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 1 Corinthians Chapter 9

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PostSubject: 1 Corinthians Chapter 9   Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:12 pm

1 Corinthians 9:1-2

The regulation of privilege

The positive example of Paul

Paul ended his warning about exercising freedom if it had detrimental effects on a brother with a statement expressing his willingness to be a vegetarian if it would keep a brother from faltering in his faith (1Co_8:13). He then illustrated how he practiced what he preached in this matter of rights when applied to food and drink. It seemed that the rumblings of doubt about his apostleship, which would later call forth an extended defense (esp. 2 Cor. 10-13), had already started. Paul neatly illustrated the principle expressed in 1Co_8:1-13 by relating it to the issue which seems to have been a bone of contention concerning his apostleship. That issue was his steadfast refusal to derive material support from those to whom he was ministering, so no one could say he was motivated by money (cf. 2Co_2:17). In chapter 8, Paul set out the limits of Christian liberty. In this chapter he sets forth how he followed them in his own life. In verses 1-18, he discusses his right to be financially supported by those to whom he ministers. In verses 19-27, he explains how he would give up all rights to win people to Christ. All of these questions are rhetorical, the “yes” answer to each being assumed.
In the very beginning again, we must remember that Paul is answering letters that had been written to him from this church at Corinth. He is reminding them that his authority had come from him being an apostle of Jesus Christ. He, also, reminds them that his calling was a dramatic call when he actually came in contact with the Light of the world. Jesus Christ Himself, who had sent Paul to minister to these people. It is with no small authority then that he is doing this. Paul even reminds them, that he was the one who founded the church in Corinth. He goes on to remind them that they were Christians through his ministry. He says, you are my children in the Lord.
Paul affirmed that his position as an apostle was like that of the knowledgeable Christian in this matter of freedom and rights. The four questions in these verses were rhetorical and expected an affirmative reply, though some among the Corinthians may have denied one or all of them. The third and fourth questions seem directly related to apostolic authority, but apparently Paul believed that the fourth one was more significant than the third. Paul is saying to them that in some other places, he might not be accepted as the voice to the Gentiles, but here at Corinth the church established was through his preaching. He is saying, you cannot deny me without denying your own salvation. The Jews in nearly every city had rejected Paul, but he had been accepted here at Corinth by these believers. The existence of the church in Corinth was evidence of Paul’s apostolic authenticity. In the course of an extended defense of his apostleship in 2 Corinthians he never mentioned seeing the Lord (cf. Act_1:21) but he returned repeatedly to the theme of this verse (1Co_9:2) that the Corinthians themselves were his vindication (2Co_3:1-3; 2Co_5:12; 2Co_7:14-16; 2Co_8:24).

1 Corinthians 9:3

Paul’s defense looked forward (to 1Co_9:4-23) and not back (to 1Co_9:1-2, which guaranteed a right he had willingly forfeited). It seems that even here at the church that Paul had started, some had begun to question Paul's authority.
Using the word “examine” is a Greek legal term for preliminary investigation” required before a decision was reached in a case, Paul sets out to defend his rights.
Paul’s defense, then, was an explanation of why he refused to be maintained at the church’s expense even though he had a right to such support (1Co_9:1-2). This served also as a positive example of his counsel to the knowledgeable brother who was concerned about his rights (1Co_8:1-13).

1 Corinthians 9:4-6

The word right in these verses is the same word (exousia) translated “freedom” in 1Co_8:9. It links the chapters, though Paul’s subject here was not sacrificial meat but ordinary food. Paul is explaining to them that the apostle's living should come from the people he ministers to. They ministered to the people with no strings attached, but the people must from a free will support those who minister to them.
2 Tim. 5:17-18 "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer [is] worthy of his reward." There were many women, as well as men, that traveled with Paul and ministered with him. Paul is explaining to them, that they are not traveling with him as girlfriends, but ministers. Many of the wives traveled with their husbands who were ministering, as well. Sometimes these journeys lasted for months and sometimes for years. I will give just one Scripture, here, which shows why the women traveled with Paul.
Philippians 4:3 "And I in treat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with] other my fellow labourers, whose names [are] in the book of life."
We should also read in Luke chapter 8, the first few verses and we will find that Jesus, also, had women traveling with Him and the 12 apostles to minister. Why do not the expositors just accept this for what it really says? The women ministered with Paul and the apostles.
Cephas was Peter who was married. (Mark 1:29-31)
To bring out the meaning of these rhetorical questions the phrase “at the expense of the church” could be added to 1Co_8:4-5 (cf. Mat_10:10-11). Paul was not alone in refusing this right but had an ally in Barnabas. With sarcasm, Paul, a tentmaker (Acts 18:3), let the Corinthians know that he and Barnabas had as much right as others to receive full financial support from their work. Except for help from a few churches, they paid their own expenses not because of obligation or necessity, but voluntarily.
Besides a few churches, history teaches that Dorcas gave to the ministry of Paul.
Dorcas (or Tabitha in Aramaic -- both names mean "gazelle") is mentioned in Acts 9:36-42. She was a member of the early Christian community in Joppa, a seacoast town of Israel, and noted for her acts of charity, in particular for making garments and giving them to needy widows. When she fell ill and died, Peter came to see her, and raised her to life. His words to her, "Tabitha, kumi," (Tabitha, arise), are reminiscent of the words of Jesus to the daughter of Jairus.
Commitment to this practice may have marked their first missionary journey together (Acts 13:1-14:28) and apparently continued to characterize their separate ministries.

1 Corinthians 9:7

Paul saw the right of maintenance as a principle which extended beyond the apostles to others in the church; he illustrated the point along six different lines. Paul is showing how ridiculous it is for the minister of God to have to furnish his own living. In the Law of Moses it was taught that those who ministered were to live of the things of the temple. The worker is worthy of his hire. Even in the world, the people are paid for the work they do, whether they are working for the government or on a job. The first was custom. The soldier, farmer, and shepherd are all supported for their work.

1 Corinthians 9:8-10

Second, the Old Testament itself substantiated the principle of just remuneration. Paul’s illustration and interpretation has perplexed many commentators. Why did Paul, after referring to the practice of not muzzling a grain-treading ox, then ask, is it about oxen that God is concerned? Was he changing the sense of the Old Testament passage? Not among the perplexed was Luther who tried to cut this Gordian knot by observing that since oxen cannot read, Paul’s point in the passage was transparent. Problems nonetheless remain for less exuberant interpreters. The solution is probably found in the context of Deu_25:4 which Paul quoted. That chapter contains instructions not about animal husbandry but human relationships. Not muzzling an ox, therefore, was probably a proverbial expression concerning just remuneration, properly understood and interpreted as such by Paul. Paul is saying, can't you see that this is not speaking of oxen, but of men who labor for the Lord?
The law as stated in Deut. 25:4 "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out [the corn]."
A modern parallel would be the adage; you can’t teach an old dog new tricks which are commonly applied in contexts other than canine obedience. Paul was speaking of the Law of Moses, which had taught that the priest, and high priest, and their family were to live of the gifts brought to the temple. There would be no reason for a person to plough, if he could not reap of the harvest. Work brings a reward. Our labor is not in vain. Man works to feed and clothe his family. Paul is saying to these people, just because this work is for the kingdom of God, does that mean that the workers will not be able to live of the offerings? Of course, the answer is obvious. Those who work in the ministry should take their living of the ministry. Those who minister should not minister for great wealth or even for the pay, but they must be paid so they can continue another day.

1 Corinthians 9:11

Paul’s third illustration grew out of 1Co_9:10 and his discussion of Deu_25:4, but it concerned a basic principle of community reciprocity: beneficial service should be rewarded. If Paul had been used to bring spiritual riches to the Corinthians (1Co_1:5), material recompense was surely not too much to expect. God's law is if you sow, you shall reap. Paul is saying here, that they sowed spiritual things, which are much better than the carnal things they shall reap. What shall a man gain, if he win the whole world and lose his own soul? The spiritual is much to be desired.
These people are hesitant to pay the living needed by Paul and Barnabas, because the labor they had done was beneficial to the spirit and could not be seen with the eye. Paul is reminding them how much more valuable the spiritual is than the carnal. If they had all the carnal wealth in the world and had no spiritual awakening, they would be poor indeed.

1 Corinthians 9:12

A fourth line of appeal was made to the precedent of other Christian leaders. Paul had earlier alluded to the ministry of Peter (Cephas) (1Co_9:5). Though unattested, it is probable that Peter ministered in Corinth (cf. 1Co_1:12; 1Co_3:22; 1Co_15:5) and was supported during that time by the church. The same was probably also true of Apollos (1Co_1:12; 1Co_3:4-6, 1Co_3:22; 1Co_4:6; 1Co_16:12). If the church supported them, their founding father Paul was surely no less deserving.
Yet Paul did not exercise this right (cf. 1Co_8:9) because he did not want to hinder the response of anyone to the gospel. Paul says to them, even though it was his right to have a living from those he had ministered to here, he did not require it, because he did not want them thinking that that is why he ministered to them. Paul is not asking for himself, but teaching them a principal. He does say, if anyone had a right to be supported of you in the ministry, it was me.
Apparently, the church had financially supported other ministers. “Suffer”: False teachers sought money. Paul wanted to be certain he was not classed with them, so he endured not accepting support, so as not to offend.
We will continue on with this in the next lesson. It is enough to say that Paul gave them a truth here that has helped many a preacher. Ministers have to eat and sleep just like everyone else. They need clothes for their backs and a car to get to church in. If they spend all of their time working for God, they have no time left to make the money needed for these things. Preachers, or ministers, are supposed to spend their time in prayer, and study of God's Word, and in ministering to God's people. They are not to do earthly jobs. They belong to God 24 hours a day. They have no spare time.
Had he been materially recompensed for his ministry, some might have presumed he was simply another itinerant educator motivated by profits (cf. 2Co_2:17) and would have refused him a hearing. To avoid being a “stumbling block” (1Co_8:9) to any, Paul relinquished his right to receive support from those to whom he ministered.

1 Corinthians 9:13

Paul had temporarily interrupted his catalog of illustrations on the right of recompense to underscore the rationale behind his own refusal to exercise that right, despite its general practice by other worthy servants of Christ (1Co_9:5). He then offered a fifth example in support of the right of remuneration by citing the practice of the priesthood. Paul knew the Mosaic law. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. The high priest and his family lived of the offerings in the temple. The Levitical tribe had no land allotment. They were to share with the altar the offerings made thereon.
Old Testament priests were supported by the titles of crops and animals, as well as of financial gifts.
Old Testament priests were remunerated for their service (Num_18:8-32), and so were the pagan priests with whom the Corinthians were probably more familiar (cf. 1Co_8:10).

1 Corinthians 9:14

In the sixth place Paul appealed to the weightiest point of all, the instruction of Jesus that those who give out the gospel should derive support from it (Luk_10:7). If a person is a full time minister of the gospel, there is no time left to make a living at another job. Some of the offerings made by the people to the church should be used for a salary for the minister of the church. Usually a board is set up, and they determine what the church can afford to pay the minister.

1 Corinthians 9:15

With this catalog of arguments completed Paul had convincingly established his rights in relation to the Corinthian church. However, he underscored once again (cf. 1Co_9:12) his refusal to exercise those rights. He expressed one reason in 1Co_9:12, a desire to avoid any hint of mercenary motivation in his ministry. A second and related reason was now stated: the opportunity to affirm the integrity of his commitment to the ministry (cf. 2Co_11:9-12). Strangely enough, this instruction that Paul had given the church on taking care of their minister was not to receive for himself, but that they might take care of those after him who came to minister. Paul was very independent, and did not want it said that he had gone into this as an avocation. He was not in the ministry for the benefits that he might gain. He was called by the Lord Jesus Christ as a minister.
He was compelled to do this. His desire was to do the will of the Lord. Paul learned to be abased and to abound. In other words, he had learned to be content during the bad times as well as the good times.
He did not let anything keep him from carrying the message God had given him. Paul was proud that he did not have to depend on sustenance from those he had converted to Christianity.
Paul was genuinely overjoyed for the privilege of serving the Lord and did not want material support to rob him of it in any way.
This was Paul’s boast: he ministered willingly and freely from his heart (cf. 2Co_2:17).

1 Corinthians 9:16

Of course Paul’s “call” to the ministry was unique. Others have responded voluntarily to the call to follow Christ (Mar_3:13; Joh_1:37-39), but Paul was flattened by it (Act_22:6-10). Like Jonah, Paul was compelled to preach (cf. 1Co_1:17), and like that prophet, woe to him if he shirked his task. Paul tells them here that he has nothing to brag about. As we said Paul was compelled to preach to everyone who would listen. The moment he encountered the great Light {Jesus Christ}, Paul's entire life was changed. He had been zealous to capture the Christians and imprison them, because he thought he was doing God's will. Now he knows that he is doing God's will, and he is even more zealous to tell of Jesus. Paul wanted to please God all the time; he was just not fully informed. That is the way with many people today that are off in error. They are just not fully informed. They want to do the will of God but they just do not know what His will is for their lives.
After Paul became fully informed, he used the rest of his life to preach the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul was not caught up in boasting, but in thanksgiving that he had learned the truth.
“Woe”: This means that God’s severest chastening is reserved for unfaithful ministers (Heb. 13:17; James 3:1).

1 Corinthians 9:17

The condition, if I preach voluntarily, was not true of Paul as he had just said, so he had no claim to any special recompense since he was simply discharging the trust committed to him (cf. Luk_17:10). Paul was called of God to carry this message. He had a choice to do it or not. He willingly chose to carry this message of Christ.
“Against my will”: This does not indicated that Paul was unwilling to obey but that his will had no part in the call itself. Since it was God’s sovereign choice and call, he received not a “reward,” but a “stewardship” (a valuable responsibility or duty to be carefully managed).
Since he followed the will of God, there will be a great reward awaiting him in heaven. "Dispensation", in the verse above, means administration. The gospel, then, was given to him to administer.

1 Corinthians 9:18

Did he then not have any reward? Yes; two, in fact. First, he had his boast (1Co_9:15) that he offered the gospel free of charge, and no one could deny that (cf. 2Co_11:9-10). Second, he had the opportunity to see the gospel at work among those to whom he preached (1Co_9:19, 1Co_9:23), and these results, the believers themselves, were his reward (cf. 2Co_7:3-4). The word translated “reward” (misthos) may also refer to a wage. Paul had shunned material recompense, but he was not without a reward or return for his labor. As we said in a previous lesson, Paul decided to work as a tentmaker to make his own way, so he could give freely to all who would receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul explains that great power had been given unto him pertaining to the gospel. He refused to use that power to further himself.
“My reward” meaning not money, but the privilege of preaching the gospel without support, was Paul’s reward, so that he set aside his liberty.
He had the joy of reaping. To widen that harvest he would gladly give up certain rights, among them the right to material support, in order to enjoy both the integrity of his boast about his ministry and the results of his ministry (cf. Joh_4:36).

1 Corinthians 9:19

Paul had not shackled the exercise of his rights in the area of food and drink alone (as he had intimated the knowledgeable Christians should do, 1Co_8:9-13), but he had applied it to numerous facets of his ministry so that though he was free (eleutheros; cf. 1Co_8:9; 1Co_9:1) he voluntarily became a slave (cf. Php_2:6-7) for the good of others (1Co_10:33) whom he wanted to win (1Co_9:22). By choice, he set aside his right to be supported, and thus “enslaved” himself to self support, in order to remove a potential offense and win more people to Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:20

Though Paul was primarily an apostle to the Gentiles (Gal_2:Cool, he never lost his concern for the salvation of his own people (Rom_9:3). He made it his custom to seek out the synagogue in each town he entered (Act_17:2) in order to win the Jews (Rom_1:16). No verse points out more starkly Paul’s own consciousness of what he was, both before and after meeting Christ. Before, he was the Jew’s Jew, faultless with regard to legalistic righteousness (Php_3:6). Afterward, he was a new man (2Co_5:17; Gal_2:20), who had found in Christ the righteousness he had sought (Rom_10:4; 1Co_1:30). He was still a Hebrew (2Co_11:22; Php_3:5), but he was no longer a Jew living according to the Law (I… am not under the law). Still, he was willing to subject himself to the scruples of the Jews (e.g., Act_21:23-36) in order to gain a hearing for the gospel and to win them to Christ. This, and the verses following, explains a lot of the things that most do not understand about Paul. Paul brought the gospel message to each group in a different way. He did not alter their customs, but brought the gospel message to each within their customs.
When Paul was ministering to Jews, he was quick to remind them that he was a Jew. He would tell them that he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees.
Within the limits of God’s Word and his Christian conscience, he would be as culturally and socially Jewish as necessary when witnessing to Jews. He was not bound to ceremonies and traditions of Judaism. All legal restraints had been removed, but there was the constraint of love.
He kept the law, to impress those who were under the law that he was not trying to do away with the law. He wanted, at any cost, to be allowed to tell them of Jesus {their Messiah}.
Yet he never compromised the essence of the gospel at the heart of which was salvation by faith, not works (Gal_2:16; Eph_2:8-9) and freedom from legalism (Gal_2:4-5).

1 Corinthians 9:21

In contrast to the Jews, “those under the Law” (1Co_9:20), those not having the Law were the Gentiles. Among Gentiles, Paul was willing to abandon past scruples of a morally indifferent sort, such as eating meat offered sacrificially to a pagan god (1Co_10:27; cf. Act_15:29), in order to win Gentiles to Christ. But though Paul was a forceful advocate of liberty (Gal_5:1), he did not suggest he was an advocate of libertinism (cf. 1Co_6:12-20). He was still under authority, but not to the Old Testament Law. He was responsible to God (cf. 1Co_3:9) and Christ (cf. 1Co_4:1) and was enabled by the Spirit to fulfill the law of love (Rom_13:8-10; Gal_5:13-25), the opposite of lawlessness (cf. Mat_24:12 where lawlessness drives out love). He proclaimed grace through the sacrifice of Jesus, when he was speaking to Gentiles. To these people, he was a Christian and nothing more. He tried to reach each group where they were.
Paul was not suggesting the violating of God’s moral law, but, as he explained, not being lawless toward God, but abiding by the law of Jesus Christ. (James 1:25; 2:8 and 2:12)
Christ’s law (Gal_6:2) was to love God and man (Mar_12:30-31), which law Paul obeyed (1Co_10:31-33).

1 Corinthians 9:22

In his references to Jews and Gentiles in the preceding verses, Paul explained his voluntary restraint of freedom in order to reach unbelievers with the gospel. Some suggest that the weak in this verse refers to Jews and Gentiles together in a state of unbelief and so was intended to summarize Paul’s previously stated convictions (cf. Rom_5:6 where “the weak” are also called “the ungodly”). It is more likely, however, that Paul was referring explicitly to the weak Corinthians described in 1Co_8:9-11 (cf. Jew, Greeks, and the church of God in 1Co_10:32). “Weak”: Meaning he stooped to make the gospel clear at the lower level of comprehension, which Paul no doubt had done often while dealing with the Corinthians themselves. “All things … all means”: Within the bounds of God’s Word, he would not offend the Jew, Gentile or those weak in understanding. Not changing Scripture or compromising the truth, he would condescend in ways that could lead to salvation. His concern to win them was not in the preliminary sense of justification as in the case of unbelieving Jews and Gentiles (1Co_9:20-21) but to win the Corinthians in terms of sanctification and maturity in Christ (cf. Mat_18:15) — and so to save them for God’s ongoing work in their lives (cf. 1Co_5:5; 1Co_8:11). Paul’s condescension to the scruples and customs of all men (cf. “everyone” in 1Co_9:19) found application on a momentary case-by-case basis since it would be impossible to satisfy simultaneously the penchants of both Jews and Gentiles alike.

1 Corinthians 9:23

Paul voluntarily did this in order to gain the widest possible hearing for the gospel and so to share in its blessings as God’s fellow worker (1Co_3:9), reaping the joyful harvest of many won to Christ (cf. Joh_4:36). Paul explains that his goal is to further the gospel. Whatever it takes for Paul to be allowed to bring the gospel message, is what he is doing. Paul's aim is to take the gospel message to everyone.
In verses 24-27 we find that liberty cannot be limited without self control, since the flesh resists limits on its freedom. Here, Paul speaks of his personal self control.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Paul’s commitment to this course of ministry did not come easily. It required personal discipline (strict training) like that of an athlete who strove for supremacy in his field (cf. 1Co_15:10). To that end Paul willingly gave up certain privileges which might otherwise be his to enjoy so that he could win the prize. The prize for Paul was not the temporary crown (stephanon) bestowed by men (in the biennial games near Corinth the “crown” was a pine wreath) but the eternal crown bestowed by Christ (1Co_3:13-14; 2Co_5:10). The Greeks enjoyed two great athletic events, the Olympic games and the Isthmian games and because the Isthmian events were held in Corinth, believers there were quite familiar with this analogy of running to win.
Racing was very prominent in Corinth in those days. The races were very similar to what is done in the Olympics today. Again, Paul is giving an example that they will understand. Life is very much like a race. We are all trying to make it to the finish line. Christianity is a race that is run on a narrow path. We are to look straight ahead to the Lord. Our path is lit by the Light of Jesus.
We must never stop, until the end is reached. We must not wander off the track and lose our way. We must never turn back. This race is for everlasting life. The prize that the Christian wins is everlasting life with the Lord Jesus. We must run and not be weary.
Paul’s crown would be the consummation of the reward (1Co_9:18) he partially enjoyed, the opportunity to glory before Christ in those he had been able to win (2Co_1:14; Php_2:16; 1Th_2:19). These young men that ran in the physical race took really good care of their bodies. They did not indulge in strong drink, or in anything else that might cause them not to be strong. They disciplined their lives, so their body would be in good condition to run.
The very worst thing a Christian can do is to eat or drink anything that will alter their ability to think. Christians must be totally free of drugs and alcohol, so they will be able to think clearly enough to make correct decisions. Christians must live disciplined lives, as well. We must not allow ourselves to get involved in worldly things.
“Temperate” meaning self control which is crucial to victory the corruptible crown here is referring to those who race in the Olympic or isthmian games and winning a wreath of greenery which was given to the winner of the race. But the incorruptible crown is for those who Christ will reward at his return who have been faithful to His Testimony”

1 Corinthians 9:26-27

Paul’s dictum of becoming “all things to all men” (1Co_9:22) could have been construed as the aimless capitulation of an unprincipled man. But it was just the opposite! Every move made in the course of his race was calculated to further his pursuit of the prize (cf. Php_3:13-14). Every blow struck was meant to land squarely on his opponent and send him reeling from the contest (cf. Eph_6:12; Jas_4:7). To achieve this, Paul would not let his body master him (cf. 1Co_6:12); sometimes he denied even its demand for rightful privileges and pleasures (1Co_8:9) for a greater good (1Co_10:33). Paul is saying, you don't run just to be running, but to finish the race. Paul is saying, he is not preaching just to hear himself speak, but to get results. There must be a goal in ministering, just as there is a finish line in a race. "Beating the air" just means action in futility, a metaphor to boxing to illustrate the point that he was no shadow boxer, just waving his arms without effect.
Paul was competing well himself and had called many to join him (the word preached is kēryxas, the noun form of which signified a herald who summoned contestants to a race), but that did not guarantee him a victorious finish. He held out the possibility that even he could be disqualified for the prize. The single Greek word translated by that phrase (adokimos) literally means “unapproved.” Paul is saying here, that he practices what he preaches. He disciplines himself to the teachings of the Bible. He not only preaches the gospel, but lives the gospel, as well. He does not allow his body to rule his spirit. He disciplines himself, so that he will not be a hypocrite when he is teaching others. Paul lives the Christian life before all that he ministers to. In other contexts it was applied to the unsaved (e.g., Rom_1:28; Tit_1:16). Here Paul was not addressing the issue of salvation, nor for that does matter even the prize specifically in mind. Rather, he seemed concerned with continuance in the race. Like the brother who had indulged in immorality (1Co_5:1-5), Paul’s life could be cut short by the disciplinary disapproval of God. God had disciplined in the past (1Co_10:6-10), was disciplining in the present (1Co_11:30-32), and would discipline in the immediate future (1Co_5:5). Paul was concerned that some might not be able to say with him one day, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race” (2Ti_4:7), but would find themselves cut off in the midst of the contest by the disciplinary action of God.
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1 Corinthians Chapter 9
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