1 Corinthians 9:5 MEANING

1 Corinthians 9:5
(5) To lead about a sister, a wife--i.e., to take with us on our journeys a Christian woman as a wife. Roman divines have interpreted this as referring to "the custom of Christian matrons attending as sisters upon the Apostles." But as the Apostle illustrates his meaning by a reference to Peter, who we know had a wife, such an interpretation is inadmissible. St. Paul, in this verse, carries his statement of apostolic right to support one step further. Not only had he a right to be supported himself, but the support of the married Apostles and their wives by the Church implied the same right on the part of all. A practice which grew out of a misapprehension of the real meaning of this passage, led to grave scandal, and was finally condemned by the first Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325).

The brethren of the Lord, and Cephas.--These are mentioned specially, not as distinct from the Apostles (for Cephas, of course, was one), but as examples which would have great weight with the particular Jewish faction to whom this argument was adduced. James was Bishop of Jerusalem (Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18). The other brethren of our Lord were Joses, Simon, and Judas (Matthew 13:55). They were not of the twelve Apostles, even after their conversion being mentioned as distinct from the Twelve (Acts 1:14), although James subsequently occupied an apostolic position (Galatians 2:9). Various and ingenious suggestions have been made as to who these "brethren of the Lord" were; amongst others, that they were cousins, or that they were children of Joseph by a former marriage. These views grew out of a desire to establish the perpetual virginity of Mary. The natural conclusion from a study of the mention of their names in the Gospels, without preconceived prejudice, would be that Joseph and Mary lived together after the miraculous birth of Christ, and that these were their children. This, too, is supported by the use of the word "first-born" in reference to our Lord (Matthew 1:25; Luke 2:7), and the word "till" (Matthew 1:25), and "before they came together" (Matthew 1:18), and the repeated mention of them as brethren in connection with His mother Mary. (See Note on Matthew 12:46.)

Verse 5. - To lead about a sister, a wife. There can be no doubt that this represents the true reading, and that the meaning is, "We have power to lead about, that is, to travel in company with, some Christian sister to whom we are married, and who is supported at the expense of the Church." This plain meaning, however, involving the assertion that the apostles and desposyni ("the Lord's brethren") were married men, was so distasteful to the morbid asceticism which held celibacy in a sort of Manichaean reverence, that the scribes of the fourth, fifth, and later centuries freely tampered with the text, in the happily fruitless attempt to get rid of this meaning. They endeavoured, by putting the word in the plural or by omitting "wife," to suggest that the women whom the apostles travelled with were "deaconesses." Augustine, Tertullian, Ambrose, and others explain the verse of "ministering women" (Luke 8:2, 3). The false interpretation avenged itself on the bias which led to it. Valla adopts the wilful invention that the apostles, though married, travelled with their wives only as sisters. Such subterfuges have eaten away the heart of honest exegesis from many passages of Scripture, and originated the taunt that it is a "nose of wax," which readers can twist as they like. It was the cause of such shameful abuses and misrepresentations that at last the practice of travelling about with unmarried women, who went under the name of "sisters," "beloved," "companions," was distinctly forbidden by the third canon of the first Council of Nice. Simon Magus might unblushingly carry about with him a Tyrian woman named Helena; but apostles and true Christians would never have been guilty of any conduct which could give a handle to base suspicions. They travelled only with their wives. A sister. A Christian woman (1 Corinthians 7:15; Romans 16:1; James 2:15, etc.). A wife; i.e. as a wife. Other apostles. This is a positive mistranslation for "the rest of the apostles." It might be too much to infer positively from this that every one of the apostles and desposyni were married; but there is independent evidence and tradition to show that at any rate most of them were. The brethren of the Lord. They are clearly and undeniably distinguished from the apostles. According to the Helvidian theory (to which the plain language of the Gospels seems to point), they were sons of Joseph and Mary. This is the view of St. Clement of Alexandria in ancient times, and writers so different from each other as De Wette, Neander, Osiander, Meyer, Ewald, and Alford, in modern. The theory of Jerome, that they were cousins of Jesus, being sons of Alphseus and Mary, a sister of the Virgin, is on every ground absolutely untenable, and it was half dropped even by St. Jerome himself, when it had served his controversial purpose. The theory of Epiphanius, that they were sons of Joseph by a previous marriage, is possible, but incapable of proof. It comes from a tainted source - the apocryphal Gospels (see my 'Early Days of Christianity,' 2). Cephas. St. Paul also uses the Aramaic name in Galatians 2:9. Peter's wife is mentioned in Matthew 8:14 and in the tradition of her martyrdom (Clem. Alex., 'Strom.,' 7. § 63).

9:1-14 It is not new for a minister to meet with unkind returns for good-will to a people, and diligent and successful services among them. To the cavils of some, the apostle answers, so as to set forth himself as an example of self-denial, for the good of others. He had a right to marry as well as other apostles, and to claim what was needful for his wife, and his children if he had any, from the churches, without labouring with his own hands to get it. Those who seek to do our souls good, should have food provided for them. But he renounced his right, rather than hinder his success by claiming it. It is the people's duty to maintain their minister. He may wave his right, as Paul did; but those transgress a precept of Christ, who deny or withhold due support.Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife,.... The phrase "a sister, a wife", is an Hebraism, and answers to "my sister, spouse", Sol 4:9. The Jews called their wives, sisters, not on account of religion, which also is not the meaning here; but because of the common relation that men and women, all mankind, stand in to one another, antecedent to any nearer relation, as that of man and wife. The sense the Papists put on these words, to secure them from being a proof of the lawfulness of the marriage of the ministers of the Gospel, can by no means be the true one; which is, that they are to be understood of a rich woman, or women, the apostles had a power to carry about with them, to minister of their substance to them, and provide for them; for such a sense is directly contrary to the subject and argument the apostle is upon; which is to show the right that he and others had, of casting themselves entirely upon the churches for a maintenance; whereas this is contriving a way for relieving the churches of such a charge; besides, the act of "leading", or carrying "about", is expressive of such a power over them, as cannot be thought to agree with persons of such substance; and whose voluntary act this must be, to go along with them and supply them; add to this, that for the apostles to lead about with them wherever they went women, whether rich or poor, that were not their wives, would be of no good report, and must tend to hurt their character and reputation: moreover, though these words clearly imply the lawfulness of a minister's marriage, and suppose it, yet they do not express the act itself, or the lawfulness of entering into such a state, but rather what follows after it; and the sense is this, that the apostle and others, supposing them to have wives, and it may be added also, and children, they had a right to take these with them wherever they went, and insist upon the maintenance of them, as well as of their own, at the public expense:

as well as other apostles; who it seems did so, that had wives and families, as Philip the Evangelist had four daughters, Acts 21:8.

And as the brethren of the Lord: who it seems were married persons, and took such a method; by whom are meant James, Joses, Judas, and Simon; who were the near kinsmen of Christ, it being usual with the Jews to call such brethren:

and Cephas; that is, Peter, who it is certain had a wife; see Matthew 8:14 and therefore it is with a very ill grace that the pope, who pretends to be Peter's successor, should forbid the marriage of ecclesiastical persons.

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