Paul defends his Apostleship but shows Restraint Part 2
1 Corinthians 9:3-6 My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we not have a right to eat and drink? Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working? NKJV
Paul continues in his defense of his authenticity as a true Apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ by once again asking the Corinthian believers questions that surely they should know the correct answers to them, but Paul was not asking these questions to test their knowledge of God’s truth, but in fact it was Paul’s way of again manifesting or making visible or marking out his self-restraint in all of the matters that he raised with his questions. Let us go through each question and examine exactly what Paul desired to arouse or awake in the hearts of the Corinthian believers by each question. First, Paul asked, “Do we not have a right to eat and drink?” (1 Corinthians 9:4). It is very obvious what Paul meant in asking this question to the Corinthian believers, he wanted them to realize and understand that it was fully within his authority, privilege, control, and right to feast from their tables as our Lord Jesus declared in this manner to the early disciples when He sent them out two by two preaching the gospel, “Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. Whatever house you enter, first say, Peace be to this house. If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house” (Luke 10:3-7).
The Corinthians should have been firmly convicted in their hearts for doubting or questioning Paul’s authenticity when they read this question as they recalled his restraint in this area. Paul surely was speaking of the time he spent with them “in the flesh” teaching them the Word of God for over a year (Acts 18:11). Secondly, Paul asked, “Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” (1 Corinthians 9:5). Although, Paul was not married at this time (as we declared in a previous study), yet Paul is fully aware of our Lord Jesus’ mandate concerning the taking or marrying a sister in the faith and she too would have every right and privilege as her husband who ministered the gospel of Christ among the people. Paul is here correcting the Corinthian believers miss-conception that by him not having a wife and living in the power of the grace gift of celibacy (given to him by our Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit) was in no way diminishing to his authority as an Apostle and it did not make him in any way less authoritarian than the Apostle’s Peter or James or John. Thirdly, Paul asked, “Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working?” (1 Corinthians 9:6).
Certainly this question was in reference to his mention of Peter, James, or John having wives and they certainly would take time off or away from their labor or work in the ministering of the gospel in order that they would spend much of their time of rest, repose, and relaxation with their wives and children as any good husband and father would do. Paul declares this matter of himself and Barnabas because they continued in the preaching of the gospel of Christ but also in working a secular job (Paul as a tent-maker (Acts 18:3)) and certainly they too were free (just as Peter or James) to refrain from working with their hands to support their living expenses and partake of the Corinthian believers food and shelter. Paul and Barnabas despite being single would surely be encouraged by our Lord Jesus to do likewise an would even lead them in so doing as this discourse with the early disciples proves, “The Apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.’ (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves” (Mark 6:30-32).
Paul was not asking this question to them so as to pine or mown or cry over not being supported by them because it was Paul’s self-determined personal purpose of a show of self-restraint that he practiced among many of the churches (with exception of the church at Philippi) as he declared it in this manner to the believers in Thessalonica, “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9).
“Paul’s claim to an equality with Peter and the other Apostles was violently disputed by his enemies at Corinth, because in several matters he differed from them. Unlike Peter, he had no wife to support, and he worked for his livelihood, instead of being supported by the churches. In this chapter he strongly asserts his rights in this particular; but he is equally strong in saying that he had refused to avail himself of his right, that he might influence a wider circle of men.” F. B. Meyer
“Paul continues to prove and defend his Apostleship to these Corinthian believers not by what he took from them, but on the contrary illuminating or bringing to their remembrance all that he refrained and resisted and held back from taking from them (as was well within his authority as an Apostle like Peter and James) in order that he would set a good example before them and not make their lives more difficult by having another person to support.” 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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