1 Corinthians 9:11


Monday, 8 September 2014

If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 1 Corinthians 9:11

Paul has been showing through the use of Deuteronomy 25:4 that the oxen which treaded out the grain is actually making a greater statement about the labors of people. If an oxen isn’t to be kept from eating the grain he treads, then how much more should the human laborer be provided for through his efforts! He now transfers this thought directly to his apostleship, which he defended several verses ago as one shown to be valid and which actually was the means of transmitting the gospel to those in Corinth.

Because their coming to Christ came about through his efforts, then wasn’t he entitled to be provided for through those efforts? In this reasoning, he states it from the greater to the lesser; from the spiritual to the material. This then is the opposite of the previous argument –

1) From the ox (lesser) to the human (greater).
2) From the spiritual (greater) to the material (lesser).

His words are “If we have sown spiritual things for you…” The “if” is to be taken as a statement of fact – “We have (definitely) sown spiritual things for you” (as he demonstrated earlier). Because of this, “is it a great thing if we reap your material things?” The question demands an answer that it is no great thing, but rather what would be expected. The ox was entitled, according to the law, to eat as he threshed. The context of the surrounding passage (and Paul’s words of analysis concerning it) show that this naturally leads to the same entitlement for man in his labors. Therefore, it is no great thing to consider that those who minister in spiritual things should in fact reap in material things.

In both clauses, the “we” is emphatic, only bolstering the intent of his words, and the use of the word “great” involves a hint of sarcasm. He is showing very clearly that his apostleship is one which has been both helpful to them and deserving of their help to him in return. Despite this, Paul declined to accept such help from them. This will be seen as the chapter continues and the reason for it will be explained.

Life application: Paul says in Galatians 6:6, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” There is good reason for this. The one who teaches spiritually is providing the most valuable of all benefits to those he teaches (assuming the word is being properly handled and rightly divided). Is it then too much to return to the teacher something of benefit for his material profit?

Let him who is taught the word share
In all good things with him who teaches
For in that precious word, and only there
Is the found the true path to which heaven reaches

The one who so instructs has the most important duty
And the one who is instructed should so avow
With gifts and offerings, a thankful booty
For spiritual instruction of the Who, the what, the how

For in learning the word, we learn of Jesus
And in Him is found the true and only heavenly path
It is His cross which has delivered us
From condemnation and God’s holy wrath

Lord, I thank You for the many great men who have instructed me in my spiritual walk. Some have passed long ago and only their writings remain. Some I’ve met from afar, through the television or radio. And some have come into my life by Your gracious hand so that I have personally met them and learned from them. For each of these people I am grateful to You. Thank You for those who have carefully and rightly divided Your word in order to instruct me about Jesus. Amen.



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