Am I not free [unrestrained and exempt from any obligation]? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our [risen] Lord [in person]? Are you not [the result and proof of] my work in the Lord? If I am not [considered] an apostle to others at least I am one to you; for you are the seal and certificate and the living evidence of my apostleship in the Lord [confirming and authenticating it].
This is my defense to those who would put me on trial and interrogate me [concerning my authority as an apostle]: Have we not the right to our food and drink [at the expense of the churches]? Have we not the right to take along with us a believing wife, as do the rest of the apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas [Peter]? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to stop doing manual labor [in order to support our ministry]?
If we have sown [the good seed of] spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share in this rightful claim over you, do we not even more? However, we did not exercise this right, but we put up with everything so that we will not hinder [the spread of] the good news of Christ. 1 Corinthians 9: 1-6 and 11-12 The Amplified Bible
It seems strange that Paul would have to defend his authority as an apostle because he chose to freely give up his rights to be supported by the church for preaching the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But, considering the societal mixture of the Corinthian church, it isn’t surprising:
The Romans were the power and, possibly wealthy, people. They would expect a preacher to exercise their rights to be paid for preaching.
The Greeks were the intellectuals and likely looked down on anyone who worked at manual labor (making and selling tents) in order to support themselves as preachers of the gospel.
The Jews would not have been so upset, because it was customary for rabbis to have an occupation by which they earned their support.
Paul is showing this immature, divisive group of people a different way of responding, to freely give up their due for the good of those who had come, and might come, to Christ Jesus through the gospel message. Though he hadn’t directly mentioned it yet, he was beginning to teach them that the way of Jesus is LOVE, and what love is like.
I am grateful that we now have the scriptures they didn’t have, and that we can move around in scripture to find how Jesus lived the gospel. We now can learn what Paul wrote in the epistles about God’s love and how to learn to live in the way of love.
In Colossians 3:12-14 Paul conveys this love.
So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper]; bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive. Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others]. The Amplified Bible
Ponder and pray over the devotionals this week that encourage us to live in the way of Jesus with his heart. I’ll be praying for God’s blessing on your life as you go through your week!