Paul defends his Apostleship but shows Restraint Part 1
1 Corinthians 9:1-2 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. KJV
Paul having clearly defined every individual person’s responsibility to one another in our Lord Jesus’ Mystical Body declaring that any of us and all of us should be willing to give up non-sinful things if they serve not to build-up those who are weak in the faith. Paul ended this current portion of his first letter testifying to the Corinthian believers and to us where his heart stood in this matter of showing self-denial, self-discipline, and self-control by refusing to eat meat ever again (although all foods are lawful for him to eat) if he in so doing caused a weak brother or sister in the Body to sin or to have their weak conscience racked with guilt in doing as they saw Paul do. Paul wrote to them and to us exemplifying a restraint on the use of his liberty in Christ and not an indulgence of his Apostleship living as if he were some sort of lord over the lower ranked disciples of Christ, no doubt Paul is only heeding the very words of our Lord Jesus Christ when He said, “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many’” (Matthew 20:25-28).
Since Paul lived so in this manner in every place that he went many false apostles came in the midst of the Corinthians, Galatians, and other Gentiles Paul had witnessed the gospel of grace to and succeeded in convincing some of the believers that Paul was not a true Apostle of Christ by virtue of his show of restraint and this reality is what leads the Apostle Paul to ask these Corinthian believers this serious of four questions, “Am I not an Apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? (1 Corinthians 9:1). Paul was somewhat perturbed or troubled that these people who were so beloved to him would doubt his authenticity as an Apostle of Christ. Paul knew, however, that it was the work of the deceiver satan using these false apostles to poison their minds/hearts against Paul in order that they might elevate themselves among them and gain there confidence and trust and immediately plunder them of their resources financially and exploit them sexually all with the claim that they were the true apostles representing God. This is why Paul made his fourth and final question in this first verse putting them in remembrance of who it was that brought them the gospel of Christ and likewise spent a whole year and a half teaching them the Word of God.
Certainly Paul had recounted to them the encounter he had with our Lord Jesus Christ on the Damascus road and testified to them of what the man Ananias declared to him from God the Father as documented for us by Dr. Luke here, “A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well-spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very time I looked up at him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard’” (Acts 22:12-15). Every one of these four questions asked by Paul had in its delivery the expectant approving answer of YES. Paul declares to them that they (their regeneration and new birth that produced their love for Christ) are the seal of his Apostleship in Christ. This English word seal is translated by the Greek word sphragis which means signet that marked official documents in that day with the idea of fencing or inclosing something or someone in protecting it or them from misappropriation; a stamp marking something for privacy or genuineness; a seal of the name of God and Christ stamped upon their foreheads that by which anything is confirmed, proved, or authenticated.
Paul declares that it was him that our Lord Jesus Christ used as His Human Instrument to bring the gospel of grace to them and rescue and deliver them from sin, darkness, and the devil. Paul reminds them that these false apostles speaking ill of him were nowhere around when they were born again by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the gospel by the Apostle Paul as he already declared to them earlier on in this letter how he came among them, “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
“Blessed Paul, in the work of his ministry, not only met with opposition from those without, but discouragement from those within. He was under reproach; false brethren questioned his apostleship, and were very industrious to lessen his character and sink his reputation; particularly here at Corinth, a place to which he had been instrumental in doing much good, and from which he had deserved well; and yet there were those among them who upon these heads created him great uneasiness. Note, It is no strange nor new thing for a minister to meet with very unkind returns for great good-will to a people, and diligent and successful services among them. Some among the Corinthians questioned, if they did not disown, his Apostolical character. It is no new thing for faithful ministers to meet with the worst treatment where they might expect the best. This church at Corinth had as much reason to believe, and as little reason to question, his Apostolical mission, as any; they had as much reason, perhaps more than any church, to pay him respect. He had been instrumental in bringing them to the knowledge and faith of Christ; he laboured long among them, nearly two years, and he laboured to good purpose, God having much people among them. See Acts 18:10, Acts 18:11. It was aggravated ingratitude for this people to call in question his authority.” Matthew Henry
“Paul did not go around wearing a robe inscribed in large bold letters “Apostle” but what he did go around doing was being obedient to the “will of God” which is the “Word of God” because Paul knew that talk or words did nothing to commend him to God, but his obedience to God’s Will, His Word commended him to God and certainly should have been more than enough to authenticate his Apostleship.” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…
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