My will or a commission? (1 Cor. 9:17)

“If I do this of my own will,

I should have a reward.

But if not of my own will,

I am entrusted

With a commission.”

εἰ γὰρ ἑκὼν τοῦτο πράσσω, μισθὸν ἔχω· εἰ δὲ ἄκων, οἰκονομίαν πεπίστευμαι.

Paul said if he did this of his own will (εἰ γὰρ ἑκὼν τοῦτο πράσσω), he would have a reward (μισθὸν ἔχω), but if not of his own will (εἰ δὲ ἄκων), he was entrusted with a commission (οἰκονομίαν πεπίστευμαι). Only the Pauline letters used this word ἑκὼν, that means one’s own free will, voluntary, willingly, and the word ἄκων, that means unwilling or unwillingly.  Paul maintained that if he did this preaching of his own free will, he should be rewarded.  However, he was not freely doing this, since he was entrusted with a commission.  In other words, Paul was sent to be a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ by Jesus himself, after his vision on the way to Damascus.  He did not decide one day to do this on his own.  He was sent unwillingly by Jesus to preach his gospel message.  Have you ever done anything that you did not want to do?

Preach the gospel (1 Cor. 9:16)

“If I preach

The gospel,

This gives me no ground

For boasting.

An obligation

Was laid upon me.

Woe to me

If I do not preach the gospel!”

ἐὰν γὰρ εὐαγγελίζωμαι, οὐκ ἔστιν μοι καύχημα· ἀνάγκη γάρ μοι ἐπίκειται· οὐαὶ γάρ μοί ἐστιν ἐὰν μὴ εὐαγγελίσωμαι.

Paul said that if he preached the gospel (ἐὰν γὰρ εὐαγγελίζωμαι), this gave him no ground for boasting (οὐκ ἔστιν μοι καύχημα).  An obligation was laid upon him (ἀνάγκη γάρ μοι ἐπίκειται·).  Woe to him if he did not preach the gospel (οὐαὶ γάρ μοί ἐστιν ἐὰν μὴ εὐαγγελίσωμαι)! Only the Pauline letters used this word καύχημά, that means to boast, boasting, or a ground for boasting.  Paul explained that his preaching of the gospel of Jesus was not any grounds for boasting.  This was an obligation to him, not his choice.  He would be cursed if he did not preach the good news about Jesus Christ.  Paul was not doing voluntary work, but he was assigned a mission directly from Christ.  Do you feel that you have a mission from Jesus Christ?

I do not want this right (1 Cor. 9:15)

“But I have made no use

Of any of these rights.

I am not writing this

So as to secure

Any such provision

For myself.

I would rather die

Than have anyone

Deprive me

Of my ground

For boasting.”

ἐγὼ δὲ οὐ κέχρημαι οὐδενὶ τούτων. οὐκ ἔγραψα δὲ ταῦτα ἵνα οὕτως γένηται ἐν ἐμοί· καλὸν γάρ μοι μᾶλλον ἀποθανεῖν ἢ —τὸ καύχημά μου οὐδεὶς κενώσει.

Paul said that he made no use of any of these rights (ἐγὼ δὲ οὐ κέχρημαι οὐδενὶ τούτων) of an apostle.  He was not writing this (οὐκ ἔγραψα δὲ ταῦτα) so as to secure any such provision for himself (ἵνα οὕτως γένηται ἐν ἐμοί).  He would rather die (καλὸν γάρ μοι μᾶλλον ἀποθανεῖν ἢ) than have anyone deprive him of his ground for boasting (τὸ καύχημά μου οὐδεὶς κενώσει). Only the Pauline letters used this word καύχημά, that means to boast, boasting, or a ground for boasting, and the word κενώσει, that means to empty, deprive myself, or make unreal.  Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand that he did not want to use any of the rights of an apostle.  He did not want anything for himself.  He would rather die than have anyone deprive him of his boasting about them.  Paul was talking about the Christian apostles and ministers in general, not about himself.  Should Christian ministers forgo some of their rights?

Proclaim and live by the gospel (1 Cor. 9:14)

“In the same way,

The Lord commanded

That those who proclaim

The gospel

Should get their living

By the gospel.”

οὕτως καὶ ὁ Κύριος διέταξεν τοῖς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον καταγγέλλουσιν ἐκ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ζῆν·

Paul said that in the same way, the Lord (οὕτως καὶ ὁ Κύριος) commanded that those (διέταξεν τοῖς) who proclaim (καταγγέλλουσιν) the gospel (τὸ εὐαγγέλιον) should get their living (ζῆν) by the gospel (ἐκ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου).  Jesus had said something similar to this as in Luke, chapter 10:7 and Matthew 10:10-11, and Mark, chapter 6:10.  Luke indicated that Jesus said to the 70 disciples that they were to remain in the same house (ἐν αὐτῇ δὲ τῇ οἰκίᾳ μένετε).  They should eat (ἔσθοντες) and drink (καὶ πίνοντες) whatever they were provided (τὰ παρ’ αὐτῶν).  Jesus said that the laborer deserved to be paid or was worthy of his wages (ἄξιος γὰρ ὁ ἐργάτης τοῦ μισθοῦ αὐτοῦ).  They were not to move around (μὴ μεταβαίνετε) from house to house (ἐξ οἰκίας εἰς οἰκίαν).  Mark indicated that Jesus had a very simple message about where to stay.  Wherever they entered a house, they should stay there in one place until they left.  They should not switch places.  Matthew also had Jesus give a very simple message about where to stay when they entered a town or village.  They should try to find a place to stay with someone who was worthy, honorable, or suitable.  They should not switch places.  They should stay in that one place until they left.  They were not to go wandering around.  Find a suitable person and place!  Then stay there!  This message to the 12 apostles and 70 disciples was the same.  Matthew, chapter 10:10 also indicated that these laborers deserved their food, just like Luke here.  Luke even indicated that they should eat and drink whatever they get, and not be picky.  Thus, Jesus had indicated that the apostles when they went out preaching deserved food and drink as well as reasonable living arrangements.  Paul reiterated that here.  Should the Christian missionaries be satisfied with what they get?

Temple service food (1 Cor. 9:13)

“Do you not know

That those who are employed

In the temple service

Get their food

From the temple.

Those who serve

At the altar


In what is sacrificed

On the altar?”

οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ τὰ ἱερὰ ἐργαζόμενοι τὰ ἐκ τοῦ ἱεροῦ ἐσθίουσιν, οἱ τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ παρεδρεύοντες τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ συνμερίζονται;

Paul once again asked “Do you not know (οὐκ οἴδατε) that those who are employed in the temple service (ὅτι οἱ τὰ ἱερὰ ἐργαζόμενοι) eat the food (ἐσθίουσιν) from the temple (τὰ ἐκ τοῦ ἱεροῦ)?  Those who serve at the altar (οἱ τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ παρεδρεύοντες) share in what is sacrificed on the altar (τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ συνμερίζονται).” Only the Pauline letters used his word παρεδρεύοντες, that means to wait on, serve, or minister, and the word συνμερίζονται, that means to have a share in, partake with, or divide together with.  Paul reminded the Jewish Christians in Corinth about the Levitical priests in the Jerusalem temple.  They received 10% of whatever was sacrificed on the altar, so that they ate the food that they sacrificed.  They shared in what was offered in the Temple.  This could also refer to the pagan temples, since sacrifices were offered there with the temple priests getting their share.  Thus, the 10% to the temple or church or tithing carried over from the Jewish practice to Christianity.  Do ministers deserve to share in the sacrifices offered?

No obstacles (1 Cor. 9:12)

“If others share

This rightful claim

Upon you,

Do not we still more?


We have not made use

Of this right,

But we endure anything

Rather than put

An obstacle

In the way

Of the gospel

Of Christ.”

εἰ ἄλλοι τῆς ὑμῶν ἐξουσίας μετέχουσιν, οὐ μᾶλλον ἡμεῖς; ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐχρησάμεθα τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ ταύτῃ, ἀλλὰ πάντα στέγομεν ἵνα μή τινα ἐνκοπὴν δῶμεν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

Paul said if others share this rightful claim upon them (εἰ ἄλλοι τῆς ὑμῶν ἐξουσίας μετέχουσιν), did not he as well still more (οὐ μᾶλλον ἡμεῖς)?  Nevertheless, he was not going to make use of this right (ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐχρησάμεθα τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ ταύτῃ), but he would endure anything (ἀλλὰ πάντα στέγομεν) rather than put an obstacle or hindrance (ἵνα μή τινα ἐνκοπὴν δῶμεν) in the way of the gospel of Christ (τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ). Only the Pauline letters used this word μετέχουσιν, that means to partake of, participate, or share in, and the word στέγομεν, that means to cover closely, to bear up under, or endure patiently, and the word ἐνκοπὴν, that means a hindrance or an interruption.  Paul pointed out that these Corinthian Christians had people that had a claim on their lives.  Paul insisted that he too had a greater claim on their lives.  However, he was not going to use this claim or right.  Rather, he was willing to endure patiently and not put any obstacle or hindrance on the gospel of Christ.  Paul said that he had rights or claims on these Christian Corinthians, but he was not going to use them.  He did not want any excuses because these claims for material goods might be a hinderance or obstacle to the preaching about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Do you think that Christian ministers stress too much about material rewards?

Spiritual and material benefits (1 Cor. 9:11)

“If we have sown

Spiritual goods

Among you,

Is it too much

If we reap

Some of your material benefits?”

Εἰ ἡμεῖς ὑμῖν τὰ πνευματικὰ ἐσπείραμεν, μέγα εἰ ἡμεῖς ὑμῶν τὰ σαρκικὰ θερίσομεν;

Paul once again asked if we have sown (ἐσπείραμεν) spiritual goods (τὰ πνευματικὰ) among them (Εἰ ἡμεῖς ὑμῖν), was it too much or a great thing (μέγα) if we reaped material benefits from them (εἰ ἡμεῖς ὑμῶν τὰ σαρκικὰ θερίσομεν)? Only the Pauline letters used this word πνευματικὰ, that means spiritual, and the word σαρκικὰ, that means pertaining to the flesh, carnal, or earthly.  Paul then asked the obvious question with the obvious answer.  If they had sown spiritual things among them, was it too much to ask for some earthly or material benefits.  His obvious simple answer was yes.  They might expect some material benefits for their spiritual benefits.  Do you think that people should get material benefits for spiritual benefits given?

The plowman and the thresher (1 Cor. 9:10)

“Does Moses

Not speak entirely

For our sake?

It was written for our sake.

The plowman

Should plow

In hope.

The thresher


In hope

Of a share in the crop.”

ἢ δι’ ἡμᾶς πάντως λέγει; δι’ ἡμᾶς γὰρ ἐγράφη, ὅτι ὀφείλει ἐπ’ ἐλπίδι ὁ ἀροτριῶν ἀροτριᾶν, καὶ ὁ ἀλοῶν ἐπ’ ἐλπίδι τοῦ μετέχειν.

Paul asked does Moses not speak entirely for all our sakes (ἢ δι’ ἡμᾶς πάντως λέγει)?  Then Paul answered his own question.  It was written for our sake (δι’ ἡμᾶς γὰρ ἐγράφη).  The plowman should plow in hope (ὅτι ὀφείλει ἐπ’ ἐλπίδι ὁ ἀροτριῶν ἀροτριᾶν).  The thresher threshes in hope of a share in the crop (καὶ ὁ ἀλοῶν ἐπ’ ἐλπίδι τοῦ μετέχειν). Only the Pauline letters used this word ἀλοῶν, that means to thresh wheat, and the word μετέχειν, that means to partake of or share in.  Paul once again asked and answered his own question.  What and why was Moses in Deuteronomy, chapter 25:4 talking about the oxen?  Paul said that this was relevant for his contemporaries.  Then Paul gave the example of the plowman and the thresher.  Did they work without pay?  Did they expect to get some of the wheat that they were plowing and threshing?  Paul said that they certainly hoped that they would get a portion of their work.  If the ox is able to eat the food he is threshing, so thus should the plowman and the thresher be able to share in the crop.  Thus, the Christian evangelist should hope to receive some compensation for this Christian work.  Do you think Christian ministers should be paid?

The law of Moses (1 Cor. 9:9)

“It is written

In the law of Moses.

‘You shall not muzzle

An ox

When it is treading out

The grain.’

Is it for oxen

That God is concerned?”

ἐν γὰρ τῷ Μωϋσέως νόμῳ γέγραπται Οὐ κημώσεις βοῦν ἀλοῶντα. μὴ τῶν βοῶν μέλει τῷ Θεῷ;

Paul said that was written in the law of Moses (ἐν γὰρ τῷ Μωϋσέως νόμῳ γέγραπται) that you shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading (Οὐ κημώσεις βοῦν ἀλοῶνταout) or threshing out the grain (ἀλοῶντα).” It is for the oxen that God is concerned (μὴ τῶν βοῶν μέλει τῷ Θεῷ)? Only the Pauline letters used this word ἀλοῶντα that means to thresh wheat. Paul once again had a question after this citation from Deuteronomy, chapter 25:4, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treading out the grain.” The oxen were free to eat the grain as they treading on it. Thus, the Christian workers in Corinth should get support from the people in Corinth. If even the oxen are allowed to eat while they work, so too should the Christian leaders in Corinth be taken care of. Do you eat while you are working?

What authority? (1 Cor. 9:8)

“Do I say this

On human authority?

Does not the law say

The same?”

μὴ κατὰ ἄνθρωπον ταῦτα λαλῶ, ἢ καὶ ὁ νόμος ταῦτα οὐ λέγει;

Paul asked “Do I say this on human authority (μὴ κατὰ ἄνθρωπον ταῦτα λαλῶ)?  Does not the law say the same (ἢ καὶ ὁ νόμος ταῦτα οὐ λέγει)?” Once again, Paul used a question to get his point across. Was he speaking on hos won or was this from the Mosaic law? Are they one and the same? The response is positive. Paul was always intrigued by the Mosaic law that he had studied as a Pharisee. He was using the law as the the source of his opinion. How do you value the Mosaic law?