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1 Corinthians 9:20

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Unto the Jews I became as a Jew - In Acts 16:3, we find that for the sake of the unconverted Jews he circumcised Timothy. See the note on Acts 16:3.

To them that are under the law - To those who considered themselves still under obligation to observe its rites and ceremonies, though they had in the main embraced the Gospel, he became as if under the same obligations; and therefore purified himself in the temple, as we find related, Acts 21:26; (note).

After the first clause, to them that are under the law as under the law, the following words, μη ων αυτος ὑπο νομον, not being myself under the law, are added by ABCDEFG, several others; the later Syriac, Sahidic, Armenian, Vulgate, and all the Itala; Cyril, Chrysostom, Damascenus, and others; and on this evidence Griesbach has received them into the text.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And unto the Jews - In this verse, and the two following, Paul states more at length the conduct which he had exhibited, and to which he refers in 1 Corinthians 9:19. He had shown this conduct to all classes of people. He had preached much to his own countrymen, and had evinnced these principles there.

I became as a Jew - I complied with their rites, customs, prejudices, as far as I could with a good conscience. I did not needlessly offend them. I did not attack and oppose their views, when there was no danger that my conduct should be mistaken. For a full illustration of Paul‘s conduct in this respect, and the principles which influenced him, see the notes on Acts 16:3; Acts 18:18; Acts 21:21-27; Acts 23:1-6.

To those that are under the law - This I understand as another form of saying that he conformed to the rites, customs, and even prejudices of the Jews. The phrase “under the law” means undoubtedly the law of Moses; and probably he here refers particularly to those Jews who lived in the land of Judea, as being more “immediately and entirely” under the law of Moses, than those who lived among the Gentiles.

As under the law - That is, I conformed to their rites and customs as far as I could do it. I did not violate them unnecessarily. I did not disregard them for the purpose of offending them; nor refuse to observe them when it could be done with a good conscience. There can be no doubt that Paul, when he was in Judea, submitted himself to the laws, and lived in conformity with them.

That I might gain - That I might obtain their confidence and affection. That I might not outrage their feelings, excite their prejudices, and provoke them to anger; and that I might thus have access to their minds, and be the means of converting them to the Christian faith.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
It is the glory of a minister to deny himself, that he may serve Christ and save souls. But when a minister gives up his right for the sake of the gospel, he does more than his charge and office demands. By preaching the gospel, freely, the apostle showed that he acted from principles of zeal and love, and thus enjoyed much comfort and hope in his soul. And though he looked on the ceremonial law as a yoke taken off by Christ, yet he submitted to it, that he might work upon the Jews, do away their prejudices, prevail with them to hear the gospel, and win them over to Christ. Though he would transgress no laws of Christ, to please any man, yet he would accommodate himself to all men, where he might do it lawfully, to gain some. Doing good was the study and business of his life; and, that he might reach this end, he did not stand on privileges. We must carefully watch against extremes, and against relying on any thing but trust in Christ alone. We must not allow errors or faults, so as to hurt others, or disgrace the gospel.
Ellen G. White
Gospel Workers 1915, 117-8

In the work of soul-winning, great tact and wisdom are needed. The Saviour never suppressed the truth, but He uttered it always in love. In His intercourse with others, He exercised the greatest tact, and He was always kind and thoughtful. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave unnecessary pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He fearlessly denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity, but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. He never made truth cruel, but ever manifested a deep tenderness for humanity. Every soul was precious in His sight. He bore Himself with divine dignity; yet He bowed with the tenderest compassion and regard to every member of the family of God. He saw in all, souls whom it was His mission to save. GW 117.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 674

Brother and Sister L of Canada have been gradually losing their hold on God and their love for heavenly and divine things as they have been more earnestly grasping for worldly treasures. They have been relaxing their hold on heaven and fastening it more firmly on this world. A few years ago they loved to have an interest in the advancement of the truth and work of God. More recently their love for gain has increased, and they have not felt interested to do their part to save their fellow men. Self-denial and benevolence for Christ's sake have not characterized their lives. They have done but little for the cause of God. What have they been doing with their talents? They have been burying them in the earth, investing them in lands. They have not been putting them out to the exchangers, that when the Master comes, He may receive His own with usury. 2T 674.1

They have a work to do to set their hearts and house in order, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Their hearts have been upon the things of this life, and eternal considerations have been made secondary. They should work earnestly to get the love of the world out of their hearts and should place their affections upon things above, not upon things on the earth. If God's servants would bear in mind that their work is to do all in their power, with their influence and their means, to save souls for whom Christ died, there would be more unselfish effort, and unbelievers would be stirred; they would be convinced that there is a reality in the truth thus presented and thus backed up by example. 2T 674.2

Brother and Sister L should have confidence in the work for these last days and should be perfecting Christian character, that they may receive the eternal reward when Jesus comes. Brother L is failing in physical and mental vigor. He is becoming incapable of bearing much responsibility. He should counsel with his brethren who are discreet and faithful. 2T 675.1

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