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1 Corinthians 9:9 & meaning...


shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.

1 Corinthians 9:9


1 Corinthians 9 [5.] Have we no right to take along a wife who is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or have only Barnabas and I no right to not work? What soldier ever serves at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, and doesn’t eat of its fruit? Or who feeds a flock, and doesn’t drink from the flock’s milk? Do I speak these things according to the ways of men? Or doesn’t the law also say the same thing? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it for the oxen that God cares, 

1 Corinthians 9 [10.] or does he say it assuredly for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake, because he who plows ought to plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should partake of his hope. If we sowed to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your fleshly things? If others partake of this right over you, don’t we yet more? Nevertheless we did not use this right, but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the Good News of Christ. Don’t you know that those who serve around sacred things eat from the things of the temple, and those who wait on the altar have their portion with the altar? Even so the Lord ordained that those who proclaim the Good News should live from the Good News. 


In this passage, Paul draws upon Deuteronomy 25:4, a provision in the Mosaic law concerning the treatment of working animals. The law prohibits muzzling an ox while it treads out the grain, allowing the ox to eat from the produce it is laboring to thresh. Paul then applies this principle metaphorically to the support of those who are engaged in the work of ministry.

  • Principle of Fair Compensation: 

The underlying principle Paul presents is that those who labor in ministry should receive fair compensation for their work. Just as it would be unjust to prevent an ox from partaking of the grain it is treading, it is likewise unjust to withhold support from those who are laboring in the service of God and His people.

  • Care for Ministers: 

By referencing the care of oxen, Paul highlights the importance of caring for those who dedicate their lives to serving others in ministry. This includes providing for their material needs, such as food, shelter, and financial support. Just as the ox should not be deprived of its sustenance while laboring, ministers of the gospel should not be deprived of their rightful support.

Spiritual Application: 

While the law in Deuteronomy was intended primarily for the humane treatment of animals, Paul applies it spiritually to highlight the principle of supporting ministers of the gospel. He emphasizes that this provision was written not just for the sake of oxen but also for the benefit of human laborers in ministry.

  • Hope and Encouragement: 

Paul concludes by emphasizing the importance of hope for those engaged in ministry. Those who labor in hope should be able to partake of the fruit of their labor. This serves as both a practical encouragement and a reminder of the spiritual hope that sustains ministers in their service to God and others.

Cross References:

1 Timothy 5:17-18: "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and teaching. For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle the ox when it treads out the grain,' and, 'The laborer is worthy of his wages.'" Here, Paul reinforces the principle of supporting ministers financially, citing both the Old Testament principle and Jesus' teaching.

Matthew 10:10: "Take no bag for your journey, neither two coats, nor sandals, nor staff: for the laborer is worthy of his food." Jesus instructs His disciples as they embark on their mission, affirming the principle that those who labor in ministry should receive necessary provisions for their work.

In summary, 1 Corinthians 9:9 underscores the principle of supporting those who labor in ministry, drawing upon an Old Testament provision regarding the fair treatment of working animals. Paul emphasizes the importance of caring for ministers and providing them with fair compensation for their labor, highlighting the spiritual significance of this principle for the Church.

PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible


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