1 Corinthians 9

Paul argues that he is fully entitled to certain rights as an apostle, but he willingly and gladly gives them up, so there is no hindrance to preaching and advancing the gospel. Chapter 9 continues the theme from chapter 8 on the relationship between freedom and love.

v1-12a – Through thirteen rhetorical questions, Paul points out that he has rights. 

  1. I have the right to the title of apostle. I have seen Jesus. I, through gospel preaching, established the Corinthian church.
  2. I have the right to eat and drink freely. (In light of ch. 8).
  3. I have the right to be married to a believing wife.
  4. I have the right to earn a living from my apostleship.


v12-18 – Paul willingly gives up his rights because his reward is not based on his rights but on fulfilling his calling. 


v19-23 – Therefore, Paul gives up his freedom and rights out of love for others (Jews, Gentiles, and the weak) so they will hear and receive the gospel along with its blessings.


v24-27 – Paul uses an analogy of an athlete in reference to living the Christian life. An athlete keeps the prize in mind, competes to obtain it, exercises self-control, and leads a disciplined life to avoid being disqualified, and so should the Christian. 


You have the right to give up your rights so others may benefit.