Annotated notes on my translation of 1 Corinthians 9:19-27
Apostolic Counsel—Freedom in Ministry
19 For even though I am free from all, yet I have made myself a servant to all, so that I may win even more.
[He serves others. MacLaren (Expositions of Holy Scripture) notes: The great principle incumbent on all Christians, with a view to the salvation of others, is to go as far as one can without untruthfulness in the direction of finding points of resemblance and contact with those to whom we would commend the Gospel. There is a base counterfeit of this apostolic example, which slurs over distinctive beliefs, and weakly tries to please everybody by differing from nobody. That trimming to catch all winds never gains any. Mr. Facing-both-ways is not a powerful evangelist. The motive of becoming all things to all men must be plainly disinterested, and the assimilation must have love for the souls concerned and eagerness to bring the truth to them, and them to the truth, legibly stamped upon it, or it will be regarded, and rightly so, as mere cowardice or dishonesty. And there must be no stretching the assimilation to the length of either concealing truth or fraternising in evil. Love to my neighbour can never lead to my joining him in wrongdoing].
20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win the Jews. To those who under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law.
21 To those who are without the law, as one without the law—not actually without God’s law, but under Christ’s law—so that I might win those who don’t have the law.
22 To the weak I became as if I was weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all, so that I might by any means save some.
23 I do this for the Good News’s sake, that I might share it with youp.
Apostolic Counsel—Spiritual Discipline
24 Don’t youp know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? So run, that youp may get it.
25 All contending for the victory show self-restraint in everything. Now, they do it to obtain a corruptible crown but we an incorruptible [crown].
26 So therefore, I run, not with uncertainty. So, I fight not like one who punches the air.
27 I discipline my body and bring it under subjection, lest in any way after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.
[Going from the secular example to the spiritual, Paul compares the Christian life to a race. We must run, train, show self-restraint, run to win the prize, realize this is an important race, show diligence, show self-discipline with one’s body, and be careful not to turn back or quit. Compare Psalm 119:9-11, Titus 2:12, and 2 Peter 1:5-9].