[Table of Contents]
[Previous] [Next]
Word Pictures in the New Testament
(1 Corinthians: Chapter 9)

9:1 {Am I not free?} (\Ouk eimi eleutheros;\). Free as a
Christian from Mosaic ceremonialism (cf. 9:19) as much as any
Christian and yet he adapts his moral independence to the
principle of considerate love in 8:13. {Am I not an apostle?}
(\ouk eimi apostolos;\). He has the exceptional privileges as an
apostle to support from the churches and yet he foregoes these.
{Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?} (\ouchi Iēsoun ton Kurion hēmōn
. Proof (15:8; Ac 9:17,27; 18:9; 22:14,17f.; 2Co
that he has the qualification of an apostle (Ac 1:22)
though not one of the twelve. Note strong form of the negative
\ouchi\ here. All these questions expect an affirmative answer.
The perfect active \heoraka\ from \horaō\, to see, does not here
have double reduplication as in Joh 1:18.

{Are not ye?} (\ou humeis este;\). They were themselves proof of
his apostleship.

9:2 {Yet at least I am to you} (\alla ge humin eimi\). An
_argumentum ad hominem_ and a pointed appeal for their support.
Note use of \alla ge\ in the apodosis (cf. 8:6).

9:3 {My defence} (\hē emē apologia\). Original sense, not idea of
apologizing as we say. See on ¯Ac 22:1; 25:16. Refers to what
precedes and to what follows as illustration of 8:13. {To them
that examine me}
(\tois eme anakrinousin\). See on ¯1Co 2:15;
4:3. The critics in Corinth were "investigating" Paul with sharp
eyes to find faults. How often the pastor is under the critic's

9:4 {Have we no right?} (\Mē ouk echomen exousian;\). Literary
plural here though singular in 1-3. The \mē\ in this double
negative expects the answer "No" while \ouk\ goes with the verb
\echomen\. "Do we fail to have the right?" Cf. Ro 10:18f.
(Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 1173).

9:5 {Have we no right?} (\Mē ouk echomen exousian;\). Same idiom.
{To lead about a wife that is a believer?} (\adelphēn gunaika
. Old verb \periagō\, intransitive in Ac 13:11. Two
substantives in apposition, a sister a wife, a common Greek
idiom. This is a plea for the support of the preacher's wife and
children. Plainly Paul has no wife at this time. {And Cephas}
(\kai Kēphās\). Why is he singled out by name? Perhaps because of
his prominence and because of the use of his name in the
divisions in Corinth (1:12). It was well known that Peter was
married (Mt 8:14). Paul mentions James by name in Ga 1:19 as
one of the Lord's brothers. All the other apostles were either
married or had the right to be.

9:6 {Have we not a right to forbear working?} (\ouk echomen
exousian mē ergazesthai;\)
. By \ē\ (or) Paul puts the other side
about Barnabas (the only allusion since the dispute in Ac
15:39, but in good spirit)
and himself. Perhaps (Hofmann) Paul
has in mind the fact that in the first great mission tour (Ac
13; 14)
, Barnabas and Paul received no help from the church in
Antioch, but were left to work their way along at their own
charges. It was not till the Philippian Church took hold that
Paul had financial aid (Php 4:15). Here both negatives have
their full force. Literally, Do we not have (\ouk echomen\,
expecting the affirmative reply)
the right not (\mē\, negative of
the infinitive \ergazesthai\)
to do manual labour (usual meaning
of \ergazomai\ as in 4:12)
?" There was no more compulsion on
Paul and Barnabas to support themselves than upon the other
workers for Christ. They renounced no rights in being voluntarily

9:7 {What soldier ever serveth?} (\tis strateuetai pote;\). "Who
ever serves as a soldier?" serves in an army (\stratos\). Present
middle of old verb \strateuō\. {At his own charges} (\idiois
. This late word \opsōnion\ (from \opson\, cooked meat
or relish with bread, and \ōneomai\, to buy)
found in Menander,
Polybius, and very common in papyri and inscriptions in the sense
of rations or food, then for the soldiers' wages (often
or the pay of any workman. So of the wages of sin
(Ro 6:23). Paul uses \labōn opsōnion\ (receiving wages, the
regular idiom)
in 2Co 11:8. See Moulton and Milligan,
_Vocabulary_; Deissmann, _Bible Studies_, pp. 148,266; _Light
from the Ancient East_, p. 168. To give proof of his right to
receive pay for preaching Paul uses the illustrations of the
soldier (verse 7), the husbandman (verse 7), the shepherd
(verse 7), the ox treading out the grain (8), the ploughman
(verse 10), the priests in the temple (13), proof enough in
all conscience, and yet not enough for some churches who even
today starve their pastors in the name of piety. {Who planteth a
(\tis phuteuei ampelōna;\). \Ampelōn\ no earlier than
Diodorus, but in LXX and in papyri. Place of vines (\ampelos\),
meaning of ending \-ōn\. {Who feedeth a flock?} (\tis poimainei
. Cognate accusative, both old words. Paul likens the
pastor to a soldier, vinedresser, shepherd. He contends with the
world, he plants churches, he exercises a shepherd's care over
them (Vincent).

9:8 {Do I speak these things after the manner of men?} (\Mē kata
anthrōpon tauta lalō;\)
. Negative answer expected. Paul uses
\kata anthrōpon\ six times (1Co 3:3; 9:8; 15:32; Gal 1:11; 3:15;
Ro 3:5)
. The illustrations from human life are pertinent, but he
has some of a higher order, from Scripture. {The law also} (\kai
ho nomos\)
. Perhaps objection was made that the Scripture does
not support the practice of paying preachers. That objection is
still made by the stingy.

9:9 {Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn}
(\ou phimōseis boun aloōnta\). Quotation from De 25:4.
Prohibition by \ou\ and the volitive future indicative. \Phimoō\,
to muzzle (from \phimos\, a muzzle for dogs and oxen), appears
first in Aristophanes (_Clouds_, 592) and not again till LXX and
N.T., though in the papyri also. Evidently a vernacular word,
perhaps a slang word. See metaphorical use in Mt 22:12,34.
\Aloōnta\ is present active participle of the old verb \aloaō\,
occurs in the N.T. only here (and verse 10) and 1Ti 5:18
where it is also quoted. It is probably derived from \halos\ or
\halon\, a threshing-floor, or the disc of a shield or of the sun
and moon. The Egyptians according to the monuments, used oxen to
thresh out the grain, sometimes donkeys, by pulling a drag over
the grain. The same process may be found today in Andalusia,
Italy, Palestine. A hieroglyphic inscription at Eileithyas reads:

"Thresh ye yourselves, O oxen,
Measures of grain for yourselves,
Measures of grain for your masters."

Note \mē melei\ expects the negative answer, impersonal verb with
dative and genitive cases (\theoi\, God, \boōn\, oxen).
{Altogether} (\pantōs\). But here probably with the notion of
doubtless or assuredly. The editors differ in the verse divisions
here. The Canterbury Version puts both these questions in verse
10, the American Standard the first in verse 9, the second in
verse 10.

9:10 {He that plougheth} (\ho arotriōn\). Late verb \arotriaō\,
to plough, for the old \aroō\ from \arotron\ (plough), in LXX and
rare in papyri. {In hope of partaking} (\ep' elpidi tou
. The infinitive \aloāin\ is not repeated nor is
\opheilei\ though it is understood, "He that thresheth ought to
thresh in hope of partaking." He that ploughs hardly refers to
the ox at the plough as he that threshes does. The point is that
all the workers (beast or man) share in the fruit of the toil.

9:11 {Is it a great matter?} (\mega;\). The copula \estin\ has to
be supplied. Note two conditions of first class with \ei\, both
assumed to be true. On \pneumatika\ and \sarkika\ see on ¯2:14;
3:3. This point comes out sharply also in Ga 6:6.

9:12 {Over you} (\humōn\). Objective genitive after \exousian\.
{Do not we yet more?} (\ou mallon hēmeis;\). Because of Paul's
peculiar relation to that church as founder and apostle. {But we
bear all things}
(\alla panta stegomen\). Old verb to cover
(\stegē\, roof) and so to cover up, to conceal, to endure (1Co
13:7 of love)
. Paul deliberately declined to use (usual
instrumental case with \chraomai\)
his right to pay in Corinth.
{That we may cause no hindrance} (\hina mē tina enkopēn dōmen\).
Late word \enkopē\, a cutting in (cf. _radio_ or telephone) or
hindrance from \enkoptō\, to cut in, rare word (like \ekkopē\)
here only in N.T. and once in Vettius Valens. How considerate
Paul is to avoid "a hindrance to the gospel of Christ" (\tōi
euaggeliōi tou Christou\, dative case and genitive)
rather than
insist on his personal rights and liberties, an eloquent example
for all modern men.

9:13 {Sacred things} (\ta hiera\). {Of the temple} (\tou
. Play on the same word \hierou\ (sacred). See Nu
18:8-20 for the details. This is a very pertinent illustration.
{They which wait upon the altar} (\hoi tōi thusiastēriōi
. Old word \paredreuō\, to sit beside, from
\par--edros\, like Latin _assidere_, and so constant attendance.
Only here in the N.T. Locative case \thusiastēriōi\, late word
found so far only in LXX, Philo, Josephus, N.T., and
ecclesiastical writers. See on ¯Mt 5:23.

9:14 {Even so did the Lord ordain} (\houtōs kai ho Kurios
. Just as God gave orders about the priests in the
temple, so did the Lord Jesus give orders for those who preach
the gospel to live out of the gospel (\ek tou euaggeliou zēin\).
Evidently Paul was familiar with the words of Jesus in Mt 10:10;
Lu 10:7f. either in oral or written form. He has made his
argument for the minister's salary complete for all time.

9:15 {For it were good for me to die, than that any man should
make my glorying void}
(\kalon gar moi mallon apothanein ē to
kauchēma mou oudeis kenōsei\)
. The tangled syntax of this
sentence reflects the intensity of Paul's feeling on the subject.
He repeats his refusal to use his privileges and rights to a
salary by use of the present perfect middle indicative
(\kechrēmai\). By the epistolary aorist (\egrapsa\) he explains
that he is not now hinting for a change on their part towards him
in the matter, "in my case" (\en emoi\). Then he gives his reason
in vigorous language without a copula (\ēn\, were): "For good for
me to die rather than," but here he changes the construction by a
violent anacoluthon. Instead of another infinitive (\kenōsai\)
after \ē\ (than) he changes to the future indicative without
\hoti\ or \hina\, "No one shall make my glorying void," viz., his
independence of help from them. \Kenoō\ is an old verb, from
\kenos\, empty, only in Paul in N.T. See on ¯1Co 1:17.

9:16 {For if I preach} (\ean gar euaggelizōmai\). Third class
condition, supposable case. Same construction in verse 16 (\ean
. {For necessity is laid upon me} (\anagkē gar moi
. Old verb, lies upon me (dative case \moi\). Jesus
had called him (Ac 9:6,15; Ga 1:15f.; Ro 1:14). He could do no
other and deserves no credit for doing it. {Woe is me} (\ouai gar
. Explaining the \anagkē\ (necessity). Paul had to heed the
call of Christ that he had heard. He had a real call to the
ministry. Would that this were the case with every modern

9:17 {Of mine own will} (\hekōn\) {--not of mine own will}
(\akōn\). Both common adjectives, but only here in N.T. save
\hekōn\, also in Ro 8:20. The argument is not wholly clear.
Paul's call was so clear that he certainly did his work
{willingly} and so had a reward (see on ¯Mt 6:1 for \misthos\);
but the only {reward} that he had for his willing work (Marcus
was to make the gospel {free of expense} (\adapanon\, verse
18, rare word, here only in N.T., once in inscription at
. This was his \misthos\. It was glorying (\kauchēma\, to
be able to say so as in Ac 20:33f.)
. {I have a stewardship
intrusted to me}
(\oikonomian pepisteumai\). Perfect passive
indicative with the accusative retained. I have been intrusted
with a stewardship and so would go on with my task like any
\oikonomos\ (steward) even if \akōn\ (unwilling).

9:18 {So as not to use to the full} (\eis to mē
. \Eis to\ for purpose with articular infinitive
and perfective use of \kata\ (as in 7:31) with \chrēsasthai\
(first aorist middle infinitive).

9:19 {I brought myself under bondage} (\emauton edoulōsa\).
Voluntary bondage, I enslaved myself to all, though free.
Causative verb in \-oō\ (\douloō\, from \doulos\). The more
(\tous pleionas\). Than he could have done otherwise. Every
preacher faces this problem of his personal attitude and conduct.
Note \kerdēsō\ (as in verses 20,21,22, but once \hina kerdanō\
in 21, regular liquid future of \kerdainō\)
with \hina\ is
probably future active indicative (Jas 4:13), though Ionic
aorist active subjunctive from \kerdaō\ is possible (Mt 18:15).
"He refuses payment in money that he may make the greater gain in
souls" (Edwards).

9:20 {As a Jew} (\hōs Ioudaios\). He was a Jew and was not
ashamed of it (Ac 18:18; 21:26). {Not being myself under the
(\mē ōn autos hupo nomon\). He was emancipated from the law
as a means of salvation, yet he knew how to speak to them because
of his former beliefs and life with them (Ga 4:21). He knew how
to put the gospel to them without compromise and without offence.

9:21 {To them that are without law} (\tois anomois\). The
heathen, those outside the Mosaic law (Ro 2:14), not lawless
(Lu 22:37; Ac 2:23; 1Ti 1:9). See how Paul bore himself with
the pagans (Ac 14:15; 17:23; 24:25), and how he quoted heathen
poets. "Not being an outlaw of God, but an inlaw of Christ"
(Evans, Estius has it _exlex, inlex_, \mē ōn anomos theou, all'
ennomos Christou\)
. The genitive case of \theou\ and \Christou\
(specifying case) comes out better thus, for it seems unusual
with \anomos\ and \ennomos\, both old and regular adjectives.

9:22 {I became weak} (\egenomēn asthenēs\). This is the chief
point, the climax in his plea for the principle of love on the
part of the enlightened for the benefit of the unenlightened
(chapter 1Co 8). He thus brings home his conduct about
renouncing pay for preaching as an illustration of love (8:13).
{All things} (\panta\) {to all men} (\tois pasin\, the whole
{by all means} (\pantōs\). Pointed play on the word all,
{that I may save some} (\hina tinas sōsō\). This his goal and
worth all the cost of adaptation. In matters of principle Paul
was adamant as about Titus the Greek (Ga 2:5). In matters of
expediency as about Timothy (Ac 16:3) he would go half way to
win and to hold. This principle was called for in dealing with
the problem of eating meat offered to idols (Ro 14:1; 15:1; 1Th

9:23 {That I may be a joint partaker thereof} (\hina sunkoinōnos
autou genōmai\)
. Literally, That I may become co-partner with
others in the gospel. The point is that he may be able to share
the gospel with others, his evangelistic passion. \Sunkoinōnos\
is a compound word (\sun\, together with, \koinōnos\, partner or
. We have two genitives with it in Php 1:7, though \en\
and the locative is used in Re 1:9. It is found only in the
N.T. and a late papyrus. Paul does not wish to enjoy the gospel
just by himself.

9:24 {In a race} (\en stadiōi\). Old word from \histēmi\, to
place. A stated or fixed distance, 606 3/4 feet, both masculine
\stadioi\ (Mt 14:24; Lu 24:13) and neuter as here. Most of the
Greek cities had race-courses for runners like that at Olympia.
{The prize} (\to brabeion\). Late word, in inscriptions and
papyri. Latin _brabeum_. In N. T. only here and Php 3:14. The
victor's prize which only one could receive. {That ye may attain}
(\hina katalabēte\). Final use of \hina\ and perfective use of
\kata-\ with \labēte\ (effective aorist active subjunctive, grasp
and hold)
. Old verb \katalambanō\ and used in Php 3:12ff.

9:25 {That striveth in the games} (\ho agōnizomenos\). Common
verb for contest in the athletic games (\agōn\), sometimes with
the cognate accusative, \agōna agōnizomai\ as in 1Ti 6:12; 2Ti
4:7. Probably Paul often saw these athletic games. {Is temperate
in all things}
(\panta egkrateuetai\). Rare verb, once in
Aristotle and in a late Christian inscription, and 1Co 7:9 and
here, from \egkratēs\, common adjective for one who controls
himself. The athlete then and now has to control himself (direct
in all things (accusative of general reference). This is
stated by Paul as an athletic axiom. Training for ten months was
required under the direction of trained judges. Abstinence from
wine was required and a rigid diet and regimen of habits.

{A corruptible crown} (\phtharton stephanon\). \Stephanos\
(crown) is from \stephō\, to put around the head, like the Latin
_corona_, wreath or garland, badge of victory in the games. In
the Isthmian games it was of pine leaves, earlier of parsley, in
the Olympian games of the wild olive. "Yet these were the most
coveted honours in the whole Greek world" (Findlay). For the
crown of thorns on Christ's head see Mt 27:29; Mr 15:17; Joh
19:2,5. \Diadēma\ (diadem) was for kings (Re 12:3). Favourite
metaphor in N.T., the crown of righteousness (2Ti 4:8), the
crown of life (Jas 1:12), the crown of glory (1Pe 5:4), the
crown of rejoicing (1Th 2:9), description of the Philippians
(Php 4:1). Note contrast between \phtharton\ (verbal adjective
from \phtheirō\, to corrupt)
like the garland of pine leaves,
wild olive, or laurel, and \aphtharton\ (same form with \a\
like the crown of victory offered the Christian, the
amaranthine (unfading rose) crown of glory (1Pe 5:4).

9:26 {So} (\houtōs\). Both with \trechō\ (run) and \pukteuō\
(fight). {As not uncertainly} (\hōs ouk adēlōs\). Instead of
exhorting them further Paul describes his own conduct as a runner
in the race. He explains \houtōs\. \Adēlōs\ old adverb, only here
in N.T. His objective is clear, with Christ as the goal (Php
. He kept his eye on Christ as Christ watched him. {Fight}
(\pukteuō\). Paul changes the metaphor from the runner to the
boxer. Old verb (only here in N.T.) from \puktēs\ (pugilist) and
that from \pugmē\ (fist). See on ¯Mr 7:3). {As not beating the
(\hōs ouk aera derōn\). A boxer did this when practising
without an adversary (cf. doing "the daily dozen") and this was
called "shadow-fighting" (\skiamachia\). He smote something more
solid than air. Probably \ou\ negatives \aera\, though it still
occurs with the participle as a strong and positive negative.

9:27 {But I buffet my body} (\alla hupōpiazō mou to sōma\). In
Aristophanes, Aristotle, Plutarch, from \hupōpion\, and that from
\hupo\ and \ops\ (in papyri), the part of the face under the
eyes, a blow in the face, to beat black and blue. In N.T. only
here and Lu 18:5 which see. Paul does not, like the Gnostics,
consider his \sarx\ or his \sōma\ sinful and evil. But "it is
like the horses in a chariot race, which must be kept well in
hand by whip and rein if the prize is to be secured" (Robertson
and Plummer)
. The boxers often used boxing gloves (\cestus\, of
ox-hide bands)
which gave telling blows. Paul was not willing for
his body to be his master. He found good as the outcome of this
self-discipline (2Co 12:7; Ro 8:13; Col 2:23; 3:5). {And bring
it into bondage}
(\kai doulagōgō\). Late compound verb from
\doulagōgos\, in Diodorus Siculus, Epictetus and substantive in
papyri. It is the metaphor of the victor leading the vanquished
as captive and slave. {Lest by any means} (\mē pōs\). Common
conjunction for negative purpose with subjunctive as here
(\genōmai\, second aorist middle). {After that I have preached to
(\allois kēr–xas\). First aorist active participle of
\kērussō\ (see on ¯1:23), common verb to preach, from word
\kērux\ (herald) and that is probably the idea here. A \kērux\ at
the games announced the rules of the game and called out the
competitors. So Paul is not merely a herald, but a competitor
also. {I myself should be rejected} (\autos adokimos genōmai\).
Literally, "I myself should become rejected." \Adokimos\ is an
old adjective used of metals, coin, soil (Heb 6:8) and in a
moral sense only by Paul in N.T. (1Co 9:27; 2Co 13:5-7; Ro 1:28;
Tit 1:16; 2Ti 3:8)
. It means not standing the test (\dokimos\
from \dokimazō\)
. Paul means rejected for the {prize}, not for
the entrance to the race. He will fail to win if he breaks the
rules of the game (Mt 7:22f.). What is the prize before Paul?
Is it that {reward} (\misthos\) of which he spoke in verse 18,
his glorying of preaching a free gospel? So Edwards argues. Most
writers take Paul to refer to the possibility of his rejection in
his personal salvation at the end of the race. He does not claim
absolute perfection (Php 3:12) and so he presses on. At the end
he has serene confidence (2Ti 4:7) with the race run and won.
It is a humbling thought for us all to see this wholesome fear
instead of smug complacency in this greatest of all heralds of

[Table of Contents]
[Previous] [Next]
Word Pictures in the New Testament
(1 Corinthians: Chapter 9)