"This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me.Don’t we have the right to food and drink?Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?... But I have not used any of these rights...Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone
who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do
it to get a crown that will last forever.Therefore I do
not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight
like a boxer beating the air.No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached
to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."
- First Corinthians 9:3-7, 15, 24-27
Rights and Prizes
In First Corinthians chapter nine Paul presents a “defense” (Gr. apologia, a legal term referring to providing evidence in a court of law as a defense) for his ministry and his "rights" (Gr. exousia, “authority,” “freedom,” “privilege,” or “right” and was used to refer to civic privileges possessed by leading citizens; it is the key word used at least 7 times in chapter 9) as an apostle. Paul uses the word “rights” (exousia) because the Corinthians (both the people and their leaders) were more concerned about their rights and privileges as believers than they were about fulfilling their ministries and serving in love.
Paul lists several examples of how he had the “right” to be supported by the Corinthians. He even says that he had the right to expect the church to support his wife (if he had one) like other churches supported Peter’s and Jame’s wife. But, Paul and Barnabas had worked for a living in order to make the purpose of their ministry very clear.
“Is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?” – 1 Corinthians 9:6
Their purpose was to create spiritual growth among the Corinthians, not receive financial support from the Corinthians. Paul was called to the ministry as a servant, not as a professional.
Paul then describes ministry as a race with a prize at the end. But, just like a natural foot race in the Greek games each runner had to:
- train and prepare for the race
- compete according to the rules in the race
- run with a goal and a purpose in mind
- discipline their body to perform
Paul is using the competitive athlete as an example of a successful minister: train for the ministry, follow the rules of legitimate spiritual service (not for a profession or financial gain), serve with an eternal goal (not achieving aimless temporal goals and support), and use your natural life to secure the prize (sacrifice your life today).
"As our Lord asked the sick man whether he wished to be healed, so, without our consent, He will not save us; and sinners are without excuse for not consenting to the will of the Lord and their own salvation."
- Cardinal Bonaventura
Roughly a third of the world is Christian. The United Nations identifies Christians in every country. Over the last 30-40 years Christianity has increased by 800,000,000 people.
'Amal (Hb) - Labor (Eng) - the Hebrew word 'amal means "to toil, to labor, to work, to make."
Some places in Hebrew scripture 'amal refers to trouble, but other places it refers to
productive work and the fruits of labor.
In the hieroglyphic text on a wall relief in the Temple of Amun at Karnak (Luxor, Egypt), is a place named The Fort of Abram ("The Fortified Town of Abram.") This is a reference to what the Bible calls Beersheba, Abraham's city as identified in Genesis 21:22-34. (text info. source)
Do I use my spiritual gifts to advance my natural, temporal life?
Or, am I competing according to the rules and using my spiritual gifts to advance the eternal purpose?
I will not I do not live like someone running aimlessly, but to get a crown that will last forever.
"Put away perversity from
keep corrupt talk
far from your lips."
- Proverbs 4:24
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Sri Lanka - rapid growth of church has caused a fixation on converts and instead of teaching.
Galyn in Hezekiah's Tunnel that was cut through the bedrock under Jerusalem, or the City of David, in 701 BC by Hezekiah's men. (More details and images here) (Video of Hezekiah's Tunnel Below) (click on image for larger size)
Galyn's video showing the details of Hezekiah's Tunnel:
Galyn and Toni in Hezekiah's Tunnel:
One of the oldest preserved text of the New Testament is a small fragment of papyrus called the John Ryland Manuscript. It is known as Papyrus Fragment P52 and is dated sometime in the first half of the second century between 111-130 AD.
It contains John 18:31-33 on one side and John 1837-38 on the other. It's discovery proved the book of John was written during the first century in the Apostle John's lifetime.
(Image and details here)
(click on image for larger size)