From:  A Torah Commentary on First  Corinthians 7-12     Return to Home

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.                               © 2011







Chapter 9






            There were Corinthians who thought that if Paul’s teaching were really of great value, that he surely would have been charging those who received it.  Were they not being manifestly benefited by what he could provide? 

We should not view this as an outrageous suggestion because many still equate cost with value—the higher the cost the “better” the product “must” be.  Overlooking that sometimes it is but other times it’s simply a “con” being worked in which image substitutes for substance.  Autos with the same inner frame and engine but with only a different “shell” have been known to sell for thousands more because one has a “classier image” than the other.  Yet so far as durability and driver friendliness, they were identical!

             Paul stresses that there was nothing wrong with taking “wages” (or whatever euphemism one prefers) for one’s preaching and teaching.   It was the norm in the surrounding world and even the Mosaical Law provided ample precedent for it.  Indeed not only did the other apostles go that route, but Jesus Himself stressed the listeners’ need to support gospel laborers. 

            Hence he is not criticizing others for what they have done, but simply insisting that he has a right to follow his own preference since it costs no one anything and does no one injury in any manner.  He had proved this by making his top priority the salvation of souls and by his persistent determination not to put needless obstacles in the path of the obedience of others.

Note how Paul walks another of his tight-ropes.  In chapter 7 it was to stress the morality and even need for marriage while asserting his own preference for celibacy.  Here it is for the right of others to take wages for their spiritual labor while his own preference was not to do so.  Both were morally and ethically proper; it was a matter of personal inclination (or need) rather than obligation. 

Paradoxically, “self-sacrificing” such as Paul had done could become an ego-trip.  (“Look how much I’ve sacrificed; I must really be great!”)  In the final verses of the chapter, Paul stresses that he did not permit the sacrifices involved in his choice to go to his head.  He was just as determined to be steadfast to the Lord as he urged others to be.  After all, if he himself were rejected by the Lord he so zealously preached, what possible benefit would all the work have been to him?



[Page 90]



How the Themes Are Developed  







 Paul protested against their efforts to criticize

him when they all theoretically conceded his

apostolic teaching authority (9:1-9:2)



            ATP text:  1Am I not free?  Am I not a spiritual ambassador?  Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?  Are you not the result of my work in the Lord?  2If I am not an ambassador to others, yet doubtless I am to you:  you are the seal which proves that I am an ambassador in the Lord’s service.”

            Development of the argument:  As the chapter begins, Paul defends the validity of his approach to the apostleship and his ministry.  It was so different from that of the other apostles it inevitably had to provoke queries as to why it was such and, virtually inevitably, challenges as to its prudence and appropriateness.  Indeed, its difference from the approach of Peter and the other apostles (9:5-6) could even have been utilized by his opponents against his claim of even being an apostle.[1]  Alternatively, the difference in practice was so profound that it could have been used to challenge whether his judgment could be trusted on the religious issues that divided the congregation.  Either way these were matters that had to be dealt with to avoid his instructions being rejected.

            To accomplish this, he first points out that he had personally seen the Lord and had been the cause of the conversion of the Corinthians themselves (9:1).  The first showed that the Lord had regarded him of sufficient importance to be the only nonbeliever to have been led to faith by a post-resurrection appearance.  If this did not indicate that He had some important role in store for Paul (i.e., the apostleship), what else could it mean?  His role in converting the Corinthians also strengthened his position relative to them.  To use the modern expression, they “owed” him.  Even if some wanted to undermine the acceptance of his teaching, they had to find some means to do without openly repudiating the very man who had brought them to the faith.

Furthermore, even if others in other places had questioned the legitimacy of his apostleship, he has no doubt that this was not the case with them (9:2).  But once they conceded that apostleship they were in no position to effectively oppose his exercising that authority by instructing them as to proper believer behavior and attitude.  They had in the past (at least verbally) conceded the crucial point:  it was too late to start dragging their feet in such matters; it would be a display of blatant, self-interested special pleading and self-condemned as such.



[Page 91]



One of those apostolic rights he enjoyed was that

of being paid by the local church in lieu of

working at secular employment (9:3-9:6)



            ATP text:  3My defense to those who challenge me is this:  4Do we not have a right to our food and drink?  5Do we not have the right to travel with a believing wife, like the rest of the spiritual ambassadors and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?  6Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working at another job to provide our living?”

            Development of the argument:  In light of his clear cut right to be regarded as an apostle by them (9:1-2), their criticisms (9:3), he implies, have to do with how he conducted himself in the apostleship rather than its legitimacy.  On the other hand, if the pattern differed enough—and our text indicates it differed in regard to the two major areas of not being married and in regard to declining local Corinthian financial support—then it would be very easy for this to evolve into an argument against the authenticity of his apostleship as well.[2] 

By wording the argument the way he does, he simultaneously deals with those who objected to his departure from the apostolic norm and any who might go beyond this and use it to deny his right to the position.  The assertion in verse 2, noting that (in the past) they conceded the legitimacy of his apostleship, put them as a further disadvantage if they now wished to reverse course. 

            He agrees that he has the right to be married, as were the other apostles (9:5).  Furthermore he has the right “to eat and drink” (9:6) at the expense of those he labored on behalf of (cf. 9:6).  In this context, the idea of leading about a wife and receiving support carried with it the right of the apostle to receive financial assistance adequate to cover the living expenses of both parties:[3]  A congregation could not effectively veto that marital right by refusing to provide an income sufficient to cover the expenses of both.  (Of course, the assumption is that the church does have the financial wherewithal and the question is whether they will utilize it or not.)






This right of being paid for one’s labor

was readily recognized in affairs

of this world (9:7)



[Page 92]         ATP text:  7Who ever serves as a soldier at his own expense?  Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes?  Or who is a shepherd and does not drink the milk of the flock?”

            Development of the argument:  To provide earthly parallels supporting the principle of receiving a “living” in return for one’s spiritual labor, one could point to the fact that people don’t fight a war at their own cost (9:7).  Nor do they plant a vineyard or shepherd a flock without reaping the reward for their work (9:7).  Be it war, agriculture, or animal care, it was the same situation.

By providing a diverse series of examples, he implicitly argues that this is a “universal principle,” one that everyone normally takes for granted.  So no one could rightly deny it if he chose to exercise the right as well.  Rather than defending what he himself was doing, however, here he is more interested in making sure that no one misconstrues his preference as a criticism of those who did otherwise.






Even the Law of Moses created the precedent

of receiving reimbursement

for one’s labor (9:8-9:10)



            ATP text:  8I am not arguing these things according to mere human judgment, am I?  Or does not the Law of Moses also teach the same principles?  9For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain."  God is not primarily concerned about oxen, is He?  10Is he not really laying down this principle for our benefit?  Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plower ought to plow in hope of getting a share of the crop and the reaper of the field to thresh in hope of the same thing.”

            Development of the argument:  The Torah itself had confirmed that principle of reward for one’s labor (9:8) by teaching that even oxen had the right to eat the grain it was troding (9:9).  That principle was manifestly more true of those who had labored for their spiritual benefit.  Hence one might even say that the text was really intended to teach us about such matters rather than the proper treatment of animals (9:10). 

If a (relatively) “non-thinking” animal should have such a right, how much more so an intelligent human being!  He reasons from the “lesser” to the “greater.”  If it is not conclusive proof, it is at least “illustrative” proof, the introduction of an example that establishes the reasonableness of the position. 




[Page 93]


This was a right endorsed by common sense,

by the practice of the other apostles,

by that of the Jewish priesthood, and

by the command of the Lord Himself (9:11-9:14)



            ATP text:  11If we sowed spiritual things in you as seed, is it excessive if we reap material things from you as part of the harvest?  12If others already share this rightful claim upon you, do we not have even a greater claim?   Nevertheless, we have not exercised this right, but endure all things so that we create no obstacle for the gospel of Christ.  13Do you not know that those who are employed in the sacred temple services eat the food of the temple and those who serve at the altar have their share of the offerings?  14In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who preach the good news about Jesus should get their living from the gospel they proclaim.”

            Development of the argument:  They would not contest that Paul’s having “sown spiritual things for you” gained him the right to “reap your material things” (9:11).  Indeed, they could not since others exercised that privilege, but Paul had consciously made the decision not to do so lest in some form or fashion he unintentionally “hinder the gospel of Christ” (9:12).  That might include opening himself to the charge of preaching just for the money or goods received (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:5),[4] but he casts his decision in much broader language than that.  Whatever temporary advantages it might bring for him personally, he was convinced that it might ultimately undermine his successful sharing of the gospel message—the possibility rather than the specific “how” of the detriment was what most interested him.  He would “rather be safe than sorry;” better cautious than sorrowful.

            Under the Old Testament those who ministered in the temple and at its altars had the right to partake of the offerings (9:13).  In their own day and age “the Lord” had not only permitted but even “commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (9:14).  This instruction from “the Lord” was clearly viewed by Paul as an optional command so far as exercising the right that was bestowed, but one that, if exercised, those being benefited could not honorably choose to ignore.[5]  The choice came on the part of the one being benefited, to seek or not.  Hence Paul had declined to do so and did not feel himself as guilty of any kind of sin for having done so (9:15). 

There are things that are “right” but not “essential,” things that may even be “desirable” but not “obligatory.”  This was a principle that Paul had repeatedly made in chapter 7.  Accepting financial/living support was one of them.






They had no business criticizing him for

exercising his apostolic rights when he

had gone out of his way not to burden them with

one of his major privileges—the right to be

financially supported by them (9:15-9:18)



[Page 94]         ATP text:  15But I have exercised none of my rights in the matter.  Nor am I writing these things so that I can begin to do so--it would be better for me to die than to permit anyone to rob me of my right to take pride in this.  16Indeed, though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of:  I am under the obligation to do so, for it would be terrible for me if I do not preach the good news of Christ.  17For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I still have a duty entrusted to me to fulfill.  18What then is my pay for my work?  It is the privilege of preaching the good news free of charge and to avoid exercising my full rights in the gospel.”

            Development of the argument:  Paul’s secular trade gave him opportunities for unexpected and spur-of-the-moment conversations with unbelievers that would not otherwise have occurred.  So perhaps it is no wonder that he considered his preaching without charge a thing to be a thing to be proud of (9:16a).  On the other hand, one way or another, he would unquestionably have been preaching that gospel since the moral “necessity” of doing so had been “laid upon me” (9:16b).  He had been given a “stewardship” that involved it and he could in no way shun the obligation (9:17). 

            Although Paul anticipated an ultimate “reward” from God for his teaching (9:17), he also felt that he had an immediate one in preaching “the gospel of Christ without charge.”  This lay in the fact that there was absolutely no way he could “abuse my authority” to receive their financial support if he declined to accept it in the first place (9:18).

            Indeed, he regarded the work itself as his pay for preaching the gospel (9:18).  Today we find people who love being of benefit to others so much that they go every year for a few weeks or months to work without pay to assist the sickly, the poor, the struggling.  They have enough money to be able to do this gratis.  Likewise, Paul made enough money in his trade to finance his sharing of the divine good news.  In all these cases “the work is (paradoxically) its own reward.”

            The second reason Paul gives in 9:18 for not accepting wages was to avoid exercising all the rights he had in the gospel.  In other words, to repeat a point we’ve already mentioned, there were things he could do, were right to do, and which were even endorsed by Jesus, but where one might better benefit others by not doing.  Repeatedly in this epistle Paul contrasts what one could do versus what it was best to do.  (Just in the last chapter he had discussed the eating of idol offered meats:  yes, it was right to eat them but he would still avoid doing so if it would cause the less learned to stumble into sin.)  By his own example he taught that he followed the same “rule of restraint.”

            This did not mean that Paul was unwilling to accept financial support at all, just that he refused to accept it from any congregation while he worked among them.  Hence we read of how the Macedonians support Paul after he had left them (2 Corinthians 11:9) and how the Philippians had provided support, also after he had left (Philippians 4:14-16).  Presumably he would have been willing to enjoy Corinthian support when he had moved on elsewhere as well.[6]  If he ever made exceptions they were just that, departures from his preferred “norm.”



[Page 95]         Furthermore, on at least one occasion while in Corinth he received outside assistance (2 Corinthians 11:9).  His refusal to do so locally could be converted by critics from a show of independence to derision as rejecting them.  “Our money wasn’t good enough,” could easily have been their reaction. 

Assuming that the divisiveness was already present at the beginning of his local ministry (though, presumably in lesser form) his “gut instincts” may well have been that any local support was going to result in a “bee hive” of problems that were far from needed.  Whether this recognition was present as a motivating factor or not, it was imperative that they understood that his decisions were based on what he thought would accomplish the most good and on nothing else.  






It was unfair for them to criticize him

for his flexibility in dealing with people,

for it was always aimed at bringing

about their salvation (9:19-9:23)



            ATP text:  19For though I am no one’s slave, yet I have made myself as if a slave to all, so that I may win as many as possible:  20To the Jews I lived as if a Jew, so that I might win Jews--to those who are ruled by the Mosaical Law, I live as if bound by it though I am not.  I do this so that I might convert those who are under the Law.  21In the same way, when working with Gentiles, who are not regulated by that law, I live like them in order to convert them. This does not mean that I am not bound by law, but I conform to God’s law that is found in Christ.  22To the spiritually weak I became as if infirm myself, so that I might win the weak.  I have become everything to everyone so that I might always at least be able to save some.  23I do all this for the gospel’s sake, so that I may share in its benefits.”

            Development of the argument:  Paul’s financial independence permitted him to be “free from all men” and the pressure they might exert seeking a quid quo pro for their assistance (1 Corinthians 9:19a).  Hence he was totally free to “win the more” converts since he lacked potential impediments from his financial supporters (9:19b).  This was one of the ironies of being on the church’s “payroll:”  it provided extra time to deal with people, but some of your key providers could well expect you to “bend” to their religious preferences or to limit your efforts to convert others to the social-economic strata they deemed most desirable.   

Paul’s twin defenses of both himself and the right to receive wages is not, as a few have thought, a denunciation “in the most savage way” of those who chose that option,[7] but a defense of both courses.  What might be deemed best by others—and even be best in their particular cases--was not that which would work best for him.

            Out of this conscious decision to maximize the reach of his message grew his policy of following Jewish customs as necessary to make them willing to consider what



[Page 96]  he had to say (9:20).  The same was true on the others side of the ethnic barrier as well:  he similarly conformed to honorable and respectable Gentile customs when dealing with that audience (9:21).  

It was an utilitarian agenda, but one adopted not out of the desire to make things easier for himself but to maximize those willing to embrace the gospel he preached.  In short, he adapted himself to whatever conventions were appropriate and needed so the barriers to his message would be removed (9:22).  It was not that he was without principle but that he could distinguish between when vital concerns were involved and when only personal preferences were at stake.  He did not follow this policy of flexibility out of masochism or inconsistency[8] but “for the gospel’s sake” that the maximum audience might be reached (9:23).






Flexibility was not, however, the same thing

as lack of self-control:  Paul always kept himself

under a tight rein lest

he himself be rejected by God (9:24-9:27)



            ATP text:  24Do you not know that though all run who participate in a foot-race, yet only one receives the prize?  So run like them with the intent of being victorious!  25Everyone who competes in earthly athletic contests exercises strict self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable head wreath for winning, but we for a “crown” that is eternal.  26Therefore I do not run aimlessly nor do I shadow box with the air.  27Instead I discipline my body and put it under total control, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified from the competition.”

Development of the argument:  Having preached successfully to so many different types of people, did not give Paul free run to ignore his own personal obligations, obligations that others were expected to follow.  One and all must run the race of life in a manner to win the ultimate reward (9:24).  In earthly athletic contests, only one person received a garland wreath as winner.  But the “race of faith” is one where all participants can share in “top honors.”  Your own victory does not require someone else’s loss.

The fact that all can emerge triumphant, however, does not mean that one can ignore the regimen required for victory.  Since victory is still only a potential and not yet an accomplished reality, it is necessary that one be “temperate” in all behavior (9:25).    This was essential for a successful athlete then and today.  Self-control, self-discipline, rigorous and prolonged training:  for the Olympics a person will typically train seven days a week for four years and all that for a contest that may only take a few minutes to complete.[9]  Yet it is worth it if one wins an award.  In a similar vein, all the annoyances, difficulties, and sometimes losses that one may endure for faith will turn out to be amply rewarded if that eternal “crown” is ultimately gained.



[Page 97]         Hence he recognizes that he personally must also run the race of life with confidence and persistence rather than “with uncertainty” (9:26).  This involved bringing his body into the same “subjection” to God’s will that he demanded of others (9:27).  Hence there is no room in his mind for the proverbial, “Do as I say and not as I do.”  He recognized that they must be identical.  If they are not, then he risks being “disqualified” by God (9:27) and failing to obtain the eternal crown he sought (cf. 9:25).           

            Social context:  Today the top winners of the Olympics are given honor in the form of medals, recognizing not only the top winner but the second and third as well.  In the ancient world, very different forms of recognition were used.  Lucian writes of the hardships athletes went through to win “an apple and an olive-branch.”[10]  Some contests preferred to give laurel wreaths instead.[11]  The victory wreaths of the Isthmian Games near Corinth were typically made of pine needles or wild celery.  Ludicrous as the image is to our minds, the latter was the typical “wreath” award of those games in the age of Paul.[12] 

By their very nature, these wreaths of honor would quickly decay if they were not already doing so due to the lack of methods to preserve them.[13]  Hence the relevance of the “imperishable” in Paul’s description of the believer’s award:  not only is it available to all participants (the foe consists not of other contestants but of our own and societal weaknesses that seek to undermine us), but the award never ceases to exist, it is permanent, unlike the game-field tokens of victory that ultimately wither away.







Invoking of Explicit Old Testament

Quotations to Justify His Teaching






            9:9:  The Torah’s concern for the humane treatment of animals.  Paul cites the text from “the law of Moses” that instructed the Israelites, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.”  (For his application of this to humans, see the problem section below.)  The text comes from Deuteronomy 25:4, where it is in the midst of totally unrelated subjects, receiving a court ordered beating for criminal conduct (verses 1-3) and the requirement of levirate marriage (verses 5-10).  Although Paul repeatedly quotes from “the law” with the Torah clearly in mind, this is, surprisingly, the only time that Paul uses the full expression “the law of Moses.”[14]  With the scripturally literate audience that constituted a good percentage of his audience, it was probably regarded as unnecessary.

            The LXX form of the text teaches the same thing as the Hebrew but with a slightly different rendering, “You shall not muzzle a threshing ox.”  Some manuscripts of the Pauline epistles following this exact reading.[15]



[Page 98]         This was not the only provision for the animal kingdom contained in the Torah.  Working animals were to have a break from their labor on the Sabbath, just as human beings (Deuteronomy 5:14).  There is an implicit rejection of animal abuse in the story of Balaam being rebuked by his donkey (Numbers 22:27-30).  Animals were, in no way, put on a par of importance with human beings--but they were still due good treatment and proper consideration.

            In concern for their animals, generic man would be imitating the example of God, “Who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, who makes grass to grow on the mountains.  He gives to the beast its food, and to the young ravens that cry” (Psalms 147:8-9).  Or as Psalms 104:14 has it, “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth” (cf. verses 10-13).








How Old Testament Concepts Are

Repeatedly Introduced and Woven

into the Heart of His Argument





            9:7-8:  It is a natural law that one is benefited by the work one does.  Paul illustrates this by three examples: 

            (1)  A soldier does not go to war “at his own expense:”   This was illustrated in the case of the youthful David bringing food to his older brothers who were off to battle (1 Samuel 17:16-19).  Verse 14 indicates that David spent most of his time with those brothers though his youth argues for a noncombatant type of function such as this one of food provider or general “go for-er.”

            (2)  The vineyard planter eats of its fruit:  On a battlefield where there were far more soldiers than needed, the individual who had “planted a vineyard and has not eaten of it” was discharged from duty.  The reason was “lest he die in the battle and another man eat of it” (Deuteronomy 20:6).  The Proverbist, who composed and collected the most telling truisms of his day, writes of how “whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 27:18a).    

            (3)  The tender of a flock drinks its milk:  Proverbs 27:27 has it this way, “You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food.  For the food of your household, and the nourishment of your maidservants” (27:27).  Even in a time of national calamity, this would provide at least some food, “It shall be in that day that a man will keep alive a young cow and two sheep; so it shall be, from the abundance of milk they give, that he will eat curds; for curds and honey everyone will eat who is left in the land” (Isaiah 7:21-22).


[Page 99]


            9:13:  The right of those who served the temple to be temporally benefited for their work.  As Paul reminds his readers acquainted with the Jewish law, “Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?”  (“Do you not know that those who are employed in the sacred temple services eat the food of the temple and those who serve at the altar have their share of the offerings?,” ATP)

            The first priests were actively ministering in the temple and were not given a territorial grant of land in their people’s new country (Numbers 18:20).  It was essential to provide them with some means of support independent of this.  Hence they had the right to partake of the animals offerings (18:8) and the various forms of produce that were given as offerings (18:9-13).  Likewise they had the right to partake of the offering of first-born animals (with certain restrictions, 18:14-19). 

            The Levites who dedicated themselves wholly to the work of the temple and had no piece of land that they could call their own inheritance, were in similar need of assistance.  Therefore they were given the right to partake of the tithes of animals and produce given to the temple (18:21-24).  For more precise details as to which parts of the animals they were to be granted see Deuteronomy 18:1-8.

            This right to partake only existed when they were in active service at the place of worship (Deuteronomy 18:6-8).  Indeed the text refers to those who had a permanent dwelling place in other locations (18:6), seeming to imply that an individual had the alternative of abiding at such a permanent home, full-time service to Yahweh, or alternating periods of both.  As their numbers multiplied, the latter became a practical necessity since there were far more priests and Levites than actually required to meet the needs of the sanctuary site.          



            9:16:  The obligation to teach the truth one is aware of.  Paul argues that there is a “necessity (ATP:  obligation)” for him to “preach the gospel (ATP:  good news of Christ).”  In the following verse he explains that there are two reasons for this (1) he had a “reward” if he does so “willingly;” (2)  he has an obligation whether he wishes to or not because “I have been entrusted with a stewardship (ATP:  have a duty entrusted to me to fulfill).”  A steward, as servant of another, had the obligation to fulfill the instructions of his superior whether he was pleased with them or not.  Whether out of duty or reward, the obligation remained the same for the apostle.

            Jeremiah was so aware of this sense of responsibility that, when tempted to silence his criticism, he was unable to do so.  The opposition to his teaching was so powerful at one point that “I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him; nor speak anymore in His name.’  But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (20:9). 

            We see the same mind-frame in the life of Paul.  It would be hard believing Paul would refrain from teaching for any length of time even if he had wished to; his sense of responsibility would have compelled him to speak out even as Jeremiah.



[Page 100]       The Psalmist speaks of how he was determined to keep his mouth shut around the wicked lest his anger lead him to say things he should not (39:1-2).  Finally, like Jeremiah, he could hold it within no longer.  “My heart was hot within me; while I was musing, the fire burned, then I spoke with my tongue” (39:3).    

            Amos links the necessity of speaking to the fact that this was the only way God’s people would be able to know Yahweh’s intents, “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.  A lion has roared!  Who will not fear?  The Lord God has spoken!  Who can but prophesy?” (3:7-8).



            9:21:  Teachers must bring themselves into “subjection” to God’s will or face rejection by Him.  The test of acceptability is not “orthodoxy” alone, though Paul’s insistence on strictly conformity to the Divine will shows that he had no problem with expecting and demanding it.  Rather the would-be teacher either conforms to that word personally or faces rejection no matter how much good has been done for others.

            The Psalmist develops the same idea but from a different perspective:  if one refuses to submit to Yahweh’s will then one has forfeited the right to teach it--implicit if not explicit personal rejection of one’s work and office,             


                        But to the wicked God says:  What right have you to declare My statues,

or take My covenant in your mouth, seeing you hate instruction and cast My

words   behind you?  When you saw a thief, you consented with him, and have

been a partaker with adulterers.  You give your mouth to evil, and your tongue

frames deceit.  You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own

mother’s son.  These things you have done, and I have kept silent; you thought

that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you, and set them in order before

your eyes (50:16-21).


            The Psalmist does not deny that they taught the right thing.  He leaves that an open question.  Their offense was failing to live by that standard.  And the accuracy and reliability of their teaching did not compensate for that central personal failure.  Decades ago I was guest in the home of a deep south preacher and I still remember his words about a certain religious periodical editor, “I agree with him on just about everything, but I don’t trust him one bit.”  He had the doctrine right, but in its personal application he had failed.  The psalmist had clearly met his ancient counterpart. 








Historical Allusions to the

                                    Old Testament:  None



[Page 101] 



Problem Texts






            9:1-18:  The propriety of an apostle working to support himself rather than being financially provided for by church members.  As discussed above, Paul is again faced with a situation similar to that in chapter seven:  accepting the propriety of a life-course that he himself chooses not to follow while upholding the validity of both courses.  In chapter seven it is in regard to the rightness of marriage while personally opting for celibacy; in chapter nine it is in regard to the rightness of the membership being expected to provide for the financial needs of its ministers while personally choosing to support himself.

            The fact that he devotes so much space to his self-support[16] argues that it either was already or had the potential for becoming a divisive issue to be utilized against him.  Paul’s difference from the normal apostolic practice seems to have implied to the Corinthians that there must be some kind of qualitative difference in his apostleship as well.  It somehow—at least potentially--impugned his teaching authority to be living in such a significantly different manner from the other apostles.  And, of course, it was but a short step from this to arguing that his teaching must also be somehow different as well:  different as in inferior, questionable, or outright wrong.

            This would certainly have been a useful tool by those claiming to be backing the apostle Peter (Cephas).  But were there individuals in the community claiming to be an apostle who were not of the twelve who might be using the argument as well?  Paul refers to those who “are false apostles” when they were really “deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13).  Actually they were furthering Satan’s interests rather than God’s (11:14-15).  The wording would imply that their identity and teaching were known by the Corinthians. 

            It would not be unreasonable to believe that they had promulgated some of their teaching in Corinth and may have provided the impetus behind one or more of the local church cliques.[17]  Even though they could not claim to be of the twelve they could still argue that their “apostleship” (in whatever broader sense they used the term) was superior because they met the test of a “true” apostle:  being married (chapter 7) and relying upon support of group members (chapter 9).  Paul implicitly counters by arguing that both are honorable courses but not essential ones.       

            Some have taken a much different approach to why Paul devotes so much space to the practice of church support that he did not personally accept:  since it was an apostolic right, it was a means to uphold the legitimacy of his apostleship.[18]  But Paul’s problem, in this context, was not a challenge to the legitimacy of his apostleship—at least not directly—but explaining why his practice differed from that of others who held the same office.  The right was not at issue, but the difference in practice.

            An element of snobbery may have been involved in the Corinthian annoyance at



[Page 102]  Paul not accepting such income.  The patron-client relationship was a world-wide phenomena of the period, in which a well-to-do individual provided on-going help to acquaintances in need of such support.  Indeed, to rank a prominent teacher among such clients would certainly have increased the prestige of the patron among those who respected that individual, in this case fellow church members. 

            On the other hand, the client had the obligation to be of service to his patron and in modern terms was “morally obligated” to provide support even when it was inconvenient and deemed undesirable by the client.  It may well be that Paul felt that his independence would be potentially compromised if he had been a patron of a wealthy individual (or individuals) and he was unwilling to risk such a situation arising.[19]  

Even though the funds might be “coming from the church,” there could—by the nature of the case—be no way of not knowing who was providing the greater amounts or, possibly, even the one person who provided the vast bulk of it.  Even such “indirect patronage” could encourage that individual to expect such preferential treatment—barring the presence of a superior spiritual development in him or her.

            Furthermore, Romans (and those who cultivated their mind frame) looked down upon manual labor.[20]  Especially was this the case with a trade such as tent-making, which was extremely time-consuming and involved tedious and careful “non-creative” work.[21]  It was an indication that the man was either a personal failure or there was something wrong with his teaching since he was “unable” to gain enough supporters to avoid physical labor.[22]  (Again, snobbery but in a different form.)  Yet here was a man who claimed to be one of their leaders not only engaging in such--but even when they were able and prepared to provide for him!   

            The Greek philosophical tradition was often opposed to such a practice as well.  We saw in chapter 1 (in the references to the appeal of “wisdom” to the Corinthians) that frame of mind had a large appeal to them.   But there were dissenters even within that camp.  Socrates and Plato had been willing to teach without charge.  So there were two powerful examples that could be cited as Pauline precedent.  On the other hand, the Sophists effectively used the willingness to teach without charge as an admission that what they taught was worth exactly that--nothing at all.[23]



            9:9-10:  How does something written about oxen have its “real” application to support of ministers?  The language is startling.  After quoting a text from the Torah about the feeding of oxen, Paul insists, “Is it oxen God is concerned about?  Or does He say it altogether for our sakes.  For our sakes, no doubt . . . (ATP:  God is not primarily concerned about oxen, is He?  Is he not really laying down this principle for our benefit?”) (9:9b-10a). To say that there is an application of the principle to believers would represent no problem.[24]  What he does here is seemingly go far beyond this and speaks as if oxen are an actual irrelevancy in dealing with the text.[25] 

Some have gone so far as to describe this as “a very daring allegorical explanation.”[26]  Is this so or could it be that Paul’s analysis, however immediately odd sounding to our ears, is firmly rooted in the Jewish style of textual exegesis?  Indeed, surviving rabbinic material that refers to the oxen passage, cite it as justification and necessity for paying the laborer a fair and just wage.[27]    



[Page 103]          Furthermore, the historian Josephus parallels the work of animals to our own and stresses that both have the inherent right to share in the fruit of their labor, “Nor are you to muzzle the mouths of the oxen when they tread the ears of corn in the thrashing-floor; for it is not just to restrain our fellow-laboring animals, and those that work in order to its production, of this fruit of their labors.”[28]

The Egyptian Jewish philosopher Philo does much the same.  In regard to Deuteronomy 24 in particular he writes that “the Law was not given for the sake of unthinking creatures, but for the sake of those who can think and reason.”[29]  He argues at length that the same humanitarian treatment are deserved by both animal and human.[30]

In light of these widely varied examples—Jewish rabbinic, historical, and philosophical texts--Paul was clearly functioning within a well accepted form of Jewish hermeneutics and exegesis.  He was not without parallel in seeking a human application of what was not directly written about humans at all.     

            One means of understanding the underlying rationale is to assume (quite reasonably) “that God would not bother to make laws for the benefit of oxen only.[31]  (This seems the implicit reasoning behind Josephus’ comments quoted above.)  Brian S. Rosner notes that the text can legitimately be rendered in two different ways, one of which removes the problem:  “Does he not speak entirely for our sake?” is legitimate translation, unquestionably, but so is, “Doesn’t he surely say it for our sake?”

Any regulation would have been intended for their owners to learn lessons from as well.  Lessons as to how to treat animals under conditions not specifically covered, yes.  Or, for that matter, species not explicitly mentioned.  But lessons for the human condition as well?  Josephus certainly thought so.  Josephus’ reference (above) to “our fellow-laboring animals” carries with it the implicit, “If we both are laborers don’t we humans inherently deserve the fruit of our labor as well?”  A human application seemed inescapable to him, based upon the laborer/laborer parallelism.

            Robertson and Plummer contend that the real process of reasoning going on in Paul’s head is along this line, “He means that the prohibition had a higher significance, in comparison with which the literal purport of it was of small moment.”[32]  Whether we call Paul’s method of reasoning “allegorical” (as do most) or “typological” (as do a minority), both terms are subject to the charge of being “somewhat elastic and vague.”[33]  Instead of becoming bogged down in terminology, it is more important to understand the possible reasoning behind the comparison.    

            As we noted in the Old Testament precedent section above, the admonition of kind treatment of one’s animals comes in the context of discussing human relationships:  first comes that of judicial punishment (25:1-3), then comes the reference to oxen (25:4), then to levirate marriage (25:5-10).   The text then proceeds to acts of violence during fights (25:11-12), honest business practices (25:13-15), and the destruction of the long-standing national enemy, the people of Amalek (25:17-19). 

            The Torah often “jumbles” different themes together in a (to us) mishmash in thorough contrast to our modern concept of how legal codes should be constructed.  In this chapter at least the “mishmash” all concern human relations except the brief remark about oxen.  Hence, though one might argue whether the primary intent was to provide a lesson in human relationships from the animal kingdom, it is extremely hard to avoid the conclusion that at least some kind of significant lesson was intended to be deduced for inter-human behavior as well.  Otherwise it has no logical connection at all to its context.  Hence the siting of the verse in the strictly human context seems originally intended to



[Page 104]   make the point:  if you must treat your property humanely, how much more so your fellow human beings![34] 

            John Calvin and various individuals since have wondered why Paul did not avoid opening all these issues of relevancy by going to a text (also in Deuteronomy) that directly and unquestionably touches on a worker being due wages,[35]You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates.   Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the Lord, and it be sin to you”  (Deuteronomy 24:14-15).

            In Deuteronomy 24 the issue is unjustly keeping back wages that are unquestionably due the worker.  What Paul wants to discuss is dramatically different—is there a duty to pay wages in the first place?  Furthermore chapter 24 deals with the rights of the “poor”; whether Christian preachers fell into that category or not, Paul wants to affirm the general moral obligation to support such individuals.  Hence, though Deuteronomy 25 may seem an interpretive reach, it had the clear-cut virtue of avoiding these difficulties entirely.  

            In passing, it should be noted that some contend that the second half of the Pauline argument (verse 10) represents an additional scriptural quotation:[36]  “it is written that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.”  Cited in this manner, it certainly sounds this way.  Occurring in mid-verse the way it does, however, and as part of the interpretation of the Christian application of the Torah law on treatment of animals, it seems wiser to refer the “it is written” back to the text quoted in the preceding verse. 

In modern English we would express the idea, “Hence it is written,” as more clearly presenting the words as the application of what had just been cited.  Wording reflecting this concept of interpretation versus the new quotation scenario is found in both the NKJV and our ATP.    

Furthermore, as one advocate of this approach concedes, “the wording of verse 10b is not appreciably close to any single passage in the Jewish Scriptures.”[37]   If Paul does intend to be quoting, he has left the allusion so vague as to leave us virtually nothing to work with.  Of course, he could be quoting some nonscriptural allusion generally accepted as true or authoritative but the terminology used is that which one would anticipate in regard to scripture (“it is written”).[38]  If a non-Biblical text were in mind, that would still leave us perplexed as to what source he might be appealing to.



            9:14:  Where did Jesus command that “those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel (ATP:  should get their living from the gospel they proclaim)”?  Jesus sent His apostles out on a short-term missionary journey during His ministry and instructed them that “a worker is worthy of his food” (Matthew 10:10b).  Unlike their journeys after His resurrection, they were even more dependent on the help of others during this earlier stage for He had commanded them to take neither money (10:9) nor extra clothing with them (10:10a).   They had virtually the clothes on their back and nothing more.  Yet it was not charity they were entitled to; they were still “worker[s],” though in a spiritual cause, and as “a worker” entitled to the necessities of life from those they worked for and among. 



[Page 105]         Nor was this unique to the apostles.  We read of how Jesus sent out a larger group of seventy in Luke 10.  These were to enter into every city Jesus intended to visit (10:7).  They also were to travel without money or extra clothing (10:4) and here, too, their work entitled them to support:  “the laborer is worthy of his wages,” Jesus insisted (10:7).

            Paul does not write as if he expected any challenge on this point.  This, in turn, argues that the Corinthians were already acquainted with such teaching and the attribution of it to Jesus.   Whether it was in oral form or a written format we do not know.  Nor do we know whether they had received it as direct quotation or as a summary statement of Jesus’ instruction on the matter.  Any of these would have met the New Testament criteria of acknowledging Jesus’ pre-eminent authority and supernaturalness as “Lord.”        

            The two texts we have examined are the only two in the gospels in which Jesus speaks of support being provided teachers/preachers.  Paul calls it a “command” (9:14).  But the actual wording is “worthy of his food” (Matthew) and “worthy of his wages” (Luke).  Jesus does not command the teacher to take support nor does He command those benefited by the teaching to support the teacher.    Instead of putting any of it in such a “command form,” Jesus appeals to the moral value of the service being provided:  the teacher is “worthy” of being helped--he has done good for others; they should do good for him. 

Accepting that as a fact, leads naturally to preacher support being regarded as a “command;” not because it was originally given as a command but because its necessity is a necessary inference from the moral character attributed to the work.  The equation seems clearly “worthy of support = obligated to support.”  Which puts the onus far more on others to provide it than upon an individual to accept it.  

The fact that the “command” status was of this nature may explain why Paul felt free to ignore it and not accept Corinthian assistance.  Furthermore, a “command” of this nature carried with it inherent limitations:  would one really expect a well off individual to accept such help?  Would one really anticipate a congregation to help if it was penniless or had destitute to help? 

Furthermore, from whom would the support come?  We gloss in the word “congregation” and in our age that would be the case and even in Paul’s day that would likely often have been the situation.  In the gospels, those sent out as “worthy” of support would have been looking for a fairly well off family who could provide their needs while in town. 

In a Corinthian context, that practice would have equated, as likely as not, to lodging and assistance from a leading member of one faction or another.  If support in Corinth would have equated to that, would not have obeying Jesus’ “command”—in a situation where it furthered local division—have been the last thing Jesus intended?

So it wasn’t a matter of defiance of the Lord’s will, but a recognition that even commands often have implicit practical limitations.[39]  (In the context originally given—with nothing but the clothes on their back and a short-term mission--there was the obvious, unavoidable necessity to seek it out.)  Furthermore, Paul’s acceptance of local support in other places demonstrated that he had no a priori objection to such support; it was merely that Corinth was far from the ideal place to exercise it.[40]  His refusal to accept support is, in effect, a blast at the Corinthians—as demonstrated by his taking it, even



[Page 106]   while in Corinth, from other sources (9:15-18 vs. 2 Corinthians 11:7-11) while declining theirs.             



            9:15:  Paul’s preference for secular work to church support.  He does not mention here what his trade was.  Acts 18:3 refers to him as a “tent maker.”  Although the specific term utilized means exactly that,[41] some scholars—much like the Athenians Paul addressed in Acts who were always on the lookout for something new and different—eventually attempted to recast the meaning into that of weaver of cloth.  After all some tents were made out of such material[42] and careful linguistic arguments were cast making the term refer to a type of cloth utilized in their manufacture.  This expansive reading, however, has fallen into general disfavor as improbable.[43] 

On the other hand, tents could also be made out of leather as well[44] and there is some evidence that--perhaps because of this--the term could include anyone who worked in any aspect of the leatherworking craft.[45]  Indeed, the expansive reading of the term would have permitted Paul to engage in a wider range of activities than if he were solely confined to the narrower realm of tentmaking. 

As a man who relied so heavily upon self-support one, can easily imagine him broadening his work into these areas according to the local market where he worked.  Ronald H. Hock argues that the mere fact of Paul being known as “a tentmaker” would have alerted both future employers and buyers that he was also capable of making a variety of other leather goods as well if they were needed.[46]  Anything in that general area and he would be able to provide the product.   

There was always a market for tents among travelers who could afford the expense.  As E. P. Sanders notes, “People who could afford to travel in their own tents were fortunate, since they could thereby avoid local inns, which were often infested with vermin. . . .”[47] Furthermore sailors passing through a seaport city like Corinth, often found it more convenient (and presumably cheaper) to buy tents and camp outside the city.[48]  The accommodations were automatically cleaner than the lower class inns and they were less likely to be hassled by local authorities if they were clear of the city’s walls.

The view of Paul as a leather worker goes back at least to Origen and Chyrsostom[49] and is often encountered today.[50]  Perhaps because this is only a deduction and not the actual meaning of the Greek term describing his work, most would prefer to leave room for both possibilities in Paul’s actual practice.[51]  The tent-making specialty would have been a logical one for Paul to be trained in since his hometown of Tarsus had many who practiced the trade and was a major producer of leather tents for local use and export to other areas.[52]

Leatherworking—whether in its broader sense or when applied to tent-making in particular--certainly lacked prestige and carried a definite negative connotation.[53]  The playwright Lucian (120 A.D.) called all workers in these necessary support crafts of a city, “an abominable class of men, toiling from morning till night, doubled over their tasks.”[54]  Skill was an irrelevancy; necessity of use for their products was an irrelevancy; it was disgraceful for a respectable man because it was manual labor.  In short, think Roman snobbery as the source of the bulk of the bias. 



[Page 107]          Cicero summed it up this way, “Unbecoming to a gentleman, too, and vulgar are the means of livelihood of all hired workmen whom we pay for mere manual labor.  And all artisans are engaged in vulgar trades, for no workshop can have anything liberal about it.”[55]  The very fact that Paul was able to recruit at least a fair number of upper ranking individuals in spite of this bias tells us both how convincing he must have been and how powerful his message.       

On the other hand, the craft also opened the door for casual conversations about his message that would have impossible if he had not been laboring for a living.  F. Gerald Downing notes that if Paul’s working conditions were typical of those in the period, he would have been working “in an open-fronted shop where customers could lounge and converse and read aloud (and even sit on benches).”[56]  The opportunities for personal conversation of the theme uppermost on his mind were vast.   

Furthermore the craft normally brought with it its own (modest) living accommodations.  He worked with Aquila and Priscilla in their shared trade for a while (Acts 18:2-3).  In such a case, “The family that owned the shop would have slept in a loft above the workshop, accessible by a wooden ladder at the rear of the shop, with a shuttered window above the front door.  A hired worker, such as Paul, would have made his bed in the workroom.”[57]  Who Paul worked with/under in Corinth is unknown but such close proximity required individuals who could get along with each other.  There was no tolerable other alternative.

It also required individuals capable of sustained, prolonged, hard work.  Long hours every day of the week[58]--except, perhaps, for those days that were official civic holidays.  Holidays were scattered throughout the year; a weekly “day off”—the same day each week—was unknown.  Hence church services were, naturally, at night as the time when the maximum number could attend.     

The working facilities of the day weren’t big.  We don’t know the expectations of leather/tent workers in Corinth, but we do have the dimensions of over three dozen workplaces of the time in the city.  As Clyde E. Fant and Mitchell G. Reddish sum it up,[59] 


The forty-four shops in the North Market had been recently completed at that time, each of them approximately 9 to 12 feet wide, 12 feet deep, and 13 feet high.  Their doorways (7.5 feet wide) provided the only source of light, so sliding doors in front of the shops remained open during working hours.  In the winter a brazier with hot coals had to be placed in the doorway to ward off the cold.


            The question of Paul’s parents’ economic status and how it impacts on the nature of his work/trade.  It is sometimes assumed that Paul’s family must have been rather wealthy.  Acts 22:23 may easily be read in this manner, “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our father’s law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.”  In other words, his family financed the heavy expense of sending him from his home city to receive an education in Jerusalem.

On the other hand, the text could imply an early life move to Jerusalem (note the “brought up in this city” of Jerusalem)—which would leave the income status murkier.  Furthermore, we do know that he had a nephew in the town (Acts 23:16) and if this is intended to mean  that his mother, Paul’s sister, was a resident as well, we would have reinforced evidence that the entire family had moved there when Paul was still young.



[Page 108]        Clearly in favor of a wealthy background is that Paul had Roman citizenship by birth and obtaining that typically required a great deal of money to obtain (Acts 22:28).  Furthermore, he had citizenship status in Tarsus (Acts 21:39).  City citizenship was an honor in its own right--note how 21:39 describes Tarsus as a significant city.  Not just a petty ante one, but at least a reasonably important one.  Status and money were both pre-requisites to such local recognition. 

Furthermore, Paul describes himself as one who was “working with our own hands” (1 Corinthians 4:12).  This may not point to an upper class family background but E. P. Sanders is surely correct that it points to what we would call a “middle class” background, perhaps significantly high within it,[60]


This is revealing:  the poor do not find working with their hands to be worthy of special remark.  He knew how to use a secretary, and he dictated his letters (see Galatians 6:11, where he notes when he writes in his own hand, and Romans 16:22, where his scribe sends his own greetings).  He also knew how to organize and plan.  Most of the time he had more than one assistant; and he could send one here, another there, while himself going elsewhere, and rejoin them to assess the situation and make further plans.


            His language skills included the universal second tongue of Greek that is “clear and forceful but elegant” like the wealthy contemporary Jew, Philo of Alexandria.  Furthermore he knew at least Hebrew (Acts 21:40) in addition.  Living in Palestine, Aramaic is a probability as well; as a well-traveled Roman, Latin may well have been in his repertoire.  In short, far from the intellectual range of a poor man and indicating someone high enough in the social order to be confident and self-assured.[61]    

            Hyam Maccoby argues that Luke made a mistake in presenting Paul as a native born Roman citizen, insisting it must have occurred in adulthood[62]  Oddly, he regards the city citizenship claim as probably historical but that since city citizenship required one to be a participant in the “tribal” city rituals, his  father must have been a pagan rather than a Jew.[63]  However the Lukian text shows that Paul claimed that he was “the son of a Pharisee” (Acts 23:6), arguing strongly against the pagan theory—unless one wishes to contend that the father later “converted” to Judaism and, perhaps, this motivated his move to Jerusalem.  (If we are going to engage in speculative rewriting, why not rewrite with speculation that adds greater depth to the traditional narrative rather than demeans it?)   

            The apostle’s economic background ties in with the question of his trade.  Pharisees, in particular, argued the moral obligation to teach one’s child a profession to support himself.  This sentiment was, however, also the common Jewish attitude.[64] 

Maccoby argues that the trade teaching responsibility was considered irrelevant and non-binding if one were well-off financially.[65]  Since the son would have no anticipation of having to provide for himself, it does make sense that the capacity would not have been taught.  On the other hand, the astute parent—especially if of that vague class who doesn’t really fall “irrevocably” in the category of “well off”—would he feel right in doing nothing?  Would not common prudence and love for family have motivated the teaching of a trade—even if one had to put the son under someone else’s supervision to learn it?  (Whether of significance or not, Paul makes no mention of who taught him his trade.)


[Page 109] 







[1] Luedemann, 67.  For the opposite view, that the wording here and in other places, does not presuppose that his apostleship was under attack, see Becker, 195.      


[2] Ellis, 80.   


[3] Harris, 118, and Vine, Corinthians, 120.    


[4] Cf. F. Gerald Downing, Cynics, Paul and the Pauline Churches (London:  Routledge, 1998), 194.   


[5] Fitzmyer, Corinthians, 366.


[6] See the discussion in Paul D. Gardner, The Gifts of God and the Authentication of a Christian:  An Exegetical Study of 1 Corinthians 8:-11:1 (Lanham, Maryland:  University Press of America, 1994), 81.    


[7] Dungan, 3.   


[8] John Knox, 81.   


[9] Chafin, 120.     


[10] Anacharsis, 13, as quoted by Fitzmyer, Corinthians, 373.


[11] Baez-Camargo, 250.          


[12] Chafin, 120, and Fitzmyer, Corinthians, 373.


[13] Chafin, 120.  Thiselton, 713, adds a “perhaps,” noting that originally it was made “from plastered pine leaves.”


[14] Fitzmyer, Corinthians, 361.


[15] For citations, see Ibid., 362.


[Page 110]


             [16] This factor argues strongly against the theory that the reason Paul made tents as a living in Corinth was because he arrived there “short of money” (Gundry, 261).  Whether he did arrive there that way or not, the intensity and length of the argument, indicates that Paul had a deep personal preference for full or partial self-support as well. 


[17] Henshaw, 236, goes further and makes it an attack upon the validity of Paul’s apostleship itself.    Whether one challenged its validity or its qualitative inferiority to one’s own teaching ministry, the practical result was much the same:  the “right” to dismiss the teaching of the apostle on contested issues. 


[18] Dahl, 33.     


[19] For presentation of the view that individuals were upset because he would not permit them to provide financial help (though not using the “patron” terminology), see Ehrman, 272.  On the theme of annoyance by potential patrons, also see Perkins, Reading, 179, and Witherington, Conflict, 229, and n. 39, 229.     


[20] Perkins, Reading, 179. 


[21] For a vivid presentation of this point see the quotation in Witherington, Conflict, 19. 


[22] Raymond Bryan Brown, 316.        


[23] Robertson and Plummer, 180.   


[24] For quotations from ancient Jewish sources utilizing the oxen text as the jumping off point for enjoining inter-human forms of behavior, see Anthony T. Hanson, Studies in Paul’s Technique and Theology (London:  SPCK. 1974), 163-164.  Also see Smit, 111-120.   


[25] Both Philo and the Letter of Aristeas seem to come close to Paul’s view.  See the discussion in Ibid., 164-165.   


[26] Adolf von Harnack, “The Old Testament in the Pauline Letters and in the Pauline Churches,” in Understanding Paul’s Ethics:  Twentieth Century Approaches, edited by Brian S. Rosner (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), 38. 


[27] Dungan, 10.   


[28] Flavius Josephus, Antiquities 4.8.21.  In The Works of Flavius Josephus.  Translated by William Whiston (1737).  At:  August 2009.   Cf. the remarks of Rosner, “Deuteronomy,” in Deuteronomy, 128.


[29] As quoted by Rosner, “Deuteronomy,” in Deuteronomy, 128.


[Page 111] 


[30] See the discussion in Ibid.


[31] Thrall, 67.


[32] Robertson and Plummer, 184.   


[33] Smit, 100.     


[34] Cf. Coffman, 132; Grosheide, 205; Lipscomb and Shepherd, 129-130. 


[35] Fitzmyer, Corinthians, 362.


[36] Christopher D. Stanley, 196. 


[37] Ibid., 197.  He notes that some see a rooting in Isaiah 28:24, 28:28, or 45:9, or even Sirach 6:19 (n. 53, 197). 


[38] An “apocryphal word” suggests Adolf von Harnack, 38.  That Paul regarded some such works as of sermonic or illustrative value is inherently probable (modern preachers utilize non-scriptural sources constantly for such purposes), but to expect him to apply traditional scriptural terminology (“it is written) to describe such a work would seem odd indeed.


[39] Murphy-O’Connor, Keys, 120-122, is particularly concerned that Paul “flatly disobeys” a command of Jesus.  He considers various options—including that the command in 9:14 is addressed to the supporters and not to the preacher, rejecting this on grounds of incompatibility with the Greek—but sticks to this initial premise.


[40] Ibid., 123, attacks Paul’s character by using this as evidence that “Paul was telling the truth but not the whole truth. . . .  No doubt Paul thought he was being clever, but the partial dishonesty of his boast [of non-support] did him a grave disservice.”  He concedes that Paul received such outside help while in Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:7-11), so the apostle would have had to be a lunatic to deny he ever did so since the Corinthians would have been well aware of the fact.  To reject Paul’s authority is one thing; but this borders on questioning his sanity.    


[41] Justo L. Gonzalez, Acts:  The Gospel of the Spirit (Maryknoll, New York:  Orbis Books, 2001), 207, and Luke T. Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles, in the Sacra Pagina series (Collegeville, Minnesota:  Liturgical Press, 1992), 322.   


[42] Gonzalez, 207. 


[Page 112] 


[43] Ernst Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles:  A Commentary (Oxford:  Basil Blackwell, 1971), n. 3, 534.  


[44] Gonzalez, 207. 


[45] Luke T. Johnson, Acts, 322.


[46] Ronald F. Hock, The Social Context of Paul’s Ministry:  Tentmaking and Apostleship (Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1980), 21.


[47] E. P. Sanders, Paul:  A Brief Insight (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1992; reprint, [N.p.:]  Sterling Publishing Company, 2009), 17.


[48] Clyde E. Fant and Mitchell G. Reddish, A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey (New York:  Oxford University Press, 2003), 51.


[49] Haenchen, n. 3, 534.


[50] For example, Downing, 190, and Jerome Crowe, The Acts, in the New Testament Message:  A Biblical-Theological Commentary series (Wilmington, Delaware:  Michael Glazier, Inc., 1979), 138.   


[51] Hence we often read into statements describing him as tentmaker “or” worker in leather.  For example, Gonzalez, 207; Gerd Ludemann, Opposition to Paul in Jewish Christianity, translated from the German by M. Eugene Boring (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 1989), 20; Jerome H. Neyrey, “Luke’s Social Location of Paul:  Cultural Anthropology and the Status of Paul in Acts,” in History, Literature, and Society in the Book of Acts, edited by Ben Witherington III (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1996), 266, and J. W. Parker, Acts of the Apostles, in the New English Bible Cambridge Bible Commentary series (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1966), 152. 


[52] Prospero Grech, Acts of the Apostles Explained:  A Doctrinal Commentary (Staten Island, New York:  Alba House, 1966), 103.


[53] For example, Downing, 190-191.   


[54] Fugitivies, 227, as quoted by Fant and Reddish, 51.


[55] On Duties, 1.150, as quoted by Ibid.


[56] Downing, 191.  Cf. the similar view of Dean, 21.   


[57] Fant and Reddish, 51.


[58] Ibid.


[Page 113] 


[59] Ibid.


[60] Sanders, Insight, 17.  For a concise summary of the key arguments that Paul had at least a reasonably prosperous or even wealthy background, also see Meggitt, 80.  Although these evidences have been challenged (80-97), it would be surprising if they do not point to an economic status considerably above that of his apostolic days, regardless of whether it also passed him into the category of “wealthy.”  


[61] Sanders, 17.


[62] Hyam Maccoby, The Mythmaker:  Paul and the Invention of Christianity (New York:  Barnes & Noble, 1988), 97.


[63] Ibid., 98.


[64] Ibid., 97. 


[65] Ibid.