1 Corinthians 9:10
Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
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(10) That he that ploweth should plow in hope.—There is considerable variation in the MSS. here. The best rendering of the text is, that the plougher is bound to plough in hope, and the thresher (to thresh) in the hope of having his share. It has been much discussed whether this passage is to be taken literally as referring to actual ploughing and threshing, or whether we are to give them a spiritual significance. I think it is, perhaps, best to take them literally, as expressing the sanction given by God in the legal provision previously mentioned to the divine principle which unites earthly labour and reward; and the argument, of course, is that this principle applies à fortiori to the higher work of a spiritual nature; and this application is brought out clearly in the next verse.

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.Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? - The word "altogether" (πάντως pantōs) cannot mean that this was the "sole" and "only" design of the law, to teach that ministers of the gospel were entitled to support; for:

(1) This would be directly contrary to the law itself, which had some direct and undoubted reference to oxen;

(2) The scope of the argument here does not require this interpretation, since the whole object will be met by supposing that this settled a "principle" of humanity and equity in the divine law, according to which it was "proper" that ministers should have a support; and,

(3) The word "altogether" (πάντως pantōs) does not of necessity require this interpretation. It may be rendered "chiefly, mainly, principally, or doubtless;" Luke 4:23, "Ye will 'surely' (πάντως pantōs certainly, surely, doubtless) say unto me this proverb," etc.; Acts 18:21, "I must 'by all means' (πάντως pantōs, certainly, surely) keep this feast; Acts 21:22, "The multitude 'must needs' (πάντως pantōs, will certainly, surely, inevitably) come together," etc.; Acts 28:4, "'No doubt' (πάντως pantōs) this man is a murderer," etc. The word here, therefore, means that the "principle" stated in the law about the oxen was so broad and humane, that it might "certainly, surely, particularly" be regarded as applicable to the case under consideration. An important and material argument might be drawn from it; an argument from the less to the greater. The precept enjoined justice, equity, humanity; and that was more applicable to the case of the ministers of the gospel than to the case of oxen.

For our sakes ... - To show that the laws and requirements of God are humane, kind, and equitable; not that Moses had Paul or any other minister in his eye, but the "principle" was one that applied particularly to this case.

That he that ploweth ... - The Greek in this place would be more literally and more properly rendered, "For (ὅτι hoti) he that ploweth ought (ὀφείλει opheilei) to plow in hope;" that is, in hope of reaping a harvest, or of obtaining success in his labors; and the sense is, "The man who cultivates the earth, in order that he may be excited to industry and diligence, ought to have a reasonable prospect that he shall himself be permitted to enjoy the fruit of his labors. This is the case with those who do plow; and if this should be the case with those who cultivate the earth, it is as certainly reasonable that those who labor in God's husbandry, and who devote their strength to his service, should be encouraged with a reasonable prospect of success and support."

And that he that thresheth ... - This sentence, in the Greek, is very elliptical and obscure; but the sense is, evidently, "He that thresheth 'ought' to partake of his hope;" that is, of the fruits of his hope, or of the result of his labor. It is fair and right that he should enjoy the fruits of his toil. So in God's husbandry; it is right and proper that they who toil for the advancement of his cause should be supported and rewarded." The same sentiment is expressed in 2 Timothy 2:6, "The husbandman that laboreth must be first partaker of the fruits."

10. altogether—Join this with "saith." "Does he (the divine lawgiver) by all means say it for our sakes?" It would be untrue, that God saith it altogether (in the sense of solely) for our sakes. But it is true, that He by all means saith it for our sakes as the ultimate object in the lower world. Grotius, however, translates, "mainly" or "especially," instead of altogether.

that—"meaning that" [Alford]; literally, "because."

should plough—ought to plough in hope. The obligation rests with the people not to let their minister labor without remuneration.

he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope—The oldest manuscript versions and Fathers read, "He that thresheth (should or ought to thresh) in the hope of partaking" (namely, of the fruit of his threshing). "He that plougheth," spiritually, is the first planter of a church in a place (compare 1Co 3:6, 9); "he that thresheth," the minister who tends a church already planted.

Not that the law, Deu 25:4, did primarily reveal God’s will for the maintenance of ministers; for undoubtedly it did primarily oblige them, according to the letter of it, not to deal cruelly and unmercifully with the beasts they made use of; but as they took them off from getting their food, by taking them up to tread out corn for them; so, while they did it, they should not starve them, but give thent leave moderately to eat of it. But (saith the apostle) the reason of it doth much more oblige with respect to men, especially such men as are employed in a ministry for your souls.

That he that plougheth should plough in hope; that as he who plougheth for another, plougheth in hope to get bread for himself, from the wages for which he covenanteth;

and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope: and so also doth the thresher thresh in hope: so we that are the Lord’s ploughmen, working together with him (though in a far inferior degree of causation) in the ploughing up the fallow grounds of men’s hearts, and sowing the seed of righteousness in men’s souls; and the Lord’s threshers, by our labours, exhortations, arguments, &c., beating the fruits of good works, to the glory of God, out of those amongst whom we labour; might also labour in some hope of a livelihood for ourselves, while we are doing the Lord’s work and his people’s.

Or saith he it altogether for our sakes,.... That is, God says this, or delivers out this law, forbidding the muzzling the ox, while it treads out the corn; not merely for the sake of the ox, but chiefly for the sake of men; and so Jarchi upon the place says, that the ox is mentioned, , "to express man"; and so another of the Jewish writers (m) interprets the law in Deuteronomy 22:6. "Thou shalt not take the dam with the young";

"the intention of the command is, not to have mercy on birds, "but for the sake of men", he (God) says this, whom he would accustom to meekness and compassion:''

and particularly this is here said, for the sake of ministers of the Gospel, who for their spiritual strength, and labours in their work, may be compared to oxen; see Ezekiel 1:10. This law is elsewhere produced by the apostle, and urged in favour of the maintenance of ministers, as here, 1 Timothy 5:17 and therefore

for our sakes no doubt it is written; to teach men, that as any workmen are not to be deprived of proper sustenance, so neither they that labour in the word and doctrine:

that he that ploweth should plow in hope; of enjoying the fruit of his labours:

and that he that thresheth in hope, should be partaker of his hope; of having a supply out of that he is threshing.

(m) R. Menuachcm apud Ainsworth on Deuteronomy 22.7. & Drusium in loc.

Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
1 Corinthians 9:10. Or—since that cannot be supposed—is this the true state of the case, that He saith it altogether for our sakes?

πάντως] in the sense of in any case, wholly, absolutely, as in 1 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 9:22; see the remarks there. Comp Acts 18:21; Acts 21:22; Acts 28:4, also Romans 3:9. The rendering: of course, certainly, is equally admissible as in Luke 4:23, but would suit an affirmative statement better. Theophylact says well (following Chrysostom): ὡς ἐπὶ ὁμολογουμένου τέθεικεν, ἵνα μὴ συγχωρήση μηδʼ ὁτιοῦν ἀντειπεῖν τῷ ἀκροατῇ.

διʼ ἡμᾶς] cannot mean men in general (so most expositors, Hofmann, too, concurring), but must refer to the Christian teachers (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Estius, Rückert, Neander, al[1429]); this necessarily follows both from the whole connection of the argument and from the ἩΜΕῖς in 1 Corinthians 9:11, since it is an entirely arbitrary assumption to make the latter word have a different subject from our ἩΜᾶς.

] sc[1430] ὁ Θεός supplied from the foregoing clause, not Ἡ ΓΡΑΦΉ (Olshausen).

ΓΆΡ as in 1 Corinthians 9:9.

ἙΓΡΆΦΗ] namely, the utterance of the law cited in 1 Corinthians 9:9.

ὍΤΙ] cannot have an argumentative force (Luther, Beza, Calvin, and others, among whom is Neander); nor is it the simple that of quotation (Rückert, who indeed looks upon what follows as cited from some apocryphal book, in which Ewald concurs with him), so that ἐγράφη would refer to the next clause,—but it is explicative merely (Castalio, Pott, de Wette, Osiander, al[1431], comp also Hofmann), setting forth the typico-allegorical contents of these words of the law in so far as they were written διʼ ἡμᾶς, that is, for the Christian teachers: namely, that the plougher is bound to plough in hope, and the thrasher (is bound to thrash) in hope of having his share. The ἀλοῶν and the ἈΡΟΤΡΙῶΝ is thus no other than the gospel teacher, as necessarily follows from διʼ ἡμᾶς; the passage of the law now under consideration gives occasion to his being figuratively designated (see as early expositors as Chrysostom and Theophylact) in accordance with the idea of the γεώργιον θεοῦ (1 Corinthians 3:9), without, however, the two words being intended to signify different departments of teaching,—a notion which receives no countenance from the context. It is teaching in general that is here represented by two analogous figures. Figure apart, therefore, the meaning is: that the teacher, namely, is bound[1433] to exercise his office of teaching, in hope to have profit therefrom. Οὐδὲν οὖν ἕτερον τὸ στόμα ἀκήμωτον ὂν τοῦ ζώου τούτου βοᾶ ἢ ὅτι τοὺς διδασκάλους τοὺς πονοῦντας δεῖ καὶ ἀμοιβῆς ἀπολαύειν, Chrysostom. It is a mistake to apply the words, as is commonly done, to the literal plougher and thrasher. Such a maxim of ordinary life would, it is plain, be wholly foreign to the typico-allegorical character of the argument, and generally to the nature of the mystical interpretation of Scripture, which Paul follows here; the result would be something unsuitably trivial. Nor is it simply an application of the moral idea of the precept to the spiritual work that the apostle would have his readers make; there is not the slightest trace of this in his words, but the material work serves directly as the foil to the spiritual. Theophylact puts it rightly: ὁ διδάσκαλος ὀφείλει ἀροτριᾶν κ. κοπιᾶν ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι ἀμοιβῆς κ. ἀντιμισθίας.

ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι] has the chief emphasis, and belongs to ὈΦΕΊΛΕΙ, being its conditioning basis (as in Romans 4:18; Romans 8:21; Titus 1:2). What hope the plougher is to cherish, is self-evident, namely, to enjoy with others the fruits of his ploughing; the reference of the figure is obvious from the context.

τοῦ μετέχειν] to wit, of the grain thrashed. As to the genitive, see Romans 5:2, al[1434]

[1429] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1430] c. scilicet.

[1431] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1433] Ὀφείλει, debet (Vulgate). Hofmann goes against linguistic usage in turning it into the sense of being entitled, as if he read δίκαιός ἐστι, or something to that effect.

[1434] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

10. he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope] In this verse we may observe (1) that the word translated treadeth out in 1 Corinthians 9:9 is here rendered threshing, because the usual Eastern mode of threshing corn was by means of oxen. See Art “Agriculture” in Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, and Kitto’s Biblical Cyclopædia. The flail appears to nave been occasionally used for the lighter kinds of grain (Ruth 2:17), and threshing instruments are occasionally mentioned in the later books of the Old Testament, e.g. 2 Samuel 24:22; 1 Chronicles 21:23; Isaiah 41:15. And (2) we find in many MSS. the reading ‘that he that thresheth may do so in hope of partaking.’ The text is in some confusion here.

1 Corinthians 9:10. Πάντως, altogether) The word, ‘saying,’ is put into the question itself.—ὃτι) namely, thatἐπʼ ἐλπίδι), לבטח, which the LXX. always render ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι: comp. Acts 2:26.—ὀφείλει, ought) There is a change of person. The obligation [implied in ὀφείλει] is with them that remunerate, not with them that labour; otherwise the latter would commit sin by not receiving. So also regarding the precept, 1 Corinthians 9:14 : comp. I ought, 2 Corinthians 12:11.—ὁ ἀροτριῶν, that [animal] which ploweth [or he that ploweth]) This also is the labour of oxen. It seems to be an adage, something like this; hope supports the husbandman.—τῆς ἐλπίδος ἀυτοῦ,[74] of his hope) The abstract for the concrete: of the fruits, in the hope of which he, who now threshes, plowed,—μετέχειν, to become partaker) viz. ought. To become partaker of his hope is a periphrasis for the verb to thresh. Namely, he who plows, plows in the hope of threshing and eating; he, who threshes, possesses that hope, which he had in plowing, and threshes in the hope of eating.

[74] The margin of the 2d Ed. prefers the shorter reading, ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι τοῦ μετέχειν, of which there is not a vestige, either in the older Ed., or in the Gnomon, or in the Germ. Vers.—E. B.

ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι τοῦ μετέχειν is the reading of ABC both Syr. (Memph.) Theb. Vulg. (in spe fructus percipiendi) Orig. 1,170; 541 c. But D (Λ) corrected later, G fg read τῆς ἐλπίδος αὐτοῦ μετέχειν: to which Rec. Text adds ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι.—ED.

Verse 10. - Altogether. It is probable that St. Paul only meant the word to be taken argumentatively, and not au pied de la lettre. This application (he says) is so obviously the right application, that the other may be set aside as far as our purpose is concerned. In the margin of the Revised Version it is rendered "Saith he it, as he doubtless doth, for our sake?" In hope. St. Paul's large experience of life, and his insight into character, sufficed to show him that despairing work must be ineffectual work. The spring and elasticity of cheerful spirits is indispensable to success in any arduous undertaking.

"Life without hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And hope without an object cannot live."
1 Corinthians 9:10Altogether (πάντως)

Better, as Rev., in margin, as He doubtless doth, or, as American Rev., assuredly.

In hope (ἐπ' ἐλπίδι)

See on Romans 8:21. Resting on hope. Compare Aeschylus: "When hope has raised me up on strength (ἐπ' ἀλκᾶς); i.e. elated me with confidence" ("Choephoroe," 407).

He that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope

The text is in error here. The true reading is ὁ ἀλοῶν ἐπ' ἐλπίδι τοῦ μετέχειν and; he that thresheth to thresh in hope of partaking.

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