What does 1 Corinthians 9:12 mean?
ESV: If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.
NIV: If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.
NASB: If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.
CSB: If others have this right to receive benefits from you, don't we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right; instead, we endure everything so that we will not hinder the gospel of Christ.
NLT: If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ.
KJV: If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
Verse Commentary:
Paul continues to give arguments for why he, as the founder of the church in Corinth and a kind of spiritual father, has the right to expect financial support from them. Now he writes that others share this claim, apparently suggesting that they have given financial support to other spiritual leaders. He may have in mind Apollos or Peter. Finally, though, Paul admits that "we," he and his coworkers, have not demanded this right. That is, they have not asked the Corinthians to give them money even though they would have been justified in doing so.

Their reason for refusing to be paid by the Corinthians is simple: They do not want to put any obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. In part, this is meant to demonstrate the principle Paul explained at the end of chapter 8 (1 Corinthians 8:7–13). It's more important to consider the spiritual benefit of others than to demand what we are "owed."

Paul may also be concerned about the question of motive. If someone suspected his work in Corinth was about a paycheck, they may have walked away from the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ. Paul is committed to avoid creating reasons for others to doubt the sincerity of his mission.

The following verses clarify that Paul is not suggesting that others who ministered to the Corinthians were wrong to receive money. On the contrary, it's a natural and sensible thing. He simply chose not to do so for the reasons he will explain.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 9:1–18 describes Paul's case for why he, as an apostle, has the right to ask for financial support from the people he serves, including the Corinthian Christians. Though he could demand, Paul refuses to insist on his right. He doesn't want anything to get in the way of someone hearing the gospel. He must preach the gospel; he has no choice. But Paul wants to be able to boast about offering the gospel free of charge even though he has the right to ask for financial support. This passage establishes that believers have an obligation to support those who serve through ministry. This message is made more valid since Paul is not benefitting from his own argument.
Chapter Summary:
Paul encourages Christians to willingly give up their ''rights'' for the good of those who are weak in their faith. Paul shows that he, too, has given up his rights, including the right as an apostle to receive financial support from those he serves. Instead, he boasts that he serves the Corinthians without any compensation, even at great cost to himself. Paul describes himself as an athlete competing for the prize of a crown in eternity. His point is for believers to pursue godliness, and the good of others, with that kind of commitment.
Chapter Context:
First Corinthians 8 ended with Paul's declaration that he would give up his right to eat any meat rather than cause a brother in Christ to stumble. He shows in this chapter that he is already giving up his right as an apostle to be financially supported by those he serves. He doesn't want anything to get in the way of anyone believing the gospel. He limits his freedoms further by becoming all things to all people to win some for Christ. He disciplines himself like an athlete in training, to get a prize and to avoid being disqualified. The next passages will expand on this idea of distinguishing what is ''allowed'' from what is ''best.''
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
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