What does 1 Corinthians 9:19 mean?
ESV: For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.
NIV: Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
NASB: For though I am free from all people, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may gain more.
CSB: Although I am free from all and not anyone's slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people.
NLT: Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.
KJV: For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
NKJV: For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;
Verse Commentary:
Freedom and slavery were key ideas for Paul. The contrast between servants and masters in the ancient world was much more pronounced than the divide between rich and poor, or between owner and employee, as seen in modern culture. These ideas describe how Paul viewed himself in relation to God, to the law of Moses, and to other people. He has written of himself in the previous verses as a trusted "slave" of Christ, under orders to preach the gospel message. He carries out that duty because he must. Like the Old Testament prophets, he sees himself as having no choice in the matter.

He believes himself to be free, on the other hand, when it comes to those he serves. This was true both legally and spiritually. As a Roman citizen, Paul was truly free and not a bonded servant or slave. He enjoyed the rights owed to every true citizen of Rome. In addition, he had been freed from responsibility to the law of Moses by his faith in Christ. He owed nothing to the Jewish religious leaders.

And yet Paul now says that he has voluntarily declared himself a servant / slave of all people. In other words, he believes that his mission to reach people with the gospel of Jesus includes placing himself under the authority of everyone, in a sense. The following verses elaborate on what he means by this.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 9:19–23 describes how Paul has made himself a slave to everyone. He limits his own rights and freedoms in order to connect with others. He becomes ''all things to all people'' so that some will be won to faith in Christ. He becomes as a Jewish person under the law to win law-following Jewish people. He becomes like a person not under the law to win others, such as Gentiles. He even becomes weak for the sake of the weak. He does all of this for sake of the gospel, encouraging others to do the same.
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.
Accessed 5/26/2024 5:27:59 PM
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