1 Corinthians 9:1-18


1 Corinthians 9:1-18


  • After encouraging the Corinthians to give up their freedoms for the benefit of others, Paul uses himself and Barnabas as an example
  • Paul starts with his special status among the Corinthians in that it was he that established the church in Corinth, he had seen Jesus personally, and their knowing Jesus was through his work among them. All marks of an apostle.
  • Though some may doubt Paul’s apostleship, the Corinthians knew first hand that he was qualified for they were the fruit of his work as an apostle.
  • As an apostle and preacher of the gospel Paul lists his “rights” as an apostle which was to be provided for by those he was ministering to, both himself and those who traveled with him. Just like the other apostles.
  • He and Barnabas had the right to demand the Christians in Corinth provide for them instead of working to provide for themselves.
  • A soldier is provided for by those he protects. A farmer gets to enjoy part of the harvest he has helped produce. A shepherd gets to drink some of the milk from the sheep.
  • Even those these are worldly examples the Old Testament also says that an ox who is working should be allowed to eat.
  • This scripture isn’t talking about ox but about those who work for God.
  • If someone works to bring spiritual benefit to us, we should work to provide for their needs.
  • Since Paul and Barnabas sowed spiritual seeds in the lives of the Corinthians they have the right to get material support in return.
  • They have done this for others who did less for them spiritually, how much more does Paul and Barnabas who brought them the gospel in the first place have a right.
  • With this right established, Paul does not intend to claim this right (remember he is using himself as an example of giving up your rights for the benefit of others).
  • Paul does not preach the Gospel for financial reward.
  • He preaches it voluntarily, so God will reward him
  • He chooses to preach the Gospel without asking for financial help so that people won’t be able to accuse him of doing it just for the money.


There are two main applications here. The first, is Paul’s example of making sure that the most important thing, loving God and others, remains the main thing. Just because you have a “right” to something doesn’t mean you should have that thing if it hinders others in their relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

The second principle is that there is a Biblical principle that those who make their living preaching and teaching the Gospel have a right to be supported by those that are reaping a spiritual benefit. I have a material obligation to those who spiritually invest in me. It isn’t a suggestion, but a spiritual right. Paul chooses not to exert this “right” so the Gospel will not be hindered, but if there were mature Christians in the church, they would make sure to fulfill their obligation to Paul or anyone else who spiritually labored on their behalf.


Father, would You show me any place in my life where I might be claiming my rights that might be hindering another Christian. I want my life to point to You and not hinder anyone in their pursuit of You. Please move my heart and all Your people to fulfill our obligation to those who so tirelessly work for our spiritual benefit. God forgive me if my lack of support has caused Your servants to go without. Help me be generous and honor the work You have done through their ministry. In Jesus Name I Pray, AMEN.

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