1 Corinthians 7:23
You are bought with a price; be not you the servants of men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) Ye are bought with a price . . .—Better, You were bought with a price therefore become not slaves of men. This carries on the idea of freedmen of the previous verse. With a great price—even the blood of Christ—they have been purchased by Him as freedmen: therefore, do not become slaves of men—do not yield to their views by seeking to change the condition of your calling.

7:17-24 The rules of Christianity reach every condition; and in every state a man may live so as to be a credit to it. It is the duty of every Christian to be content with his lot, and to conduct himself in his rank and place as becomes a Christian. Our comfort and happiness depend on what we are to Christ, not what we are in the world. No man should think to make his faith or religion, an argument to break through any natural or civil obligations. He should quietly and contentedly abide in the condition in which he is placed by Divine Providence.Ye are bought with a price - Though you are slaves to people, yet you have been purchased for God by the blood of His Son; see the note at 1 Corinthians 6:20. You are, therefore, in his sight of inestimable worth, and are bound to be His.

Be not ye the servants of men - That is, "Do not regard yourselves as the slaves of men. Even in your humble relation of life, even as servants under the laws of the land, regard yourselves as the servants of God, as obeying and serving him "even in this relation," since all those who are bought with a price - all Christians, whether bond or free - are in fact the servant (slaves, δοῦλοι douloi) of God, 1 Corinthians 7:22. in this relation, therefore, esteem yourselves as the servants of God, as bound by his laws, as subject to him, and as really serving him, while you yield all proper obedience to your master." Rosenmuller, Grotius, and some others, however, think that this refers to Christians in general; and that the apostle means to caution them against subjecting themselves to needless rites and customs which the false teachers would impose on them. Others have supposed (as Doddridge) that it means that they should not sell themselves into slavery; but assuredly a caution of this kind was not needful. The view given above I regard as the interpretation demanded by the connection. And in this view it would promote contentment, and would even prevent their taking any improper measures to disturb the relations of social life, by the high and solemn consideration that even in that relation they were in common with all Christians, the true and real servants of God. They belonged to God, and they should serve Him. In all things which their masters commanded, that were in accordance with the will of God, and that could be done with a quiet conscience, they were to regard themselves as serving God; if at any time they were commanded to do that which God had forbidden, they were to remember that they were the servants of God, and that he was to be obeyed rather than man.

23. be not ye—Greek, "become not ye." Paul here changes from "thou" (1Co 7:21) to "ye." Ye all are "bought" with the blood of Christ, whatever be your earthly state (1Co 6:20). "Become not servants to men," either externally, or spiritually; the former sense applying to the free alone: the latter to Christian freemen and slaves alike, that they should not be servile adherents to their party leaders at Corinth (1Co 3:21, 22; Mt 23:8-10; 2Co 11:20); nor indeed slaves to men generally, so far as their condition admits. The external and internal conditions, so far as is attainable, should correspond, and the former be subservient to the latter (compare 1Co 7:21, 32-35). What price we are bought with, we heard, 1 Corinthians 6:20: the apostle there pressed it upon us as our duty to glorify God with our bodies and our spirits; here he presseth upon us another duty, viz. upon that consideration not to be

the servants of men; by which some think he forbiddeth the selling themselves as slaves to infidels; others think that he only forbiddeth eye-service, as the apostle calls it, Ephesians 6:6; while in the mean time they might be the servants of men, if they served them as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. But the most probable interpretation is: Be not servants to the lusts of men: wherein you can serve men, and in the same actions also serve God, and be obedient to his will, you may be the servants of men; but be not servants of men in such actions wherein, to serve them, you must disobey God. Ye are bought with a price,.... Some read these words interrogatively, as 1 Corinthians 7:18, "are ye bought with a price?" and suppose them directed to such who had bought out their time of servitude with a sum of money, and ought not to return to their former condition; but they are rather to be read affirmatively, and to be understood of all, whether freemen or servants, that are bought with the inestimable price of Christ's blood, as in 1 Corinthians 6:20 and contain in them a reason why such as are called by the grace of God, whilst in a state of civil servitude, are Christ's freemen, because they are redeemed by him from sin, Satan, the law, and from among men; and also why such as are called by the grace of God, being in a state of civil liberty, are Christ's servants, because he has purchased them with his blood, and therefore has a right unto them, both to their persons and service:

be not ye the servants of men: not that the apostle dissuades such as are redeemed by Christ, and are believers in him, from being the servants of men in a civil sense; for this would be to contradict himself, who here and elsewhere exhorts servants to continue in the service of their masters, and to perform it heartily and cheerfully, and with great sincerity and integrity; but his meaning is, that since they were redeemed from a vain conversation by the blood of Christ, they should not be servants to the lusts of men, nor obey them in things sinful and wicked, which were contrary to law and Gospel, and which were made unlawful by the word of God, and were a breach of the command of their Lord and master Christ; nor should they in matters of religion and the worship of God submit to the authority of any set of men whatever, or be subject to the doctrines and commandments of men; whether these relate to Jewish ceremonies, or Gentile superstitions, or be a mixture of both: they were to call no man master upon earth; nor suffer any to lord it over them, as the false teachers very much did in this church; but to acknowledge Christ, who had bought them to be their only Lord and master. The allusion seems to he to a tradition of the Jews, that the Israelites being redeemed out of Egypt were the servants of God, and not of men (p);

"R. Jochanan ben Zaccai was explaining this Scripture, Exodus 21:6 how different the ear is from all the members of the body; says the holy blessed God, the ear that heard my voice on Mount Sinai, at the time I said, the children of Israel are my servants, , and "not servants to servants"; and this goes and gets itself a master, let it be bored: R. Simeon ben Ribbi was explaining the same Scripture, how different the door and the door post were from all the parts of the house; says the holy blessed God, the door and the door post, which were witnesses in Egypt, at the time that I passed by the threshold, and by the two door posts, and I said, the children of Israel are my servants, and not servants to servants, and I brought them out of bondage to liberty; and this goes and gets itself a master, let it be bored before them.''

(p) T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 22. 2.

{14} Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

(14) He shows the reason of the unlikeness, because he that desired to be circumcised makes himself subject to man's tradition and not to God. And this may be much more understood of superstitions, which some do foolishly consider to as things indifferent.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 7:23. For a price (see on 1 Corinthians 6:20) were ye (my readers in general) bought (namely, by Christ to be His slaves); become not (therefore) servants of men; i.e. do not make yourselves dependent upon what men wish and demand of you, instead of allowing your conduct to be moulded by Christ’s will and service. Paul designs that this should be applied to the mistaken submission shown on the part of the church to such as wished that men should break up or alter their civil relationships and other existing situations to please them, and in compliance with their solicitations and deceptive suggestions. This more specific reference of the warning, in itself conveyed in general terms, we may naturally gather from 1 Corinthians 7:24. Instigations and seductions of this kind, arising partly, perhaps, from fanatical excitement, must plainly have occurred at Corinth in connection with circumstances of the details of which we are ignorant; for otherwise the whole of the minute instructions from 1 Corinthians 7:17 to 1 Corinthians 7:24 would lack any concrete basis. The interpretation with which Chrysostom and Theophylact content themselves is therefore much too vague: that Paul is forbidding men-pleasing generally, and compliance with immoral demands. So also Theodoret’s view, that he enjoins μὴ δουλοπρεπὲς ἔχειν φρόνημα. Osiander and Neander’s rendering is too general also (“every kind of wrong dependence”). It is altogether alien to the context, 1 Corinthians 7:17-24, to suppose that ἀνθρώπων refers to Paul, Cephas, Apollos, etc. (Rückert), and that the meaning is substantially the same as had been expressed in 1 Corinthians 3:21 by μηδεὶς καυχάσθω ἐν ἀνθρώποις (Hofmann). Equally out of accordance with the subject in hand is Billroth’s exposition (given before by Vatablus), that the apostle exhorts the slaves not to do their service for the sake of men, but for the Lord’s sake (Colossians 3:22). Heydenreich, on the other hand, holds (with Menochius, Hammond, Knatchbull, Mosheim, Michaelis, Zachariae) that he is admonishing the freemen not to sell themselves into slavery. But, even putting out of account the second person plural, which directs the words to the readers generally, were that the meaning, Paul would undoubtedly have called attention to a new illustration of his rule, as he does in 1 Corinthians 7:18; 1 Corinthians 7:21. And how unlikely a thing that men went into slavery in those days for the sake of Christianity (for according to the connection it is this motive which must be presupposed, not: for gain’s sake)!1 Corinthians 7:23. τιμῆς ἠγοράσθητε (see note on 1 Corinthians 6:20) explains the position both of the δοῦλος ἀπελεύθερος and the ἐλεύθ. δοῦλος by the same act of purchase: the slave has been liberated from sin, and the freeman bound to a new Lord. The point of the appended exhortation, μὴ γίνεσθε δοῦλ. ἀνθρ., is not obvious: we can scarcely imagine free Christians selling themselves into slavery; and subservience to party leaders (so Mr[1105], Hf[1106], Lt[1107], El[1108]; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:12, 1 Corinthians 2:4, etc.) appears foreign to this context. It is better to take the warning quite generally: as much as to say, “Let no human influence divert you from service to God, or infringe on the devotion due to your Redeemer”; cf. Galatians 5:1; Galatians 6:14. Public opinion and the social pressure of heathenism were too likely to enslave the Corinthians.

[1105] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[1106] J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[1107] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).

[1108] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.23. be not ye the servants of men] Literally, slaves of men. Let your minds and spirits be free, whatever may be your outward condition, i.e. be indifferent to mere external relations altogether, for though man may enslave the body he cannot enslave the soul.1 Corinthians 7:23. Ἠγοράσθητε, you have been bought) by God [as the servants of Christ.—V. g.]—μὴ γίνεσθε, [not as Engl. Vers. “be not ye”] do not become) The internal and external state should, so far as it is attainable, agree together, and the latter should be subservient to the former. To become here, is properly applied to those, who are not slaves. [Let not him who is free, cast away his liberty. Not. crit.]Verse 23. - Ye are bought with a price; rather, ye were bought, namely, by Christ; and the price paid for you was his blood (see 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18, 19). Be not ye; rather, become not. The servants of men. There is a grand play of words in the advice to them not to become slaves, at the very moment when he is advising them to continue in slavery. In that which the world called "slavery" the Christian slave might enjoy absolute liberty. The price which a master paid for them was but an unmeaning shadow; they had been bought once and eternally by an infinitely nobler price, and that purchase was the pledge of absolute emancipation. The servants of men

Not referring to the outward condition of bondage, but to spiritual subjection to the will and guidance of men as contrasted with Christ.

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