1 Corinthians 9:16 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 9:16, NIV: For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

1 Corinthians 9:16, ESV: For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

1 Corinthians 9:16, KJV: For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

1 Corinthians 9:16, NASB: For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast about, for I am under compulsion; for woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.

1 Corinthians 9:16, NLT: Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn't preach the Good News!

1 Corinthians 9:16, CSB: For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason to boast, because I am compelled to preach--and woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

What does 1 Corinthians 9:16 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul wrote in the previous verse that he would rather die than lose his grounds for boasting. Now he makes it clear that he is not boasting because he himself has decided to preach the gospel. He doesn't feel he has any choice about whether he will continue to preach about salvation through faith in Jesus. Christ compelled Paul to preach the gospel. The Lord Himself sent Paul into the world with the message of God's grace. Both the burden and the ability come from God, so Paul cannot brag about either one.

Paul uses the terminology of the Old Testament prophets to describe what would happen to him if he stopped preaching the gospel: "Woe to me!" This implies more than just sadness for Paul if he were to stop preaching the gospel. In an Old Testament context, it suggests serious real-world consequences from the Lord if Paul were to refuse to carry out his calling. In any case, Paul knows he simply cannot stop preaching the gospel. It is not an option available to him. What is under his control, however, is the issue at hand: whether to accept compensation for his work.