1 Corinthians 9:17 (NASB)

For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.

What does Paul mean when he compares voluntarily preaching the Gospel with preaching “against [his] will”? What does it mean for him to preach the Gospel against his will, and what does that have to do with stewardship entrusted to him?

1 Answer 1


If you read "ἄκων" as "unwilling" as most current version do, then that makes this a bit easier to understand what he means.

Paul is not claiming that his preaching is unwilling, but is offering a hypothetical: but if (εἰ). What he is saying, that his will is irrelevant on whether he preaches the Bible or not - he is obliged to since that (preaching the gospel) is his obligation (or stewardship.)

This serves as a contrast to that which he has a choice in, and which is the core thing he speaks of here - Paul's refusal to accept support from the Corinthians.

15 But I have used none of these things. And I have not written these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than that. No one shall make my boast an empty one! 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast about, for I am under compulsion; for woe to 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 been entrusted with a commission nonetheless. 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.

Paul can boast of not being a burden to the Corinthians, since that is his choice and liberty. In contrast, he is obliged to preach to the gospel: "woe to [him] if [he] do[es] not preach the gospel"

  • Very helpful answer, thank you! The comparison of preaching the Gospel v. Receiving money from preaching makes so much sense. Thanks again!
    – Gremosa
    Apr 8 at 15:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.