1 Corinthians Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. Am I not a free man? Am I not an emissary of the Messiah? Haven’t I seen Yeshua our Lord? And aren’t you yourselves the result of my work for the Lord?
2. Even if to others I am not an emissary, at least I am to you; for you are living proof that I am the Lord’s emissary.
3. That is my defense when people put me under examination.
Sha'ul moves on from the Corinthians' misuse of knowledge to their misuse of the freedom they have in union with the Messiah (see 8:IN). By the saying, "Everything is permitted" (6:12,10:23), they justify eating food offered to idols, without thinking about the harm it may cause others (Chapter 8&NN). But, Am 1 not a free man too? Yet I don't behave thus inconsiderately.
Moreover (and what follows is a kal v'chomer argument; see Mt 6:30N), unlike yourselves, as an emissary of the Messiah, I am entitled to something much more substantial than merely eating pagan sacrifices — I'm entitled to stop working for a living and to be supported by you (vv. 4-14; the particular example was chosen for his readership, who were sensitive about money matters, as is clear from 2 Corinthians 8-9).
For those of you who dispute my entitlement by challenging my credentials as an emissary (2 Corinthians 10-12), my defense when people put me under examination is, first, that I have seen Yeshua our Lord (Ac 22:18, 21, where Yeshua specifically commissioned Sha'ul to evangelize the Gentiles), and, second and more to the point in your own case (v. 2), that you yourselves are the result of my work for the Lord as an emissary (4:15, 2C 3:1-3).
This defense is placed precisely here in order to establish as incontestable his right to be supported; so that his claim to be relinquishing it voluntarily (vv. 12-27), which he sets forth as an example to be imitated (11:1), cannot be undermined by a counterclaim that he had no such right in the first place.
4. Don’t we have the right to be given food and drink?
We emissaries have the right to be given food and drink by the believers whom we serve (see also v. 14). Sha'ul, building an airtight case, supplies four arguments as proof:
(1) An analogy from everyday occupations (v. 7);
(2) A midrash on Deuteronomy 25:4 (vv. 8-10);
(3) An analogy from the Temple priesthood (v. 13);
(4) A teaching of the Lord Yeshua himself (v. 14).
By way of contrast, consider an excerpt from the Mishna:
"Rabbi Tzadok said, 'Do not make of [the Torah] a crown with which to advance yourself or a spade with which to dig.' Also Hillel used to say, 'He who makes worldly use of the crown [of the Torah] will waste away.' From this you learn that whoever derives a profit from the words of the Torah removes his life from the world." (Avot 4:5)
In times past rabbis and other Jewish religious functionaries supported themselves in secular occupations, as did Sha'ul (v. 12, Ac 18:3), but today it is normal for congregations to pay their rabbis a salary, so that invidious comparison between Judaism and Christianity on this point is unwarranted. Elsewhere the New Testament too warns against money-grubbing (1 Ti 6:7ff.).
5. Don’t we have the right to take along with us a believing wife, as do the other emissaries, also the Lord’s brothers and Kefa?
6. Or are Bar-Nabba and I the only ones required to go on working for our living?
Don't we, that is, don't Bar-Nabba and I, as emissaries, not only "have the right to be given food and drink" (v. 4) at the expense of the other believers, but also have the right to take along with us a believing wife and have the believers also take care of her? The other emissaries have this right; and by implication at least some of them are married. Eusebius' History of the Christian Church (written around 320 C.E.) quotes Papias (early 2nd century) as authority that the emissary Philip was married. The Lord's brothers are mentioned by name at Mt 13:55 and Mk 6:3, but only from this passage do we learn that they may have been married. However, we know Kefa was married from the fact that he had a mother-in-law (Mt 8:14, Mk 1:30, Lk 4:38); perhaps Sha'ul singles him out here from the other emissaries because he had been in Corinth with his wife or because he was the hero of one of the Corinthian factions (1:12), possibly the one in which were gathered most of Sha'ul's adversaries (compare Ga 2:11-14).
The passage confirms my understanding in Chapter 7 that Sha'ul was not opposed to marriage.
Kefa (Peter) is regarded by Roman Catholics as the first Pope, yet he was married. The Catholic rationale for a celibate priesthood draws on Mt 19:10-12 and elements of Chapter 7 above.
7. Did you ever hear of a soldier paying his own expenses? or of a farmer planting a vineyard without eating its grapes? Who shepherds a flock without drinking some of the milk?
8. What I am saying is not based merely on human authority, because the Torah says the same thing —
9. for in the Torah of Moshe it is written, 'You are not to put a muzzle on an ox when it is treading out the grain' (Deuteronomy 25:4). If God is concerned about cattle,
10. all the more does he say this for our sakes. Yes, it was written for us, meaning that he who plows and he who threshes should work expecting to get a share of the crop.
If God is concerned with cattle, all the more does he say this for our sakes.
A literal rendering of this would be: "Is God concerned about cattle? Or is it all because of us that he says it? Because of us." The literal rendering would suggest that God is not concerned with cattle; animal rights activists would have a legitimate complaint against Sha'ul! But in fact God is concerned with cattle; indeed this is why the Torah. forbids muzzling an ox, and this law exemplifies kindness to animals. Nevertheless God's primary concern is with human beings, a point Sha'ul makes by going beyond the/7 'shat (simple sense of the text, Mt 2:15N) to make a drash giving the significance for us through allegory. Alternatively, one may say (and this is the basis of my translation) that Sha'ul brings out an implicit kal v'chomer argument (see Ml 6:30N): "If, as is the case, God is concerned with cattle, how much more is he concerned with people!"
11. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?
12. If others are sharing in this right to be supported by you, don’t we have a greater claim to it? But we don’t make use of this right. Rather, we put up with all kinds of things so as not to impede in any way the Good News about the Messiah.
13. Don’t you know that those who work in the Temple get their food from the Temple, and those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrifices offered there?
See Numbers 18:8-24 on the portions for the cohanim and the Levites. The passage may refer not just to the Temple priesthood but to priesthoods in general, including idolatrous ones, with which his readers would be more familiar.
14. In the same way, the Lord directed that those who proclaim the Good News should get their living from the Good News.
See 9:4N, Mt 10:10, Lk 10:7-8; also 1 Ti 5:18.
15. But I have not made use of any of these rights. Nor am I writing now to secure them for myself, for I would rather die than be deprived of my ground for boasting!
16. For I can’t boast merely because I proclaim the Good News — this I do from inner compulsion: woe is me if I don’t proclaim the Good News!
17. For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if I do it unwillingly, I still do it, simply because I’ve been entrusted with a job.
18. So then, what is my reward? Just this: that in proclaiming the Good News I can make it available free of charge, without making use of the rights to which it entitles me.
Although Sha'ul has the right to live from preaching the Gospel, he does not; rather, he supports himself through his trade, tentmaking (Ac 18:3). He regards his keeping himself independent as its own reward, because it means that he can make the Gospel available free of charge and not expose himself to the slightest risk of abusing his right to be supported by the believers.
19. For although I am a free man, not bound to do anyone’s bidding, I have made myself a slave to all in order to win as many people as possible.
For although I am a free man (v. 1), not bound to do anyone's bidding (7:22), I have voluntarily made myself a slave to all. This principle is to "freedom" (countering license) as 8:13 is to "knowledge" (countering pride). In vv. 20-22 Sha'ul illustrates the principle of making himself a slave to others. He says, in effect, that although he could behave in a selfish way that would feel natural and comfortable, he goes out of his way to empathize with and serve others and their needs (see vv. 2O-27&NN). He does this in order to win as many people as possible to trust in the Messiah — Sha'ul's central goal in life (vv. 16-17).
20. That is, with Jews, what I did was put myself in the position of a Jew, in order to win Jews. With people in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah, I put myself in the position of someone under such legalism, in order to win those under this legalism, even though I myself am not in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah.
21. With those who live outside the framework of Torah, I put myself in the position of someone outside the Torah in order to win those outside the Torah — although I myself am not outside the framework of God’s Torah but within the framework of Torah as upheld by the Messiah.
With those who live outside the framework of Torah. Greek lots anomois can mean "to the lawless," in the sense of "wicked." or. as here, "to the un-lawed," those outside the framework of law, apart from law. The "law" spoken of here is, of course, as throughout this passage, the Torah; so, we could say, "the un-Torahed." In some contexts (for example, Ro 2:12-16), this would be synonymous with "the Gentiles"; but here, as we have indicated in v. 20bN, it means only a particular group of Gentiles, those who have neither subjected themselves to a legalistic perversion of the Torah nor made their overscrupulous consciences into a self-created "torah" of their own (compare Ro7:21-23&N).
This group tends toward libertinism and lack of discipline, though this need not be the case for any particular individual. Some of the people to whom Sha'ul is writing were once in this category (6:9-11), and the tone of the whole section (8:1-11:1) and indeed of the entire letter suggests that this was the mindset Sha'ul was dealing with among many leaders of the Corinthian Messianic community. I put myself in the position of someone outside the Torah, literally, "as un-lawed," "as un-7'ora/;ed," in the position of someone who does not relate to the Torah at all.
Though being myself not outside the framework of God's Torah but within the framework of Torah as upheld by the Messiah, literally, "not being un-7bra/?ed of God but (on the contrary) en-Torahed of Messiah," or, as one commentator has rendered it (with a peculiarly irrelevant but for that reason memorable overtone), "not being God's outlaw but Messiah's inlaw." Greek anomos theou ("un-lawed of God") is contrasted with ennomos Christou ("en-lawed of Messiah") by the use of the strong adversative "alia" ("but on the contrary"), and the whole phrase is strongly tied to the previous one by the use of the participle "on" ("being"). Combined with Sha'ul's earlier remark that he is not "upo потоп" ("under law"), this gives us a very precise picture of exactly where he stands in relation to the Torah.
He is not in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah but lives within the framework of God's true Torah, which he defines as being the one and only Torah that there is, the Torah of Moses, understood and modified in accordance with what the Messiah has said and done in establishing the New Covenant. The Torah of the Messiah is not something that abrogates and supersedes the Torah of Moses; rather, as Yeshua said, "Do not think that I have come to do away with the Torah or the Prophets. I have not come to do away with them but to fill them out." to make their full import clearer than ever (Mt 5:17&N). Thus even though the Pharisees and 7flra/i-teachers (scribes), and the rabbis after them, teach many things about the Torah that are true, they are off-target to the extent that non-Messianic Judaism makes of the Torah a legalistic-system that perverts its true intention, which is to be a framework for receiving God's grace through faithful trusting (Ro 10:4-8&NN).
The Messiah has made this true purpose of the Torah stand out as never before in three ways:
(1) By expounding its teaching correctly (numerous examples in all the Gospels);
(2) By demonstrating, through his faithful trusting of the Father even to the point of dying in order to atone for everyone's sins, how great is God's grace and love for mankind, appropriated through faithful trusting, as the Torah says (Ro 3:21-31&NN, 9:30-10:10&NN; Ga 2:16-3:29&NN);
(3) By making the New Covenant itself part of Torah (MJ 8:6b&N), which has the effect of modifying, reinterpreting or re-applying some of its specific provisions without changing its overall framework (see Yn 7:22-23&N, Ga 2:11-14&NN). Such modifications not only conform to Jewish expectations of what happens to the Torah when the Messiah comes (as explained in Ac 6:13-14N). but also are part of an historical sequence of changes in the Torah that begin in the Tanakh itself (for example, celebrating Purim was a new mitzvah given some 800 years after Sinai (Esther 9:27-28)).
Sha'ul does not say he is "in subjection to" (upo) the Torah of Messiah, for, in contrast with the framework that results from perverting the Torah of Moses into legal-ism, there is no oppressiveness, no subjection, in being within the framework of the Torah as set forth by the Messiah ("My yoke is easy, rny burden is light," Mt I l:28-30&N; Ac 15:10&N). When Sha'ul wants to emphasize oppressiveness or compulsion in relation to something abstract, such as the law, he uses "upo" ("under"); if that is not his intention, he uses "en" ("in. within, in the framework of'). Thus, for example, at Ro 3:19, "We know that whatever the Torah says, it says to those living within the framework of the Torah." the last seven words translate Greek en to nomo, "in the law"; similarly at Ro 2:12. A number of English translations, including the KJV, fail to bring out this important distinction.
The essential elements of Torah as upheld by the Messiah are clear from a number of passages. In Mk 12:28-34 Yeshua was asked what was the most important mitzvah; and his reply was to quote the Sh'ma, "Hear, О Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Then he volunteered that the second most important mitzvah is, "Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18); this Sha'ul affirmed by declaring that love sums up all the mitzvot and "fulfills the whole Torah" (Ro 13:9-10, Ga 5:14; see also the great "love chapter," 12:31-14: la, in the present letter).
To the Galatians he said the same thing in different words, "Bear one another's burdens — in this way you will be fulfilling the Torah as set forth by the Messiah" (Ga 6:2&N). In the "Torah as set forth by the Messiah," Yeshua's atoning death becomes the final and permanently effective sacrifice for sin (Messianic Jews 9-10). Another mitzvah of the Torah as set forth by the Messiah is spreading the Good News throughout the world among Jews and Gentiles alike (Mt 28:19&N, Ac 1:8&N), a consequence of which is that unity between Jews and Gentiles in the Body of the Messiah is a more important principle of Torah than keeping kosher (Ga 2:11—14&N). Yet much of the Torah stands without alteration. For more, see especially Ga 6:2N.
22. With the “weak” I became “weak,” in order to win the “weak.” With all kinds of people I have become all kinds of things, so that in all kinds of circumstances I might save at least some of them.
With the "weak" I became "weak," in order to win the "weak." In relation to its context (8:1-11:1), here is the chief point of vv. 20-22. Sha'ul has made himself "a slave to all" (v. 19). Examples from his past include Jews and Judaized Gentiles, the "un-lawed" Gentiles include his Corinthian questioners, and now he speaks of the group those questioners are willing to ignore and ride roughshod over — the "weak," those with overactive but misguided consciences (8:7-12). Their scruples are not to be despised but understood, so that they may be won to faith (the immediate context) or their life in the Lord strengthened (the larger context; see 8:7-12). A deeper understanding of God's truth will free the "weak" (Yn 8:32) from the bondage of overscrupulousness. With all kinds of people I have become all kinds of things, so that in all kinds of circumstances I might save at least some of them. This is the point of vv. 20-22 considered by themselves: it sums up the passage and restates v. 19. For the refutation of the criticism that Sha'ul's being "all things to all men" means he was a deceiver or a chameleon, see v. 20aN.
In all kinds of circumstances. Or: "at all events," "by all means," "at least," "certainly," "wholly." The Greek text uses the word for "all" or a derivative of it four times in this sentence and the beginning of the next.
Since my translation of these three controversial verses embodies my interpretation of them (in keeping with the principles of the JNT Introduction, Section V, on "The Translator and His Interpretations"), it is only fair to offer a literal rendering as well:
That is. I became to the Jews as a Jew, in order that I might gain Jews; to those under law as under law, not being myself under law, in order that I might gain those under law;2I to those apart from law as apart from law, not being apart from God's law but "en-lawed" of Messiah, in order that I may gain those apart from law.221 became to the weak, weak, in order that I might gain the weak. To all people 1 have become all things, in order that in all circumstances [or: "by all means," or: "at least"] I might save some.
I will deal with the issues clause by clause.
v. 20a That is, Greek kai. Because these verses illustrate v. 19, explaining how Sha'ul "made (himself) a slave to all," KJV's "and" is not a good translation.
With Jews, what I did was put myself in the position of a Jew, literally, "I became to the Jews as a Jew." Three times in these verses Sha'ul says he "became as," and once that he "became," the distinctive attribute of a group of people; lastly he summarizes by saying that he has "become," as KJV puts it, "all things to all men" (v. 22) — a phrase which today connotes being a deceiver or a chameleon who changes his behavior to suit his audience for the sake of an ulterior goal. We know that Sha'ul rebuked Kefa for behaving in this way (Ga 2:11-I6&NN), but did he play the hypocrite himself? To the same Corinthian readership Sha'ul later wrote, "We refuse to make use of shameful underhanded methods" (2C 4:1-2&N), and then used three chapters of that letter to defend himself against such charges (2 Corinthians 10-12). He could hardly expect them to believe him there if in the present passage they were to understand him as teaching that the end justifies the means.
More specifically, modern critics take this passage to mean that Sha'ul observed the Torah when he was with Jews but dispensed with it when with Gentiles. And not only those with an axe to grind say this of him; well-meaning Christian commentators friendly to him often appear to have an ethical blind spot which Sha'ul's critics can exploit. However, I believe the commentators' deficiency is not in the area of ethics but in the area of exegesis. Their misunderstanding of these verses forces them into a cul-de-sac from which their only escape is to appear to justify, or at least overlook, dissembling for the sake of the Kingdom of God. For they give his circumcising Timothy (Ac 16:1-3) as an example of "becoming as a Jew to the Jews" and "as under law to those under law"; and they cite his eating with Gentiles, whose food, presumably, was non-kosher (Ga 2:11-14&NN), to illustrate his "becoming as apart from law to those apart from law." They reveal thereby three misinterpretations:
(1) They think "becoming as" means "behaving like,"
(2) They think "under law" means "expected to obey the Torah" and as a consequence equate "the Jews" with "those under law," (3) They seem unaware of the fact that being Jewish is not something one can put on or off at will.
In regard to the last of these, I have pointed out that Sha'ul never considered himself an ex-Jew (Ac 13:9N, 21:21N). So even if he had not been a man of integrity, even if he had been willing to put on a facade of observing Jewish customs among Jews but not among Gentiles, he could hardly have flouted Jewish law among Gentiles without having his duplicity discovered and his credibility undone.
Since Sha'ul remained a Jew all his life, we can eliminate another misinterpretation of "becoming as" — "becoming something that one formerly was not." In principle such exegesis could apply to Sha'ul's becoming as "outside the Torah" (v. 21) or "weak" (v. 22), but not to his becoming as a Jew, since he already was one. One Gentile believer who converted to Judaism in order to evangelize Jews argued that by becoming "as a Jew to the Jews" he was only imitating Sha'ul. This I reject, for Sha'ul does not mean he changed his religious status or philosophical outlook to that of his hearers (but see 7:18&NN, Ga 5:2-4&N).
No, Sha'ul did not play charades in "becoming as" the people around him. What he did was empathize with them. He put himself in their position (hence the lengthy phrase I use to translate "became as"). He entered into their needs and aspirations, their strengths and weaknesses, their opportunities and constraints, their ideas and feelings and values — in short, to use the current vernacular, he tried to understand "where they were coming from." In addition he made a point of doing nothing to offend them (10:32). Having established common ground with those he was trying to reach, he could then communicate the Good News in patterns familiar to them, using rabbinical teaching methods with Jews, philosophical thought-forms with Greeks. With the "weak" he could bear with their overscrupulousness, because he understood its origin (8:7-12). He did everything possible to overcome all barriers — psychological, social, and especially cultural; for he knew that the task of communicating the Good News had been entrusted to him (vv. 15-18,23), and he could not expect others to meet him halfway. But he never condescended by imitating or feigning ungodliness or legalistic compulsiveness or "weak" scrupulosity, for the degree to which he would change his behavior to make them feel at ease was always constrained by his living "within the framework of Torah as upheld by the Messiah" (v. 21).
Moreover, Sha'ul's strategy of removing unnecessary barriers between himself and those whom he hoped to win to faith, far from being outside the pale of what Judaism can consider ethical behavior, was anticipated by Hillel when he accepted as a proselyte a Gentile who insisted on being taught the Torah "while standing on one foot" (Shabbat 31a, quoted in Mt 7:12N; but on this also see David Daube's The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism, University of London: The Athlone Press, 1956; reprinted by Amo Press, 1973; Part III, Chapter 11).
In order to win Jews. In v. 19 Sha'ul announced that his goal was "to win as many people as possible," that is, as many of all kinds of people as he could. By "winning" them, of course, he means getting them to realize that they are sinners who need God's forgiveness and can obtain it only by accepting Yeshua's atoning death on their behalf. For a discussion of the Jewish antecedents of the Greek word for "win," kerdaino, see Part III, Chapter 12 of Rabbi Daube's book cited above.
Note that Jews are not exempt from needing God's forgiveness through Yeshua; if they were, Sha'ul would not be making efforts "to win Jews." Those in the Jewish community today who object to evangelistic targeting of Jews should be aware that Sha'ul gave "winning Jews" as one of his specific goals; and at the end of this section of his letter he exhorts believers to imitate him (11:1). Those who urge followers of Yeshua to desist from evangelizing Jewish people are either unaware of what this verse means or consciously inciting them to violate a religious precept.
v. 20b People in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah, literally, "those under law." The two questions here are:
(1) Who are "those under law"? and
(2) what is meant by "under law"? The first question will be easier to address after we have glanced briefly at the second.
I say "briefly" because my detailed remarks on "under law" are in Ga 3:23bN. Here I note that Greek upo потоп does not mean under "law" in a general sense, or even under "the Torah." Rather, it means "under something that is not the Torah but a perversion of it, specifically, a perversion that tries to turn it into a set of rules that supposedly one can obey 'legalistically,' that is, mechanically, with neither faith nor love for either God or men, yet nevertheless thereby earn God's applause and approval." This is why I use the phrase, "a legalistic perversion of the Torah."
Further, people are not "under" it merely in the sense of "having to obey" it, but "under" it in an oppressive sense, "insubjection to" it as to a slavemaster (a metaphor Sha'ul uses wherever the phrase "upo потоп" appears, that is, in both Galatians and Romans). The legalistic perversion refers to both (1) aspects of the objective system of law developed within Jewish society, and (2) the subjective phenomenon that takes place when an individual turns God's Torah, which is based on grace and trust, into rules and compulsiveness. For more, see especially Ga 3:23bN and also Ro 3:20bN, 6:14-15N; Ga 2:16bN.
"Those under law" are, in my judgment, not Jews but Gentiles who have been Judaized. My reasoning is as follows: Sha'ul has already spoken about Jews and has no need to repeat himself by calling Jews "those under law"; to do so adds nothing; instead it raises the bogus issue of why he should mention the same group of people twice. The distinction some commentators make between nationality ("a Jew") and religion ("under law") did not exist for first-century Jews; Jews began thinking in this way only in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (with disastrous results in the Holocaust, when Jews who considered themselves "good Germans" by nationality remained in Germany under the Nazis and perished by the hundreds of thousands). Further, there is not another Greek kai here to be translated epexegetically as "that is" (first paragraph of v. 20aN) and thereby justify understanding the sentence this way.
Rather, after mentioning Jews once and only once, Sha'ul now talks about three groups of Gentiles. The first have subjected themselves to a legalistic perversion of the Torah. The second have no involvement with the Torah at all (v. 21&N). And the third are the "weak," who subject themselves to their own overscrupulous conscience as if it were Torah (v. 22&N). Of the better-known English versions only the Living Bible's rendering of vv. 20-21 clearly delineates these three groups of Gentiles.
The legalistic perversion of the Torah that Judaized Gentiles subjected themselves to was not always non-Messianic Judaism. In fact, more often it was a watered-down form of it, perhaps binding them to observe certain Jewish holidays (Co 2:16-17, Ga 4:10), or binding the men to get circumcised but not to obey the rest of the Jewish law (Ga 5:3, 6:13). Unsaved Gentiles who subjected themselves to some but not all of Jewish practice were called God-fearers (Ac 10:2N), but not all God-fearers became legalistic about their observance of Jewish customs. With Gentiles who put themselves "under law" Sha'ul had to apply the principles of Acts 15 and the book of Galatians; and to do so he "became as" they, he "put himself in their position."
Be warned that the New Covenant can be perverted into legalism as easily as the Torah! How many millions of Christians have mistakenly supposed that they can guarantee themselves a niche in heaven by forcing themselves to obey rules such as, "Don't swear," "Don't drink," "Don't go to movies," "Say your Rosary every day" (for Catho-lics), "'Read the Bible every day" (for Protestants), "Speak in tongues every day" (for Pentecostals), or even, "Confess Jesus as your Savior and Lord." And how many others have been immunized against the true Gospel by exposure to this false one! Thus, to make a midrash. "those under law" can easily be people who think they are Christians but are really "people in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the New Testament"!
Under this legalism... under such legalism. Abbreviated translations of про потоп, understood as explained above.
I myself am not in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah. If "upo потоп" meant "required to obey the Torah." Sha'ul could not have written this. Sha'ul was a Jew (Ac 13:9N), and Jews are required to obey the Torah — the true Torah. The next verse reveals what Sha'ul understood about himself in relation to the true Torah; this verse tells only about his relationship to legalistic perversion of it.
23. But I do it all because of the rewards promised by the Good News, so that I may share in them along with the others who come to trust.
Because of the rewards promised by the Good News, so that I may share in them along with the others, literally, "for the sake of the Good News, so that I might become a joint sharer in it." Verses 23-27 continue elaborating the principle of v. 19. One of Sha'ul's motives in making himself everyone's slave is altruistic, the desire to win them to trust in Yeshua (vv. 19-22). The other is, in a manner of speaking, selfish (see last paragraph of Ro 11:11-I2N) — the desire to share in the benefits promised by the Good News. However, neither the Tanakh nor the New Testament ever considers it selfishness for a believer to desire eagerly all the good things God promises; indeed, one of the good things promised is freedom from selfishness.
24. Don’t you know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one wins the prize? So then, run to win!
25. Now every athlete in training submits himself to strict discipline, and he does it just to win a laurel wreath that will soon wither away. But we do it to win a crown that will last forever.
Submits himself to strict discipline, or: "exercises self-control in everything." Crown. See 2 Ti 4:8.
26. Accordingly, I don’t run aimlessly but straight for the finish line; I don’t shadow-box but try to make every punch count.
27. I treat my body hard and make it my slave so that, after proclaiming the Good News to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
I treat my body hard (literally, "I give my body a black eye") and make it my slave; Sha'u! himself is the Messiah's slave (Ro 1:1, Pp 1:1) and everybody's slave (v. 19). Not that Sha'ul deprecates the flesh — the Greek word is not "sarx" ("flesh"), but "soma" ("body"). Rather, the body makes a good servant but a bad master (compare Ro8:l3&N).
Sha'ul is probably speaking here of being disqualified from the rewards due faithful workers (3:8-15&N), not from salvation itself. However, compare the Apocrypha, "There is such a thing as a man who is wise and teaches many and yet is unprofitable to himself (Sirach 37:19).
Sha'ul disabuses readers who might think his having won some people to the Lord assures his place in heaven. One can never rest on one's salvation laurels; on the contrary, having invited others to enter the competition, one must oneself continue to fight temptation and run the harder. However, the competition is not against other people but against one's old nature (Ro 8:9-13). He reinforces this message at Pp 3:7-14; compare Ro 12:1-2, MJ 12:1-13).
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3
- chapter 4
- chapter 5
- chapter 6
- chapter 7
- chapter 8
- chapter 9
- chapter 10
- chapter 11
- chapter 12
- chapter 13
- chapter 14
- chapter 15
- chapter 16