|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:15-23 It is the glory of a minister to deny himself, that he may serve Christ and save souls. But when a minister gives up his right for the sake of the gospel, he does more than his charge and office demands. By preaching the gospel, freely, the apostle showed that he acted from principles of zeal and love, and thus enjoyed much comfort and hope in his soul. And though he looked on the ceremonial law as a yoke taken off by Christ, yet he submitted to it, that he might work upon the Jews, do away their prejudices, prevail with them to hear the gospel, and win them over to Christ. Though he would transgress no laws of Christ, to please any man, yet he would accommodate himself to all men, where he might do it lawfully, to gain some. Doing good was the study and business of his life; and, that he might reach this end, he did not stand on privileges. We must carefully watch against extremes, and against relying on any thing but trust in Christ alone. We must not allow errors or faults, so as to hurt others, or disgrace the gospel.
Verses 15-23. - Self denying ordinance of St. Paul. Verse 15. - I have used none of these things. None of the forms of right which I might claim from these many sanctions. He is appealing to his own abandonment of a right to encourage them to waive, if need required, the claims of their Christian liberty. His object in waiving his plain right was that he might give no handle to any who might desire to accuse him of interested motives (1 Corinthians 9:4; Galatians 6:6, etc.). Have I written; rather, do I write; the epistolary aorist. That it should be so done unto me. Do not take my argument as a hint to you that you have neglected your duty of maintaining me, and have even seen me suffer without offering me your assistance. Better for me to die. Not "to die of hunger," as Chrysostom supposes, but generally, "I should prefer death to the loss of my independence of attitude towards my converts." Than that any man should make my glorying void. The Greek is remarkable. Literally it is, than my ground of boasting - that any one should render it void. Another reading is, better for me to die than - no one shall render void my ground of boasting.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But I have used none of these things,.... Either none of these arguments or reasons, for a minister's maintenance, taken from the reason of things, the law of Moses, the examples of the priests and Levites, and the order and appointment of Christ, in favour of himself, and that he might be provided for by them accordingly; or none of the things he had a right to do as other apostles, as to eat and drink at the public expense, to lead about with him a sister, a wife, had he any, and to forbear working with his own hands:
neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me; it was not on his own account that he gave these strong reasons, urged these instances, and so undeniably proved this point, that ministers should be maintained by the people; and this he says to prevent what some might be ready enough to suggest, that though the apostle had as yet took nothing of the church at Corinth, it was plain, that for the time to come, he meant to do it; and therefore had written these things with such a view, to make way for his after supply from them. This he denies, and gives his reason for it,
for it were better for me to die; through want, with famine, could he be supplied no other way, than to take the least farthing of them:
or than that any man should make my glorying void; meaning not so much his inward pleasure, joy, and satisfaction in preaching the Gospel freely, it being more blessed to give than to receive; but his boasting or glorying, not before God, but against the false apostles; that he had never taken anything of the church at Corinth for preaching, nor never would, when they had insinuated he preached for gain, and by artful methods had got their money, and drained their purses.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. Paul's special gift of continency, which enabled him to abstain from marriage, and his ability to maintain himself without interrupting seriously his ministry, made that expedient to him which is ordinarily inexpedient; namely, that the ministry should not be supported by the people. What to him was a duty, would be the opposite to one, for instance, to whom God had committed a family, without other means of support.
I have used none of these things—none of these "powers" or rights which I might have used (1Co 9:4-6, 12).
neither—rather, "Yet I have not written."
so done unto me—literally, "in my case": as is done in the case of a soldier, a planter, a shepherd, a ploughman, and a sacrificing priest (1Co 9:7, 10, 13).
make my glorying void—deprive me of my privilege of preaching the Gospel without remuneration (2Co 11:7-10). Rather than hinder the progress of the Gospel by giving any pretext for a charge of interested motives (2Co 12:17, 18), Paul would "die" of hunger. Compare Abraham's similar disinterestedness (Ge 14:22, 23).
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