1 Corinthians 9:19

Paul’s Use of His Freedom

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.

1 Corinthians 9:19 in Other Translations

KJV
19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
ESV
19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.
NLT
19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.
MSG
19 Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people:
CSB
19 For although I am free from all people, I have made myself a slave to all, in order to win more people.

1 Corinthians 9:19 Meaning and Commentary

1 Corinthians 9:19

For though I be free from all men
As an apostle, being in the highest office in the church, he had none superior to him, that could exercise any power and authority over him, and was also independent of men for his maintenance, which he got by his own hand labour: though it may be observed, that the word "men" is not in the original text, and the word "all" may as well have respect to things as men; and the sense be, that he was free, as from the curse of the moral law, so from the yoke of the ceremonial law, and all the rituals of it, and might, if he would, make use of his Christian liberty; the following verses seem to incline to this sense, as the preceding ones do to the former:

yet have I made myself servant unto all;
in faithfully and indefatigably preaching the Gospel to them; undergoing all manner of affliction and persecution for the sake of that and them; behaving towards them with all meekness and humility; condescending to their weakness, and accommodating himself to their capacities and customs:

that I might gain the more;
than other apostles have done, or than it could be reasonably thought he should, had he behaved in a more lordly and domineering manner: his end was not to amass wealth, to gain riches and treasures of good things to himself, but many souls to Christ, who otherwise must have been lost; but being brought to the knowledge of Christ, and salvation by him through his ministry, it was profit to them, and gain to Christ: the metaphor is taken from merchants, who spare no pains, but take every method to acquire gain and profit; the ministers of the word are spiritual merchants, their traffic lies in the souls of men, whom they are studiously and anxiously careful to bring to Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:19 In-Context

17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.
18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.
19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.
21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.

Cross References 3

  • 1. ver 1
  • 2. 2 Corinthians 4:5; Galatians 5:13
  • 3. Matthew 18:15; 1 Peter 3:1