotionally charged expansion of Paul's appeal to his own example in
⇒ 1 Cor 8:13; its purpose is to reinforce the
exhortation of ⇒ 1 Cor 8:9. The two opening
questions introduce the themes of Paul's freedom and his apostleship
(⇒ 1 Cor 9:1), themes that the chapter will develop
in reverse order, ⇒ 1 Cor 9:1-18 treating the
question of his apostleship and the rights that flow from it, and
⇒ 1 Cor 9:19-27 exploring dialectically the nature
of Paul's freedom. The language is highly rhetorical, abounding in questions,
wordplays, paradoxes, images, and appeals to authority and experience. The
argument is unified by repetitions; its articulations are highlighted by
inclusions and transitional verses.
2  My defense against those who
would pass judgment on me: the reference to a defense (apologia) is surprising,
and suggests that Paul is incorporating some material here that he has previously
used in another context. The defense will touch on two points: the fact of
Paul's rights as an apostle (⇒ 1 Cor 9:4-12a and
⇒ 1 Cor 9:13-14) and his nonuse of those rights
(⇒ 1 Cor 9:12b and ⇒ 1 Cor
3 [4-12a] Apparently some believe
that Paul is not equal to the other apostles and therefore does not enjoy equal
privileges. His defense on this point (here and in ⇒ 1 Cor
9:13-14) reinforces the assertion of his apostolic character in
⇒ 1 Cor 9:2. It consists of a series of analogies
from natural equity (7) and religious custom (⇒ 1 Cor
9:13) designed to establish his equal right to support from the
churches (⇒ 1 Cor 9:4-6,
⇒ 11-12a); these analogies are confirmed by the
authority of the law (⇒ 1 Cor 9:8-10) and of Jesus
himself (⇒ 1 Cor 9:14).
4  It appears, too, that
suspicion or misunderstanding has been created by Paul's practice of not living
from his preaching. The first reason he asserts in defense of this practice is
an entirely apostolic one; it anticipates the developments to follow in
⇒ 1 Cor 9:19-22. He will give a second reason in
⇒ 1 Cor 9:15-18.
5 [13-14] The position of these
verses produces an interlocking of the two points of Paul's defense. These
arguments by analogy (⇒ 1 Cor 9:13) and from
authority (⇒ 1 Cor 9:14) belong with those of
⇒ 1 Cor 9:7-10 and ground the first point. But Paul
defers them until he has had a chance to mention "the gospel of
Christ" (⇒ 1 Cor 9:12b), after which it is
more appropriate to mention Jesus' injunction to his preachers and to argue by
analogy from the sacred temple service to his own liturgical service, the
preaching of the gospel (cf ⇒ Romans 1:9;
6 [15-18] Paul now assigns a more
personal motive to his nonuse of his right to support. His preaching is not a
service spontaneously undertaken on his part but a stewardship imposed by a
sort of divine compulsion. Yet to merit any reward he must bring some
spontaneous quality to his service, and this he does by freely renouncing his right
to support. The material here is quite similar to that contained in Paul's
"defense" at ⇒ 2 Cor 11:5-12;
7 [19-23] In a rhetorically balanced
series of statements Paul expands and generalizes the picture of his behavior
and explores the paradox of apostolic freedom. It is not essentially freedom
from restraint but freedom for service - a possibility of constructive
8 [24-27] A series of miniparables
from sports, appealing to readers familiar with Greek gymnasia and the nearby
9  For fear that . . . I myself
should be disqualified: a final paradoxical turn to the argument: what appears
at first a free, spontaneous renunciation of rights (⇒ 1 Cor
9:12-18) seems subsequently to be required for fulfillment of Paul's
stewardship (to preach effectively he must reach his hearers wherever they are,
⇒ 1 Cor 9:19-22), and finally is seen to be
necessary for his own salvation (⇒ 1 Cor 9:23-27).
Mention of the possibility of disqualification provides a transition to 1 Cor
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