1Corinthians 9:5-8 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? Who goes a warfare any time at his own charges? who planted a vineyard, and eats not of the fruit thereof? or who feeds a flock, and eats not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or said not the law the same also?
‘Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?’ Have we not the same right to be married as Peter, the Lord’s brethren, and the other apostles? We have consecrated to live controlled for your sakes and yet we are criticized by you (9:3-6). This is decisive proof against the celibacy of the clergy and the papal doctrine of having holy women minister to the needs of celibate ministers. Had the apostles permitted young women or wives of others to accompany them as personal servants instead of their own wives it would have produced continuous scandal.
‘As the brethren of the Lord’ – according to Hebrews 2:11 is Christ the great Sanctifier, who sets apart and consecrates men to the service of God. They who are sanctified or thus consecrated and set apart to the service of God, are all one, in the same family, and called brethren (1Pet. 5:9). The body of Christ or His followers known as Christians are referred to in the masculine form because we represent Christ. In the Old Testament Israel was referred to in the feminine form because they were in a covenant relationship as the wife of God. Israel is often spoken of as a woman and as the wife of Jehovah (Isa. 54:4-6). This wife of Jehovah is the woman of Revelation 12:1-17. Here God speaks of forsaking her for the moment because of her sins, but He will again bring her back to Himself to remain thus forever (Isa. 54:4-10). This is a truth that is greatly enlarged upon in Hosea.
‘Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working.’ Are we the only apostles that have no right to be supported by the congregation? Four things are clear here: Barnabas adopted Paul’s method of supporting himself (cp. Acts 4:36-37). Apostles in general were supported by the congregations, not by secular labour. Paul and Barnabas had a trade by which they could support themselves. They chose to support themselves in certain places so as not to hinder the founding of a congregation (9:12-15).
‘Charges’ [Greek: opsonion] soldier’s rations. Wages (Luke 3:14; Rom. 6:23; 2Cor. 11:8). The answer to all these questions of 1Corinthians 9:7-8 are self-evident.