Paul also refers to these Christians who were accusing him in 1 Corinthians 4:3. They were probably saying that Paul was not allowing the Holy Spirit to guide his life. If the Holy Spirit was leading him, then Paul would really be free. Then Paul would not care about anything that other people thought. He would not act in a different manner because of his love for people (see 1 Corinthians 8:13). That was their opinion.
Paul replied that God had made him free. He had the right to do what any other Christian leader was doing. He too had the right to receive proper wages and to live in a comfortable manner. However, Paul chose not to demand those rights so that he could lead more people into a relationship with Christ (9:15-18).
These verses tell us many details about the first Christian leaders. Peter (Cephas) was married (see also Mark 1:30). Other important Christian leaders had married; they included Jesusí natural brothers, James and Jude. Paul will give another interesting detail about James in 1 Corinthians 15:7.
Paul adds that he and Barnabas worked to earn their money. They did not want to accept money from the new Christians when they entered a city to declare Godís good news. Paul had separated from Barnabas because of an argument before Paul went to Corinth (Acts 15:39). But Paul still approves of Barnabas here. Clearly, they did not allow their disagreement to spoil their friendship.
Other Christian leaders did not do the same things as Paul did. Perhaps they were married, or they accepted wages from the Christians. These things were not wrong to do. However, all the Christian leaders accepted troubles and difficulties because of their work for God. Although they were free, like Paul, they cared about other people. And the Holy Spirit was guiding them.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.