1 Corinthians 9:18
What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
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(18) What is my reward then?—It seems better to omit the note of interrogation, and read the whole verse thus:—What reward then is to be mine, so that (i.e., which induces me) in preaching the gospel I make the gospel without charge (to my hearers), so that I use not my power in the gospel? The “power” being the right to support maintained in 1Corinthians 9:6; 1Corinthians 9:12.

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.What is my reward then? - What is the source of my reward? or what is there in my conduct that will show that I am entitled to reward What is there that will demonstrate that my heart is in the work of the ministry; that I am free and voluntary, and that I am not urged by mere necessity? Though I have been called by miracle, and though necessity is laid upon me, so that I cannot but preach the gospel, yet how shall I so do it as to make it proper for God to reward me as a voluntary agent? Paul immediately states the circumstance that showed that he was entitled to the reward, and that was, that he denied himself, and was willing to forego his lawful enjoyments, and even his rights, that he might make the gospel without charge.

I may make the gospel of Christ without charge - Without expense to those who hear it. I will support myself by my own labor, and will thus show that I am not urged to preaching by mere "necessity," but that I love it. Observe here:

(1) That Paul did not give up a support because he was not entitled to it.

(2) he does not say that it would be well or advisable for others to do it.

(3) it is right, and well for a man if he chooses and can do it, to make the gospel without charge, and to support himself.

(4) all that This case proves is, that it would be proper only where a "necessity" was laid on a man, as it was on Paul; when he could not otherwise show that his heart was in the work, and that he was voluntary and loved it.

(5) this passage cannot be urged "by a people" to prove that ministers ought not to have a support. Paul says they have a right to it. A man may forego a right if he pleases. He may choose not to urge it; but no one can demand of him that he should not urge it; much less have they a right to demand that he should give up his rights.

(6) it is best in general that those who hear the gospel should contribute to its support. It is not only equal and right, but it is best for them, We generally set very little value on that which costs us nothing; and the very way to make the gospel contemptible is, to have it preached by those who are supported by the state, or by their own labor in some other department; or by people who neither by their talents, their learning, nor their industry have any claim to a support. All ministers are not like Paul. They have neither been called as he was; nor have they his talent, his zeal, or his eloquence. Paul's example then should not be urged as an authority for a people to withhold from their pastor what is his due; nor, because Paul chose to forego his rights, should people now demand that a minister should devote his time, and health, and life to their welfare for nothing.

That I abuse not my power in the gospel - Paul had a right to a support. This power he might urge. But to urge it in his circumstances would be a hinderance of the gospel. And to do that would be to abuse his power, or to pervert it to purposes for which it was never designed.

18. What is my reward?—The answer is in 1Co 9:19; namely, that by making the Gospel without charge, where I might have rightfully claimed maintenance, I might "win the more."

of Christ—The oldest manuscripts and versions omit these words.

abuse—rather "that I use not to the full my power." This is his matter for "glorying"; the "reward" ultimately aimed at is the gaining of the more (1Co 9:19). The former, as involving the latter, is verbally made the answer to the question, "What is my reward?" But really the "reward" is that which is the ultimate aim of his preaching without charge, namely, that he may gain the more; it was for this end, not to have matter of glorying, that he did so.

What is my reward then? What then is the ground of my expectation of a greater reward? Or wherein is the glorying I before mentioned? Not in the performance of the work, for as to that, I am under a necessity to do it, and under a penalty if I neglect it: but it lieth here,

that when I preach the gospel, I do it freely, and make it without charge; a thing which, as to the substance of the work, he was not by any law of God bound to do, yet was not this in Paul a work of supererogation; for circumstances might so rule, and, doubtless, Paul apprehended they did so, that it might be his duty so to do. For though the minister may lawfully take maintenance from the people, where he cannot support himself without their assistance; yet if the case be such, that he can subsist without it, and the people be so poor that they are not able to give it; or if he seeth it will hinder the gospel, keeping many from coming within the sound of what must be chargeable to them, and open the mouths of enemies; it is matter of duty to him, under such circumstances, to preach freely. Though, considering the thing in itself, separately from such circumstances, the minister may lawfully enough require and expect such maintenance.

That (saith the apostle) I abuse not my power in the gospel. Some think that the word here translated abuse, might better have been translated use, as it signified, 1 Corinthians 7:31. But it generally signifies abuse, so as there is no reason to vary from the common usage of it; according to which it teaches us this remarkable lesson, that so to use a liberty which God hath left us as to actions, as that by our use of it the glory of God or the good of others is hindered, is to abuse it, that is, not to use it to that true end for which God hath intrusted us with it. For this is certain, that God hath intrusted us with no power or liberty to be used to the prejudice of his glory, which is the great end of our lives, or to the prejudice of the spiritual good and advantage of others. All such use of our liberty in any thing is indeed an abuse of it.

What is my reward then?.... None at all, I have none to expect, hope for, or claim, in a way of debt; I am a servant intrusted by my Lord with the Gospel, and an unprofitable one I am; I do, at most and best, but what is my duty, and for that I can claim no reward: all the reward that remains is only this,

verily, that when I preach the Gospel, which I am obliged to do,

I may make the Gospel of Christ without charge; to them that hear it, as he did to the Corinthians, which was his glorying in 1 Corinthians 9:15 and is the same with his reward here; for this means not any reward from God, but his glorying among men, and against the false teachers; that when he preached the word at Corinth, he was not chargeable to any, nor would he ever be: his reason for it is,

that I abuse not my power in the Gospel; his right of having a maintenance, whilst he was preaching the Gospel; to have made use of which would have been an abuse of it, since it would have given occasion to the false apostles to reproach and calumniate, and might have been an hinderance to the Gospel of Christ, and a stumbling to some weak minds.

What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ {o} without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

(o) By taking nothing from those to whom I preach it.

1 Corinthians 9:18. Ἵνα] is taken by Grotius as meaning if, by Luther and most interpreters—among whom are Rückert, de Wette, Osiander, Ewald—as used in place of the exegetical infinitive, so that it gives the answer to the foregoing question.[1488] The first of these renderings is linguistically incorrect; the second would have to be referred to the conception: “I ought,” etc., but yet does not suit the negation: “I have therefore no reward,” which had its animated expression in the question: τίς οὖν Κ.Τ.Λ[1489] It is much better to interpret ἵνα εὐαγγ. κ.τ.λ[1490] as stating the aim, according to God’s ordination, of this negative condition of things: in order that I should preach without recompense (which is the first thing to give me a prospect of reward, as being something which lies beyond my official obligation). Hofmann’s view is, that Paul asks, What reward (viz. none) could induce him to this, to make the gospel message free of cost? But plainly it was just his supporting himself in the discharge of his vocation, which went beyond the obligation of the οἰκονομία, and consequently made him worthy of reward, which the work of the ΟἸΚΟΝΌΜΟς, taken by itself alone, did not do. Moreover, this interpretation of Hofmann’s would require an expression, not of the design (ἽΝΑ), but of the inducing ground (such as ΔΙʼ ὍΝ). The ἽΝΑ is used here, as so often in the N. T., to indicate the divine teleology (Winer, p. 427 [E. T. 573]).

εὐαγγελιζ. ἀδάπ. θήσω τὸ εὐαγγ.] i.e. in order that I, by my preaching, may make the gospel something not connected with any outlay (on the part of the receivers). As regards this very common use of τίθημι, facio, see Kypke and Loesner in loc[1491] Comp also on Romans 4:17, and Hermann, a[1493] Viger. p. 761. There is no need of going out of the way to render it, with Beza: set forth, with Grotius: collocare, like τιθέναι χάριν, or with Pott: to set before them (as spiritual food). Ἵνα, with the future indicative, conveys the idea of continuance. See Matthiae, p. 1186. Among the older Greek writers ὅπως (also ὌΦΡΑ) is ordinarily used in this connection (Matthiae, l.c[1494]; Kühner, II. p. 490), while this use of ἵνα is, to say the least, very doubtful (see against Elmsley, a[1495] Eur. Bacch. p. 164, Hermann, a[1496] Soph. Oed. Col. 155; Klotz, a[1497] Devar. p. 629 f.) in the N. T. again, and with later authors it is certain (Winer, p. 271 [E. T. 361]; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 202 [E. T. 234]).

εἰς τὸ μὴ καταχρ.] aim of his ἈΔΆΠ. ΤΙΘΈΝΑΙ ΤῸ ΕὐΑΓΓ.: in order not to make use of. To understand καταχρ. as meaning to misuse (comp on 1 Corinthians 7:31), would give a sense much too weak for the connection (against Beza, Calovius, and others, among whom is Ewald). The right rendering already appears in the Greek Fathers.

ἘΝ Τῷ ΕὐΑΓΓ.] i.e. in docendo evangelio.

The ἐξουσία μου is not exclusively that indicated in. 1 Corinthians 9:4, but the apostolic prerogative generally, although in application to this particular point.

[1488] Wetstein, with whom Baur agrees, remarks: “argute dictum, nullum mercedem accipere, haec mea merces est.” But had Paul intended any such point, he must have expressed it by ἄμισθος; or ἀμισθί. He would possibly have written ἵνα ἄμισθος κηρύξω τὸ εὐαγγ., or something similar, if he had put ἵνα at all instead of the infinitive.

[1489] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1490] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1491] n loc. refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1493] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1494] .c. loco citato or laudato.

[1495] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1496] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1497] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

1 Corinthians 9:18. Yet, after all, Paul has his reward: “What then (οὖν, things being so) is my reward?”—ὁ μισθός “the reward” proper to such a case, is simply to take no pay: “that, while I preach the good news, I may make the good news free charge” (ἀδάπανον θήσω, gratuitum constituam, Bz[1364]). No thought of future (deferred) pay, nor of supererogatory work beyond the strict duty of the οἰκονόμος, but only of the satisfaction felt by a generous mind in rendering unpaid service (cf. Acts 20:33 ff.). The Ap. plays on the word μισθός—first denied, then asserted, much as on σοφία in 1 Corinthians 2:1-8; he repudiates “reward” in the mercenary sense, to claim it in the larger ethical sense. He “boasts” that the Cor[1365] spend nothing on him, while he spends himself on them (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:9-12; 2 Corinthians 12:14 f.).—ἵνα replaces the inf[1366] in apposition to μισθός, “marking the purposive result involved” (El[1367])—to make, as I intended, the Gospel costless.—θήσω is fut., intimating assurance of the purpose, as in Galatians 2:4 (see Wr[1368], p. 361).—τίθημι with objective complement, a construction of cl[1369] Gr[1370] poetry and later prose, which Heb. idiom demands frequently in LXX; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28, 1 Corinthians 15:25.—“So that I might not use to the full (εἰς τ. μὴ καταχρήσασθαι see 1 Corinthians 7:31) my right in the gospel”—sc. that maintained in the former part of the ch.: a further purpose of Paul’s preaching gratuitously, involved in that just stated, and bearing on himself as the ἀδάπ. θήσω bore upon the readers.—Ἐξουσία ἐν τ. εὐαγγελίῳ is “a right (involved) in (proclaiming) the good news,” belonging to the εὐαγγελιζόμενος (1 Corinthians 9:14). P. was resolved to keep well within his rights, in handling the Gospel (cf. Matthew 10:8; also 1 Corinthians 6:7 b, 1 Corinthians 6:8 a above). This sentiment applies to every kind of “right in the gospel” of gratuitous salvation; it reappears, with another bearing, in 2 Corinthians 13:3-10.

[1364] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1365] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1366] infinitive mood.

[1367] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

[1368] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

[1369] classical.

[1370] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

18. What is my reward then?] Literally, wages (see last verse). Either (1) as in our version, the preaching the Gospel without charge, and the consciousness of having served God faithfully thus obtained; or (2) as some would interpret, suspending the construction until the end of 1 Corinthians 9:19, the satisfaction of having made more converts than any one else. But this involves (1) a harsh construction, and (2) a motive which appears foreign to the Christian character. For though St Paul in ch. 1 Corinthians 15:10 says, ‘I laboured more abundantly than they all,’ it is in no spirit of vain-glorious boasting. The translation ‘reward’ somewhat obscures the meaning. Christ had said, ‘The labourer is worthy of his hire,’ or wages, St Paul refers to this in 1 Corinthians 9:17. In this verse he asks what his wages are, and replies that they are the preaching the Gospel without charge.

without charge] This was St Paul’s usual ground of boasting. We find it in his earliest Epistle (1 Thessalonians 2:9; cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:8). It formed part of his appeal to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:33-34), and in the fervid defence of himself which we find in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians it occupies a prominent place. See 2 Corinthians 11:7-12.

1 Corinthians 9:18. Ἴνα, that) This is an answer to the question.—θήσω, future subjunctive.[78]—ΕἸς ΤῸ ΜῊ ΚΑΤΑΧΡΉΣΑΣΘΑΙ) that I abuse not, i.e. that I may withdraw myself as far as possible from any abuse.

[78] Fut. subj. is an obsolete form seldom found, but legitimate. Indeed, the subjunctive itself is an old future.—See Donaldson’s New Cratylus.—ED.

Verse 18. - What is my reward then? The answer is that it was not such "wages" as would ordinarily be considered such, but it was the happiness of preaching the gospel without cost to any. I abuse not; rather, I use not to the full, as in 1 Corinthians 7:31. It may be said that this was a ground of boasting, not a reward. It was, however, a point to which St. Paul attached the highest importance (1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 11:7-12; Acts 20:33, 34), and he might therefore speak of it, though almost with a touch of half unconscious irony, as his "fee." There is no need to adopt the construction suggested by Meyer: "What is my reward? [none] that I may preach gratuitously;" or that of Afford, who finds the reward in the next verse. 1 Corinthians 9:18Abuse (καταχρήσασθαι)

See on 1 Corinthians 7:31. Rev., correctly, use to the full.

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