I Corinthians 9:15-27
John visited his 90-year-old grandpa who lived
way out in the country. On the first morning of the
visit, John’s grandpa prepared a breakfast of bacon
and eggs. John noticed a film-like substance on his
plate, and asked, “Are these plates clean?”
His grandpa replied, “They’re as clean as cold
water can get them. Just go ahead and finish your
For lunch, Grandpa made hamburgers. Again, John
was concerned about the plates, as his appeared to
have specks of dried egg on it. “Are you sure these
plates are clean?” he asked. Without looking up, Grandpa said,
“I told you before, those dishes are as clean as cold water can
Later, as John was leaving, his grandpa’s dog
started to growl and wouldn’t let him pass.
John said, “Grandpa, your dog won’t let me get by!”
Grandpa yelled to the dog, “Cold Water, go lie
Last week we looked at the first 15 verses of
I Corinthians 9. Today we are going to finish the chapter.
Remember our context, Paul is defending his apostleship.
He has every right to receive pay for his ministry, he
has every right to eat the meat sacrificed to idols, he
has every right to take a wife. But he understands that
these rights could cause others to stumble or be
disenfranchised with the gospel. Today we are going to
see what Paul is willing to do for the Sake of the Gospel.
I Corinthians 9:15-18
Paul Forfeits His Rights as an Apostle
Paul provides several reasons for forgoing the rights he
has as an apostle.
He is Compelled to Preach the Gospel
He isn’t preaching the gospel for his own gain or because
of his own will, he was called by the will of God to be an
apostle cf. chapter 1 verse 1.
Any minister who was called by God to serve,
understands the burden of the calling.
I’ve heard many stories of people who sensed God’s call
to ministry but ran from it. They explain that they were
not at peace until they surrendered to the calling.
Paul has every right afforded to an apostle, but for the
sake of the gospel he gives many of those rights up so
that people may be saved.
He is a Steward of the Gospel
A steward is someone who takes care of the resources of
someone else. What he has does not belong to him, he is
simply managing it for the owner.
God has called Paul to preach Christ crucified and Paul
understands that he could receive pay for his work, but
he forfeits it so that more might come to understand the
gospel. Most of the people in Corinth who were teaching
did so for monetary gain or for personal recognition
Paul makes it clear that he is not motivated by money, he
is motivated by his calling to share the gospel.
Paul mentions his reward in v.18.
Preaching the gospel without receiving compensation.
Seeing people come to know Christ is his focus.
I Corinthians 9:19-23
Paul Describes his Method of Evangelism
Following the example of Christ Paul
Became a Servant to All
Jesus was a servant leader. He served those He
ministered to by healing their maladies, casting out their
demons, and forgiving their sins.
He washed the feet of the disciples.
He ate meals with tax collectors and sinners.
He said I did not come to be served but to serve and give
my life a ransom for many.
Paul served by giving his life to the preaching of the
gospel. He went on three missionary journeys and
started numerous churches.
Contextualized the Gospel without Compromising it
As Paul was ministering to different groups, he observed
their cultural and social practices so long as they didn’t
interfere with the gospel.
He would avoid pork while ministering to a Jew.
He would observe the feasts and festivals to reach the
Jews for Christ.
To the Gentiles he would not compel them to observe
the Jewish law. On the other hand, he wouldn’t blatantly
break the law.\
To the weak he became like one who is weak.
He refrained from eating the meat sacrificed to idols so
he didn’t cause one of the weaker members to backslide
into idol worship.
Keep in mind, everything Paul is doing is within his
freedom in Christ.
He definitely didn’t compromise the gospel for the
sake of the gospel.
Sadly today there are people who live in the world and
behave as the world under the guise of reaching the lost
in the world.
They have actually become all things to all people but
have left out the rest of the verse.
Paul did it for the sake of the gospel.
And his ministry reaped results.
Foreign missionaries have found more receptiveness to
the gospel when they observe the customs of the people
as long as it doesn’t interfere with the gospel message.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego observed the customs
of the Babylonians without compromising their faith.
When they were asked to bow to someone other than
God they stood for what they knew to be true. And their
faith won over the king for God.
Paul never compromised the truth of the gospel,
everything he did and even what he didn’t do was for the
advancement of the gospel.
I Corinthians 9:24-27
Paul Provides Real Life Examples of Self Discipline
Paul equates following Christ with running a race.
He was undoubtedly thinking of the Isthmian games
which included many sports including running and
His point is twofold.
Run with purpose seeking to win.
Athletes who compete at a high level understand the
sacrifices and self discipline required to be successful.
They watch what they put in their bodies, striving to eat
and drink what is best for them physically.
They make sure to get the rest they need.
And they are only competing for a perishable prize.
The winner received a wreath made of leaves.
Believers are running a race for a prize that is
imperishable. Paul believes the prize is the souls of
Paul is willing to put in the time and effort to train himself
to reach as many people as God would allow.
Are we willing to do the same?
Discipline Yourself to Remain Faithful
Paul says he does not run aimlessly or box the air, he
disciplines his body.
The Greek word he uses is hupopiadzo which literally
means to strike under the eye. Think of an uppercut or
He is disciplining his body to remain faithful in the
What do we take away from today’s message?
Serving the Lord is not a temporary, fleeting task.
God saved us for a purpose and wants to use us to bring
others to faith in Him.
Therefore, we should
Serve for the Sake of the Gospel
Even though we have freedom in Christ, we should serve
others as Jesus did. When we put others’ needs first ,it
helps them understand the love of Christ.
I read of a mean army sergeant who threw his
muddy boots at a Christian private as he knelt by
his bunk in prayer. They hit him in the head, but he
went on praying. In the morning the sergeant
found his boots beside his bunk beautifully
polished. That act of kind service on the part of that
private resulted in the sergeant’s salvation.
As we contextualize the gospel, we must never ever
compromise the message.
How will you serve for the sake of the gospel?