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Epistles of Paul: 16 - 1 Corinthians 9:1-24

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Epistles of Paul

16 - 1 Corinthians 9:1-24

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Epistles of Paul: 16 - 1 Corinthians 9:1-24

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.77 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (1.07 GB)
MP3 Audio (33.43 MB)

In this class we will discuss 1 Corinthians 9:1–24 and examine the following: Paul defends his apostleship, asserting his right to receive support but choosing to forgo it for the sake of the gospel. He compares himself to an athlete, emphasizing the importance of discipline and preaching voluntarily. Paul adapts to different contexts to win people for Christ, becoming all things to all people. He highlights the reward of sharing the gospel and emphasizes running the race with purpose. The passage underscores Paul's selflessness, commitment to the gospel, and the flexible approach taken for the sake of reaching diverse audiences.


[Steve Myers] We're going to be delving into 1 Corinthians 9 in this session. And Paul is continuing this idea of the supremacy of love, love over knowledge. And he pivots a little bit as we get into Chapter 9 and uses that same concept in how the Corinthians were treating him. And he makes a point here in Chapter 9 about that very thing. If you remember from last time we talked about owe no one anything except love. Well, were the Corinthians demonstrating the kind of love that they should have to the Apostle Paul? Not all of them. Not all of them for sure. And so some discounted Paul, some criticized him. Some just were not able to appreciate everything that the apostle had done for them. And so Paul is going to associate those two things, knowledge and love, as it connects with their relationship with him. And so let's begin Chapter 9, verse 1. Paul sets up a couple of rhetorical questions here. So he's not expecting an answer. The answer should be self-evident.

1 Corinthians 9:1 He says, "Am I not an apostle?"

Answer? Of course you are. Yes, absolutely. Remember our definition of an apostle. It's like an ambassador. Literally one sent, one sent forth. But not just that they're sent. They're sent as an ambassador of the one who sent them. So he is an ambassador of Jesus Christ. He is an ambassador of God the Father. He has authority. He has a message. And so he's a representative of the kingdom of God. All those things come into play. Is he not an apostle? Yes is the answer.

He says, "Am I not free?"

Could take that a couple of ways. He's a Roman citizen. He's free. Is he free from their condemnation? Yeah, he should be. They shouldn't be putting him down. Yes, he should be. That should be part of their thinking as he's writing these rhetorical questions here.

He also says, "Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?"

Yes. When was that? You see, part of the challenge is I'm sure there were probably some that were putting Paul down like, yeah, okay, he's kind of an apostle, but you know, he's not like one of the 12, the 12 guys that were with Christ. They were with him during his whole ministry. Paul kind of came along later, so he's kind of, an apostle wannabe. You know, you could imagine some people maybe thinking in those terms, but here he points out, wait a second. I've seen Jesus Christ as well. Remember the story of the road to Damascus and he was knocked down and Christ spoke with him and ultimately taught by Christ as he went out into the wilderness? Yeah. So the answer would be yes there as well. He was commissioned by Jesus Christ and proof of that apostleship, that commission, that job that he was given, that's the Corinthians. They're the proof.

He says, "Are you not my work in the Lord?"

And so as he asked these questions, and of course the answer is yes, Paul was given divine authority and he had authority and should have had certain, I don't know what you'd call privileges as an apostle. Are there privileges that the apostle should have as he's preaching and teaching as God works with individuals and calls them? You know, does Paul have certain rights or privileges as an apostle of Jesus Christ? And how does that connect with the Corinthians exhibiting love? Because that's kind of still the connotation here. All right, let's think about that as he's going to enumerate those things in the next several verses.

1 Corinthians 9:2 He says, "If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you."

Okay, you might question, because you're not familiar with the other areas of the empire that I've traveled through, But you have firsthand experience. I was with you, remember, not just a month or two. I was with you for a year and a half.

And he says, "You're my work in the Lord. I am doubtless an apostle to you." You know that by experience. And so he says, "For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord."

You're the evidence, in other words. And when you think of this idea of a seal, right, he's not talking about the "ar ar" kind of seal. No, he's talking about the stamp, the stamp that... And I wonder what would have come to the Corinthian's mind in this case.

Remember the kind of city this is. We're a harbor city. Merchandise is flowing through the city. The empire has beautiful roads that come through and they can ship things out through the entire empire by the port of Corinth. And so oftentimes and more often than not, containers that would come off the ships with merchandise in them were sealed. And that signet, that stamp, was a stamp of authenticity. It was a stamp that showed this shipment wasn't violated, wasn't tinkered with. Nobody got into this.

Same thing was true with letters that were written. Oftentimes the same word for seal is used as letters were sealed. And it indicated the fact that the letter wasn't open, for one thing, that it was still sealed shut by that wax seal. But also it identified who the sender was because it had those identifying markings in the seal itself. And that, yes, it indicated it was authentic. It was the real deal. And so it would prevent the letter from being, I suppose, confiscated. It would prevent the letter from being altered. Same thing with the shipment. It would prevent the contents from being maybe substituted with something different, you know, that sort of thing.

And Paul then says, "You're the seal of my apostleship."

And that seal represented the authority of the one who sent the letter or the one who sent the merchandise. And so what was under the seal, in a sense, it was guaranteed to be authentic. It was guaranteed to be genuine. And so the Corinthians in that regard are the living seal of Paul's apostleship. Remember, it's the proof of genuineness. You want to know why I'm an apostle? You're the proof, is what he's saying. You're the proof. You're the seal. Yes, you're the fruit of the labor that God had given me. And so their faith, their conversion, their knowledge of God's word, where did it come from? Well, ultimately from God, but what instrument did God use to call them? He used Paul. He used Paul. So it was Paul's faithful preaching, his genuine teaching that God used to call them and bring them to conversion. And so Paul says, "You're the seal of my apostleship," which also reminds you, there are some that were saying, Paul, you're not that great. You're not that great. Don't really owe you anything, do I? And Paul's so making that point. Well, think a little more deeply about this. Think about what you're doing and what you've said and how you're treating me.

1 Corinthians 9:3 He says, "My defense to those who examine me is this."

So he's going to make a defense. Almost reminds you a little bit of Acts 17, where he gives a defense in Athens. Kind of sets up a courtroom kind of a scene once again. Let me tell you, you want to examine me? You want to put me down? You want to question my apostleship? All right, you're putting me on trial, so let me defend myself. Let me show you why I am an apostle. Notice where he goes with this.

1 Corinthians 9:4 "Do we have no right to eat and drink?"

So Paul isn't beyond using a little sarcasm to try to make his point here. Can apostles eat and drink? Yeah, no doubt about that.

1 Corinthians 9:5-6 He says, "Do we have no right to take along a believing wife?" Well, maybe some of the Corinthians would say, "No, you shouldn't do that." Maybe he had a whole conversation about that earlier. He says, but, you know, "The others do." He says, "as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord and Cephas and Peter." Yeah, they had wives. He says, "Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?"

All right, so he sets this up. He sets up some things he was probably criticized. You know, well, he's eating and drinking. Well, that's a bad thing in some of the Corinthians' mind. He shouldn't be taking a wife when, wait a second, others did. And then he says, you think I have to work to make a living? Right? Isn't that what he's saying in verse 6?

1 Corinthians 9:6 "Only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working."

Well, why do the others have these rights and I don't? That's kind of the rhetorical question Paul's setting up. He just proved he was an apostle of Jesus Christ by saying, "You're my proof, you're my seal. It's obvious your conversion is evidence of that. So why would you think that Barnabas and I have no right to be paid through the gospel? Why do we have to have a secular job in order to support ourselves?" That's the question that he's setting up here.

And as he makes that point, it becomes very obvious. It'll become obvious in the next few verses. He didn't take tithes from the Corinthians. He didn't take their offerings to support himself. He worked in order to make a living and preached and taught. So he's doing double duty here just to survive in Corinth. And so as he makes this point, he brings up a couple of illustrations to really drive it home. Should they be able to be paid through the work of the church? Well, here's a couple of illustrations.

1 Corinthians 9:7 "Whoever goes to war at his own expense. Who plants a vineyard and doesn't eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and doesn't drink of the milk of the flock?"

So how many examples do we have here? We have three, three different examples here. You've got a soldier, you've got a farmer, you've got a shepherd, right? Does the shepherd get to eat one of the sheep once in a while? Sure. Yeah, you have a vineyard. Do you get to eat the grapes or drink the wine? Yeah, no doubt. Does a soldier have to work at another job in order to get paid to survive while he's in battle? I mean, yeah, obviously it leads to the answer that, well, no, obviously not. And so Paul says in verse 8.

1 Corinthians 9:8 "Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also?"

So he's kind of used some human logic. And that's the idea that he gets at in verse 8. Do I say these things as a mere man? All right. Human logic tells us, you know, as a soldier or a farmer or as a shepherd, obviously you eat from these things that are happening around you. Human logic tells you that. Is that good enough for you? Remember, he's putting on a defense here. All right, let me give you another example then. If I'm not convincing you through logic, oh yeah, what were we talking about earlier? Knowledge, knowledge, logic, knowledge. Does this make sense with your great understanding and, you know, abilities? Remember your swelled up heads that you're so egotistical you think you know everything. Well, then you should be convinced by human logic. But if that's not enough, let's look what God has to say about it. What does God say about this instance?

1 Corinthians 9:8-9 He says, "Doesn't the law say the same thing also?" Well, what does God's law have to say about it? Verse 9, "It's written in the law of Moses, you shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain. Is it oxen God is concerned about?"

So he brings us all the way back to Deuteronomy 25:4. If you've got to send a reference margin, Deuteronomy 25:4 is probably written right in that reference there. I mean, we can go back there. This is almost a direct quotation.

Deuteronomy 25:4 You know, "Do not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain."

That was the command given back in Deuteronomy 25. Was God worried about the oxen? I mean, the answer is, well, no, that's not. I mean, the surface issue is we've got to take care of your animals. No doubt. If an ox wears a muzzle while it's churning out the grain and the process of trampling that grain and the threshing floor, then it can't eat the grain, can't eat the grain at all. If the ox has a muzzle or is without a muzzle, well, then they can pause once in a while. And because of its own work, because of its own labor, it can chow down once in a while along the way. And it becomes self-sufficient in that way. And so Paul uses that example to make a bigger point that God isn't worried about the oxen in this scenario, because there's a greater lesson that's pointed out here. He makes that very point that he, as well as other teachers, as other pastors, shouldn't be taken for granted. They shouldn't be taken advantage of. But they should be adequately compensated by the church through tithes and offerings.

You know, in a sense, he's saying there should be a paid ministry. There should be a paid ministry. I shouldn't have to go get another job and try to fulfill my God-given responsibilities as well. And so he really is emphasizing a point that Christ himself made. If you hold your place here in 1 Corinthians 9, go to the Gospels for a moment. If you go to Luke 7, we'll see that Christ Himself implies this very thing. In Luke chapter, did I say 7? I don't think it's in 7. I think it's in 10:7. Aha. Yes, it is. So Luke 10:7, here's Christ kind of dealing with the same subject. And what did Christ have to teach about this idea? Well, notice what He says here in Luke 10:7. He talks about His representatives that are sent out, these that are going out to to preach and to teach. And He's giving them instructions as they go to preach the gospel. That's what they're doing. And so He says to them in verse 7, Chapter 10.

Luke 10:7 "Remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages."

The laborer is worthy of his wages. So here these individuals were sent out by Jesus Christ. Did he expect others then to take care of them? Yeah, he sure does. Matthew 10:10, same thing. Same thing is mentioned there as well. Labor is worthy of his hire. Does that go for an apostle? Does that go for the ministry? Yeah, it transfers. It's connected in that way. And so Paul uses Christ's teachings. He uses the example from the Old Testament with an ox as well. Now, he'll use some more concrete examples as well as he deals with this whole subject and kind of details a little bit further. So head back to Corinthians for a moment, because he did pose that rhetorical question.

1 Corinthians 9:9-10 "Is it oxen God is concerned about?" in verse 9. Verse 10, he says, "Or does He say it all together for our sakes? For our sakes, yes, that's the answer. No doubt this is written that he who plows should plow in hope."

Where does that connect to? Our farmer. Remember the farmer, the illustration he just gave in verse 7. Yeah, the plow. He plows in hope. He who threshes, threshes in hope. He should be a partaker of his hope. So the illustrations Paul uses of a shepherd and a farmer and a soldier, they're illustrated also by God's law. He talks about the law of Moses as well. And he makes the important point that for the ministry of Jesus Christ, it's appropriate in a sense to exchange spiritual things for material things. And that's the relationship.

The fact that others should give support, physically, material support, so that they can receive spiritual blessings. Yeah, that's exactly what he's trying to make really live in their minds, in their thinking, those that supposedly had the knowledge, but certainly didn't have the wisdom to understand that concept. And so he's saying, this isn't just Paul saying this, God tells us this. God tells us that the ministry should be taken care of. And so we recognize that very thing.

1 Corinthians 9:11 He says, "If we've sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?"

So if you think about that for a minute, what spiritual things were sown? What's that sown word? Planted. Who planted some spiritual seeds? Well, Paul was the planter. He showed up in Corinth and started preaching and teaching. He planted the seed and it started to grow. So should the farmer reap of the things that he planted? Well, follow the logic here. He's saying if you Corinthians really have the knowledge that you think you have, you should be able to follow this knowledge because we planted the gospel and you grew. There's fruit that's evident from this planting. And so I should be able to reap material things. I should be able to be taken care of out of tithes and offerings is the implication here.

1 Corinthians 9:12 And so he says, "If others are partakers of this right over you," in verse 12, "are we not even more?" So evidently they were supporting some in some means but we're picking and choosing. And evidently, Paul wasn't one of them. He says, "Nevertheless, we've not used this right."

So he's pointing out the fact that he should have been taken care of. He should have. In fact, if you hold your place here, you could go over to 1 Timothy. And we can see this method of taking care of the ministry is certainly something that is necessary and part of a congregation's responsibility. 1 Timothy 5 says, notice verse 17.

1 Timothy 5:17 He says, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the Word and doctrine."

So if you labor in the Word, Paul was preaching, teaching. Absolutely. That's what he was doing. They should be remunerated, right? They should receive compensation. In fact, he says they should even be considered to get twice as much as what might be paid otherwise. Doesn't mean you should pay them, but they should be counted worthy of that. And then you notice what's connected to that thought, that there should be a paid ministry.

1 Timothy 5:18 Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain. The laborer is worthy of his wages."

There's those two connections that he makes with Timothy. And so what a great point that he makes to really drive home the fact that the Corinthians should have been taking care of the apostle Paul as well. And so he had the right to reap of their material things. So head back to 1 Corinthians 9 here, and notice how he really drives home this point a little bit further. In verse 12, he said if others have that right, are we not even more? They should be sharing in that.

1 Corinthians 9:12 He says, "Nevertheless, we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ."

So Paul could have forced them to support him, but he didn't. Why? Love over knowledge. Love over privileges in that regard. Because Paul loved them, he set the ultimate example. Remember, we talked about owing each other. Owe no one anything but love. Yeah, that was the principle. So husbands owe their wives, wives owe their husbands, right? Corinth owe Paul? Yes, they did. But Paul owed Corinth as well. And so he showed love. He set that example of the teaching he just got done illustrating in Chapter 8. He was a great example of that. And in fact, we can see, let's just verify it to know exactly what we're talking about here. So hold your place in Chapter 10. Go back to Acts 18, Acts 18 is where the visit to Corinth is recorded for us. So if you go back to Chapter 18, notice verse, well, start in verse 1, just to set the context here.

Acts 18:1-3 It says, "After these things, Paul departed from Athens, went to Corinth." Where are we? We're in Corinth. Got it. Down in verse 2, then he meets Aquila and Priscilla. "And he came to them," verse 3, "because he was of the same trade. He stayed with them and worked, for by occupation they were tentmakers."

So they were leather workers. That was their occupation. What is Paul doing? He's working with them. He's working with them, which definitely illustrates the fact that the Corinthians weren't supporting him. He had an outside job that he supported himself, could pay his living expenses and then preach the gospel. So in a sense, tent maker, leather worker by day, gospel preaching apostle by night. That's how hard he worked. And so he points that out. So we head back to 1 Corinthians 9 then. What a great reminder here that he was not willing to let that be a stumbling block and worked so that people would understand the message and not let that idea get in the way because they just weren't spiritual enough to really understand. That kind of connects us back into Chapter 8 where there were those that weren't eating or were eating meat and those that weren't that just weren't there yet. They hadn't come to that depth of understanding yet. They were, in a sense, weak in the faith. So Paul took that into consideration. And so he set the right example in that way. But he still wants to make the point. Verse 13, go back to 1 Corinthians 9.

1 Corinthians 9:13 He says, "Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?"

Now, I know in your Pentateuch studies, you'll really get into the offerings as you go through Deuteronomy and Numbers. In fact, if you make a notation here of Numbers 18, there's a whole chapter about this very fact that the priests partook of the sacrifices. They had a right to eat of some of those sacrifices. So they served and they benefited from that service. So here Paul is showing there's a connection to the ministry in the Church of God today to that example of the Old Testament. And so he says very clearly then in verse 14.

1 Corinthians 9:14 "Even so, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel."

So if anyone ever questions you, should there be a paid ministry today, here's the passage that kind of sums it all up, 1 Corinthians 9:14. The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. The ministry should receive compensation, receive wages from tithes and offerings. That's, it says, a command from God. So there's no doubt about that. So with that in mind, Corinthians, I gave you this knowledge. I gave you this understanding. So pay up. Is that what he's expecting of them? No, no, remember love over knowledge. Just now, okay, I get this understanding if I was a Corinthian that misunderstood, is now Paul telling me I got to fork out the bucks? No, you better be tithing and you better be giving offerings, no doubt about that. But Paul's not telling them and instructing them on these things just to benefit himself. And we see that in the following verses. Look at verse 15.

1 Corinthians 9:15 He says, "I have used none of these, nor have I written these things that it should be done for me." Not telling you these things so that I might get a benefit out of it now. He says, "It would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void."

Okay, remember that example. We had meat offered to idols in the last chapter. Okay, you have the freedom to eat it. Should you eat it? Not if it's going to cause your brother to stumble. Taking tithes and offerings from them would have caused some of them to stumble. So Paul says, "I'd rather die than make that happen. I don't want that for you. So I didn't." And then he says, "it would make my boasting void." And I suppose he's correlating that to, I didn't take your tithes. I wasn't getting any help from you. So some might consider that bragging a little bit that I survived without your help. But that's not the point.

The point is, this is the way that God has established it. And so those that preach the gospel, those that minister the word of God, those that serve God in this way, do have a right to receive wages from tithes and offerings. And here's Paul setting an amazing example of love over knowledge. And so even though he has the right, does he demand their financial support? Does he demand that right? No, he says, "I can give that up. I'd rather do that. In fact, I'm adamant about refusing your support so that ultimately I can be blessed." He says, "No one's going to be depriving me of these things." So he's not just talking the talk. He's walking the walk and he's setting the ultimate example for them.

1 Corinthians 9:16 He says, "If I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for of necessity, it's laid upon me. Yes, woe to me if I do not preach the gospel."

And that better be the perspective of every minister of Jesus Christ, that it's not a job in that sense. It's a calling. Being a part of the ministry is a calling. And as a calling, yes, woe to us if we don't fulfill that calling. If God's called you into the ministry, woe to you if you don't answer that call. And so he says, "It's of necessity laid upon me." And so willingly he serves. He says, "If I do this willingly, I have a reward. But if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship." I need to be doing the right thing for the right reasons. That's what he's talking about here. And he equates this idea of ministering and serving with stewardship. Stewardship. And oftentimes this word for stewardship, the base word, is associating with being an elder, being a minister of Jesus Christ. It's one of the words that points in that direction.

And as a steward, of course, in the Roman Empire, that would bring up the steward of the household, the one who took care of the household, make sure that they had all the supplies they needed, making sure that people had the means to fulfill their responsibilities. They were the household manager in that sense. And so here Paul reminds the ministry and reminds the Corinthians that they, as ministers of Jesus Christ, have a trust and they are to be good managers of spiritual things. That's the ultimate point.

! Corinthians 9:17-18 And of course, he says, "What's my reward? Well, I'm not receiving any financial benefits from you." But he says, "When I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel."

So he wasn't charging them, as some might try to say, by collecting tithes and offerings. But he makes the point he's just compelled. He just has to. He has this passion and this commitment to preach and to teach. And he doesn't really have a choice in that sense. This is who I am. This is the calling I've been given.

And God has placed this spiritual divine stewardship upon the Apostle Paul. And so he's compelled to do it. And so where does his sense of satisfaction comes from? Where is it? Well, is it from his paychecks? He says no, no. The fact that he doesn't even exert that right says that just the fact that I'm serving you, that's bringing satisfaction. It's not the money. It's not just the financial benefits. Certainly in the ministry today, yeah, we benefit financially. We can take care of our families. Yeah, no doubt about that. But is that why we do what we do? You know, in a way, Paul is saying better not be. We better not want to be ministers just to get a paycheck. That's not what it's about at all. It's about presenting the gospel. And so oftentimes we'll look at verse 18. And as a church, we as a whole present the gospel free of charge.

You know, to those that God may be calling, do we say, "All right, we'll give you this booklet for, you know, $30. We'll sell it to you." But we don't do that, right? We present the gospel free of charge. You know, we don't force anybody to pay up if they, you know, go onto our website and download a booklet or, you know, listen to a sermon or anything like that. I think we are under that obligation, you know, to preach in that sense free of charge. But when it comes to the church, when it comes to the congregation and supporting the ministry, Paul certainly makes that point that a laborer is worthy of his hire, as Christ said. Yes, the ox should be able to eat of the grain. You know, we should be able to live by the means of the gospel when it comes to the ministry and our congregations. And so as we take a look at verse 19.

1 Corinthians 9:19 He says, "Though I'm free from all men," yet nobody's, you know, commanding me other than Christ himself in that sense. He says, "I've made myself a servant to all that I might win the more."

That I might win the more. Kind of interesting. If I had taken your tithes initially, that could have been a stumbling block. And I wasn't going to do that. I wasn't going to let that get in the way. And so I want to win more. Now, does that mean Paul thought he was going to be the ultimate guide to those to, you know, grasp the gospel and come, you know, to understand the truth? I don't think so. I think he recognizes himself as a tool, as an instrument in God's hands, and God was using him to do that. So Paul's not the one really doing the winning. Ultimately, it's God, but God's using him as that instrument. And I think he also puts it in these terms, because remember where we're at. He's going to build on this in a couple of verses. Not sure we'll quite get there in our session today, but remember where we're at. We're at Corinth. And Corinth was the area where they had the games, not the Olympic games, but the Isthmian games. And it was about winning. It was about winning. And so here's kind of another little alliteration that he uses to really connect with the Corinthians and the gospel. And so winning more, well, how can more have an opportunity to grasp the truth of God? Well, he says by being a servant, it made that possible. And as a servant.

1 Corinthians 9:20-21 He says to the Jews, "I became as a Jew. So he could identify with them." Why? "That I might win Jews. To those who are under the law, as under the law." Of course, remember the Temple is still in existence at this time. So when he drew that analogy about the priest and the sacrifices, yeah, that was still going on in Jerusalem and so he makes that kind of another living example. He also says then, "as under the law, those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law." And then verse 21, "To those who are without law, as without law," let me qualify that, "not being without law toward God, but under the law toward Christ, that I might win those who are without law."

So what he's doing is he's setting up all these different types of individuals. Yeah, there are Jews that I can identify with. There are those who are outside of the law. Those gentiles, in other words, is who he's talking about. They're without law. They don't understand God's law, but I can identify with them. He goes on and says, verse 22.

1 Corinthians 9:22 "To the weak, I became as weak that I might win the weak." So he's talking about those that aren't as mature. He says, "I've become all things to all men that I might by all means save some."

So Paul uses these last couple of verses to show the fact that he wasn't stuck in, you know, one rut as he preached and as he taught. Or there wasn't just one way to present the truth. He says here he adapted his style depending on who he was preaching to, what the culture was like. In order to reach them, in other words, in order to reach people, in order to allow God to use him as an instrument, he could adapt his style so that people could identify and they would have a better understanding in that way. So he kind of subdivides that world into the religious world with the Jews and then those gentiles who were outside of the church without the law in order to reach them. And of course, I think we can we can understand that as, you know, there are all kinds of people out here. And can we reach people where they're at? Would God expect that? Or is that just one size fits all when it comes to the way we preach and teach?

You know, there's one gospel. We know that. But the way it's presented can be done in a number of different ways. I mean, do we have any examples of that, that Paul kind of adapted things a little bit, depending on who he was talking to, where he was, what the culture may have been like? This is a really good example.

Hold your place here. Go back to Acts 17 for a moment. And let's notice the scenario here as Paul ends up in Athens. Paul ends up in Athens and he shows very clearly they're kind of in a place like the Corinthians, their logic and their knowledge and their understanding. You know, the Greeks were known for their education, known for their philosophy and their wonderful debates, all of those kinds of things. Here in Acts 17, we have the Apostle Paul coming to Athens, similar kind of a scenario here as Corinth. And as he goes there, it's interesting that he says, verse 16 of Acts 17.

Acts 17:16 It says, "Paul waited for them," for the rest of the party, "to get there at Athens, his spirit was provoked when he saw the city was given over to idols."

Yeah, so was Corinth. Athens certainly was. What does he do? Well, he reasons with them in the synagogue with the Jews. So to the Jews I became as a Jew. And then with the gentile worshipers in the marketplace. Yeah, not too many gentiles are going to show up at the synagogue, so he's going to be all things to all people.

Well, some of the philosophers hear him, and they brought him, verse 19, to the Areopagus, to Mars Hill. This is interesting because this is like the Supreme Court of Athens. And this doesn't seem to be just an invitation to come here. He's going to witness to them. In a sense, he's on trial because he's what seems to be talking about some new gods, and that would have been against the law to speak of new doctrine, as it says in verse 19. So, Paul has a responsibility to preach the gospel. Should he preach the gospel to the Athenians? Absolutely. He's taken before them at Mars Hill, at the Areopagus. And what should he say? "You guys are a bunch of pagans around here, and I've got the truth of God. So let me tell you about it." Should he do it that way or adapt his style a little bit and reach them where they're at and engage them or you just drop the hammer any way you want, or do it the same every single time you speak or teach?

Oh, Paul practiced what he was preaching there in 1 Corinthians 9. And the way he begins his defense of the gospel, that's what he's doing. He's defending the gospel. He is just absolutely brilliant. Talk about a defense attorney that's brilliant. The apostle Paul certainly was. And so he starts his defense of the gospel, verse 22.

Acts 17:22 It says, "He stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, 'Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious."

Well, how would you feel if you were an Athenian? Yeah, he's right. Yeah, we certainly are. He's already winning them to his side. You think they're going to listen? Yeah, absolutely. He says, "So I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship." And so he draws them to what, how do we worship? And oh, by the way, there was this altar to the unknown God. And then he tells them, "You don't even realize it, but I'm preaching about Him."

And so here, Paul very deftly uses knowledge, right? But out of love and adapting his style to the weak, I became weak. To the Jew, I became a Jew. To the one outside the law, I became as outside the law. That's exactly what he did. And ultimately, what's the result? I mean, this is I think it's absolutely phenomenal. So they bring him to court. I think what would happen if you're preaching an unknown God that's against our religion, you could face death. But instead, Paul adapts his style without them even realizing it, preaches the truth and really gets right down to it. He talks about sin and repentance and the kingdom. Verse 31, he gets to the point where, well, verse 30.

Acts 17:30 He says, "These times of ignorance God overlooks, but now commands all men everywhere to repent."

Well, what would have happened if he started out his argument like that, if he didn't adapt his style, if right off the bat, he just would have said, "You guys are a bunch of pagans and you better repent or you're going in a lake of fire"? Cut off his head. Yeah, it wouldn't have went very far. But here, Paul was all things to all men. Talks about repentance. Talks about a day of judgment in verse 31. And what happened as a result?

Acts 17:34 "Some men joined him and believed."

Yeah, God blessed the outcome. God was calling people and ultimately Paul departs and, you know, didn't get thrown in jail at that time. So we certainly see him adapting his style and his approach and taking into account the culture in order to reach them so that God could use him as a tool. And so if you go back to 1 Corinthians 9, he even shows why. Why should I do these things?

1 Corinthians 9:23 "Now this I do for the gospel's sake that I may be a partaker of it with you."

Yes, ultimately, we're all in this together. We're partakers, we're sharers, right? We are partners together, ultimately looking forward to the kingdom of God and eternal life. And so Paul points that out within this whole context of there should be a paid ministry, but I didn't want you to stumble by taking your tithes and offerings. And in that way, I have been all things to all men, making that point. We owe each other love. That's what it's about. It's about love and illustrating love in everything that we do. So we'll leave it at that for today. We'll pick it up in verse 24. Didn't quite get through the chapter, but we'll be sure and do that next time as we begin in 1 Corinthians 9:24 next time.