Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense?
That, when I preach,
I offer the gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.
(1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23)
9:16 an obligation has been imposed on me God set apart Paul to proclaim the gospel message (Gal 1:15; Acts 9:15). Therefore, he is compelled to preach it even in the face of opposition (see 2 Cor 11:23–28). woe is to me Implies that if Paul does not preach the gospel, he will face an undesirable consequence. Paul draws on language from the prophet Jeremiah to express the serious nature of his calling (Jer 10:19; 20:9; 45:3).
9:18 my right Refers to material and financial support from the church communities.
9:19 I have made myself to slave Paul put himself at the service of others in order that God may use him to bring people to Jesus (compare Phil 2:5–8; Gal 4:4–5). He does not regard himself as a “savior,” but as an instrument through which someone might hear the gospel and be saved (compare 1 Cor 7:16). He adapts to his audience (but not by compromising the gospel or his message) to remove any obstacles to their acceptance of the gospel message.
9:22 to the weak Refers to Christians who felt tempted to regress to idolatrous practices. (see 1 Cor 8:7; Rom 14:1). to win over the weak Paul demonstrated sensitivity to such believers, but he also desired that they mature in their faith (see 1 Cor 8:7–13). all things to all Paul is not advocating syncretism or compromise of the gospel message. Rather, he is promoting a considerate evangelistic approach—one that accounts for different social circumstances, ethnicities, and religious convictions. to save at least some The believing spouse may have the opportunity to participate in the conversion of the unbelieving spouse. In this way, the believer becomes an instrument that helps the unbeliever turn toward God (9:20–22).
Our family had a retriever named Jeb, a maroon-spotted dog that loved nothing more than fetching whatever one would toss. Whenever I would visit my family on the ranch, Jeb would come running to meet me, knowing that I would give him another chance to show his skill. I would take a stick or rock, throw it, and Jeb would take off like a jet at full speed, sometimes catching the stick or rock as it bounced. Then he would proudly return it and drop it at my feet. Did he want a pat on the head in appreciation for what he did? Or a bone to chew on or a morsel of meat? Not at all. He wanted me to throw it again. And if perchance I was distracted in conversation with a family member, he would eventually paw at my foot until I would reach down and toss the object again. His reward for fetching it? Fetching it again. He would do this over and over, not until he got tired but until I did. I think of Jeb when I think of Paul’s preaching the gospel. He looks for no further reward than preaching it again—free of charge.
– George T. Montague
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.