1 Corinthians | 1:1-17 | 1:18-31 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7:1-16 | 7:17-40 | 8 | 9:1-18 | 10:1-13 | 10:14-33 | 11:1-16 | 11:17-34 | 12:1-11 | 12:12-30 | 14-16 |

These small group studies of 1 Corinthians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

1 Corinthians 9:1-18 Inductive Bible Study and Discussion Questions

Outline: Self-denial for the sake of the gospel

  1. Paul’s rights as an apostle (1-2)

  2. Giving up his rights in many areas (3-7)

    1. Right to eat and drink (4)

    2. Right to a wife (5)

    3. Right for financial support (6-7)

  3. Paul’s right for financial support given up (8-14)

    1. It is not just his idea (8)

    2. The worker should also enjoy the benefits (9-10)

    3. Right to material, financial support (11)

    4. They’ve given up this right for the sake of the gospel (12)

    5. The right of priests teaches this principle (13-14)

  4. The reason he tells them this (15-18)

    1. Not so that they will support him (15)

    2. It is his duty to share the gospel (16)

    3. The reward of sharing the gospel (17-18)

Discussion Questions:


What is the main point of this section of Scripture?

How does it connect to the previous chapter we covered and the whole theme of Corinthians?

It almost seems as if Paul is boasting; is he? If not, what is his purpose?

I. Verses 1-2

Why does Paul want to tell them that he is an apostle and has seen Jesus and has worked hard, etc.?

When did he see the Lord? Any other time? What is the relationship between this and being an apostle?

II. Verses 3-7

Why does Paul want to give a defense? Aren’t we supposed to be silent like Jesus was?

If Paul had a right to a wife, why did he not take one?

Who is Cephas?

What is Paul’s point in verses 6-7? What is this right that he has given up?

III. Verses 8-14

What is the point in verse 8?

What does the verse mean, “you shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing?” Deuteronomy 25:4

If it was a right for Paul to be financially supported, why didn’t he?

What does this mean for churches, fellowships, and Christian workers today?

What direct implication does this have for you?

As a Christian worker, how should you respond to this truth?

As a Christian church or fellowship member, how should you respond to this truth?

How does this apply to other things besides giving?

What support does Paul give for his point in verse 13?

What is the reason that a person preaching the gospel should get his living from this?

What are the positive reasons? How about any negatives?

IV. Verses 15-18

Did Paul write about this so that they would start giving him money?

If not, then why he did write this to them?

Does this mean Paul was under compulsion or not?

What does it mean under compulsion?

What is the reward?


Being an apostle and seeing the Lord:

Acts 9:1-9 – First saw Christ when converted.

Galatians 1:17-18 – Three years in Arabia, likely was discipled there.

1 Corinthians 8:9 – Using liberty to serve others.

Everything is lawful, but not everything is profitable.

Acts 18:1-4 – Paul, along with Priscila and Aquila, was a tent maker.

Deuteronomy 25:4 – Do not muzzle an ox while it is threshing.

1 Timothy 5:17-18 – A worker is worthy of double honor. The worker deserves his wages.

Matthew 10:10 – Worker is worthy of his wages

Luke 10:7 – Worker is worthy of his wages

Luke 9:62 – No one who puts his hand to the plow and turns back is fit for the kingdom of God.

1 Peter 5:2-4 – Watch over the flock not because you must, but voluntarily.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 – We are not trying to please men, but God.

Colossians 1:25 – God gave Paul a commission to preach to the lost.

Verse by Verse Commentary:


This passage seems to connect in two ways to the book and the previous chapter. Firstly, Paul goes into detail about how himself used freedom for the good of others and whole church body. In the past chapter he describes a specific way that Christian freedom is to be used. It is to be used for others, not oneself. Christian freedom is for profit for others. Secondly, in this passage Paul defends himself. He defends his apostolic authority. He has gone through and delivered a lot of strong reprimands to the church. Here is just a reminder that he has this authority. He is an apostle. He has seen Christ. He’s given up basically everything to serve the church so if anyone has room to teach them, it is Paul.

I. Verses 1-2

Verse 1-2, see intro. Read Cross-references. Paul defends himself as an apostle to the Lord. He has authority to give them instructions. He has authority to rebuke them. One of the requirements of being an apostle is seeing the Lord and Paul also saw Christ. They are proof of his very apostleship. Why did he defend himself? Ask questions.

II. Verses 3-7

In these verses Paul lists a lot of ways that he didn’t exercise his Christian freedom. Eating, drinking, having a wife, being supported, etc. It comes back to the point that Christian liberty is to be used for the edification of others. Why might Paul have chosen not to have a wife, or if he did have one before who died not to get remarried? We discussed this the last several weeks. A single person has more opportunities to serve the Lord and focus completely on Him rather than taking care of their wife. Why would he eat or not eat? Why not ask for and take money from the church?

Paul didn’t just preach to the Corinthians the importance of caring for others in making decisions and exercising freedom. He practiced it. He himself gave up a lot to serve them. Jesus gave up a lot for us. That is part of being in a family. To serve others and Christ, we may need to give up something. Yes, we have to give up sin for sure. But we may have to give up things that aren’t sin as well, certain freedoms that are permissible but not beneficial.

III. Verses 8-14

In this passage Paul goes through all the reasons why a Christian worker like himself is due wages and also the reason that he didn’t ask for or take them.

Reason 1: The old Testament gives the principle in Deuteronomy about muzzling an ox. Imagine an employee works and works and gets no wages. Imagine that an ox is worked to death without being given food. These are wrong. The obvious point is that the one who works is worthy of wages. The Bible says if you don’t work you can’t eat. (2 Thess 3:10). By implication, if a person does work he can eat. Sharing the gospel and teaching is also work.

Reason 2: They sowed spiritual things and should be able to receive material things. You reap what you sow. They worked and worked and worked for the Corinthian church, teaching them, encouraging them, comforting them, reproving them. They built the church. The spiritual benefit the church received far outweighed any physical benefit they could have received.

Reason 3: Others were apparently being supported by the Corinthian church. If others were supported, then certainly Paul had as much and more right than them. Paul had contributed more to the church than anyone else.

Reason 4: Priests were to eat some of the food of the altar. That was their wages. If priests received that as their wages so then should Christian workers.

Reason 5: The reason Paul didn’t take it although he could have was for the sake of the gospel. He didn’t want to hinder it. How might taking money from the church hinder the gospel? Build up resentment. False teachers were big on asking for money so it would distinguish them from false teachers. Hinder the example they wanted to set of the supremacy of the gospel. Cause some dissensions. Ask and discuss other reasons.

Study 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
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