1 Corinthians 9:6
Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(6) Or I only and Barnabas.—“Or” here does not introduce a question which implies a new right in addition to the rights already claimed, but it completes the argument. Granting the existence of the rights established by the previous questions, the Apostle now says—still preserving the interrogative form—“These things being so, the only way you can possibly do away with this right is by making exceptions of myself and Barnabas.” The form in which the question is put shows the impossibility of any such arbitrary exception being made. They as well as the others had the right to abstain from working for their living. Barnabas’ early association with St. Paul (Acts 11:30; Acts 12:25; Acts 15:38) probably led him to adopt the Apostle’s practice of supporting himself, and not being dependent on his fellow-Christians. The word “only” implies that all the other Apostles and brethren of the Lord exercised their right of maintenance by the Church.

1 Corinthians 9:6-7. Or I only and Barnabas — Of all the preachers of the gospel; have not we power to forbear working — With our hands? “From this it appears that Barnabas, as well as Paul, preached the gospel without demanding a maintenance from his disciples; and that, like Paul, he was hated for his doctrine by the Judaizers. The honourable mention which Paul makes of Barnabas in this passage deserves notice, as it shows that these good men, notwithstanding their sharp contention about John Mark, Acts 15:13, entertained no resentment against each other on that account, but mutually esteemed each other: and perhaps, on some occasions after that, preached the gospel together, as before.” Who goeth a warfare — Serveth in the war; at any time, at his own charges — Does not the community furnish provisions for those who guard it, and fight its battles? And if the services of a soldier, engaged in the defence of his country, deserve a maintenance, how much more may it be expected by us, who daily hazard our lives, as well as wear them out, for men’s everlasting happiness? Who planteth a vineyard, and doth not think himself entitled to eat of the fruit of it? or who feedeth a flock, and doth not think he hath a right to eat of the milk of the flock? — And if it be judged reasonable that men should have an equivalent for their labours about natural things, and the accommodations of the body, is it not more evidently so when the felicity of immortal souls is concerned?

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 I only and Barnabas - Paul and Barnabas had worked together as tent-makers at Corinth; Acts 18:3. From this fact it had been inferred that they "knew" that they had no claim to a support.

Power to forbear working - To abstain from labor, and to receive support as others do. The question implies a strong affirmation that they had such power. The sense is, 'Why should I and Barnabas be regarded as having no right to support? Have we been less faithful than others? Have we done less? Have we given fewer evidences that we are sent by the Lord, or that God approves us in our work? Have we been less successful? Why then should we be singled out; and why should it be supposed that we are obliged to labor for our support? "Is there no other conceivable reason" why we should support ourselves than a consciousness that we have no right to support from the people with whom we labor?" It is evident from 1 Corinthians 9:12, that Barnabas as well as Paul relinquished his right to a support, and labored to maintain himself. And it is manifest from the whole passage, that there was some special "spleen" ("Doddridge") against these two ministers of the gospel. What it was we know not. It might have arisen from the enmity and opposition of Judaizing teachers, who were offended at their zeal and success among the Gentiles, and who could find no other cause of complaint against them than that they chose to support themselves, and not live in idleness, or to tax the church for their support. That must have been a bad cause which was sustained by such an argument.

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). Are I and Barnabas the only apostles who are obliged for our livelihood to work with our hands? As Paul did, Acts 18:3, making tents. We certainly, as well as the rest of the apostles, if we would run out to the utmost end of the line of our liberty in things, without having any regard to the circumstances of our brethren, might forbear working with our hands, and expect that those amongst whom we labour should maintain us.

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.

Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to {f} forbear working?

(f) Not live by the works of our hands.

1 Corinthians 9:6. ] or, i.e. unless it were true that, etc. In that case, indeed, the ἐξουσία, of which I spoke in 1 Corinthians 9:4-5, must of course be wanting! We have therefore no third ἐξουσία introduced here (Pott, Rückert), but conveys an argument, as it usually does.

Βαρνάβας] see on Acts 4:36. He was formerly (see on Acts 15:38) Paul’s companion in his missionary labours, and as such held a high apostolic position (Galatians 2:9).

τοῦ μὴ ἐργάζ.] Have we not the right to cease from working? Paul supported himself by tent-making (Acts 18:3); in what way Barnabas did so, is unknown. Both of them, very probably, after mutual consultation, had laid it down as a principle to maintain themselves by their own independent labour, and acted upon this rule even when working separately, whereas the rest of the apostolic teachers (see μόνος) claimed support from the resources of the churches. Ἐργάζεσθαι is the word constantly used for working, 2 Thessalonians 3:8; Acts 18:3; Homer, Il. xviii. 469, Od. xiv. 272; Xen. Cyr. i. 6. 11, al[1417] The rendering: hoc operandi (Vulgate and Latin Fathers), arises from a different reading (without the μή).

[1417] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

6. Or I only and Barnabas] St Paul and St Barnabas (1) resigned their claim to support on the part of the Church, (2) they were not of the number of the twelve, (3) they were left by the Apostles to undertake the sole charge of the missions to the heathen (Galatians 2:9). On these grounds a charge was brought against them that they were no true Apostles of Christ. For Barnabas, see Acts 4:36; Acts 11:22; Acts 11:25; Acts 11:29; Acts 12:25; Acts 13:1-2; Acts 13:50; Acts 14:12; Acts 15:2; Acts 15:12; Acts 15:37; Galatians 2:1; Galatians 2:9; Galatians 2:13.

1 Corinthians 9:6. Τοῦ μὴ ἐργάζεσθαι), to forbear working with the hand.

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. 1 Corinthians 9:6Barnabas

The only mention of Barnabas along with Paul since the quarrel, Acts 15:39.

Forbear working

For their own support. Ἑργάζεσθαι to work, is the regular word for manual labor. See Matthew 21:28; Acts 18:3. See on 3 John 1:5; and see on trade, Revelation 18:17.

1 Corinthians 9:6 Interlinear
1 Corinthians 9:6 Parallel Texts

1 Corinthians 9:6 NIV
1 Corinthians 9:6 NLT
1 Corinthians 9:6 ESV
1 Corinthians 9:6 NASB
1 Corinthians 9:6 KJV

1 Corinthians 9:6 Bible Apps
1 Corinthians 9:6 Parallel
1 Corinthians 9:6 Biblia Paralela
1 Corinthians 9:6 Chinese Bible
1 Corinthians 9:6 French Bible
1 Corinthians 9:6 German Bible

Bible Hub

1 Corinthians 9:5
Top of Page
Top of Page