|1 Corinthians 9 |
1 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not you my work in the Lord?
2 Even 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 the right to eat and to drink?
5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing sister as wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas [Peter]?
6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from work?
7 Who goes to war at any time at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who feeds a flock and does not drink the milk of the flock?
8 Do I only say these things as a man? Or does the law not also say the same?
9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the corn." Does God only take care of oxen?
10 Or was it said exclusively for our benefit? For our sakes, no doubt; it was written so that he who plows should plow in hope; and he who threshes should thresh in hope of being a partaker of the harvest.
11 If we have sown spiritual things to you, is it a great thing if we should reap your material things?
12 If others have this right over you, are we not more deserving? Nevertheless we have not used this right; but endure all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
13 Do you not know that those who serve in the temple, get their food from the temple? And those who serve at the altar are partakers with the altar?
14 Even so has the Lord ordained that those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these rights. Neither have I written this, that such things would be done for me. For it would be better for me to die, than that any man should cancel my glorying [in not asking or taking money or support from you].
16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of, for the necessity is laid upon me; yes, 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 it is against my will, I am still discharging the gospel that is entrusted to me.
18 What is my reward then? Truly, that when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel of Christ without charge,1 so that I do not abuse my right in the gospel.
19 For though I am free from all men, yet I have made myself a servant to all, that I might gain the more.
20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain those who are under the law;
21 To those who are without the law, as without the law, (being not without the law to God, but under the law to Christ), that I might gain those who are without the law.
22 To the weak I became 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 I do this for the gospel's sake, that I might be a partaker of the gospel's blessings with you.
24 Do you not know that all those who run in a race, run; but only one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain the prize.2
25 Now everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. They do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we obtain an incorruptible crown.
26 Therefore I do not run uncertainly; I do not fight like one who beats the air.
27 But I keep my body under control, and bring it into subjection; for fear that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.3 [Here Paul completely discredits the false doctrine of the Baptists: "once saved always saved."]
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1 Jesus agrees with Paul's preaching without charge, saying: Freely you have received (without charge), freely give (without pay), Mat 10:8. And so does Peter: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, 1 Pet 5:2. As has been explained by George Fox, when a true minister of the word of faith brings someone the "living words of truth spoken from the Spirit of God;" the person who receives them is so overjoyed and grateful, their possessions are no longer important to them; they know they are part of the whole Body of Christ, and they are eager to supply, unsolicited gifts, to meet any need they see of the "man speaking the words of God from the Spirit of God," including their least valued treasures — mammon — but the true man of God would never ask. If the minister had needs, he could gratefully receive the totally unsolicited gift of love, included but not limited to money; the true reward is to see Christ manifested in his followers and to love that person as though he is Christ. The true reward is to have their spirits knit together in love. The true reward is to share in the increase of LOVE in the body of Christ.
The apostle said, ‘Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.’ Gal 6:6. To be taught in the word, is not to be taught what the scriptures say, or someone's opinion of their meaning; but to be taught as the Spirit of God gives appropriate words to the speaker, tailored to the ears and hearts of his listeners. To be taught in the word, is to be taught by someone who, under control of the Holy Spirit, speaks the Word of God, as heard from God, as commanded by God to them to be spoken, at that specific time, to those specific listeners; as is in 1 Cor 2:13, 'this is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. We would naturally want to share everything we had with someone who was truly teaching us words he was given by God to speak to us. How much more would these unsolicited gifts be offered to those who raised the dead, healed the sick, cast out demons, and preached the Kingdom being near; as did the Apostles of the early church? I certainly would not hesitate to give one my car, all my money, whatever I could possibly live without. And that is exactly how the early Church in Jerusalem was funded:
Nor was there a destitute or needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses proceeded to sell them, and one by one they brought (gave back) the amount received from the sales, and laid it at the feet of the apostles (special messengers). Then distribution was made to every man according to his need. Acts 4:34-35 Notice, this does not say the apostles took the money for their own use.
If someone asks for tithes, asks for contributions, or takes a salary, that someone is a false prophet, covetous, following the way of Balaam, a hireling who doesn't love the sheep and flees when he sees the wolf coming.
2 From the Word of the Lord within: "Imagine a place where everyone runs the race to their utmost ability, but desiring to come in last." When I first heard this several years ago, I did not understand; now I do. I run the race to my best ability, making every effort. Of course, I want to finish my course, to enter union with God in his kingdom; but at the same time, I wish that everyone else would do better than myself. Why? Because I only care about God; his success is what I wish for, and if everyone else has greater success than myself, the body of Christ is even stronger. Then, even more glory is brought to God. I am not denigrating myself when I wish for everyone else to be more successful than myself; I am trying my best to be all that I possibly can for God and myself. My best is all I can do, and if others can do better, then that is great for God, great for the Body of Christ, and great for me, a part of that Body.
3 I keep my body under control, and bring it into subjection; for fear that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. Take Note! Paul, who preached the gospel with words supplied by the Spirit, who watched over these same Corinthians in the Spirit, who had mighty powers of healing, was fearful that he could be disqualified if he fell to sin in his body.
There are two steps in perfection through the grace of Christ: 1st) to be raised up to the perfection of Adam and Eve in paradise, but still capable of falling to temptation, and 2nd) to be raised up to union with Christ Jesus, an everlasting perfection, which is incapable of falling to sin or temptation. Stephen Crisp, another eminent early Quaker, writes further of this two-step perfection:
For you know while the vessel is filled with wrath, envy, or with unrighteousness of any kind, such are not yet fit for the glory of God to shine forth in. When that is removed out by judgment; and Zion is set free from oppression, then the creature returns to God a pure vessel in the righteousness that was before the fall. So a man or woman may come to Adam's state that he was in before he fell, which was without sin. Against such the judgment of God does not go forth, but they have peace with God, and fellowship in what is pure, before sin and transgression were. Those who come to this state, may be entangled again; as was Eve, and if they do not watch, they may be entangled again; but if such are faithful to the power that redeemed them from the sin, and in the power resist the temptation, then such receive the seal of eternal life in Christ Jesus, who never fell, though he was tempted, and so come to an establishment in him who never changes.
When Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians, he evidently had not yet reached the 2nd state of perfection, protected from sin, as he later described: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life, which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20.
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