|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:1-14 It is not new for a minister to meet with unkind returns for good-will to a people, and diligent and successful services among them. To the cavils of some, the apostle answers, so as to set forth himself as an example of self-denial, for the good of others. He had a right to marry as well as other apostles, and to claim what was needful for his wife, and his children if he had any, from the churches, without labouring with his own hands to get it. Those who seek to do our souls good, should have food provided for them. But he renounced his right, rather than hinder his success by claiming it. It is the people's duty to maintain their minister. He may wave his right, as Paul did; but those transgress a precept of Christ, who deny or withhold due support.
Verse 13. - They which minister about holy things. Jewish priests. He adds his two final arguments - since the right which he is pleading has its own intrinsic importance - before proceeding to the example which he set in order to prevail on the strong to give up their rights and their liberty, when need was, for the sake of the weak. Live; literally, eat, or feed. The Zealots used this excuse for themselves when they broke open the temple stores in the siege of Jerusalem (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 5:13, § 6). Of the things of the temple. They shared in the victims offered (see Numbers 18:8-13; Deuteronomy 18:1). Partakers with the altar. Only certain portions of certain victims were allowed them.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Do ye not know, that they which minister about holy things,.... Not the priests in the temples of the Heathen deities, as the Ethiopic version suggests; but the priests in the temple at Jerusalem, who were employed in slaying the sacrifices, taking off their skins, cutting them into pieces, laying them in order with the wood upon the altar, and burning them, with other services they there performed, which were well known to the Corinthians, many of this church being Jews:
live of the things of the temple; the tithes and firstfruits, and other oblations, and presents in money or goods, thither brought; nor had they any other way of living and supporting their families; for the priests and Levites had no inheritance among the children of Israel, and therefore provision was made for them in this way:
and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar; some read it, "who sit at the altar"; but none might sit in the temple but a king of the house of David (n); the priests and Levites always stood in their ministry, some doing one thing, and some another; some slew the sacrifice, others sprinkled the blood; some took away the ashes, others laid the wood, others brought up the parts of the sacrifice when slain, skinned, and cut asunder, and laid them on the altar (o), and these partook with the altar; some parts the altar devoured, being consumed by fire upon it; but then there were other pieces which by law were reserved for the priests, and upon which they and their families lived: hence the distinction of , the food of the altar, and , "the food of man" (p); and therefore as it was but just and equitable that persons so employed should be maintained out of the revenues of the temple and altar, it is but right that Gospel ministers should be provided for with a suitable maintenance.
(n) Bartenora in Misn. Yoma, c. 8. sect. 1.((o) Misn. Yoma, c. 2. sect. 3. Tamid. c. 3. sect. 1.((p) Vid. Maimon. & Bartenora in Menachot, c. 3. sect 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. minister about holy things—the Jewish priests and Levites. The Greek especially applies to the former, the priests offering sacrifices.
partakers with the altar—a part of the victims going to the service of the altar, and the rest being shared by the priests (Le 7:6; Nu 18:6, &c.; De 18:1, &c.).
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