Brother Kevin kindly wrote up these notes on 1 Corinthians Chapter 9:
1 Corinthians 9 King James Version (KJV)
9 Am I am not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?
2 If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.
3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,
4 Have we not power to eat and to drink?
5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
9 For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.
16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
This chapter opens with the apostle Paul defending himself against those who challenge the fact that he is an apostle of God. Some people that he came a cross apparently questioned the fact of whether or not he was a “real” apostle of God.
Paul tells us and those who question him, that the true sign of an apostle is their behavior and lifestyle. He points out that he lives “in the Lord…,” or according to the word that he preaches and he receives the power of the Lord as a result.
The idea of the plowman and the thresher is that he that ploweth in hope, or prepares the field should be hopeful that it will bring fruit. He that threshes in hope should partake of the benefit of the fruit that the field bears. In other words, be hopeful and have faith and then when it does go according to the word of God and to our faith, enjoy the benefit and spoils of this.
He warns us to rather “…suffer all things…” than hinder the word of Christ so nothing on this earth is more important than keeping the word of God, even suffering. Paul also makes it clear that worshiping the Lord must be done willingly – there is no such thing as fooling the Lord our God! When we worship and live in the word of God, we are to do so with a willing heart and good intention and never because of any human or worldly concept.
Paul also tells us that when we are among people who may be different than ourselves in some manner, to try to “blend in” and be as much like them as possible for the specific purposes of converting them and leading them to God’s word. He uses the examples of living under the law that Moses brought with Jews, and not living under this same law with Gentiles.
He introduces us to the concept of mastery which in this context means living in the world and the flesh and seeking after the “rewards” of the world like money, power, fame, material things. The simple fact is that we should all be concentrating on our eternal life and soul with God and not these things of the world. Every man that does this is “temperate” in all things, which means that they have restraint and cut out the things of their lives that are of sin and of the flesh. But he is pointing out that they do this to obtain a crown or reward that is of the world and therefore, “corruptible,” whereas the crown of God is pure and incorruptible!
Finally, Paul stresses that he has learned that he must keep strict discipline and obedience to God in order to keep his preaching and his own heart pure. He preaches not as one “…who beateth the air…,” meaning in vain or to no productive end, but rather as one who will receive God’s eternal grace, love, and salvation for fear of God, and losing his gift of eternal life.