1 Corinthians 9:1-10

1 Corinthians 9:1-10
A Women’s Lectionary – Fifty Sunday after Epiphany A


1 Am I not free?A Am I not an apostle?B Have I not seenC JesusD our Lord?E Are you not my work in the Lord? 

Notes on verse 1

A “free” = eleutheros. Probably from erchomai (to come or go). This is a free person, at liberty, not a slave. Properly, it is unshackled – figuratively, it is one who has the freedom to choose their destiny. Also, it is one who does not have obligation or liability.
B “apostle” = apostolos. From apostello (to send, send away, send forth as a messenger, to commission); {from apo (from, away from) + stello (to set, arrange, prepare, provide for)}. This is a messenger – someone sent out on a mission as an envoy or delegate. It can also refer to someone set at liberty. Generally, this is a messenger who is meant to be a representative of the one who sent them. They are thus, set apart on a mission literally or figuratively.
C “seen” = horao. To see, perceive, attend to, look upon, experience. Properly, to stare at and so implying clear discernment. This, by extension, would indicate attending to what was seen and learned. This is to see, often with a metaphorical sense. Can include inward spiritual seeing.
D “Jesus” = iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone). This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
E “Lord” = kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.

2 If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you; for you are the sealF of my apostleshipG in the Lord. This is my defenseH to those who would examineI me. 

Notes on verses 2-3

F “seal” = sphragis. 16x in NT. Perhaps from phrasso (to stop, fence in). This is a seal, signet, or signet ring. It is also the impression of that seal – so, the thing attested to by that seal – proof or a signifier of privacy in a literal or figurative sense.
G “apostleship” = apostole. Related to “apostle” in v1. From apostello (see note II above). This is commission, apostleship, sending away, or duties of an apostle.
H “defense” = apologia. 8x in NT. From apologeomai (to make an accounting or defend oneself – particularly in court; present prof or evidence using sound logic); {from apo (from, away from) + logos (word, statement, speech, analogy; a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying; a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words; by implication, a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive; can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ); from lego (to speak, tell, mention)}. This is a verbal defense, especially in a legal setting, that is well reasoned to respond to the issue at hand. It is an apology, clearing, plea, or vindication.
I “examine” = anakrino. From ana (up, again, back, among, anew) + krino (to judge, decide, think good, condemn, determine, pass judgment, stand trial, sue; judging whether in court or in a private setting; properly, mentally separating or distinguishing an issue – to come to a choice or decision, to judge positively or negatively in seeking what is right or wrong, who is innocent or guilty; can imply trying, condemning, punishing, or avenging). 16x in NT. This is to scrutinize, examine, investigate, judge, or discern. Properly, it refers to very thorough investigation or careful study. It was used to talk about investigating crimes in the ancient world. It can also be used to talk about interrogation that uses torture.

Do we not have the rightJ to our food and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to be accompanied byK a believing wife,L as do the other apostles and the brothersMM of the Lord and Cephas?N 

Notes on verses 4-5

J “right” = exousia. From exesti (to be permitted or lawful); {from ek (out, out of) + eimi (to be, exist)}. This is power to act or weight. It especially denotes moral authority or influence. It can mean domain, liberty, freedom, capacity, mastery, right, force, or strength.
K “be accompanied by” = periago. 6x in NT. From peri (about, concerning, all around, encompassing) + ago (lead, bring, carry, drive, go). This is to lead around, compass, go about.
L “believing wife” = adelphe + gune. Literally “a sister, a wife.” Adelphe is from adelphos (brother in a literal or figurative sense); {from a (with, sharing) + delphus (womb)}. This is sister in a literal or figurative sense. Gune is perhaps from ginomai (to come into being, to happen, become, be born; to emerge from one state or condition to another; this is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth). This is woman, wife, or bride. This is where the word “gynecologist” comes from.
M “brothers” = adelphos. Related to “believing” in v5. See note XII above.
N “Cephas” = kephas. 9x in NT. From Aramaic kepha (stone or rock). This is Cephas, the Aramaic translation of Peter’s name.

Or is it only BarnabasO and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?P Who at any time pays theQ expensesR for doing military service?S

Notes on verses 6-7a

O “Barnabas” = barnabas. Probably from Aramaic Barnabas (Barnabas); {from bar (son) + nabi (speaker, prophet, inspired person)}. This is Barnabas, meaning “son of prophecy” or “representant.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Barnabas.html#.XsduKmhKhPY
P “working for a living” = ergazomai. From ergon (work, task, action, employment). This is to work or labor. It can also mean be engaged with something.
Q {untranslated} = idios. This is something that belongs to you or that is personal, private, apart. It indicates a stronger sense of possession than a simple possessive pronoun. This is where “idiot” comes from (denoting someone who hasn’t had formal training or education and so they rely on their own understanding).
R “expenses” = opsonion. 4x in NT. From the same as opsarion (fish or little fish; a cooked sauce or salted fish served as a condiment); {from opson (cooked food) OR from optos (roasted, cooked); {related to hepso (to steep)}  + oneomai (to buy or purchase); {from onos (price or sum)}. This is provisions or wages – particularly the price of food. Used to refer to ration funds given to soldiers. Figuratively, can refer to eternal reward.
S “doing military service” = strateuo. 7x in NT. From stratos (encamped enemy) OR from stratia (army; used figuratively for large organized groups like the angels and the hosts of heaven, which is to say the stars); {from strateuomai (fight like a soldier) or stronnumi (to spread or furnish like a bed)}. This is to make war, fight, be in active service, a soldier. It can figuratively refer to doing spiritual warfare or doing the work of an apostle.

Who plantsT a vineyardU and does not eatV any of its fruit?W

Notes on verse 7b

T “plants” = phuteuo. 11x in NT. From phuton (a plant) OR from the base of phuo (to grow, produce, spring up; perhaps from the sense of puff or blow – to swell up; hence, to germinate; to grow literally or figuratively). This is plant or implant. Figuratively, this word is used for Christian teaching.
U “vineyard” = ampelon. Form ampelos (vine or grapevine as that which coils around); {perhaps from the base of amphoteros (both, all); from amphi (around) + halon (the threshing floor where grain is rolled to separate from the chaff); {from halos (threshing floor); probably from helisso (to roll up, coil, wrap)}}. This is a vineyard – used figuratively for Israel and the body of Christ.
V “eat” = esthio. This is to eat or figuratively to devour or consume like rust.
W “fruit” = karpos. Perhaps from harpazo (to seize by force, snatch away); from haireo (to choose, take). This is a fruit or vegetable, through sometimes it refers to an animal. Figuratively, it is deeds, results, profits, or gain.

Or who tendsX a flockY and does not getZ any of its milk? 8 Do I say this on humanAA authority? Does not the lawBB also say the same? 

Notes on verses 7c-8

X “tends” = poimaino. 11x in NT. From poimen (shepherd in a literal or figurative sense – one who feeds, protects, rules). This is to tend, herd, rule, or otherwise act like a shepherd. It includes caring for a flock and guarding, guiding, and folding them.
Y “flock” = poimne. Related to “tends” in v7. 5x in NT. Probably from poimen (see note XXIV above). This is flock or fold in a literal or figurative sense – usually sheep or goats.
Z “get” = esthio. Same as “eat” in v7. See note XXII above.
AA “human” = anthropos. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face). This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.
BB “law” = nomos. From nemo (to parcel out). Literally, this is that which is assigned. It can be usage, custom, or law. This word can be used for human or divine law. It can be used specifically for the law of Moses or as a name for the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Sometimes it is used for scripture as a whole, used of the Gospel, or of any theology. It is also used for the “tradition of the elders,” which would be the oral Torah – the tradition of the laws plus their interpretations as they were passed down over time. We must carefully consider which meaning of “law” is meant when we interpret passages the word is found in.

9 For it is written in the law of Moses,CC “You shall not muzzleDD an oxEE while it is treading out the grain.”FF Is it for oxen that GodGG is concerned?HH 

Notes on verse 9

CC “Moses” = mouses. From Hebrew Mosheh (Moses); from mashah (to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out) OR from Egyptian mes or mesu (child, son i.e. child of…). This is Moses – the one drawn out from the water, which is to say, rescued. If derived from the Egyptian, his name would share a root with Rameses and Thutmose.
DD “muzzle” = phimoo. 8x in NT. From phimos (a muzzle). This is to muzzle or silence. It can also mean speechless.
EE “ox” = bous. 8x in NT. Perhaps from bosko (to feed or pasture a flock; figuratively, to nourish spiritually). This is an ox or cow as an animal that grazes.
FF “treading out the grain” = aloao. Perhaps related to “vineyard” in v7. 3x in NT. From halon (see note XXI above). This is to thresh wheat or corn. It can also be a thresher.
GG “God” = theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
HH “is concerned” = melo. 10x in NT. This is to think about something, take an interest, to pay attention. It is to care or worry about something

10 Or does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was indeed written for our sake, for whoever plowsII shouldJJ plow in hopeKK and whoever threshesLL should thresh in hope of a shareMM in the crop.

Notes on verse 10

II “plows” = arotriao. 3x in NT. From arotron (a plow); from aroo (to plow or till). This is to plow or someone who works the plow.
JJ “should” = opheilo. Perhaps from the base of ophelos (advantage, gain, profit); from ophello (heaped together, accumulate, increase). This is to be indebted morally or legally – having an obligation one must meet. This term came from the legal world, but was then adopted in reference to morality. In the New Testament it is used for humanity’s ethical responsibility.
KK “hope” = elpis. From elpo (to anticipate, welcome, expect; usually to anticipate positively). This is expectation, hope, trust, confidence faith. The expectation can be abstract or concrete.
LL “threshes” = aloao. Same as “treading out the grain” in v9. See note XXXII above.
MM “share” = metecho. 8x in NT. From meta (with, among, behind, beyond; implies a change following contact or action) + echo (to have, hold, possess). This is a share, member of, to participate, or pertain to.

Image credit: “Holy Cow!” a Zebu photographed in Pune, India by Ville Miettinen, 2006.

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