The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Corinthians

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1 Corinthians 9

1Co 9:2

How could THEY question his authority? Their very existence proves it.

1Co 9:5

These other apostles all had one qualification Paul lacked: personal acquaintance with Christ (cp Act 1:21,22).

1Co 9:12

A continuation of theme from 1Co 8: "I am strong. I have the right to eat and drink at your expense. But I choose not to do so, lest I might hinder you." They must have a similar attitude.

1Co 9:13

Vv 13,14: "Such men sometimes think that they give all that is required of them in giving money. This has been one of the great errors of Christendom, the attempt to buy that which is 'without money and without price'. It is true that the apostle Paul says something regarding spiritual and carnal things which seems to suggest reciprocity in these matters. We must not put his teaching upside down, however. He says that Gentiles who are partakers of Israel's spiritual riches have a duty to minister in carnal matters. He certainly does not suggest that carnal wealth can buy the spiritual treasures. The two kinds of riches are on a different plane. The currency is different and there is no known rate of exchange. The wealthy man who goes to his chapel with a feeling that he can purchase anything and a readiness to give of his abundance if the service pleases him, is not likely to receive any real spiritual food. He is not in the right condition to appreciate it. Possibly husks please him best. If so he can buy what he requires" (PrPr).

1Co 9:15

...I HAVE NOT USED...: 'You boast in your rights. I boast in foregoing my rights.'

1Co 9:16

Vv 16-23: Paul humbled self so as to better serve the gospel.

1Co 9:17

TRUST: Or "commission" (RSV).

1Co 9:20

Vv 20,21: Notice 3 positions: (1) under the Law of Moses, (2) not under LM, and (3) under Christ's law (v 21). For first two, "hupo" = under the power of. For the last, "ennomos" = within the sphere of.

1Co 9:24

Vv 24-27: The call of Christ demands such discipline. Olympic contests. See Lesson, Olympics -- ancient, modern, and "Christian".

V 24: "The New Testament has several allusions in it likening our life in Christ as a race. This conjures up several images in our head. In today's heavily competitive environment, we might think of many racers jockeying for position and using every possible advantage to beat his or her competitors...

"The story is told of two men who are walking in the forest when all of a sudden they spot a large, angry-looking bear charging at them. As one of the men takes off running, he notices his companion stopping quickly to take off his boots. As he runs on, the first man yells back to his friend, 'What are you doing? You can't outrun that bear!' The man, who has just finished taking off his boots. yells back, 'I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you!'

"Although this verse may give us the impression that we are in a competition to outrun one another, taking in the whole counsel of God gives us another lesson altogether. Quite to the contrary, we are not in a race against each other. In fact, only in helping each other along the way can we help ourselves in our own race. Paul's point was to urge the brethren in Corinth, whose main problem was ecclesial schism and factions, that they needed to run this race for eternal life in a much more focussed and determined fashion. The point was not to gauge their progress by comparing themselves among themselves, but to run their very best for Christ -- which would include putting aside these fleshly problems which beset them.

"This important point escaped the apostle's notice for the longest time. For all of Jesus' earthly ministry, they argued who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them that the one who sought to be the greatest should seek to be the servant. Those who would be first would be last and those who would be last would be first. This turns our notions of competition on its head.

"A few years ago, I had the opportunity to run in a race that more closely mimics the race for eternal life. It was the 'Run for the Cure' 10K race raising money for the fight against breast cancer. It was a run/walk, meaning that you could either run it or walk it. Running time nor athletic ability did not matter. All that mattered was that you finished. What was particularly interesting was that everyone who finished was a winner. By the time I crossed the finish line to the applause of the greeters and my own medal, the first finishers had probably showered off and gone home. However, it didn't really matter. Neither did it matter that when I finished, there were still hundreds of people running their race. We all ran for a common goal which had nothing to do with besting one another.

"We should all endeavor to run our own race for eternal life to the best of our ability. It is not a competition pitting brother against brother. It is a race pitting us against our sinful desires -- one of which is the desire to be the greatest. The author of the Hebrews gives us the perfect racing metaphor here: 'Let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith' (Heb 12:1-2)" (KT).

"At the Olympics the worlds best athletes gather to compete for the honour of winning and wearing the gold medal. Many of the athletes are professional and they spend all day training every day. They employ the best coaches and tone every muscle to get every last little bit of speed or strength from their bodies. They sacrifice social events, rich foods, time, energy and money -- and it is all for the short lived pleasure of a medal. The point is, that for an Olympic competitor, nothing is too much to sacrifice to win that medal.

"Paul says that we are in a race too. In the same way that an athlete trains and sacrifices, we need to train and sacrifice as Christians. We have to put as much energy into our training as the athletes do. We, like many of those athletes are professional Christians. We are supposed to be training to be like Christ 24 hours a day, 365 days a year no matter what our job, hobbies or circumstances. We must be aiming to constantly improve our lives aiming for the high standard of Christ. And in the end there will not be just one winner -- everyone who runs for Christ will win the prize of everlasting life. What a race! On your marks, Get set, GO!" (RP).

RACE: "Stade", a sprint in a stadium, in ct a "marathon" in Heb 12:2. Once in NT.

1Co 9:25

There is a crown of pride (Isa 28:3), which no one should wear. A crown of thorns (Mat 27:29), which no one can wear. And a crown of life (Jam 1:12), which everyone may wear. Also, an incorruptible crown (1Co 9:25), a crown of rejoicing (1Th 2:19), a crown of glory (1Pe 5:4), and a crown to be kept until Christ's coming (Rev 3:11).

1Co 9:26

BEATING THE AIR: "Shadow-boxing". Poss background: an outstanding boxer, named Melankomas, won honors at about this time. According to early writers, he was known for a style of fighting in which very few blows were struck, either by himself or his opponents; instead, he won his boxing matches by extraordinary footwork and defensive maneuvers, which wore down and frustrated his opponents.

1Co 9:27

DISQUALIFIED: The word "adokimos" is translated "reprobate" (Rom 1:28; 2Co 13:5-7, 2Ti 3:8; Tit 1:16), "castaway" (1Co 9:27), and "rejected" (Heb 6:8). It is used to describe a counterfeit coin, deficient as to weight or quality of metal. It is also used, figuratively, to describe a cowardly soldier who fails the test of battle; a candidate rejected for office; and a stone rejected by the builders. In each case, that which is "reprobate" has promised something by its outward appearance which it cannot deliver! It has, perhaps, a "name to live", but it is dead -- like clouds that promise rain, but give none; like stars in the heavens that appear fixed, but prove to be "wandering stars", or meteors.

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