What does 1 Corinthians 9:6 mean?
ESV: Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?
NIV: Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?
NASB: Or do only Barnabas and I have no right to refrain from working?
CSB: Or do only Barnabas and I have no right to refrain from working?
NLT: Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves?
KJV: Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
NKJV: Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?
Verse Commentary:
Paul has been asking a series of rhetorical questions. These are not actual attempts to learn, but statements that expect a certain answer. His point is that he has not been demanding his "rights" as an apostle (1 Corinthians 9:1–2). Other apostles, he has suggested, receive financial support from those they serve, even bringing their wives along on ministry travels. Now Paul implies that he and Barnabas also have the right to ask for this support, rather than working an outside job to support their own ministry efforts.

Paul's reason for using this style of writing is to highlight the obvious: of course they have the same right. Paul and Barnabas are willingly choosing not to take money from the people they minister to.

Paul's mention of Cephas/Peter in the previous verse, and Barnabas here, shows the Corinthians at least know who these men are. It's not clear if either ever came to Corinth. Paul and Barnabas traveled together earlier in their career, perhaps agreeing during that time not to take funds from the people they evangelized.
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.
Accessed 5/26/2024 6:14:28 PM
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