Paul defends his Apostleship but shows Restraint Part 4
1 Corinthians 9:10-12 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. NKJV
Paul finishes his explanation of God’s intent in Deuteronomy 25:4 by giving them and us another picture that would surely be clearly understood. The farmer sets out into his field and hitches up his oxen or mules or horses to his plow with his mind filled with the finished product of his hard work being ready for him to harvest so that he and his family would be fed for many days from the fruit of his labor. Paul declares to them and to us that his sufferings (for the sake of the gospel of Christ), his beatings (Acts 21:32), his imprisonments (Acts 21:33), his fights with wild beast (1 Corinthians 15:32) and all else he endured because of his love for our Lord Jesus Christ was with the same mind as the plowing farmer that he might see an eternal harvest of souls brought out of spiritual darkness into the marvelous light of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said it in this manner to brother Timothy continuing from our theme in the previous study, “The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops” (2 Timothy 2:6), therefore, Paul now states plainly what his authority as an Apostle of Christ and as their “spiritual father” (1 Corinthians 4:15) gives him the right to demand from them as he says this to them, “If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?” (1 Corinthians 9:11).
Paul uses the English word sowed and it is translated by the Greek word speiro which means just what we would think it means and that is the idea of scattering seeds in a field or figuratively the scattering, spreading, and sprinkling of the Word of God/gospel of Christ among men and women who are sinners. Paul declares that he like the hard-working farmer expects to eat or be fed or taken care of by the fruit of his labor, as he so wrote in this manner to the believers in Rome documenting the responsibility of the Gentile believers to the struggling church in Jerusalem, “For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things” (Romans 15:26-27). Paul after bringing to their memory that he brought them the gospel of Christ in much fear and trembling and he spent an entire year and a half teaching them the Word of God, asked these Corinthian believers this question, “If others share the right over you, do we not more?” (1 Corinthians 9:12).
Paul was surely speaking of Peter, James, John, Apollos and some of the other Apostles no doubt who were freely exercising their Christ given ordained authority (as Apostles) to partake of the Corinthian churches material resources. Although these true Apostles were entitled to partake of the Corinthian believer’s resources, Paul was even more so entitled because it was through his preaching that these sinners became saints of God. Paul also was speaking to them about the false apostles coming to them and perverting the gospel of Christ and causing them to be filled with envy, strife, and dissensions. Paul declares his concern for them allowing phony apostles to come in and plunder their resources and lead them astray and into error as he said it in this manner in his second letter to them, “Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge? I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:7-15).
Paul now places his restraint front and center bringing them to recall how he lived in their presence for the year and a half he spent with them in the flesh as he continues on in 1 Corinthians 9:12 by saying, “Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ” and this was not some rare one time occasion for the Apostle Paul, for when he was preparing to depart from the believers in Ephesus for the final time (as his heart was broken knowing he would die and not get to see them again here on the earth) said this to them as he departed for Rome, “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they were accompanying him to the ship” (Acts 20:33-38).
“I should as soon expect a farmer to prosper in business who contented himself with sowing his fields and never looking at them till harvest, as expect a believer to attain much holiness who was not diligent about his Bible reading, his prayers, and the use of his Sundays.” J. C. Ryle
“What a lesson for all of us and especially for those who are called to be ministers of Christ’s gospel! We must be above suspicion. If we do or permit anything that might prove a hindrance to the acceptance of Christ by others, we must forego it, though reasonable in itself, that we may win them to our Savior.” F. B. Meyer
“Paul carried himself in the same self-denying manner among every one of the churches that he founded and unlike what we see today with men reigning and ruling over their own “little kingdoms” living in luxury, Paul never used his authority as an Apostle of Jesus Christ to build up for himself earthly wealth or his own kingdom, but instead served as an example to the “flock of God” by living on the same level as every other believer during his day.” 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…