Challenge of apostleship

Paul suddenly changes the focus from church problems (idol food issue) to his relationship with the Corinthians between Chapters 8 & 10. Paul stresses that the Corinthians are his work and his apostleship in the Lord. (9:1-2) He brought them to Christ and continues the bear the responsibility to watch over their spiritual condition. On the other hand, he deserves the right to be fed by the Corinthians. He challenges them this point with the following statements:

  1. Doesn’t he have the power “to eat and to drink” (9:4) like Cephas and other apostles?

  2. Does a soldier go to war at his own cost? (9:7)

  3. Doesn’t a planter of vineyard eat the fruit from his own vineyard? (9:7)

  4. Doesn’t a shepherd drink the milk of the flock he cares? (9:7)

  5. Doesn’t a farmer who plows the field eat the produce of his own field? (9:10)

  6. Doesn’t a farmer who threshes the floor eat the wheat of his own floor? (9:10)

  7. Doesn’t the priests who serve in temple live on the offerings of the temple? (9:13)

  8. As he has sown to the Corinthians the spiritual things, shouldn’t he reap their material things? (9:11)

Then he concludes that the Lord has ordained that “they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” (9:14) He backs up by quoting the law of Moses, “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn.”  (9:9)

However, Paul has chosen not to exercise this right on the Corinthians. He insists on preaching the gospel of Christ “without charge” for a reward. (9:18) Then he states his principle of preaching the gospel: “though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more (「為要得多人」;NRSV, 'so that I might win more of them').” (9:19) He describes himself as a racer running for an incorruptible crown. (9:24-25) He urges the Corinthians to do likewise.

Interestingly enough, though Chapter 9 seems to be an inserted chapter related to a totally different issue—Paul’s apostleship right, there is a common thing with Chapters 8 & 9. In Chapter 8, Paul exhorts the believers not to exercise the freedom to eat idol food for the sake of the weak believers. In Chapter 9, Paul claims that he himself refuses to exercise the freedom to be fed by the Corinthians for saving more souls at no charge.