What does 1 Corinthians 9:8 mean?
ESV: Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same?
NIV: Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn't the Law say the same thing?
NASB: I am not just asserting these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does the Law not say these things as well?
CSB: Am I saying this from a human perspective? Doesn't the law also say the same thing?
NLT: Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing?
KJV: Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
NKJV: Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also?
Verse Commentary:
Paul is presenting his defense of a certain point of view. He does, in fact, sound very much like a lawyer in this series of verses. He is making the case that he has rights as an apostle of Jesus. And yet, for important reasons, he is not demanding that those rights be honored by the believers in Corinth (1 Corinthians 9:1–7). That message is meant to underscore his teaching from the end of chapter 8 (1 Corinthians 8:7–13).

The central question is whether someone has the right to financial support from those they serve. This would include the Christians in Corinth. Paul has shown that other apostles claim this right and that people in most other professions claim it as well. It's the normal, common-sense way of things: those who benefit provide support to those who serve them. To put this principle beyond argument, Paul turns to the Old Testament law of Moses to emphasize that this is a legal right. He is not merely speaking from human authority, as shown by his citation in the following verse (1 Corinthians 9:9).
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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