Popović Anto ,
Freedom and right of the Apostle: Gratis proclamation of the Gospel as an example of the correct use of freedom and right according to 1Cor 9:1-18,
Antonianum, 78/3 (2003) p. 415-445
Summary: Freedom and right are, in the first place, ethical categories. In the Corinthian Christian community, however, the question of the correct use of “knowledge” (right) and freedom regarding the consumption of the meat offered to the idols, became the theological problem both of the correct understanding and of the correct implementation of the Gospel. Paul’s exceptionally long argumentation (1 Cor 8:1.11:1) aimed at showing clearly to the Corinthian Christians that the correct perception and practice of the freedom and right must be in compliance with the Gospel, i.e., with God’s love as revealed in Jesus Christ. In 1 Cor 9:1-18 Paul is describing his own way of the “gratis”. Gospel proclamation as an example of the correct use of freedom and right, for the sake of the salvific well-being of others. Paul’s renunciation of the use of his apostolic right to material support (9:12b.15.18) became thus the model for the Corinthian Christians as to how they should make use of their own right and freedom in treating each other. It means that genuine Christian freedom must include the willingness to renounce one’s own right, when it is necessary for the sake of the salvific well-being of the other. The renunciation of the use of one.s own right, if aimed at edifying the community (10:23) or if motivated by seeking the well-being of others (8:13; 10:24) or if in function of spreading the saving power of the Good News (9:12b), does not mean the loss of freedom, but paradoxically that renunciation is the supreme expression of freedom in the sphere of one’s own right.