First Corinthians 9 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • March 13, In the year of our Lord Christ, 2019 

  1. 9.1–2 | Are Preachers Free to Live as Other Christians?

    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.
    1. Who were the apostles? 
      1. Can apostles and for that matter preachers, exercise freedom just like any other Christian? 
      2. Do you see how this connects with Paul’s writing about eating things sacrificed to idols? 
        1. We are free to eat meat sacrificed to idols, unless we hurt the conscience of a weaker brother. 
        2. Apostles had freedom to do what other preachers did and preachers were free to do what other members of the church did. 
    2. Why did Paul bring up having seen the Lord? 
      1. Seeing Jesus after His resurrection was one of the qualifications of an apostle. 
      2. What is about to do is answer some critics in Corinth. 
        1. He will have to do this more, as we will see in Second Corinthians. 
        2. What is at stake? 
          1. What does it mean if Paul was not an apostle of Jesus Christ? 
          2. What does it mean if Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ? 
        3. If he was an apostle, then he was an official representative of the Lord of heaven and earth, and to disregard what Paul taught, meant to disregard what the Lord wanted. 
    3. If Paul had been a fraud, then the Corinthians were lost. 
      1. Therefore, for their own sakes they should have been able to see what he was. 
      2. They had no reason to doubt his apostleship, but Second Corinthians shows that some of them still did. 
  2. 9.3–7 | Should Preachers Serve at Their Own Expense?

    3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we have no right to eat and drink? 5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? 7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?
    1. What were some at Corinth expecting of Paul and Barnabas? 
      1. It sounds as though they did not think that the two preachers could have free time. 
      2. Do preachers have lives other than church work? 
    2. Interestingly, as church history progressed, people did not want the preacher to be married, but today we often do not want a single preacher. 
    3. Answers Paul’s questions in verse 7. 
      1. What then was he saying about preachers? 
      2. Should preachers server at their own expense? 
  3. 9.8–12a | What the Law Says

    8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12a If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?
    1. What did Paul mean with this question: Do I say these things as a mere man? 
      1. He wanted them to know that he was not using mere manmade wisdom. 
      2. What he taught though practiced in the world was a truth by which to live. 
      3. Nor was he saying these things because he coveted their goods or money. 
    2. The Law of Moses taught the same thing. 
      1. Are there truths in the Old Testament, even in the Law of Moses that are still valid today? 
      2. Paul just gave us one. 
        1. Unfortunately we have a bad habit of disregarding the entire Old Testament, especially when someone uses an argument that we cannot answer. 
        2. Can you think of others in addition to the one Paul quoted? 
    3. While God wanted the ox to be able to benefit from his labor, was God primarily concerned about the wellbeing of the ox? 
      1. It was written that we might learn from the truth of the worker benefiting from his labor. 
      2. According to verse 10, what should we learn from the law of the oxen? 
        1. Learn to see everything in nature as illustrating something that we should learn. 
        2. Does the Bible use other items from nature to teach us? 
        3. Can you continue to run with those thoughts and find other lessons in nature that the Bible has not specified? 
    4. Which is greater: 
      1. Spiritual things? 
      2. Material things? 
        1. If it is spiritual and that is what you have reaped from the preacher, why can he not reap from your material things? 
        2. According to Paul, is it a great thing for the preacher to reap the congregation’s material things? 
    5. Evidently, others exercised that right over the congregation, but for some reason they had a problem with Paul and Barnabas exercising that right. 
    6. Jesus worked as a carpenter, and then as a preacher and a teacher. 
      1. Was carpentry real work? 
      2. Was preaching and teaching real work? 
        1. For some reason, we tend in the Churches of Christ not to view preaching as a real job. 
        2. Why is that? 
      3. Is the preacher hired to do your work? 
  4. 9.12b–14 | Foregoing the Right

    12b Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
    1. Does a preacher absolutely have to be paid by the congregation? 
      1. Why did Paul not exercise that right with the Corinthian congregation? 
      2. Because of their way of thinking, it would have hindered his work in the gospel among them. 
        1. Paul lived for preaching the gospel and he would not let anything hinder that effort. 
        2. Therefore, he would make any sacrifice necessary to make sure that the world heard the gospel. 
    2. Paul used another Old Testament teaching, or actually command, to show that those who work for the church should be able to partake of that work. 
    3. Provide the passage to which Paul alluded, saying that the Lord commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. 
  5. 9.15–18 | The Necessity of Preaching the Gospel

    15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
    1. Here Paul explained why he did not exercise his right to receive wages from the Corinthian Church. 
      1. According to verse 15, what was he preventing by not taking wages from them? 
      2. He did not want anyone to make his boasting void. 
    2. Yet, what did he say about boasting of preaching the gospel? 
      1. Why did he preach? 
      2. What was upon him if he did not preach? 
        1. An older preacher said to a younger preacher: 
        2. “If you can do anything else, do it.” 
          1. What do you think the older preacher meant? 
          2. Can everyone do something else? 
          3. The older preacher sought to instill into the thinking of the younger preacher Paul’s sentiment in verse 16. 
    3. What did Paul have if he preached willingly? 
      1. What did Paul have if he preached against his will? 
      2. Can you think of any prophets or preachers who spoke against their will? 
        1. What did he mean by reward versus stewardship? 
        2. What was his reward? 
    4. Why did he have the goal of preaching without charge? 
  6. 9.19–23 | Becoming a Servant to All

    19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
    1. Notice in verse 19, that Paul is still talking about freedom. 
      1. He was free from all men, but what did he make himself to all? 
      2. Why did he make himself a servant to all? 
        1. Do you see yourself as a servant of God? 
        2. Do you see yourself as a servant to your brethren? 
        3. Do you see yourself as a servant to the world? 
    2. In this context, what did becoming a servant to all entail? 
      1. He showed what he did in verses 20–22. 
      2. What did he do? 
        1. What was it all about to Paul? 
        2. He wanted to win and save souls. 
    3. Of what did he want to partake? 
  7. VII.9.24–27 | Run to Receive the Prize

    24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
    1. How many runners in a race win the prize? 
      1. How then did Paul tell us to run? 
      2. Was he saying that only one person will win the prize? 
        1. No, he was saying to so run as though you were the only one. 
        2. That way you will do and so give yourself that you will win the prize. 
    2. For those competing in running races, what do they exercise in all things? 
      1. Why do they exercise temperance, self-control, or strict training? 
      2. If they exercise strict training, what do they obtain? 
        1. What do we obtain? 
        2. Should we not give ourselves even more? 
    3. How then did Paul run? 
      1. Did he run with uncertainty? 
      2. What happens if a runner runs with uncertainty? 
        1. What happens if we teach in the same way? 
        2. We have to be fully persuaded about what we are doing? 
    4. Why did Paul discipline his body and bring it into subjection?