1 Corinthians 9:12
If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
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(12) If others be partakers. . . .—You do recognise this principle in regard to other teachers, and they actually partake of this right to be supported by you; we, your first teachers, have a stronger right. St. Paul had been literally their “planter” (1Corinthians 3:6).

But suffer all thingsi.e., We endure all kinds of hard work and privation rather than use a power which I have demonstrated we possess, and which others actually avail themselves of, lest our doing so might, in a way, hinder the progress of Christ’s gospel by giving enemies any even apparent reason for attributing our zeal to unworthy motives.

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.If others - Other teachers living with you. There can be no doubt that the teachers in Corinth urged this right, and received a support.

Be partakers of this power - Of this right to a support and maintenance.

Are not we rather - We the apostles; we who have labored for your conversion; who have founded your church; who have been the first, and the most laborious in instructing you, and imparting to you spiritual blessings? Have not we a better claim than they?.

Nevertheless we have not used this power - We have not urged this claim; we have chosen to forego this right, and to labor for our own support. The reason why they had done this, he states in the subsequent part of the chapter; see 2 Corinthians 11:7-9; 2 Corinthians 12:14; compare Acts 18:3; Acts 20:34-35.

But suffer all things - Endure all privations and hardships; we subject ourselves to poverty, want, hunger, thirst, nakedness, rather than urge a "claim" on you, and thus leave the suspicion that we are actuated by mercenary motives. The word used here (στέγομεν stegomen suffer) means properly "to cover," to keep off, as rain, etc., and then "to contain, to sustain, tolerate, endure." Here it means to bear, or endure all hardships; compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 4:11-13.

Lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ - Paul here states the reason why he had not urged a claim to support in preaching the gospel. It was not because he was not entitled to a full support, but it was that by denying himself of this right he could do good, and avoid some evil consequences which would have resulted if he had strenuously urged it. His conduct therefore in this was just one illustration of the principle on which he said 1 Corinthians 8:13 he would always act; a readiness to deny himself of things lawful, if by that he could promote the welfare of others. The reasons why his urging this claim might have hindered the gospel may have been many:

(1) It might have exposed him and the ministry generally to the charge of being mercenary.

(2) it would have prevented his presenting in bold relief the fact that he was bound to preach the gospel at all events, and that he was actuated in it by a simple conviction of its truth.

(3) it might have alienated many minds who might otherwise have been led to embrace it.

(4) it would have prevented the exercise of self-denial in him, and the benefits which resulted from that self-denial, etc., 1 Corinthians 9:17-18, 1 Corinthians 9:23, 1 Corinthians 9:27.

12. others—whether true apostles (1Co 9:5) or false ones (2Co 11:20).

we rather—considering our greater labors for you (2Co 11:23).

suffer all things—without complaining of it. We desire to conceal (literally, "hold as a water-tight vessel") any distress we suffer from straitened circumstances. The same Greek is in 1Co 13:7.

lest we … hinder … gospel—not to cause a hindrance to its progress by giving a handle for the imputation of self-seeking, if we received support from our flock. The less of incumbrance and expense caused to the Church, and the more of work done, the better for the cause of the Gospel (2Ti 2:4).

If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Those false apostles or teachers, which were amongst the Corinthians, did (as it seemeth) exercise this power, that is, required maintenance of the people; saith the apostle: Are not we by the same right possessed of such a power? Might not we as reasonably expect such a maintenance?

Objection. But might not they have said: No, you are not; they are constantly residing amongst us, and instructing us, &c.?

Answer. This arguing of the apostle lets us know, that the primitive churches were not only obliged to maintain their own pastors, but those also who were general officers to the church, and by the appointment of God were not to fix and abide in any one place, but had the care of all the churches upon them. And it may also teach us, that though Christians be in the first place obliged to take care of their own pastors, yet they are not to limit their charity to them, but also to take what care their ability will allow them of others, whose labours have at any time been useful to them, or may be useful to any other part of the church of God.

Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ: Yet, saith the apostle, though we have this power or liberty, neither I nor Barnabas have made use of it, but suffer all those evils that come upon our not using it, hunger, thirst, labour, lest we should hinder the progress of the gospel, while some might for the charge decline hearing us, or others might charge us with covetousness, &c.

If others are partakers of this power over you,.... Meaning not any tyrannical power and jurisdiction over them, with respect either to faith or practice; but the right of a maintenance, which either the false apostles, or the true ordinary ministers of the word there, justly claimed, and did enjoy:

are not we rather? he and Barnabas, especially himself, who was more than an ordinary minister, an apostle, and the first preacher of the Gospel to them:

nevertheless, we have not used this power; though others had, and they had a right to it, but did not choose to insist upon it; and, rather than do so, worked with their own hands; their not making use of this power was not because they stood in no need of it, and enjoyed an affluence of temporal things, for the reverse of this was their case:

but suffer all things: famine, thirst, nakedness, hard labour, and many other hardships:

lest we should hinder the Gospel of Christ; some might suggest, that they preached the Gospel only for gain, and not for the good of souls, and glory of Christ; and other mean spirited persons might be backward of embracing and professing the Gospel, lest it should become chargeable to them; wherefore that the Gospel might not be retarded in its course by the calumny of some, and the sordidness of others, the apostle thought fit to drop his claim to a maintenance from them; though at the same time he would have them know it was a just due, and therefore goes on to defend it by other arguments.

{8} If others be partakers of this {k} power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.

(8) Another argument of great force: others are nourished among you, therefore it was lawful for me, indeed rather for me than any other. And yet I refused it, and had rather still suffer any inconvenience, than the Gospel of Christ should be hindered.

(k) The word signifies right and interest, by which he shows us that the ministers of the word must by right and duty be supported by the Church.

1 Corinthians 9:12. Confirmation from the example of others.

ἄλλοι] other teachers generally, who came into the church after the apostle and his associates (comp 1 Corinthians 3:10), and who were still there. Chrysostom, Theodoret, Pott, and others understand them to be false teachers, so as to obviate any appearance of collision between Paul and the apostles. But there was, in fact, no other apostle whatever among the rest of the Corinthian teachers.

τῆς ὑμῶν ἐξουσ.] the authority over you[1439], i.e. according to the context: the right to claim their support from you. Ὑμῶν is thus the genitivus objecti (as in 1 Corinthians 9:6, comp John 17:2; Matthew 10:1, al[1441]), not subjecti, as if it meant: “leave, which you give” (Schrader), which does not correspond with the conception that Paul had of the case in 1 Corinthians 9:4-11. To understand the word in the sense of means (Schulz, with Castalio, Salmeron, Zeltner, Ewald), i.e. resources, which are at your command, may be justified by classical usage (Plato, Legg. viii. p. 828 D; Thuc. i. 38. 3, vi. 31. 4), but not by that of the N. T., and is excluded here by the scope of what immediately follows. Chrysostom, in accordance with his assumption that false teachers are meant, makes the reference to be to their tyrannical power over the Corinthians. Conjectures (such as that of Olearius: ἡμῶν, which is actually the reading of 2. 52, and to which Rückert and Neander too are inclined; or that of Cappellus and Locke: οὐσίας) are quite superfluous.

The second ἀλλά is opposed to the οὐκ ἐχρησ. Comp Hom. Il. i. 26 f.; Plato, Sympos. p. 211 E, and often elsewhere.

μᾶλλον] potius, we the founders of your church.

πάντα στέγομεν] we endure all things (see Wetstein and Kypke, II. p. 213), should be left indefinite: labours, privations and the like, arising from our not using the right in question. Comp 1 Corinthians 13:7.

ἵνα μὴ ἐγκοπ. κ.τ.λ[1444]] For how easily, supposing the apostle’s labours had been less independent, or that some suspicion of self-interest, ambition, or greed of gain had rested upon him and his companions, might hindrances have been put in the way of the gospel as regards its reception, effect, and diffusion! And how powerfully must that sacred cause have been commended and furthered by such an example of noble self-denial! Respecting ἐγκοπή, comp Dion. Hal. de comp verb. p. 157. 15.

[1439] Observe the emphasis conveyed by putting the ὑμῶν first: over you, who are surely under obligation to me first of all, and not to them.

[1441] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1444] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

12. If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather?] Fourth argument. You have admitted the cogency of these arguments in the case of teachers who have less claim upon you than we have, to whom (ch. 1 Corinthians 4:15) you owe your Christian life itself.

Nevertheless we have not used this power] St Paul is now about to enter upon the argument from which he was diverted by the thought which flashed across his mind in 1 Corinthians 9:1. But another argument occurs to him, which he states in the next verse.

suffer] Rather, perhaps, endure. Cf. ch. 1 Corinthians 13:7; 1 Thessalonians 3:1. The word is used of vessels which endure pressure without breaking.

1 Corinthians 9:12. Ἄλλοι, others) true apostles, 1 Corinthians 9:5 : or false ones, 2 Corinthians 11:20.—ὑμῶν) over you.—μᾶλλον, rather) on account of our greater labour.—τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ ταύτῃ) The repetition gives force to the meaning; this power [such a power as this].—στέγομεν) στέγω signifies properly to cover; them to protect, to defend; likewise to conceal, to bear and endure with a desire to conceal, as here[75] and in 1 Corinthians 13:7. On the other hand, Οὐ ΣΤΈΓΕΙΝ, not to forbear, in a burst of strong feeling, 1 Thessalonians 3:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:5. [The minister of the Gospel requires to put in practice this forbearance: For reproaches of this kind are cast upon him, viz. on the ground of arrogance or avarice, which among politicians (or men of the world) are considered virtues.—V. g.]—ἵνα μὴ ἐγκοπήν τινα δῶμεν, lest we should hinder), i.e. that we should as far as possible forward the Gospel. Those, who are least encumbered, do more work and cause less expense; hence the celibacy of the priests among the Papists and of soldiers in the commonwealth.

[75] “We suffer without speaking or complaining.”—ED.

Verse 12. - If others. St. Paul felt a touch of natural indignation at the thought that these Corinthians submitted to the extremest and haughtiest exactions from other teachers who had been loud in the statement of their own pretensions, while his own claims were shamefully disparaged, and he was even left, with perfect indifference, to suffer real privation. We shall find the full expression of his wounded sensibilities in 2 Corinthians 11:1-15. We have not used this power. This strong climax here asserts itself before the time. It anticipates ver. 15. Suffer. The same word, which also means "to contain without leaking," is used in 1 Corinthians 13:7; 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 5. All things. Any amount of privation and distress. Hinder the gospel of Christ. By giving any handle for malicious misrepresentations as to our being self interested. The word for "hindrance" means etymologically "cutting into," i.e. an impediment on a path, etc. 1 Corinthians 9:12Power (ἐξουσίας)

Rev., correctly, right. The right to claim maintenance.

Suffer (στέγομεν)

Rev., bear. The primary meaning is to cover. So some render 1 Corinthians 13:7, covereth for beareth. Hence to protect by covering, as with a tight ship or roof. So Aesehylus, of a ship: "The wooden house with sails that keeps out (στέγων) the sea" ("Suppliants," 126). "The tower keeps off (ἀποστέγει) the multitude of the enemy" ("Seven against Thebes," 220). And so, to bear up against, endure. Compare 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:5.

Hinder (ἐγκοπὴν δῶμεν)

Lit., give hindrance. Rev., cause hindrance. Ἑγκοπή hindrance, only here in the New Testament. Primarily, an incision, and so used by the physician Galen. Compare the kindred verb ἐγκόπτω to cut into, also occurring in Hippocrates in the surgical sense. In the sense of cutting into one's way, it gets the meaning of hindrance. See Acts 24:4; Romans 15:22; Galatians 5:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 1 Peter 3:7. Compare the Latin intercidere to divide, inter-rupt.

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