“Am I not free? Am I not an apostle?”Key Verse:
So also, the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living form the gospel 1Cor. 9:14
In chapter 8, Paul wrote about liberties (see 1 Cor 8:9). In that chapter he specifically talks about eating meat that has been sacrifices to idols. In this chapter Paul goes further and discusses liberties in other areas. It appears that Paul’s personal use of liberties caused some to deny that he was an apostle.
Paul was not accepting payment from the Corinthians (see Acts 18:2-3, 2 Cor 11:8-9, Phil. 4:15-16). They took this as a sign that he didn’t deserve it, that he wasn’t an apostle.
Paul was an apostle. He had seen the Lord (Acts 9:3-7, Acts 18:9). He had shown then the signs of a true apostle (2 Cor 12:12, Acts 8:18)
Paul’s Use of Liberties
Paul was not using his right to take money from the Corinthians for his work. The word “right” here is the same word used in 1 Cor 8:9. It means “power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases” (J.H. Thayer). Paul and Barnabas had the liberty (right) to expect support for their work. However they chose not to use that liberty or right.
Paul uses 3 examples to make his point:
1. A soldier
2. A vineyard keeper
3. A shepherd
All, he points out have a right to share in the fruits of their work. The same is true of those who preach the gospel (see 1 Cor 9:14, Gal 6:6, 1 Tim 5:17-18) even elders who preach the gospel. Paul an apostle had as his right or liberty the support for preaching the gospel, he chose not to use that liberty (1 Cor 9:15).
Paul became all things to all men.
This does not me that he was a “yes –man”. Paul met people where they were, to do that he made use of liberties. Just because he “could” do certain things, it didn’t mean that he “had to” do these things. Paul was willing to sacrifice the things he “could” do to bring others into the kingdom of God.
Here we have the definition of Christian love. It is a self sacrificing love (1 Cor 13:1-8), Paul showed this kind of love in the same way that Jesus showed it and our heavenly Father showed it when he sent His son to die on the cross for us (John 3:16)
Run in such a way that you may win
Paul now likens the self-disciple and restrictions placed on an athlete to a Christians use of liberties. Sometime we have to give up things that are not sinful, so as to gain other – so as to ensure salvation.
An athlete needs to show self-control in all things: in preparation for competition, in following the rules. They can’t just do whatever they want, they had to follow restrictions place on them by others. They didn’t need to, but if they wanted to compete they had to.
Paul’s life was an Christian example of that. He went to the Jews and acted like a Jew, to win the Jews. He went to the gentiles and acted like the gentiles, to win the gentiles. He didn’t have to do these things, but he chose to give up his liberties to win others to Christ.
Note: We are talking about liberties here. Paul did not go past the law of Christ, but within that law he did what he could to win over the Jews, Gentiles – whoever.