1 Corinthians 9:2
If I be not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of my apostleship are you in the Lord.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) If I be not an apostle unto others.—The allusion here is probably to some who may have arrived at Corinth subsequent to St. Paul’s departure, and who, not recognising his Apostleship in relation to themselves, stirred up some of the Corinthians to repudiate it also. So the Apostle says, “Even if I am not an Apostle to these others, I am, at all events, to you; for you are yourselves the very proof and witness—the seal affixed to my appointment to the Apostolate.” The repetition of the words “in the Lord” in both these verses expresses the strong conviction, which is characteristic of the Apostle, that the source of all power and of all success is Christ Himself.

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 I be not an apostle unto others - "If I have not given evidence to others of my apostolic mission; of my being sent by the Lord Jesus, yet I have to you. Assuredly you, among whom I have labored so long and so successfully, should not doubt that I am sent from the Lord. You have been well acquainted with me; you have witnessed my endowments, you have seen my success, and you have had abundant evidence that I have been sent on this great work. It is therefore strange in you to doubt my apostolic commission; and it is unkind in you so to construe my declining to accept your contributions and aid for my support, as if I were conscious that I was not entitled to that."

For the seal of mine apostleship. - Your conversion is the demonstration that I am an apostle. Paul uses strong language. He does not mean to say that their conversion furnished some evidence that he was an apostle; but that it was absolute proof, and unbreakable demonstration, that he was an apostle. A "seal" is that which is affixed to a deed, or other instrument, to make it firm, secure, and indisputable. It is the proof or demonstration of the validity of the conveyance, or of the writing; see the notes at John 3:33; John 6:27. The sense here is, therefore, that the conversion of the Corinthians was a certain demonstration that he was an apostle, and should be so regarded by them, and treated by them. It was such a proof:

(1) Because Paul claimed to be an apostle while among them, and God blessed and owned this claim;

(2) Their conversion could not have been accomplished by man. It was the work of God. It was the evidence then which God gave to Paul and to them, that he was with him, and had sent him.

(3) they knew him, had seen him, heard him, were acquainted with his doctrines and manner of life, and could bear testimony to what he was, and what he taught.

We may remark, that the conversion of sinners is the best evidence to a minister that he is sent of God. The divine blessing on his labors should cheer his heart, and lead him to believe that God has sent and that he approves him. And every minister should so live and labor, should so deny himself, that he may be able to appeal to the people among whom he labors that he is a minister of the Lord Jesus.

2. yet doubtless—yet at least I am such to you.

seal of mine apostleship—Your conversion by my preaching, accompanied with miracles ("the signs of an apostle," Ro 15:18, 19; 2Co 12:12), and your gifts conferred by me (1Co 1:7), vouch for the reality of my apostleship, just as a seal set to a document attests its genuineness (Joh 3:33; Ro 4:11).

He had, 1 Corinthians 9:1, told them they were his work in the Lord, from whence he concludes here, that he was an apostle, that is, one sent of Christ to them for the good of their souls, whatever he was to others. You, saith he, as to yourselves at least, are

the seal of my apostolical office; it hath a confirmation in you by the effect, as the writing is confirmed by the seal. For how can you think, that the blessing of the Lord should go along with my preaching, to turn you from pagan idolatry, and your lewd courses of life, to the true Christian religion, and to a holy life and conversation, if God had not send me. There is no such argument to prove a minister sent of Christ, as the success of his ministry in the conversion of souls unto God. It is true, we cannot conclude, that a minister is no true minister if he be able to produce no such seals of his calling; for the spiritual seed may for a time lie under the clods, and changes may be wrought in hearts, which are not published to the world; and even Isaiah may be sent to make the hearts of people fat. But where those seals can be produced, it is a most certain sign that the minister is a true minister, that is, one sent of God; for he could be no instrument to do such works if God were not with him; and if God had not sent him, he would not be with him so blessing his ministry. Yet it is possible the man may have his personal errors; for though some men doubt, whether an instance can be given of one openly and scandalously wicked, whom God ever honoured to be his instrument to convert souls, yet it would be rashly affirmed by any to say, that Judas (though a son of perdition, but not scandalous till the last) was an instrument to convert none. If I be not an apostle unto others,.... This is said by way of supposition, not concession; for he was an apostle to many others; he was an apostle of the Gentiles in general; as the apostleship of the circumcision belonged to Peter, that of the uncircumcision fell to his share: but however, as if he should say, be that as it will,

yet doubtless I am to you; all the signs of apostleship were wrought among them; not only the grace of God was implanted in them under his ministry, but the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit were received by them through it; and many signs, wonders, and mighty deeds, were done in the midst of them by him: see 2 Corinthians 12:12 which were sufficient to put the matter quite out of doubt with them:

for the seal of mine apostleship, are ye in the Lord; alluding to the sealing of deeds and writings, which render them authentic; or to the sealing of letters, confirming the truth of what is therein expressed; and the sense is, that their being converted persons, and so openly in the Lord, in union with him; or being made new creatures by the power of his grace, through his preaching, was an authentic proof of his apostleship, and served him instead of a letter testimonial and recommendatory; see 2 Corinthians 3:1. Some copies read, "the seal of my epistle", and so the Ethiopic version.

If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the {b} seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.

(b) As a seal by which it sufficiently appears that God is the author of my apostleship.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 9:2-3. Not a parenthesis, but a statement interposed in his own defence, occasioned by οὐ τὸ ἔργον κ.τ.λ[1397], and flowing from a heart deeply moved.

ἌΛΛΟΙς] i.e. in relation to others, who, not belonging to your community, do not own my apostleship as valid for them.[1398] “We have no Apostle Paul,” say they! Comp as to the relation of the dative, 1 Corinthians 8:6.

οὐκ εἰμί] See Winer, p. 446 [E. T. 601].

ἀλλάγε] still at least. See Hermann, a[1400] Viger. p. 826. The γε intensifies the ἀλλά of the apodosis (see on 1 Corinthians 4:15, 1 Corinthians 8:6): see Klotz, a[1401] Devar. p. 24 f. It cannot be said with any critical certainty that ἀλλάγε ever occurs in the classics undivided (without one or more words put between the two particles). See Klotz, l.c[1402] p. 15, and Heind. a[1403] Plat. Phaed. p. 86 E; Stallbaum, a[1404] Rep. p. 331 B.

Taking the reading ἡ γὰρ σφραγ. μου τ. ἀποστ. (see the critical remarks), the meaning is: my seal of apostleship, with the emphasis on σφραγ. As to the word itself, see Romans 4:11. Theodoret well remarks: ἀπόδειξιν γὰρ τῶν ἀποστολικῶν κατορθωμάτων τὴν ὑμετέραν ἔχω μεταβολήν.

ἐν Κυρίῳ] as in 1 Corinthians 9:1; it belongs to the whole preceding clause: ἡ σφραγὶς τ. ἐμ. ἀπ. ὑμ. ἐστε. For out of Christ the Corinthians were no seal of Paul’s apostleship. See on 1 Corinthians 9:1. They were this seal to him, inasmuch as they had become Christians through his agency (in general, not through his miracles in particular, as Flatt holds with older expositors).

ἡ ἐμὴ ἀπολογ. κ.τ.λ[1405]] statement of what the foregoing comes to, added without any connective particle, and so all the more emphatic; not merely a repetition of the last clause in other words (Hofmann), which would be an admissible interpretation only if αὕτη ἐστι were absent, or if ἘΣΤΈ occurred again.

ΤΟῖς ἙΜῈ ἈΝΑΚΡ.] to those who institute an inquiry regarding me (comp Acts 19:33; 2 Corinthians 12:19), who question my apostleship. Both ἈΠΟΛ. and ἈΝΑΚΡ. are purposely-chosen forensic expressions. Comp as to the latter, Luke 23:14; Acts 4:9; Acts 12:19; Acts 24:8; Acts 28:18.

ΑὝΤΗ] this, namely, this fact, that you are the seal of mine ἀποστολή. It does not refer to what follows (Chrysostom, Ambrosiaster, Grotius, Calovius), for 1 Corinthians 9:4 continues the series of questions begun in 1 Corinthians 9:1, and what follows does not contain any further defence of his apostleship (which, moreover, would be quite unsuitable here).

Observe, lastly, the emphasis of ἐμή and ἘΜΈ, expressive of a well-grounded sense of his own position.

[1397] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1398] It was unquestionably by stranger Petrine Christians that the anti-Pauline influence had been exerted upon the Corinthian church. So much is clear, but nothing more. Räbiger thinks that they were the instigators of the Petrine party in Corinth. Schenkel makes them of the Christ-party. Hofmann explains the expression from the difference between the ἀποστολὴ τῆς περιτομῆς and that τῆς ἀκροβυστίας. But that is going too far; for all circumcised Christians were not anti-Pauline, and the express contrast here is with the ὑμεῖς, among whom must be included the Jewish-Christians who were in Corinth.

[1400] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1401] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1402] .c. loco citato or laudato.

[1403] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1404] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1405] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.1 Corinthians 9:2-3. If not at Corinth amongst those who cried “I am of Cephas,” elsewhere Paul’s apostleship was denied by the Judaistic party, against whom he had afterwards to write 2 Corinthians 10. ff. In this trial he counts on the Cor[1278] standing by him: “If to others I am no apostle, at any rate (ἀλλά γε, at certe, Bz[1279]) I am to you”. He does not say “of others,” as though distinguishing two fields of jurisdiction in the sense of Galatians 2:8, rather “in the eyes of others”; cf. the dat[1280] of 1 Corinthians 8:6 For ἀλλά γε, cf. Plato, Gorg., 470 D., εἰ δὲ μὴ (δρῶ), ἀλλʼ ἀκούω γε.—γε throws its emphasis on ὑμῖν; so P. continues: “The seal of my apostleship you are, in the Lord”; cf. Romans 4:11, 2 Corinthians 1:22. This seal came from the hand of the Lord, affixed by the Master to His servant’s work (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:1 ff.). Despite its, imperfections, the Cor[1281] Church was a shining evidence of Paul’s commission; it was probably the largest Church as yet raised in his independent ministry. For ἐν Κυρίῳ, see note on 1 Corinthians 4:15, and 1 Corinthians 7:22.—“This”—referring to 1 Corinthians 9:1-2—“is my answer to those that put me on my defence”: I point them to you!—ἀπολογία (see parls.) is a self-exculpation. For ἀνακρίνω, cf. notes on 1 Corinthians 2:14 f., 1 Corinthians 4:4.—It is Paul’s ἀποστολή, not the ἐξουσία of 1 Corinthians 9:4 ff., that is called in question; hence the vein of self-defence pervading the Epp. of this period. Granted the apostleship (and this the readers cannot deny), the right followed as a matter of course: this needed no “apology”.

[1278] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1279] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1280] dative case.

[1281] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.2. for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord] If any Church had less right than another to question his Apostolic authority, it was the Church of Corinth, which he had founded (ch. 1 Corinthians 4:15), and on which so many spiritual gifts had been poured forth (ch. 1 Corinthians 1:5; 1 Corinthians 1:7, ch. 14). The Corinthians at least needed no other proof of the genuineness of his mission. “If any one wishes to know whether I am an Apostle, I will shew him yourselves; among whom are manifest and indubitable signs and proofs of my Apostolate; first the faith of Christ, which you have received at my preaching; then many and various gifts of the Holy Ghost.” Estius. For the word seal see St John 3:33; John 6:27; Romans 4:11. A seal is used as the attestation of the genuineness of any document. Thus the existence of the Corinthian Church was the attestation of the genuineness of St Paul’s Apostolic authority.1 Corinthians 9:2. Ὑμῖν, to you) to whom I came; who have received the Gospel; you cannot deny it: ὑμῖν, as far as you are concerned. Similar datives are found at 1 Corinthians 9:21.—ἡ γὰρ σφραγὶς, for the seal) From the Church of believers an argument may be derived for the truth of the Gospel, and of the Christian religion.—ἀποστολῆς, of apostleship) A person even, who was not an apostle, might bring men by means of the Gospel to the faith, as Philip, Epaphras, and others; but Paul calls the Corinthians the seal not of calling of whatsoever kind, but of his apostolic calling: because he had the signs of an apostle, 2 Corinthians 12:12; Romans 15:18-19; nor did the Corinthians merely receive faith, but also a singular abundance of gifts, 1 Corinthians 1:7.Verse 2. - Unto others. If the emissaries from Jerusalem or the Petrine party do not choose to regard me as their apostle or an apostle at all, yet at any rate I am yours. Doubtless; rather, at least, at any rate. The seal of mine apostleship. Your conversion attests the genuineness of my claim, as a seal attests a document. Thus baptism is the seal of conversion (Ephesians 4:30; comp. Romans 4:11; John 3:33). Seal (σφραγίς)

See on Romans 4:11; see on John 3:33; see on Revelation 22:10.

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