1Corinthians 9: 1 – 14

March 19, 2022

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.

I had to go to my St. Ignatius Study Bible to understand some of these verses. Context is important because over the centuries, meanings of words change – sometimes slightly and sometimes aggressively – so I was confused about “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?” We remember that St. Paul was celibate so what’s he talking about here? Jesus and all of the Apostles had women followers – there have always been ‘church women’. When he speaks about leading a sister or wife, he’s explaining that he has what we might call today a deaconess – she will assist him in the functions he doesn’t have time for; remember, St. Paul supported himself as a tent maker so as not to be a burden on the churches who would otherwise have had to financed his needs and travel. The sister/wife would do his laundry, let’s say, prepare meals when necessary, see to his belongings so that he could spend his time preaching and teaching.

Today, we might look down on this as something highly insulting but you have to ask yourself this question – we all serve Jesus in his church, are any of us demeaned by this? Of course not, it is our joy. It would have been the same for the woman who saw to his belongings – a joy to support the furthering of the Gospel and widening, deepening the understanding of the people of the churches. This is why context is so important. It’s also a reminder that we can’t judge everything looking through today’s lens but we must broaden our own understanding of time and place.

4 thoughts on “1Corinthians 9: 1 – 14”

  1. I am hoping to be a ‘church woman’ myself in time. I would regard it as an honour. Women need to stop complaining about their lot both outside and inside church. Being a quiet support to your priest and the church community is as important in its own way as standing at the altar dispensing the bread and wine. It should be a mutually supportive relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are absolutely correct. Remember how St. Paul spoke about us all being parts of the Body? We churchwomen are often the hands and feet of the Body and we do it joyfully.

      Liked by 1 person

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