SOAP Study - October 15, 2020

    10.15.20 | by Larry Williamson


    1 Corinthians 9:1-12

    Am I not as free as anyone else? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord with my own eyes? Isn’t it because of my work that you belong to the Lord? Even if others think I am not an apostle, I certainly am to you. You yourselves are proof that I am the Lord’s apostle.

    This is my answer to those who question my authority.[a] Don’t we have the right to live in your homes and share your meals? Don’t we have the right to bring a believing wife[b] with us as the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers do, and as Peter[c] does? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves?

    What soldier has to pay his own expenses? What farmer plants a vineyard and doesn’t have the right to eat some of its fruit? What shepherd cares for a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk? Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing? For the law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.”[d] Was God thinking only about oxen when he said this? 10 Wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest.

    11 Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? 12 If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ.


    • What verse stood out to you while you were reading?
    • What did you discover about God, yourself, and others?
    • How should this information impact your life?
    • What needs to be different about the way you are currently living?
    • Take some time to talk to God about the things you just learned and how you want your life to look different. Give God thanks for revealing these things to you, ask Him for wisdom and courage to move forward so that you can apply these things to your life.

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    Paul begins Chapter 9 by asking a few rhetorical questions to set the stage for all mature Christians' expectations. Paul starts with solidifying his status as an apostle, especially to the Christian community in Corinth. After these first initial questions, he segues into questions about the rights he has as an apostle and even the rights that different people have in various scenarios. Paul mentions soldiers, farmers, shepherds, and even oxen to drill down the fact that there's a common expectation for "rights" in society. Then Paul pivots in verse 12, acknowledging that the community in Corinth has helped support the ministry of other teachers so it would be an even greater right for them to support Paul. Yet Paul declares, "we have never used that right, we would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ." At this moment, Paul is fully acknowledging that just because you have a right, it does not mean that it is in the best interest of sharing the gospel. This idea of the sacrifice of rights and freedoms for others' sake was what Paul has been trying to convey over the last few chapters of Corinthians.


    The more that I read through this scripture passage, I think about the Lord Jesus, who was willing to give up His rights and take upon human flesh and then as a human being willing to give up His life. Paul is trying to paint the same example for us as believers pursuing maturity in the faith. Our maturity is not developed by how much we know about God but is seen through the extents we are willing to go to love people. As we love people, we allow for there to be a pathway for them to see Jesus in our lives. In this space, we find the importance of serving faithfully in every situation and scenario, hoping that someone is drawn to Christ through our willingness to love relentlessly.


    Father God, thank you for calling your people to a place of maturity and growth through your Son, Jesus. We are aware of our comforts and desires but let all of our delights be found solely in Christ. For we know, when we surrender who we are and the rights we have, you will be glorified through our humility.