1 Corinthians 9:6

6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves?

1 Corinthians 9:6 Meaning and Commentary

1 Corinthians 9:6

Or I only and Barnabas
Who were for a great while companions and fellow travellers; are we alone? are we exempted from those rights and privileges, common to others?

have not we power to forbear working?
that is, with their hands, at their trades and occupations, to get their living by: Paul worked at his trade, and so it seems Barnabas did likewise: Paul wrought with his hands at Corinth, in company with Aquila and Priscilla, they being tentmakers as he, ( Acts 18:3 ) and so he did in other places; he appeals for the truth of this to the elders of the church at Ephesus, ( Acts 20:34 ) and to the church of the Thessalonians, ( 1 Thessalonians 2:9 ) ( 2 Thessalonians 3:8 ) not but that he had a right and power to leave off business, to forbear working, and require a maintenance from those to whom he ministered; but for some reasons he chose not to make use of this his power and liberty, because he would not be chargeable to them; and lest that upon his first preaching the Gospel to them, they should think he had worldly selfish ends in view, and not the good of souls, and glory of Christ; however, he hereby lets them know, that though Barnabas and he continued to get their bread by their own hand labour, they had a right to quit their trades, and throw themselves upon them for a maintenance. The apostle seems, in this, to imitate the ancient, wise, and holy men of his nation, who taught the law freely, and took nothing for it; not that they thought it was unlawful, or that they had no right to a maintenance on account of it, but for the honour of religion, and that piety they professed; and lest the law should be thought to be made a trade of, they chose not to insist upon it F4.


F4 Maimon. & Bartenora in Pirke Abot, c. 4. sect. 5.

1 Corinthians 9:6 In-Context

4 Don’t we have the right to live in your homes and share your meals?
5 Don’t we have the right to bring a believing wife with us as the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers do, and as Peter does?
6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves?
7 What soldier has to pay his own expenses? What farmer plants a vineyard and doesn’t have the right to eat some of its fruit? What shepherd cares for a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk?
8 Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing?
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