After describing the rights of an apostle, Paul goes further even to show that it was actually a command from the Lord for the apostles to be supported by the church in their material needs.

1 Corinthians 9:13 NKJV

13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

Paul says he had not used these rights and had actually shunned them so as to be able to boast.

1 Corinthians 9:15 NKJV

15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.

Could pride have been slowly creeping into the apostle?

  • I think you should restate your question and focus on the facts not on possible motives (which are inherently speculative).
    – Ruminator
    Oct 23, 2018 at 15:20
  • 1
    Paul renounced the glory or gratitude or reward received from men (i.e., the various benefits offered to him by the Christian community: verses 4-14), so as to receive a better glory or gratitude or reward from God (verses 15-19).
    – Lucian
    Nov 8, 2018 at 7:56

3 Answers 3


I do not believe Paul was exhibiting pride or boasting as referenced in verse 15. If you keep reading in 1 Corinthians 9, you will see that Paul explains himself. If we use another version, it’s a bit easier to see. Here is the NASB.

1 Corinthians 9:15-18 (NASB)

15 But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

We see in the context above that Paul is not boasting in the flesh in verse 15. He is boasting about the Lord and the gospel. Remember, in Chapter 1 he addressed the issue of the Corinthian church boasting/glorying in one preacher above another. At the end of that chapter he says:

31 so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” (NASB)

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul illustrates this instruction. In verse 16, he states that if he received compensation for preaching the gospel, he would have nothing to boast about (again, boasting only in the Lord and the gospel) because he would be under compulsion since he received compensation. However, in verse 17, if he preaches (boasts) in the Lord he does it voluntarily but if he’s paid then he has a stewardship issue or he’s under compulsion. In verse 18, he says that his reward then is to preach the gospel without being under any compulsion so no man can accuse him of being hypocritical or taking advantage of his position.

  • Yes, 1 Corinthians 9:15-18 really spells it out. +1
    – Ruminator
    Oct 23, 2018 at 20:06
  • Good explanation +1
    – user25930
    Oct 24, 2018 at 9:55

No, St. Paul wasn't exhibiting pride. Because his boast is 'if anything,' in Christ and his own helpless state (i.e. over and against the vain boasting of people in 'goods' they pride themselves in having or being—a kind of boasting which is the Christian inversion of the sinful boasting of pride).

2 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV) If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

1 Corinthians 1:31 (ESV) so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Galatians 6:14 (ESV) But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

The context "for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void" means Paul considers using these things which would be of great advantage to him, and is clearly much better than what he's opting for (a humble minimalism), would take away any ability to remain as he wishes: boasting in his humble state, in which he is content.


Paul was not proudly making up a command of the Lord but was referring to the following:

[Luk 10:1-12 KJV] 1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. 2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly [is] great, but the labourers [are] few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. 3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. 4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. 5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace [be] to this house. 6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. 7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. 8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: 9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, 11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.

Paul shows that he is aware of that saying of Jesus by quoting it also to Timothy:

KJV 1 Timothy 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

He may also be alluding to this:

KJV Isaiah 61:6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.

Perhaps that would explain some of his remarks about "boasting" as making his "boast in the Lord".

So Paul would have been within his rights to seek out a person of Shalom and "mooch off them" because he would have earned it with his beautiful feet.

However, Paul was given to boasting though always to make a point. He was "pushed into it" by people giving him a hard time over his qualifications.

[Psa 34:2 KJV] 2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear [thereof], and be glad.

[Isa 61:6 KJV] 6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: [men] shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.

  • ,Paul actually acknowledges that he should have used those rights but actually shuns them,what do call that. Oct 23, 2018 at 15:50
  • Boasting in the Lord.
    – Ruminator
    Oct 23, 2018 at 15:53

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