1 Corinthians 9:5


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?  1 Corinthians 9:5

In this verse, Paul continues to show that he bears the rights of an apostle, whether he exercised those rights or not. His question, which is composed of several parts, is rhetorical in nature. In essence, it is a strong affirmation, not a perplexed question needing validation. In this verse, much interpretive abuse has taken place over the centuries because of the policies of the Roman Catholic Church and the mishandling of concepts by early sects and individuals.

Paul begins with, “Do we have no right to take along a believing wife?” In this, the clear and obvious interpretation is that he is speaking of an actual wife. However, because of those who forbid the clergy to marry (and other confused thoughts), they interpret this not as a “wife” but as merely a sister in the Lord who would accompany an apostle. This however only brings in even greater difficulties and is certainly not the intent of the verse. Rather it is speaking of a right known among the Christians of that time. That right is that the apostles who were married could be accompanied by their wives and both the apostle and the wife were to be supported by the church.

This is the intent of “as do also the other apostles.” Those apostles who were married were accompanied by their wives during their apostolic travels and they were supported by the church. Therefore, Paul’s rhetorical question is, “Don’t we have this right as well?” In response, a “Yes” answer must be given whether he were to accept the right or not. The “we” is speaking of Barnabas who accompanied Paul (who will be mentioned in the next verse). They were also entitled to this right.

The question next includes “the brothers of the Lord.” Accepting this portion of the verse at face value has caused a great deal of apoplexy among many over the centuries. The cult of “Mary” worship and the nutty ideas that she is a “perpetual virgin” has lead to unreasonable interpretations of these words. The word translated as “brothers” could be referring to children of Joseph and Mary, but it could also refer to children of Joseph from a former marriage, or even more distant relatives of the Lord.

Of course, those who heretically worship Mary will inevitably claim that one of the latter two was correct and that Mary never had relations with Joseph. Such biblical interpretations are inexcusably forced and unnatural. These were sons of Joseph and Mary, born after the birth of Christ Jesus as the Bible indicates elsewhere. They, like the other apostles, were entitled to this right and privilege as well.

And finally, a separate distinction is made for Peter – “and Cephas.” This spirit-inspired wording was certainly intended to keep the church from heresy concerning leadership. The leader of a body is entitled to be married and is entitled to have the wife supported by the church. Despite the clarity here, the Roman Catholic Church, claiming that the Pope is directly linked to Peter, does not allow their Pope to be married; something completely contrary to the very model given in the person they claim as their first “pope.”

Not only does this verse show that Peter was married, but other such indications are given in Scripture. In Matthew 8:14, 15 this is noted –

“Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.”

It would be rather nutty to acquire a mother-in-law and not a wife. A clear interpretation of this verse is that Paul had the rights of an apostle to be married and to bring his wife along at the expense of the church; that Jesus had half-brothers who were the sons of Joseph and Mary; and that Peter took a wife when he took a mother-in-law.

From these points we can deduce that 1) it is right and acceptable that the clergy of the church may marry and that the wife should be supported by the church. Further, the ideology of a church which forbids such marriage is contrary to Scripture. 2) When the church clergy travels for church business, including missionary work, the wife should be supported by the church, thus keeping the clergy member from possible temptations during that period of absence and for the general well-being of the husband and his wife. 3) There is no obligation of a clergy member to be married, but there is also no tenet which would forbid them from marrying.

Life application: When evaluating the Bible, keeping one’s thoughts free from pre-suppositions is always the right approach. If one comes to the text already supposing something is the case, then he will manipulate what is being read in order to fit what is already believe. This is not sound interpretation and it can only lead to great problems in doctrine.

Many blessings You have upon us showered
Kindness beyond measure You have poured up us
Delicious food, clouds of white, and radiant fields which have flowered
But none of these compare to our Lord Jesus

You send us rain in due time to soften up the earth
And beauty adorns the mountains which stand before us
Our hearts are filled with joy, gladness, and mirth
But nothing compares to the delight of knowing Jesus

What kind of love! How You care for Your children!
What kind of love You have lavished upon us!
Indeed, You have been so good to the sons of men!
By sending us Your greatest Gift, our Lord Jesus!

Glorious God Almighty! Of all the wonders and the joys You have given to us in order to delight our senses, fill our minds with wonder, and make us hope for even more as each day unfolds, above all this You have given us the most marvelous Gift of all by granting us a personal glimpse of Your heart and Your love reflected in the face of our wondrous Lord, Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for Jesus! Amen.

Leave a Reply