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Sender's name: Bobby

I am confused about Corrithians 9:6 where it states an ox must not be muzzled as it treads out the corn. Does this mean an ox must not be muzzled so it can eat some of the corn as it works or does this mean it must not have a bag of oats muzzled around its mouth so it can snack and work at the same time? I always thought this was about animal cruelty?
thanks, Bobby




It is necessary to look at the context in which this scripture comes from:


1 Cor 9:3 My defense to those who examine me is this:

1 Cor 9:4 Do we not have a right to eat and drink?

1 Cor 9:5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?

1 Cor 9:6 Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working?

1 Cor 9:7 Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?

1 Cor 9:8 I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things?

1 Cor 9:9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING." God is not concerned about oxen, is He?

1 Cor 9:10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher {to thresh} in hope of sharing {the crops.}

1 Cor 9:11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?

1 Cor 9:12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.

1 Cor 9:13 Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the {food} of the temple, {and} those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar?

1 Cor 9:14 So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

1 Cor 9:15 But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one.

1 Cor 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

1 Cor 9:17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.

1 Cor 9:18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

1 Cor 9:19 For though I am free from all {men,} I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.


Notice, Paul is discussing how he has chosen not to make use of his right to receive financial compensation when preaching the Gospel in a church planting situation. You shall not muzzle the ox is not just about oxen, according to what Paul says in the next verse. The underlying principle in this quotation from the Old Testament is that of sharing. The preacher is like the ox that is expected to be able to share in the benefits of the work. In this case, the preacher as he is planting and harvesting, or more literally, preaching the work and teaching people how to live, has the right to share in the blessing by receiving compensation.


In the Old Testament from where this is taken, it is squarely about treating the animals which God has created with dignity, not with cruelty. If we are to treat animals with dignity, how much more should we treat preachers (who are humans made in the image of God) the same way? That is basically the line of reasoning that Paul is using in this passage.


Paul makes the point that the reason he was not getting paid is not because he was not a teacher, nor was it because he did not deserve it. The problem was that in his culture, reputable teachers got paid. Paul didn't. Some criticized Paul and probably said that he either was not credible or legitimate. So Paul explains why did not get paid. It was by his choice so that the new Christians in the churches he planted would not have the possibility to think that Paul was in missions for the money. Paul was "modeling" Christian living for them, which meant that Paul needed to work in a trade and demonstrate what a Christian who has a trade or job was to be like.


So no, according to the context, this is not really about animal cruelty in this passage.


John Telgren

P.O. Box 452

Leavenworth, KS 66048


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