1 Corinthians 9:7
Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(7) Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges?—Three illustrations from human life and business show that the principle which has been adopted in the Christian Church is not exceptional. A soldier receives his pay; the planter of a vineyard eats the fruit of it; and the owner of a flock is supported by selling the milk. The best MSS. omit the word “of” before “fruit.” It probably crept into later texts from the occurrence of that word with the “milk”; but a vineyard owner actually eats his fruit, whereas not only would it be strange to speak of “eating” milk, but the owner of flocks would really be sustained chiefly by the sale of the milk and the purchase of food with the money so obtained. He would eat “of” the milk. It is worth noticing that St. Paul never (with the one exception of Acts 20:28-29) takes up the image supplied by the Lord Himself of Christ being the Shepherd, and the Church His flock. Even here, where the occurrence of the word “flock” must have suggested it, it is not alluded to. On the other hand, St. Peter’s favourite image is that of “the flock.” The command, “Feed My flock,” would have made it touchingly familiar to him. St. Paul’s imagery from nature and country life are on the practical rather than the poetic side; whereas his images from military, political, and social life have the vivid reality which we should expect from one whose life was spent chiefly in towns. It has been observed that St. Paul’s vindication falls naturally into three divisions. (1) The argument from induction, 1Corinthians 9:1-6; (2) that from analogy, 1Corinthians 9:7; (3) that from authority, 1Corinthians 9:8.

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.Who goeth a warfare ... - Paul now proceeds to illustrate the right which he knew ministers had to a support 1 Corinthians 9:7-14, and then to show the reason why he had not availed himself of that right; 1 Corinthians 9:15-23. The right he illustrates from the nature of the case 1 Corinthians 9:7, 1 Corinthians 9:11; from the authority of Scripture 1 Corinthians 9:8-10; from the example of the priests under the Jewish law 1 Corinthians 9:18; and from the authority of Jesus Christ; 1 Corinthians 9:14. In this verse (7th) the right is enforced by the nature of the case, and by three illustrations. The first is, the right of a soldier or warrior to his wages. The Christian ministry is compared to a warfare, and the Christian minister to a soldier; compare 1 Timothy 1:18. The soldier had a right to receive pay from him who employed him. He did not go at his own expense. This was a matter of common equity; and on this principle all acted who enlisted as soldiers.

So Paul says it is but equitable also that the soldier of the Lord Jesus should be sustained, and should not be required to support himself. And why, we may ask, should he be, any more than the man who devotes his strength, and time, and talents to the defense of his country? The work of the ministry is as arduous, and as self-denying, and perhaps as dangerous, as the work of a soldier; and common justice, therefore, demands that he who devotes his youth, and health and life to it, for the benefit of others should have a competent support. Why should not he receive a competent support who seeks to save people, as well as he who lives to destroy them? Why not he who endeavors to recover them to God, and make them pure and happy, as well as he who lives to destroy life, and pour out human blood, and to fill the air with the shrieks of new made widows and orphans? Or why not he who seeks, though in another mode, to defend the great interests of his country, and to maintain the interests of justice, truth, and mercy, for the benefit of mankind, as well as he who is willing in the tented field to spend his time, or exhaust his health and life in protecting the rights of the nation?

At his own charges - His own expense. On the meaning of the word "charges" (ὀψωνίοις opsōniois) see the note at Luke 3:14; compare Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 11:8. The word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament.

Who planteth a vineyard ... - This is the second illustration from the nature of the case, to show that ministers of the gospel have a right to support. The argument is this: 'It is reasonable that those who labor should have a fair compensation. A man who plants a vineyard does not expect to labor for nothing; he expects support from that labor, and looks for it from the vineyard. The vineyard owes its beauty, growth, and productiveness to him. It is reasonable, therefore, that from that vineyard he should receive a support, as a compensation for his toil. So we labor for your welfare. You derive advantage from our toil. We spend our time, and strength, and talent for your benefit; and it is reasonable that we should be supported while we thus labor for your good." The church of God is often compared to "a vineyard;" and this adds to the beauty of this illustration; see Isaiah 5:1-4; see the notes at Luke 20:9-16.

Who feedeth a flock ... - This is the third illustration drawn from the nature of the case, to show that ministers have a right to support. The word "feedeth" (ποιμαίνει poimainei) denotes not only to "feed," but to guard, protect, defend, as a shepherd does his flock; see the notes at John 21:15-17. "The wages of the shepherds in the East do not consist of ready money, but in a part of the milk of the flocks which they tend. Thus, Spon says of the shepherds in modern Greece, "These shepherds are poor Albanians, who feed the cattle, and live in huts built of rushes; they have a tenth part of the milk and of the lambs which is their whole wages; the cattle belong to the Turks." The shepherds in Ethiopia, also, according to Alvarez, have no pay except the milk and butter which they obtain from the cows, and on which they and their families subsist" - Rosenmuller. The church is often compared to a flock; see the note at John 10:1 ff.

The argument here is this: "A shepherd spends his days and nights in guarding his folds. He leads his flock to green pastures, he conducts them to still waters (compare Psalm 23:2); he defends them from enemies; he guards the young, the sick, the feeble, etc. He spends his time in protecting it and providing for it. He expects support, when in the wilderness or in the pastures, mainly from the milk which the flock should furnish. He labors for their comfort; and it is proper that he should derive a maintenance from them, and he has a right to it. So the minister of the gospel watches for the good of souls. He devotes his time, strength, learning, talents, to their welfare. He instructs, guides, directs, defends; he endeavors to guard them against their spiritual enemies, and to lead them in the path of comfort and peace. He lives to instruct the ignorant; to warn and secure those who are in danger; to guide the perplexed; to reclaim the wandering; to comfort; the afflicted; to bind up the broken in heart; to attend on the sick; to be an example and an instructor to the young; and to be a counsellor and a pattern to all. As he labors for their good, it is no more than equal and right that they should minister to his temporal needs, and compensate him for his efforts to promote their happiness and salvation. And can anyone say that this is not right and just?

7. The minister is spiritually a soldier (2Ti 2:3), a vine-dresser (1Co 3:6-8; So 1:6), and a shepherd (1Pe 5:2, 4).

of the fruit—The oldest manuscripts omit "of."

Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? The work of the ministry is a warfare, the minister’s work in that age was so in a more eminent manner, as the opposition to those first ministers of the gospel, both from the Jews and from the heathens, was greater than what ministers have in later ages met with. Now, saith the apostle, none that lists an army, expects that his soldiers should maintain themselves without any pay.

Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? It is like the planting of a vineyard. The church, in Scripture, is called a vineyard, Isaiah 5:1,2. The plants are the Lord’s, but he useth ministers’ hands in the planting of them: none planteth a vineyard, but in expectation of some fruit; none employeth servants to plant a vineyard, but he resolveth to uphold them with food and raiment, while they are in his work.

Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? The church is compared to a flock: saith the apostle: No man feeds a flock, either personally, or by his servants, but he eateth, or alloweth his servants to eat, of the milk of the flock. By these three instances, commonly known amongst men, the apostle showeth the reasonableness, that the ministers of the gospel should be maintained by the people, to whom they are ministers.

Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges?.... Some people have done so, as did the Habessines (e), and the ancient Romans (f); though before the apostle wrote this, the senate had made an act, that the soldiers should have a stipend from the public; and this being now so common, and universally obtaining everywhere, the apostle puts the question he does; and his meaning is, that since ministers of the Gospel are the good soldiers of Jesus Christ, and are engaged in a warfare state, in fighting the good fight of faith, against his enemies, and those of his church, it is but reasonable that their charges should be bore, and they maintained at the public expense:

who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? The church of Christ is a vineyard, it is often so called in Scripture; ministers are planters, vinedressers, and labourers in it; and as the mystical Solomon, the owner of the vineyard, ought to have his thousand, the cultivators of it, the keepers of the fruit, should have their two hundred, Sol 8:12

Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? The churches of Christ are compared to flocks of sheep; the ministers of the word are pastors, or shepherds, who have the care and oversight of them, and feed them with knowledge and understanding; and it is but right and just that they enjoy the fruit of their labours, and have a proper and suitable maintenance, as it is that he who feeds a flock should eat of the milk which that produces.

(e) Ludolph. Hist. Ethiop. l. 2. c. 14. (f) Liv. Hist. l. 4. prope finem. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 6. c. 22.

{5} Who {g} goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

(5) That he may not seem to burden the apostles, he shows that it is just that they do, by an argument of comparison, seeing that soldiers live by their wages, and husbandmen by the fruits of their labours, and shepherds by that which comes of their flocks.

(g) Goes to warfare?

1 Corinthians 9:7. Proof of this apostolic right τοῦ μὴ ἐργάζεσθαι from three analogies in common life, by applying which to the preachers of the gospel it is made manifest that these have the right to live from the gospel. “Pulchre confertur minister evangelii cum milite, vinitore, pastore,” Bengel. Comp 2 Corinthians 10:3 ff.; Matthew 20:1; John 10:12; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:5.

ἸΔΊΟΙς ὈΨ.] i.e. so that he pays his own wages (Luke 3:14; Romans 6:23).

The difference of construction in the two clauses with ἐσθίει (ΤῸΝ ΚΑΡΠΌΝ, see the critical remarks, and then ἘΚ), is to be regarded as simply an accidental change in the form of conception, without diversity in the substance of the thought. With ἘΚ (comp Sir 11:17; Tob 1:10, al[1420]) the expression is partitive; in using the accusative Paul has the fruit (the grapes) in a purely objective way before his mind. See generally, Kühner, II. p. 181. The wages of shepherds in the East consists to this day in a share of the milk. See Rosenmüller, Morgenl. VI. p. 97.

[1420] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

1 Corinthians 9:7-15 a. § 28. THE CLAIM OF MINISTERS TO PUBLIC MAINTENANCE. Paul asserts his right to live at the charge of the Christian community, in order to show the Cor[1295] how he has waived this prerogative (1 Corinthians 9:15 b, etc.). But before doing this, he will further vindicate the right; for it was sure to be disputed, and his renunciation might be used to the disadvantage of other servants of Christ. He therefore formally establishes the claim: (a) on grounds of natural analogy (1 Corinthians 9:7); (b) by proof from Scripture (1 Corinthians 9:8-10); (c) by the intrinsic justice of the case (1 Corinthians 9:11); (d) by comparison with O.T. practice (1 Corinthians 9:13); finally (e) by ref[1296] to the express commandment of the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:14). In 1 Corinthians 9:12 he indicates, by the way, that “others” of inferior standing are making themselves chargeable on the Cor[1297] Church.

[1295] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1296] reference.

[1297] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

7. Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges?] The charge is now refuted on five different grounds. The first argument is derived from the analogy of human conduct. Three instances are given, (1) the soldier, (2) the vine-dresser, (3) the shepherd, who all derive their subsistence from their labours.

1 Corinthians 9:7. Τίς, who) The minister of the Gospel is beautifully compared to a soldier, a vine-dresser, a shepherd. The apostle speaks of that which is a common occurrence; although, even then, there had been some, who were soldiers on their own charges—volunteers.—φυτεύει; plants) 1 Corinthians 3:6.

Verse 7. - Who goeth a warfare, etc.? In this and the following verses he adduces six successive arguments to prove the right of a minister to be supported by his congregation.

1. From the ordinary laws of human justice (ver. 7).

2. By analogy, from the Law of Moses (vers. 8-10).

3. A fortiori, from the obligations of common gratitude (ver. 11).

4. From their concession of the right to others who had inferior claims (ver. 12).

2. From the Jewish provision for the maintenance of priests (ver. 13).

6. By the rule laid down by Christ himself (ver. 14). Goeth a warfare. Analogy from the payment of soldiers (2 Corinthians 10:4). At his own charges. The word used for "cost" means literally rations (Luke 3:14; Romans 6:23). Planteth a vineyard. Analogy from the support of the vine dressers (Matthew 9:37). Feedeth a flock. Analogy from the support of shepherds (1 Peter 5:2). The two latter classes of labourers are paid in kind in the East to this day. 1 Corinthians 9:7Goeth a warfare (στρατεύεται)

The "a" in a warfare is the abbreviated preposition on or in, as a coming, afield, going a pilgrimage. In the Geneva Bible, Deuteronomy 24:5 is rendered, "When a man taketh a newe wife, he shal not go a warfare." So Froissart: "He was not in good poynt to ride a warfare." The phrase, however, is incorrect as a translation, since the Greek word is used not only of war, but of military service in general. Soldiers are called στρατευόμενοι, Luke 3:14. More correctly, who serveth as a soldier? or, as Rev., what soldier serveth? See on Luke 3:14; see on James 4:1.

Charges (ὀψωνίοις)

See on Luke 3:14, and compare Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 11:8.

Feedeth (ποιμαίνει)

See on 1 Peter 5:2. Bengel remarks: "The minister of the gospel is beautifully compared with the soldier, vine-dresser, shepherd." He goes forth to contend with the world, to plant churches, and to exercise pastoral care over them.

1 Corinthians 9:7 Interlinear
1 Corinthians 9:7 Parallel Texts

1 Corinthians 9:7 NIV
1 Corinthians 9:7 NLT
1 Corinthians 9:7 ESV
1 Corinthians 9:7 NASB
1 Corinthians 9:7 KJV

1 Corinthians 9:7 Bible Apps
1 Corinthians 9:7 Parallel
1 Corinthians 9:7 Biblia Paralela
1 Corinthians 9:7 Chinese Bible
1 Corinthians 9:7 French Bible
1 Corinthians 9:7 German Bible

Bible Hub

1 Corinthians 9:6
Top of Page
Top of Page