Thursday after the Seventh Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:1-23 (NKJV)
9:1 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we have no right to eat and drink? 5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?
7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? 8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?
Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.
13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
St. Paul became “as a Jew” in order to win as many of them as possible. He tried to cause as little unnecessary offense to them as possible in his preaching and actions. He had Timothy circumcised because of the Jews (Acts 16:3). He also purified himself in the temple in Jerusalem with four other Jewish men in order to show that he was not trying to destroy the Jews or their viable customs (Acts 21:20-26).
There was a window of openness (relatively speaking) in the first decades after the resurrection of Jesus that some Jews might see converting to Christianity as simply the logical conclusion to their being Jews. Once Judaism started to be seen by the Jews themselves, and even the Roman government, as different and opposed to Christianity, it became much more difficult for Christians to get a hearing among the Jews. It was a new level of hardness that has continued to this day. Painfully few Jews have converted to Christianity after the first century.
“To those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law.” These are probably the Gentile God-fearers, that is, those who were not racially Jewish, but to some extent became religiously Jewish. They were believers in the true God and followed to a greater or lesser extent the Jewish regulations, but they always had a sort of second-class status. These people were attracted to Christianity in greater numbers because of Christianity’s universal message, that is, it was not tied to one group of people.
We pray: Lord, help us to be servants to all men. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.