Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

Chapter 9

Paul shows his liberty, 1-6; and that the minister ought to live by the Gospel, 7-14; yet that he has of his own accord abstained, 15-17, to be either chargeable to them, 18-21, or offensive to any, in matters indifferent, 22, 23. Our life is compared to a race, 24-27.

1 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

3 My answer to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we not have power to eat and to drink? 5 Do we not have the right to take along a wife who is a believer, even as the other apostles, and as the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or I only and Barnabas, do we not have the right to forbear working? 7 Who goes to warfare at any time at his own charges? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who feeds a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?

8 Do I say these things as a man? Or does the law not say the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the grain." Is it for the oxen that God cares, 10 Or does he say this altogether for our sakes? For our sakes no doubt this is written, so that he who plows should plow in hope, and that he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your carnal things? 12 If others are partakers of this power over you, are we not rather? Nevertheless, we have not used this power, but bear all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who minister about holy things live from the things of the temple, and those who wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Likewise also, the Lord has ordained that those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel.

15 But I have used none of these things, neither have I written these things, so that it should be thus done to me. For it would be 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 boast of, for necessity is laid upon me. And woe is to me if I do not preach 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 to me. 18 What is my reward then? Truly that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, so as not to abuse my power in the gospel.

19 For though I am free from all men, yet I have made myself servant to all so that I might gain the more. 20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew so that I might gain the Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, so that I might gain those who are under the law; 21 To those who are without law, as without law (not being without law to God, but under the law to Christ), so that I might gain those who are without law; 22 To the weak I became as weak so that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to all men so that I might by all means save some. 23 And this I do for the gospel's sake so that I may be partaker of it with you.

24 Do you not know, that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Likewise run so that you may obtain. 25 And every man who strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore run in that way, not as uncertainly. I fight in that way, not as one who beats the air. 27 But I buffet my body and bring it into subjection, lest by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.


Matthew Henry Commentary - 1st Corinthians, Chapter 9[➚]


[v.5] - "Cephas" - That is, Peter.

[v.9] - Quoting Deuteronomy 25:4 (LXX).

[v.27] - "buffet" - From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary: "Literally, 'bruise the face under the eyes,' so as to render it black and blue; so, to chastise in the most sensitive part. Compare 'mortify the deeds of the body,' Romans 8:13; also 1st Peter 2:11. It is not ascetic fasts or macerations of the body which are here recommended, but the keeping under of our natural self-seeking, so as, like Paul, to lay ourselves out entirely for the great work."