As the Brethren of the Lord

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.

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.  And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.  Mat. 18:23-34 KJV

This parable deals with the conduct of the members of the kingdom of Heaven in relation to one another. The purpose of the parable is to answer Peter’s question of verse 21, “How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Then He gave the illustration of the king and his servant to teach Peter that all members of the kingdom of Heaven must be merciful and forgiving or they would not be forgiven. “Seventy times seven” is 490 times a day, twenty times an hour or once every three minutes that we must forgive those who sin against us and ask our forgiveness. If the disciples said, “Lord, increase our faith,” when Christ told them that they would have to forgive their brother seven times a day, Lk. 17:3-5 what might they have said on this occasion when He told them they must forgive 490 times a day?

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. Mat. 18:35 KJV

The story illustrates what God would do if a child of His would not from his heart forgive his brother. This verse is the sole truth being illustrated by the example of this particular king and his servant. Just as this king did not have mercy on his servant whom he had forgiven a debt of 10,000 talents ($19.2 million in silver – $290.85 million in gold), after the same servant would not forgive his fellow servant a debt of one hundred pence (about $17.00), so God will not have mercy on those in the kingdom of Heaven who will not forgive men from their hearts.

The application of this illustration is as follows:

  1. God cancels all the debt for penitent sinners as this king did for his servant Mt. 18:23-27,35; Mt. 12:31-32; 1Jn. 1:9
  2. God demands fair treatment between Christians Mt. 18:26-30,35; 5:38-48; 7:12; Rom. 12:9-21; 1Cor. 13
  3. God will not forgive unless man forgives his brother Mt. 18:35; 6:14-15; Mk. 11:25-26; Eph. 4:32
  4. All issues of sin and righteousness come “from the heart”. Mt. 15:18-19; Mk. 7:21-23; Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:6-10; 2Tim. 2:22; Heb. 4:12

I choose to forgive those who have wronged me so that I can always receive my Father’s forgiveness and be in right standing with God.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  Mat. 6:14-15 KJV