Paul defends his Apostleship but shows Restraint Part 3
1 Corinthians 9:7-9 Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock? I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? NKJV
Paul continuing his defense of his Apostleship asked this next question to the Corinthian believers, “Whoever goes to war at his own expense?” (1 Corinthians 9:7) is eluding no doubt to all the conquering nations of the past and certainly the Romans who ruled every known territory at the time of his letter to them known by man. Paul is declaring that the individual soldiers that make up the conquering armies of these nations don’t pay for their own weapons or uniforms or food or shelter, but instead all of this is provided for them as enlisted men in the countries army. We see this clearly demonstrated for us today here in America as our military men and women are housed, clothed, paid, and fed by the United States Government for their service in the army, navy, air force, or marines. Paul is a soldier in the Army of our Lord Jesus Christ as he declared in this manner to brother Timothy, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4). Paul uses the English phrase in 1 Corinthians 9:7 “goes to war” and it is translated by the Greek word strateuomai which means to make a military expedition, to lead soldiers to war or to battle, (spoken of a commander) to do military duty, be on active service, be a soldier to fight; figuratively it means to execute the apostolate with its arduous or demanding duties and functions or figuratively to contend with carnal inclinations.
The office occupied by the Apostle Paul was not for the faint hearted or weak minded or timid or fearful soul and neither is the responsibility of every Christian who is born again of the Spirit of God because it is constant, non-stop, and continual spiritual warfare with the forces of darkness led by satan and his minions requiring Paul and every faithful believer among the Corinthians and us today to always put on our whole holy armor of God and fight from the place of victory we have in our Lord Jesus Christ as Paul describes in Ephesians 6:10-20. Paul continues in verse 7 and asked them, “Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? (1 Corinthians 9:7). Again we have here along with many other things written by the Apostle Paul that is a clear and simple example being illustrated for the Corinthian believers and for us that would testify to his right and authority as an Apostle to partake of the fruit of his own labor just as the vineyard owner would most certainly eat of the grapes and drink of the wine produced by the harvested grapes. These Corinthian believers lived during a time when the country sides were filled with vineyards and many of them knew people that owned vineyards and could clearly understand Paul’s analogy.
In the third part of this three question verse Paul asked them, “Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? (1 Corinthians 9:7). Paul declares that the Shepard of the flock is entitled to drink of the milk of the flock of sheep that he tends or cares for and likewise he has attended to and cared for their spiritual needs since they heard the gospel, believed the gospel, and was born again by the gospel spending a year and a half teaching them the Word of God before his physical departure from them and then always keeping them in his prayers. Paul no doubt was speaking here to them with the same heart of concern and care the Apostle Peter exhorts with these words, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:1-4). Like Peter, Paul was mindful that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Chief Shepherd of His “little flock” the church and Paul is working to receive his crown of glory from Him.
Paul now declares to them that even God says the same things he has declared with all of these questions. Paul asked them, “Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? (1 Corinthians 9:8). Paul declares that not only do the illustrations I have listed to you prove my Apostleship and the authority I have as an Apostle, but more importantly the Word of God confirms my illustrations are true and correct with these words, “For it is written in the Law of Moses, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.’ God is not concerned about oxen, is He?” (1 Corinthians 9:9). This is a quote Paul took from the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 25:4 and the idea is that it was understood that in order to get the best production from the oxen as he would thresh out the corn would be to allow him to eat from the very corn he was threshing. Paul ends this discourse by appealing to the good sense of the Corinthian believers knowing they would see the desire of God in this verse from the Book of Deuteronomy being for the benefit of man and not merely for the animals benefit, and then surely Paul as a adopted son of God and an Apostle of Christ is of far greater concern, care, and value to God the Father than any oxen, as our Lord Jesus Christ declared with these words, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).
“Now the true soldiers of Christ must always be prepared to do battle for the truth, and must never, so far as lies with them, allow false convictions to creep in.” Origen Adamantius 182 AD to 254 AD
“A child of God, though he cannot serve the Lord perfectly, yet he serves Him willingly; his will is in the law of the Lord; he is not a pressed soldier, but a volunteer. By the beating of this pulse we may judge whether there be spiritual life in us or no.” Thomas Watson
“He was a soldier, a vineyard-keeper, a shepherd, and could claim his maintenance. But he desired to be free from the slightest imputation of self-seeking. He knew that jealous critics were watching his every action and seeking to weigh his secret motives. These were the very men he desired to win, and for their sakes he voluntarily surrendered his undoubted rights.” F. B. Meyer
“Paul like the vineyard owner, the soldier, and the sheep herder was entitled to partake of the fruit of his labor (the Corinthian churches material resources) in our Lord Jesus Christ, but instead chose willingly to refrain from doing so to be even a better example to the Corinthian believers of denying one’s self even of what was rightfully his in order to make another person’s life less difficult while at the same time making his own more so.” 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…