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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 9 - Verse 7
Verse 7. Who goeth a warfare, etc. Paul now proceeds to illustrate the RIGHT which he knew ministers had to a support, (1 Co 9:7-14) and then to show the REASON why he had not availed himself of that right, 1 Co 9:15-23. The right he illustrates from the nature of the case, (1 Co 9:7,11;) from the authority of Scripture, (1 Co 9:8-10;) from the example of the priests under the Jewish law, (1 Co 9:13;) and from the authority of Jesus Christ, 1 Co 9:14. In this verse (1 Co 9:7) the right is enforced by the nature of the case, and by three illustrations. The first is, the right of a soldier or warrior to his wages. The Christian ministry is compared to a warfare, and the Christian minister to a soldier. Comp. 1 Ti 1:18. The soldier had a right to receive pay from him who employed him. He did not go at his own expense. This was a matter of common equity; and on this principle all acted who enlisted as soldiers. So Paul says it is but equitable also that the soldier of the Lord Jesus should be sustained, and should not be required to support himself. And why, we may ask, should he be, any more than the man who devotes his strength, and time, and talents to the defence of his country? The work of the ministry is as arduous, and as self-denying, and perhaps as dangerous, as the work of a soldier; and common justice, therefore, demands that he who devotes his youth, and health, and life to it, for the benefit of others, should have a competent support. Why should not he receive a competent support who seeks to save men, as well as he who lives to destroy them? Why not he who endeavours to recover them to God, and make them pure and happy, as well as he who lives to destroy life, and pour out human blood, and to fill the air with the shrieks of new-made widows and orphans? Or why not he who seeks, though in another mode, to defend the great interests of his country, and to maintain the interests of justice, truth, and mercy, for the benefit of mankind, as well as he who is willing in the tented field to spend his time, or exhaust his health and life in protecting the rights of the nation?
Who planteth a vineyard, etc. This is the second illustration from the nature of the case, to show that ministers of the gospel have a right to support. The argument is this: "It is reasonable that those who labour should have a fair compensation. A man who plants a vineyard does not expect to labour for nothing; he expects support from that labour, and looks for it from the vineyard. The vineyard owes its beauty, growth, and productiveness to him. It is reasonable, therefore, that from that vineyard he should receive a support, as a compensation for his toil. So we labour for your welfare. You derive advantage from our toil. We spend our time, and strength, and talent for your benefit; and it is reasonable that we should be supported while we thus labour for your good." The church, of God is often compared to a vineyard; and this adds to the beauty of this illustration. See Isa 5:1-4. See Barnes "Lu 20:9, and Lu 20:10-16.
Who feedeth a flock, etc. This is the third illustration drawn from the nature of the case, to show that ministers have a right to support. The word "feedeth"—poimainei—denotes not only to feed, but to guard, protect, defend, as a shepherd does his flock. See Barnes "Joh 21:15, Joh 21:16-17. "The wages of the shepherds in the East do not consist of ready money, but in a part of the milk of the flocks which they tend. Thus Spon says of the shepherds in modern Greece, 'These shepherds are poor Albanians, who feed the cattle, and live in huts built of rushes: they have a tenth part of the milk, and of the lambs, which is their whole wages: the cattle belong to the Turks.' The shepherds in Ethiopia, also, according to Alvarez, have no pay except the milk and butter which they obtain from the cows, and on which they and their families subsist."—Rosenmuller. The church is often compared to a flock. See Barnes "Joh 10:1, etc. The argument here is this: A shepherd spends his days and nights in guarding his folds. He leads his flock to green pastures, he conducts them to still waters, (comp. Ps 23:2;) he defends them from enemies; he guards the young, the sick, the feeble, etc. He spends his time in protecting it and providing for it. He expects support, when in the wilderness or in the pastures, mainly from the milk which the flock should furnish. He labours for their comfort; and it is proper that he should derive a maintenance from them, and he has a right to it. So the minister of the gospel watches for the good of souls. He devotes his time, strength, learning, talents, to their welfare. He instructs, guides, directs, defends; he endeavours to guard them against their spiritual enemies, and to lead them in the path of comfort and peace. He lives to instruct the ignorant; to warn and secure those who are in danger; to guide the perplexed; to reclaim the wandering; to comfort the afflicted; to bind up the broken in heart; to attend on the sick; to be an example and an instructor to the young; and to be a counsellor and a pattern to all. As he labours for their good, it is no more than equal and right that they should minister to his temporal wants, and compensate him for his efforts to promote their happiness and salvation. And can any man say that this is NOT right and just?
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