Today: [1 Corinthians 9:] Attitudes Toward Giving: In this chapter, Paul contends with those in Corinth who complained about supporting the gospel with their giving. He insists that it is ordained of God that those who preach the gospel should not do so in poverty or lack. If under the law the ministers of the altar were allowed to partake of the altar – should not the same be true in the New Covenant?
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[1Co 9:1-14 KJV] 1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? 2 If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. 3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, 4 Have we not power to eat and to drink? 5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and [as] the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? 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? 8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10 Or saith he [it] altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, [this] is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, [is it] a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12 If others be partakers of [this] power over you, [are] not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live [of the things] of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
In chapter 9 of 1 Corinthians Paul contends with those who question his apostolic credentials. He founded the church in Corinth, yet there were those who repudiated his ministry and his right to speak to them with authority or to receive support from them for his work. In verse 4 he challenges those who would marginalize his calling he asserts that his rights to gain support from them for his needs, his freedom if he chose even to marry and have his wife accompany him in his work, etc. There were also those who were complaining v. five reveals that Paul was out of bounds in his call unless he was working what we call a secular job whereas it was plainly known to them that Peter and the other apostles did not engage in outside employment.
Sadly these contentions are common today. Many in the church who has no complaint about their favorite sports figure or media celebrity earning astronomical sums of money, will nonetheless complain if they see a minister of the gospel living above a subsistent level. In v. 4 Paul asks does he not have the power to eat and drink, as though even in sitting down to a meal people in Corinth were complaining that he wasn’t very spiritual to do so. As for secular work, it is not unknown in Christian culture for churches and groups to demand that their ministers must work secular jobs as a qualification of their calling, which Paul completely rejects as an unacceptable expectation.
In v. 7 Paul asks the question, who goes to war at his own expense? If someone plants a vineyard does he not have the right to eat fruit from that same vineyard? If one tends a flock does he not have the right to be sustained from that flock? Even under the law (v. 8) Moses said muzzle not the ox that treads out the corn at the meal. While many people who receive ministry contradict the scripture in their thinking in these matters, there are also ministers who loudly boast that they have never received an offering or any support for their ministry as though this makes them more spiritual. This thinking has no basis in scripture as we shall see. In the beginning, Paul did not receive support in places where he went but afterward repented for this because he saw that it fostered a lack of respect an honor for the ministry by doing so.
Where does Christian culture get its unscriptural attitude in this regard? In the middle ages, the church in Rome entered into contention with German bishops because they were covetous of the lands and properties held by the church in those lands. To rob the churches in Germany of their influence, the Pope instituted a vow of poverty that stripped the German bishops of their wealth on pain of excommunication. That same vow of poverty contaminates the thinking of the church today in contradiction to everything the scriptures teach contrary to this false doctrine. Paul says that Moses wrote that the ox that treads the corn should be allowed to partake of the corn not because livestock were so important, but so the gospel minister who came later under the New Covenant would be able to work in hope and partake of the hope that he would not have to do so in abject poverty among the people they served.
In verse 11 he contends that spiritual things have financial value in saying if a minister sows spiritual things it is only fitting that he or she would justly reap from those ministered to of their natural support to meet their own needs and continuing their necessary work. It is essential to understand that in Paul’s day people didn’t give to institutions, they gave to the ministers themselves because the church as an institutional entity did not yet exist. When the people were debt free in Acts, it was after they laid their money at the feet of the apostles, not into the coffers of an institution that then meted out some meager share to its leadership. If we want New Testament blessing, we must make change our thinking regarding our giving in support of ministers of the gospel.
In verse 12 Paul does capitulate that he previously did not take support from them but realizes this was a mistake that resulted in the cause of Christ to be hindered. Satan himself knows that it takes money to further the gospel and has been very effective at poisoning the minds of believers with unscriptural attitudes, thus throttling the spread of the gospel and the advance of the kingdom while keeping God’s people in poverty and lack. Paul insists if under the Old Covenant the priesthood had the right to partake of the altar they served even so (v. 14) those that preach the gospel should live (be supported financially) in their work. To suggest otherwise in any measure is to adopt a utterly unscriptural attitude.
[1 Cor 9:15-27 KJV]
15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for [it were] better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. 16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation [of the gospel] is committed unto me. 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. 19 For though I be free from all [men], yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all [men], that I might by all means save some. 23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with [you]. 24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
In v. 14 Paul assets that he would rather not receive any support from the Corinthians than to be accused of doing so for a compromised motive. In our own ministry many times when this type of accusation is lodged against us we have returned offerings without being asked because we aren’t interested in someone donating and then complaining that we were in this work just for the money. I wonder how many ministries today can say they have done the same? We know that we are good ground in the gospel. We know ourselves that giving to the purposes of the gospel brings us great and tremendous blessing.
What we encourage others to do you can be assured that we give as well. Not only do we give but we give away from ourselves. It is common for ministers who do give to tithe or donate to their own ministries. This is disingenuous. It is like taking a $20 bill in your left hand, putting it in your right and saying you gave to the gospel. You need to give away from yourself. You need to give to those ministries who move in the things of God beyond what you are experiencing. You need to give to the needy that is true, but you also need to give to the anointing. Paul spoke of this in Philippians 4: 16-19, a passage that is completely twisted by the way most people read it:
[Phl 4:16-19 KJV] 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things [which were sent] from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Notice that the promise of v. 19 is connected with the giving that is done in verses 16 and 18? Because of the giving of the Philippians Paul is asserting that HIS GOD (v. 19) will supply the Philippians needs because the Philippians were meeting his (Paul’s) needs. What does that tell us? When we meet the needs of the ministry, God will see to it that the needs of the people will be met. Do you understand this shows us how things work in the economy of God? When you participate in the kingdom in this way, your own needs will be satisfied in the exact metric and timing that you meet the needs of those that preach the gospel. If you are tight-fisted and hesitant you will not be blessed yourself. If you, on the other hand, are generous and prompt to give you will be met with the beneficence hand of God moving promptly in the area of your own needs.
In verse 16 Paul decries the fact that he worked what we call a secular job by saying “woe be unto me if I preach not the gospel…” He knew that it was a mistake to make tents when he should have taught the people to give to his necessity and the advancement of the kingdom. Giving to the ministry (v. 18) is not an abuse of Paul’s calling it was a necessity of his calling.
Do you need to make an adjustment in your thinking in this area? Paul goes on to make reference to difficulty with the Jews in such matters – Jews who believed in tithing. Do you believe in tithing? There are many believers who consider themselves very compliant and sacrificial in their giving, and they don’t even give a tenth of their income to the gospel. Do you give at least ten percent of your living to the kingdom? Many believers insist they are free from the law and therefore not obligated in any way to tithe. Very good then, you are free – but remember the words of Jesus:
[Mat 5:20 KJV] 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Do you understand that you are free not to give less but to give more and receive more blessing? If you are not giving more than a tithe because you are not under the law, then you are no better than the scribes or Pharisees who crucified Jesus. When Jesus spoke of giving he always spoke in terms of “sell all” and “give all.” He didn’t speak these things because He wanted us to be poor. It isn’t about impoverishment; it is about empowerment to serve. So adjust your thinking and your giving pattern till you are giving as Barnabas gave and not as Ananias and Sapphira. Be generous and loving in your giving. Give your minister reason to bless God in your behalf because your largess in giving is making a difference in his or her life. See what God will do in your own life because you do.
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