A Greatly Misunderstood Verse: Gospel Money
(1 Corinthians 9:14)
Examples of the translations:
“New International Version
In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
New Living Translation
In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.”
Now, what does it mean and why is apostle Paul quoting it?
Apostle Paul is clearly talking about “two ways” of preaching the Gospel:
1) First way = take a living out of those who benefited the Gospel from you (a right; but a ‘lower exemplary walk of faith’)
A verse prior:
“Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?” (1 Corinthians 9:6)
2) Second way = “no” taking a living out of those who benefited the Gospel from you (a right but ‘not’ used in ‘sincerity’; but a ‘higher exemplary walk of faith’)
Verses from the ‘same chapter’ expounding this comparison in greater detail:
“If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 9:12)
Apostle Paul’s response to verse 14 (regarding this right) makes it even clearer (in the subsequent verse which follows):
“But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast.” (1 Corinthians 9:15)
Here is the ‘wisdom’ of ‘why’ Paul didn’t want to use this ‘right’:
“If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.” (1 Corinthians 9:17)
The verse above means that “voluntary” (‘free of charge’ or by ‘not’ receiving money-‘not’ using this right) = reward.
If “not voluntarily” (taking money/wages for it; ‘not’ working or using the right) = “simply discharging the trust committed”.
In conclusion (the exemplary walk of preaching the Gospel absolutely ‘free of charge’ with no strings attached is a path very few have traversed):
“What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:18)
The choice is yours.
Sometimes, God gives us ‘rights’ to ‘test us’. To use these ‘rights’ usually accounts for ‘selfishness’ while to ‘not’ use these ‘rights’ accounts for our ‘selflessness’ in following after our Most Selfless Lord Himself Who didn’t invoke any rights for Himself. Be wise.