Donations – BT2
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But what is this so-called ‘right?’
In 1 Corinthians 9:1-2, Paul sets his argument up: “Are you not my workmanship in the Lord . . . at least I am to you an apostle!” Are you saying, “Doesn’t a person get paid for their work? Especially an apostle?” Then in vv. 9:3-7, Paul explains his “defense to those who would judge/critique my inward motives (a): Don’t we have the ‘right’ to eat and drink? Don’t we have the ‘right’ to travel with a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the [physical] brothers of Jesus and Peter? Or is it only Barnabas (b) and I who have no ‘right’ to not in possibility be presently/ongoingly working?” In verse 9:11, Paul and Barnabas said they “sowed Spirit-kind-of things among them, so shouldn’t they have hope in reaping flesh-kind-of things (c) from them?” Since the other apostles above evidently had partaken of this ‘right’ from the Corinthians, shouldn’t Paul and Barnabas have this more to a greater degree? Is Paul really asking them for money? If you think that, you haven’t been reading very carefully! <Notes> a) anakrino: to judge/distinguish vigorously ‘down to up’ by closely, even forensically, examining, investigating, or interrogating, thus careful study or evaluation, b) likely the author of Hebrews, c) sarkikos, adjective of sarx: human needs.
Is Paul saying that these ‘others’ have a legitimate ‘right’ to compensation, which all other pastors in history should then be quick to claim? Is that Paul’s actual point? We also have to remember that Paul had many run-ins with James, the brother of Jesus. Look how James 2:24 “a person is justified by works and not by trusting-relying-faith alone” directly attacks Paul’s “We hold that one is justified by trusting-relying-faith apart from works of the Law” (a) and “the one who does not work but has trusting-relying-faith in Him who justifies the ungodly, His trusting-relying-faith is counted as righteousness” (b). Paul also had run-ins with Peter. Look how in Galatians 2:12-14, Paul had to “call out” Peter and his Jewish brothers for their hypocrisy because they were shunning the Gentiles at meals because they feared “the circumcision party.” He said “James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars” in the Church “seemed to be influential, but what they were makes no difference to me, for God shows no partiality and they added nothing to me” (c). <Notes> a) Romans 3:28, b) Romans 4:5, c) Galatians 2:6, 9.
So, we can’t be too quick to think Paul is giving these “pillars” his thumbs-up concerning the exercising of their ‘rights’ to support. More importantly we have to keep verses in their context! If we do, we will see that Paul is simply prodding the Corinthians to consider why they have been so selfish and unloving towards their team, while others have been treated much better. Their self-centeredness has caused a lot of problems, like during their love feasts where they also celebrated the Lord’s Supper (a). But Paul criticized them: “Love does not insist on its own way” (b), so “let no one see his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (c). In our immediate context of 1 Corinthians 8:7-13, these Gentile-Christians were exercising their ‘right’ to eat food offered to an idol (d) because to them it didn’t violate their particular gnosis info-knowledge of their “freedom in Christ” (g), but by eating it in front of others who were weak in this understanding (e), they were encouraging them to violate their consciences, so “by your gnosis knowledge this weak person is destroyed, a brother whom Christ died for. Thus, this sinning against your brethren by wounding their conscience when it is weak, causes you to sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brethren stumble, I will never eat meat (f), lest I make my brethren stumble.” <Notes> a) 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, b) 1 Corinthians 13:5, c) 1 Corinthians 10:24, d) it was routinely sold in the marketplace for better prices, e) Jewish-Christians brought up on strict dietary laws, f) that’s how far Paul would go, g) Galatians 5:1.