March 08, 2021 – Monday
1 Corinthians 9:5 NIV
5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas (Peter)?
Paul in this verse and in this entire paragraph (verses 3-6) is asking rhetorical questions about his rights as an apostle and as a traveling teacher or a preacher of the gospel. So let’s look at these questions as a whole: This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?
Paul is asserting his rights as an apostle in verse one to the Corinthian Church in verse one, Am I not an apostle? Then states (v2b), For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord in making his claim. Then Paul proceeds to make his defense as an apostle. Along with his right to food and drink at the expense of the churches he serves should be obvious. This is no small matter and later becomes the justification of churches paying their pastor and/or preacher. Another rhetorical question follows, Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? It would be unthinkable for a church today not to support a pastor and/or preacher along with his family, wife (especially a believing wife) and children. Paul is making the same argument then, almost 2,000 years ago.
Finally, he asks, Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living? An odd question for the two men who almost always chose to work to support themselves making sure no one could accuse them of preaching for a money motive. And oddly enough instead of being more respected for this by the Corinthians in the church, they seem to have been less respected and perhaps the Corinthians assumed they would never have to support them at all. Still, the form of the question is to ask if the other apostles are taken care of, is the Corinthian church going to make an exception for them? The word only implies all the other Apostles and pastors/preachers of the Lord were exercising their right of maintenance by the Church.
Notice Paul did not simply say wife earlier, but a believing wife. No church was going to be expected to support an unbelieving or non-Christian wife for what apostle would have such a wife. This would be a necessary statement in Corinth where sin was rampant and a way of life for many. Thus a Christian believing wife who would be a sister in the faith.
Prayer: Father God – Thank You for providing the background on when and how the practice of supporting those who lead our churches came to be. And not just the leader, but his wife and family as well. – In Jesus name. Amen.