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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 9 - Verse 5

Verse 5. Have we not power? Have we not a right? The objection here seems to have been, that Paul and Barnabas were unmarried, or at least that they travelled without wives. The objectors urged that others had wives, and that they took them with them, and expected provision to be made for them as well as for themselves. They therefore showed that they felt that they had a claim to support for their families, and that they were conscious that they were sent of God. But Paul and Barnabas had no families. And the objectors inferred that they were conscious that they had no claim to the apostleship, and no right to support. To this Paul replies as before, that they had a right to do as others did, but they chose not to do it for other reasons than that they were conscious that they had no such right.

To lead about. To have in attendance with us; to conduct from place to place; and to have them maintained at the expense of the churches amongst which we labour.

A sister, a wife. Margin, "or woman." This phrase has much perplexed commentators. But the simple meaning seems to be, "A wife who should be a Christian and regarded as sustaining the relation of a Christian sister." Probably Paul meant to advert to the fact that the wives of the apostles were and should be Christians; and that it was a matter of course, that if an apostle led about a wife she would be a Christian; or that he would marry no other. Comp. 1 Co 7:11.

As well as other apostles. It is evident from this that the apostles generally were married. The phrase used here is oi loipoi apostoloi, (the remaining apostles, or the other apostles.) And if they were married, it is right and proper for ministers to marry now, whatever the papist may say to the contrary. It is safer to follow the example of the apostles than the opinions of the papal church. The reasons why the apostles had wives with them on their journeys may have been various, They may have been either to give instruction and counsel to those of their own sex to whom the apostles could not have access, or to minister to the wants of their husbands as they travelled. It is to be remembered that they travelled among heathens; they had no acquaintance and no friends there; they therefore took with them their female friends and wives to minister to them, and sustain them in sickness, trial, etc. Paul says that he and Barnabas had a right to do this; but they had not used this right because they chose rather to make the gospel without charge, (1 Co 9:18,) and that thus they judged they could do more good. It follows from this,

(1.) that it is right for ministers to marry, and that the papal doctrine of the celibacy of the clergy is contrary to apostolic example.

(2.) It is right for missionaries to marry, and to take their wives with them to heathen lands. The apostles were missionaries, and spent their lives in heathen nations, as missionaries do now, and there may be as good reasons for missionaries, marrying now as there were then.

(3.) Yet there are men, like Paul, who can do more good without being married. There are circumstances, like his, where it is not advisable that they should marry, and there can be no doubt that Paul regarded the unmarried state for a missionary as preferable and advisable. Probably the same is to be said of most missionaries at the present day, that they could do more good if unmarried, than they can if burdened with the cares of families.

And as the brethren of the Lord. The brothers of the Lord Jesus—James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas, Mt 13:55. It seems from this, that although at first they did not believe in him, (Joh 7:5,) and had regarded him as disgraced, (Mr 3:21,) yet that they had subsequently become converted, and were employed as ministers and evangelists. It is evident also from this statement, that they were married, and were attended with their wives in their travels.

And Cephas. Peter. See Barnes "Joh 1:42".

This proves,

(1.) as well as the declaration in Mt 8:14, that Peter had been married.

(2.) That he had a wife after he became an apostle, and while engaged in the work of the ministry.

(3.) That his wife accompanied him in his travels.

(4.) That it is right and proper for ministers and missionaries to be married now. Is it not strange that the pretended successor of Peter, the pope of Rome, should forbid marriage, when Peter himself was married? Is it not a proof how little the papacy regards the Bible, and the example and authority of those from whom it pretends to derive its power? And is it not strange that this doctrine of the celibacy of the clergy, which has been the source of abomination, impurity, and licentiousness everywhere, should have been sustained and countenanced at all by the Christian world? And is it not strange that this, with all the other corrupt doctrines of the papacy, should be attempted to be imposed on the enlightened people of the United States, [or of Great Britain,] as a part of the religion of Christ?

{*} "wife" "woman"

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