What does 1 Corinthians 9:22 mean?
ESV: To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
NIV: To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
NASB: To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak; I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save some.
CSB: To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.
NLT: When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.
KJV: To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
NKJV: to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
Verse Commentary:
Paul has been describing how he limits his personal freedom in order to win more people to faith in Christ. He has become as a Jew and law-follower to win some of them. He has become as one who is outside of the law, a Gentile, to win some of them. Now he writes that he has become weak to win the weak.

Bible scholars disagree about what Paul means by "the weak." Some suggest that the weak is a description for all ungodly people (Romans 5:6), meaning that Paul lived, in a sense, as an unbeliever might live in order to reach unbelievers. They don't suggest he lived in sin, but perhaps that he shared in their cultural practices. Given all Paul has said about the need to avoid sin and the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22; Ephesians 5:27; 1 Timothy 3:2), it seems unlikely he'd send mixed signals, spiritually speaking.

What makes more sense in the context here is that "the weak" refers to those Christians who cannot bring themselves to eat meat offered to idols (1 Corinthians 8:4–7). Such persons suffer unnecessary restrictions because their faith in God's grace and confidence that idols are imaginary is underdeveloped (1 Corinthians 8:8–11). Taken this way, it means Paul has opted out of eating such meat in order to win the weak. He not only saves them from sinfully violating their own convictions, he avoids offending them or giving them cause for spiritual confusion (1 Corinthians 8:12–13). He cooperates with their restrictive behaviors, to avoid placing any unnecessary barriers in their path.

Paul's conclusion is stated clearly. He has become "all things to all people" in order to save some by leading them to faith in Christ. He has never changed the content of his message about becoming acceptable to God through faith in Christ alone (Galatians 1:8–9; 2 Timothy 2:14–18; 1 Corinthians 16:13). Instead, Paul is describing a willingness to continually change his own behavior, setting aside his own rights, in order lead as many as possible to Christ.
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 4:38:19 PM
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