Keep in mind that Paul is still writing in context to meat sacrificed to idols, to the idea that we need to be aware of what we are doing and saying in order to keep others from stumbling or falling. They may be free in Christ, but they must make sure to not cause another to stumble. Is Paul not free? Does he cause others to stumble?
The requirements for being an apostle come mainly from Acts 1:21-26:
- A follower of Christ while he walked this earth.
- They saw Jesus after His resurrection.
- Appointed by the Lord Jesus Himself
Paul met two of these requirements: he met Jesus after His resurrection, and Jesus appointed him to be an Apostle. You can read more in Acts (listed in Further Reading below), but Paul didn’t follow Christ while He was here, in fact, he persecuted the Church.
In 1 Corinthians 15:8 Paul refers to himself as one born at the wrong time, or “as to one untimely born,” this describes one of the primary ways in which Paul’s apostleship was different from the others.
From secular life, and from scripture, Paul tells them that those that shepherded them had the right to expect financial support for their ministry. As did he. But what kept coming back for me was the end of vs. 12…
During the time of this letter… patron – client one could become a burden to the other and we, pastors, should seek not to be a burden on the congregations and the congregations should seek to not over burden the pastor when they don’t have to. Pastor’s should not expect more than can be given or expect more no matter the financial state of the congregation. If the church is giving regularly, and a pastor can be supported on that regular giving, then what is fair and common should be expected by a pastor.
I know that there are pastors that use a congregation as a stepping stone to something better… but that is not how it should be. If a pastor is called to that congregation, then they should do their best to shepherd that flock to where God leads—through thick and thin.
Let’s face facts, no pastor worth their salt, should be in ministry for the money! It should be about calling and ministry to others… If someone keeps telling you to send in money so you can be blessed…
Jesus Christ does not want, nor need, your money. What He wants is for you to be part of His family, His Church…My Father owns the cattle on a thousand Hills. And if a church is tithing regularly, not shirking their responsibilities there should be no problems.
I would contend that those claiming an anointing from God, often are not. We are called to serve not be served.
Vs. 19 – Paul tells us that he makes himself a slave to everyone, why? In order to win them over to Christ. It is about Christ and His Church! It is about the ministry first!
Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for his body, that is, the church” (Colossians 1:24). To the Philippians, “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you” (Philippians 2:17). In 2 Timothy, he write, “This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). We are all called to sacrifice for the sake of the gospel out of love for God and our neighbor. Paul sets the example and each of us is called to be a living sacrifice, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
Vs. 19-22 – Paul has chosen to be a living sacrifice! Why? For love of God, neighbor, and the Gospel! He became all things to all men in order that some might be saved! He does it all because of the Gospel!!! In 1 Peter we are given further instruction for Elders, and that included the apostle Peter, as he includes himself, so I believe it would include all pastors, preachers, and those called to ministry.
Keep in mind that Paul is still dealing with not be a stumbling block or hindering the Gospel. So the idea of disciplining the body is a good analogy or metaphor for denying ourselves since most of the temptations we experience are because of the flesh.
Everyone of us will experience temptation. Temptation is not sin, falling to temptation is… this is why we should discipline the body and bring it under strict control so that we will not be disqualified (fall to temptation), we do this through the discipline of prayer and fasting. Fasting teaches self denial…
Denying yourself is essential if you are a Christian. Jesus called upon those who wish to be His followers to reject the natural inclination toward selfishness. This is what Paul is telling us and the Corinthians: we are called to do this so that others won’t stumble, so that we do not hinder the gospel! In order to do that we must crucify the flesh. In Galatians 5:24 we are told, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Can you state, as Paul did, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
- Are you following the Lord’s example of Paul? In other words, are you a living sacrifice?
- Is your witness a hinderance to the gospel or does it further the gospel?
- How much are you willing to sacrifice in order not to be a stumbling block (8:9) or a hinderance (9:12)?
Further Reading: Romans 12:2, Matthew 10:10, Matthew 16:24-26, Luke 10:8, Acts 20:28-35, 1 Thessalonians 3:10, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, 1 Timothy 5:18, 1 Peter 5:1-5, Philippians 3:7-8, Galatians 2:20, Acts 9:1-16, Acts 26:16-18, 1 Corinthians 15:8