|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 6. - And Barnabas. Like St. Paul, Barnabas was in every respect a genuine apostle, by the Divine call (Acts 13:2; Galatians 2:9), though not one of the twelve. He seems to have continued in his separate mission work the practice of independence which he had learnt from St. Paul. This allusion is interesting, because it is the last time that the name of Barnabas occurs, and it shows that, even after the quarrel and separation, Paul regarded him with love and esteem. To forbear working. To give up the manual labour by which we maintain ourselves without any expense to the Churches (Acts 18:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:8, 9). If, then, St. Paul toiled at the dull, mechanical, despised, and ill paid work of tent making, he did so, not because it was, in the abstract, his duty to earn his own living, but because he chose to be nobly independent, that the absolute disinterestedness of his motives might be manifest to all the world. For this reason even when he was most in need he would never receive assistance from any Church except that of Philippi, where he had at least one wealthy convert, and where he was beloved with a peculiar warmth of affection.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Or I only and Barnabas,.... Who were for a great while companions and fellow travellers; are we alone? are we exempted from those rights and privileges, common to others?
have not we power to forbear working? that is, with their hands, at their trades and occupations, to get their living by: Paul worked at his trade, and so it seems Barnabas did likewise: Paul wrought with his hands at Corinth, in company with Aquila and Priscilla, they being tentmakers as he, Acts 18:3 and so he did in other places; he appeals for the truth of this to the elders of the church at Ephesus, Acts 20:34 and to the church of the Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians 2:9 not but that he had a right and power to leave off business, to forbear working, and require a maintenance from those to whom he ministered; but for some reasons he chose not to make use of this his power and liberty, because he would not be chargeable to them; and lest that upon his first preaching the Gospel to them, they should think he had worldly selfish ends in view, and not the good of souls, and glory of Christ; however, he hereby lets them know, that though Barnabas and he continued to get their bread by their own hand labour, they had a right to quit their trades, and throw themselves upon them for a maintenance. The apostle seems, in this, to imitate the ancient, wise, and holy men of his nation, who taught the law freely, and took nothing for it; not that they thought it was unlawful, or that they had no right to a maintenance on account of it, but for the honour of religion, and that piety they professed; and lest the law should be thought to be made a trade of, they chose not to insist upon it (d).
(d) Maimon. & Bartenora in Pirke Abot, c. 4. sect. 5.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. Barnabas—long the associate of Paul, and, like him, in the habit of self-denyingly forbearing to claim the maintenance which is a minister's right. So Paul supported himself by tent-making (Ac 18:3; 20:34; 1Th 2:9; 2Th 3:8).
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