1 Corinthians 9:16-23

1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Ordinary B11


16 If I proclaim the gospel,A this gives me no ground for boasting,B for an obligationC is laidD on me, and woeE to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!

Notes on verse 16

A “proclaim the gospel” = euaggelizo. From eu (well, good, rightly) + aggelos (angel, messenger; a messenger from God bringing news – whether a prophet or an angel) {from aggellos (to bring tidings); probably from ago (to bring, lead, carry, guide)}. This is evangelize – literally to preach the good news. It can be those who hear the news, the news, or a way to say gospel.
B “ground for boasting” = kauchema. 11x in NT. From kauchaomai (literally holding one’s head high – to boast proudly or to glory, joy, exult, rejoice; can be boasting in a positive or negative sense); perhaps from auchen (neck) OR from aucheo (to boast) + euchomai (to wish, request, pray to God). This is the reason for boasting or the boast itself. It could be confidence or reason for pride/glorying. It looks at the result of the boast.
C “obligation” = anagke. 18x in NT. From ana (up, again, anew) + agcho (to press tightly, compress) OR related to agkale (the arm, particularly one that is bent to carry a load). This is necessity – something that happens that requires an immediate response. It is generally associated with pain or distress.
D “laid” = epikeimai. 7x in NT. From epi (on, upon, what is fitting) + keimai (to lie, recline, be placed, lie outstretched, be appointed). This is to lie up, impose, insist, oblige, press on.
E “woe” = ouai. This is alas or woe to show grief or to denounce something.

17 For if I doF this of my own will,G I have a reward;H but if not of my own will,I I am entrusted withJ a commission.K 

Notes on verse 17

F “do” = prasso. This is to do or practice – something done on an on-going basis or by habit. It can also mean to accomplish, attend, or commit.
G “own will” = hekon. 2x in NT This is voluntarily, unforced – an intentional action arising from free will.
H “reward” = misthos. This is wages, pay, or salary. It can also be reward, recompense, or punishment. It is pay for services rendered in a literal or figurative way, either good or bad.
I “not of my own will” = akon. Related to “own will” in v17. 1x in NT. From a (not, without) + hekon (see note G above). This is unwillingly or someone who must be compelled to do something.
J “am entrusted with” = pisteuo. From pistis (faith, faithfulness, belief, trust, confidence; to be persuaded or come to trust); from peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is to believe, entrust, have faith it, affirm, have confidence in. This is less to do with a series of beliefs or doctrines that one believes and more to do with faithfulness, loyalty, and fidelity. It is trusting and then acting based on that trust.
K “commission” = oikonomia. 9x in NT. From oikonomeo (a steward, manager, or guardian; someone whose job it is to oversee a house; a treasurer or other fiscal agent; figuratively, someone who preaches the good news); {oiokos (house – the building, the household, the family, descendants; the temple) + nemo (to parcel out)} OR {from oikos (see above) + the base of nomos (what is assigned – usage, law, custom, principle; used for the law in general or of God’s law; sometimes used to refer to the first five books of the Bible or the entire Old Testament; also used to refer to theology or the practice and tradition of interpreting and implementing the law of God); {from nemo (to parcel out)}}. This is stewardship, management, or administration. It is one who looks after the resources or household affairs for someone else (their house or estate). It can also refer to a religious economy.

18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamationL I may makeM the gospelN free of charge,O so as not to make full use ofP my rightsQ in the gospel.

Notes on verse 18

L “proclamation” = euaggelizo. Same as “proclaim the gospel” in v16. See note A above.
M “make” = tithemi. This is to put, place, set, fix, establish in a literal or figurative sense. Properly, it is placing something in a passive or horizontal position.
N “gospel” = euaggelion. Related to “proclaim the gospel” in v16. From the same as euaggelizo (see note A above). This is literally “the good news,” used for the gospel. This is also where “evangelism” comes from.
O “free of charge” = adapanos. 1x in NT. From a (not, without) + dapane (cost, expense). This is without charge or cost.
P “make full use of” = katachraomai. 2x in NT. From kata (down, against, according to, throughout, among, daily) + chraomai (to use, make use of, give what is needed, act in a specific way, request); {related to chre (what is proper, fitting, or necessary)}. This is to use up, overuse, misuse, fully use.
Q “rights” = 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.

19 For though I am freeR with respect to all, I have made myself a slaveS to all, so that I might winT more of them. 

Notes on verse 19

R “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.
S “made…a slave” = douloo. 8x in NT. From doulos (a servant or for a slave, enslaved; someone who belongs to someone else, but could be voluntary to pay off debt or involuntary – captured in war and enslaved; a metaphor for serving Christ); perhaps from deo (to tie, bind, fasten, impel, compel; to declare something against the law or prohibited). This is to enslave, cause something to be subject or bound. It focuses on the impact or result of being enslaved. It can be literal or figurative.
T “win” = kerdaino. 17x in NT. From kerdos (profit, gain, advantage). This is to gain, win, or acquire. It is a word from the sphere of bartering and trading. Figuratively, it can mean trading up.

20 To the JewsU I becameV as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the lawW I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. 

Notes on verse 20

U “Jews” = Ioudaios. From Ioudas (Judah, Juadas); from Hebrew Yehudah (Judah, son of Jacob, his tribal descendants, a name for the southern kingdom. Literally, it means praised); probably from yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise); from yad (hand). This is Jewish, a Jew, or Judea.
V “became” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born. It can be to emerge from one state or condition to another or is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
W “law” = nomos. Related to “commission” in v17. See note K above.

21 To those outside the lawX I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’sY lawZ but am under Christ’sAA law)BB so that I might win those outside the law. 

Notes on verse 21

X “outside the law” = anomos. Related to “commission” in v17 & “law” in v20. 10x in NT. From a (not, without) + nomos (see note K above). This is literally without law. So, it could refer to someone who disregards authority or one who is not under the law (i.e. a Gentile). It can be lawless, wicked, or a transgressor.
Y “God’s” = theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
Z “free from…law” = anomos. Same as “outside the law” in v21. See note K above.
AA “Christ’s” = Christos. From chrio (consecrate by anointing with oil; often done for prophets, priests, or kings). Literally, the anointed one, Christ. The Greek word for Messiah.
BB “under…law” = ennomos. Related to “commission” in v17 & “law” in v20 & “outside the law” in v21. 2x in NT. From en (in, on, at, by, with, among) + nomos (see note K above). This is legal, lawful, under the law, or subject to the law.

22 To the weakCC I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means saveDD some. 23 I doEE it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may shareFF in its blessings.

Notes on verses 22-23

CC “weak” = asthenes. From a (not) + sthenes (strong, vigor); {from the base of sthenoo (to strengthen so that one can be mobile); from sthenos (strength)}. This is without strength so weak, sick, helpless, frail, feeble. It can also be unimpressive or impotent. It can be used for physical or moral weakness.
DD “save” = sozo. From sos (safe, rescued, well). This is to save, heal, preserve, or rescue. Properly, this is taking someone from danger to safety. It can be delivering or protecting literally or figuratively. This is the root that “savior” and “salvation” come from in Greek.
EE “do” = poieo. This is to make, do, act, construct, abide, or cause.
FF “share” = sugkoinonos. 4x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + koinonos (partner, companion, partaker, sharer); {from koinos (common, shared, unclean, ritually profane); probably from sun (with, together with)} This is co-partner, someone with whom you share something together – a close companion.

Image credit: “The Predication of Saint Paul” by Joseph-Benoit Suvee, circa 1779.

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