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1: Am I not free? am I not an apostle? - That is, Have
not I the liberty of a common Christian? yea, that of an
apostle? He vindicates his apostleship, (1Co 9:1-3): his
apostolical liberty, (1Co 9:4-19).
Have I not seen Jesus Christ? - Without this he could not
have been one of those first grand witnesses. Are not ye my
work in the Lord - A full evidence that God hath sent me? And
yet some, it seems, objected to his being an apostle, because
he had not asserted his privilege in demanding and receiving
such maintenance from the churches as was due to that office.
2: Ye are the seal of my apostleship - Who have received
not only faith by my mouth, but all the gifts of the Spirit
by my hands.
3: My answer to them who examine me - Concerning my
apostleship. Is this - Which I have now given.
4: Have we not power - I and my fellowlabourers. To eat
and to drink - At the expense of those among whom we labour.
5: Have we not power to lead about with us a sister, a wife
- And to demand sustenance for her also? As well as the other
apostles - Who therefore, it is plain, did this.
And Peter - Hence we learn,
- That St. Peter continued to live with his wife after he
became an apostle:
- That he had no rights as an apostle which were not common
to St. Paul.
6: To forbear working - With our hands.
8: Do I speak as a man - Barely on the authority of human
reason? Does not God also say, in effect, the same thing?
The ox that treadeth out the corn - This was the custom in
Judea, and many eastern nations. In several of them it is
retained still. And at this day, horses tread out the corn in
some parts of Germany.
9: Doth God - In this direction. Take care for oxen - Only?
Hath he not a farther meaning? And so undoubtedly he hath in
all the other Mosaic laws of this kind.
10: He who ploweth ought to plow in hope - Of reaping.
This seems to be a proverbial expression. And he that thresheth
in hope - Ought not to be disappointed, ought to eat the fruit of
his labours. And ought they who labour in God's husbandry.(De 25:4)
11: Is it a great matter if we shall reap as much of
your carnal things - As is needful for our sustenance? Do you
give us things of greater value than those you receive from us?
12: If others - Whether true or false apostles. Partake of
this power - Have a right to be maintained. Do not we rather - On
account of our having laboured so much more? Lest we should
give any hinderance to the gospel - By giving an occasion of
cavil or reproach.
14: (Mt 10:10)
15: It were better for me to die than - To give occasion
to them that seek occasion against me, (2Co 11:12).
17: Willingly - He seems to mean, without receiving
anything. St. Paul here speaks in a manner peculiar to
himself. Another might have preached willingly, and yet have
received a maintenance from the Corinthians. But if he had
received anything from them, he would have termed it
preaching unwillingly. And so, in the next verse, another
might have used that power without abusing it. But his own
using it at all, he would have termed abusing it. A
dispensation is intrusted to me - Therefore I dare not refrain.
18: What then is my reward - That circumstance in my
conduct for which I expect a peculiar reward from my great
Master? That I abuse not - Make not an unseasonable use of
my power which I have in preaching the gospel.
19: I made myself the servant of all - I acted with as
self - denying a regard to their interest, and as much caution
not to offend them, as if I had been literally their servant
or slave. Where is the preacher of the gospel who treads in
the same steps?
20: To the Jews I became as a Jew - Conforming myself in
all things to their manner of thinking and living, so far as;
I could with innocence. To them that are under the law - Who
apprehend themselves to be still bound by the Mosaic law. As
under the law - Observing it myself, while I am among them. Not
that he declared this to be necessary, or refused to converse
with those who did not observe it. This was the very thing
which he condemned in St. Peter, (Ga 2:14).
21: To them that are without the law - The heathens. As
without the law - Neglecting its ceremonies. Being not without
the law to God - But as much as ever under its moral precepts.
Under the law to Christ - And in this sense all Christians will
be under the law for ever.
22: I became as weak - As if I had been scrupulous too.
I became all things to all men - Accommodating myself to all,
so far as I could consistent with truth and sincerity.
24: Know ye not that - In those famous games which are
kept at the isthmus, near your city. They who run in the foot
race all run, though but one receiveth the prize - How much
greater encouragement have you to run; since ye may all
receive the prize of your high calling!
25: And every one that there contendeth is temperate in
all things - To an almost incredible degree; using the most
rigorous self denial in food, sleep, and every other sensual
indulgence. A corruptible crown - A garland of leaves, which
must soon wither. The moderns only have discovered that it is
"legal" to do all this and more for an eternal crown than they
did for a corruptible!
26: I so run, not as uncertainly - I look straight to the
goal; I run straight toward it. I cast away every weight,
regard not any that stand by. I fight not as one that beateth
the air - This is a proverbial expression for a man's missing
his blow, and spending his strength, not on his enemy, but on
27: But I keep under my body - By all kinds of self
denial. And bring it into subjection - To my spirit and to
God. The words are strongly figurative, and signify the
mortification of the body of sin, "by an allusion to the
natural bodies of those who were bruised or subdued in combat.
Lest by any means after having preached - The Greek word means,
after having discharged the office of an herald, (still
carrying on the allusion,) whose office it was to proclaim the
conditions, and to display the prizes. I myself should become
a reprobate - Disapproved by the Judge, and so falling short of
the prize. This single text may give us a just notion of the
scriptural doctrine of election and reprobation; and clearly
shows us, that particular persons are not in holy writ
represented as elected absolutely and unconditionally to
eternal life, or predestinated absolutely and unconditionally
to eternal death; but that believers in general are elected to
enjoy the Christian privileges on earth; which if they abuse,
those very elect persons will become reprobate. St. Paul was
certainly an elect person, if ever there was one; and yet he
declares it was possible he himself might become a reprobate.
Nay, he actually would have become such, if he had not thus
kept his body under, even though he had been so long an elect
person, a Christian, and an apostle.