What Does 1 Corinthians 9:16 Mean?

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.

1 Corinthians 9:16(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

When Paul was converted to the Christian faith, he suddenly discovered the shocking consequences of his own unbelief because he recognised that his religious legalism had kept him estranged from God and excluded him from fellowship with the One he claimed to follow.

Once he discovered that Jesus of Nazareth was his God and Saviour, Paul's desire was to tell others of our great salvation. He wanted them to share in the hope we have in Christ and experience the great freedoms we enjoy by faith in Him.

When Paul was saved on the road to Damascus, he discovered the precious truth of the gospel.. that salvation is a gift from God and the privileged possession of all who believe on Him. Paul felt compelled to share the good news of God's amazing grace... and just as the Lord Jesus pointed His disciples to His heavenly Father during His earthly ministry, so Paul points us to our heavenly Saviour and Him alone.

Paul's passion was to teach that salvation does not rely on anything we do but rests entirely on what Jesus Christ has done for us. His purpose in life was to preach the gospel. He felt constrained to teach and preach the good news that Christ died for our sin, was buried and rose again on the third day, so that by faith in Him we could be forgiven of our sin and receive eternal life as a free gift of God's amazing grace.

Paul was not interested in promoting himself, but in pointing people to Jesus. Paul was not bothered about being financially recompensed for his ministry, even though financial support of ministers of the gospel is a biblical principle. Paul's primary passion was preaching the truth of the gospel of grace and pointing people to the One Who alone could provide salvation for a lost sinner.

Like John the baptist Paul's premise was 'He must increase and I must decrease', and so Paul confessed.. "when I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast about..- but I am under compulsion to do so"

The good news he shared had nothing to do with Paul. The gospel he preached had everything to do with Christ's sacrificial offering of Himself as payment for man's sin, and the supernatural power to live a victorious life, in Christ - which came through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul was simply a messenger, sent by God. He was a minister of the gospel who was instructed to bring the good news to Jews and Gentiles in need of salvation.

Paul had been called and chosen as Christ's apostle to the Gentiles. He had been appointed as a servant and witness of heavenly things. He was commissioned by God to open the eyes of the blind that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan, back to God. He was instructed to teach that by faith we may receive forgiveness of sins and receive a share among those who are sanctified by faith in Him.

Paul had been entrusted with many mysteries that were hidden from previous generations and felt constrained to tell others about the gospel that had been entrusted to him, which is why his heart cried out with a passion, "woe is me if I do not preach the gospel".

Paul's bold declaration on preaching the gospel, follows a long passage that speaks of the great privileges that are ours in Christ, and detailed the responsibility we all have towards God and our fellow believers. Paul's passion to preach stems from a passage that details the amazing privileges we have in Christ and reminds us that there are many responsibilities that accompany our great salvation. 

Like the apostle Paul, we have received our salvation by faith in Christ, and like him we have nothing to boast about, for our salvation does not depend on what we do but on what Christ has already done on our account. And like Paul... with the privileges that accompany salvation there are certain responsibilities we have towards both God and fellow believers.

May we, like Paul, rejoice in the privileges that are ours by faith and consider the accompanying responsibilities as blessings to share rather than a burden to carry.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending the Lord Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sin and for the many privileges that accompany our great salvation. Thank You that salvation is free to all, and comes without cost. I pray that I would feel constrained to carry out the good work that You have prepared for me to do and to tell others the good news that Christ died for their sin and rose again.. so that by faith in Him they too might have forgiveness of sin and life everlasting - this I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.

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