on 1-corinthians 9 :22
To the weak became I as weak - Those who were conscientiously scrupulous, even in respect to lawful things.
I am made all things to all men - I assumed every shape and form consistent with innocency and perfect integrity; giving up my own will, my own way, my own ease, my own pleasure, and my own profit, that I might save the souls of all. Let those who plead for the system of accommodation on the example of St. Paul, attend to the end he had in view, and the manner in which he pursued that end. It was not to get money, influence, or honor, but to save Souls! It was not to get ease but to increase his labors. It was not to save his life, but rather that it should be a sacrifice for the good of immortal souls!
A parallel saying to this of St. Paul has been quoted from Achilles Tatius, lib. v., cap. xix., where Clitophon says, on having received a letter from Leucippe: Τουτοις εντυχων παντα εγινομην ὁμου, ανεφλεγομην, ωχριων, εθαυμαζον, ηπιστουν, εχαιρον, ηχθομην· "When I read the contents, I became all things at once; I was inflamed, I grew pale, I was struck with wonder; I doubted, I rejoiced, became sad." The same form of speech is frequent among Greek writers. I think this casts some light on the apostle's meaning.
That I might by all means save some - On this clause there are some very important readings found in the MSS. and versions. Instead of παντως τινας σωσω, that I might by all means save some; παντας σωσω, that I might save all, is the reading of DEFG, Syriac, Vulgate, Ethiopic, all the Itala, and several of the fathers. This reading Bishop Pearce prefers, because it is more agreeable to St. Paul's meaning here, and exactly agrees with what he says, 1 Corinthians 10:33, and makes his design more extensive and noble. Wakefield also prefers this reading.
on 1-corinthians 9 :22
To the weak; - See the note at Romans 15:1. To those weak in faith; scrupulous in regard to certain observances; whose consciences were tender and unenlightened, and who would be offended even by things which might be in themselves lawful. He did not lacerate their feelings, and run counter to their prejudices, for the mere sake of doing it.
Became I as weak - I did not shock them. I complied with their customs. I conformed to them in my dress, habits, manner of life, and even in the services of religion. I abstained from food which they deemed it their duty to abstain from; and where, if I had partaken of it, I should have offended them. Paul did not do this to gratify himself, or them, but to do them good. And Paul's example should teach us not to make it the main business of life to gratify ourselves, and it should teach us not to lacerate the feelings of others; not to excite their prejudices needlessly; not to offend them where it will do no good. If truth offends people, we cannot help it. But in matters of ceremony, and dress, and habits, and customs, and forms, we should be willing to conform to them, as far as can be done, and for the sole purpose of saving their souls.
I am made all things to all men - I become all things; that is, I accommodate myself to them in all things, so far as can be done with a good conscience. "That I might by all means" (πάντως pantōs). That I might use every possible endeavor that some at least might be saved. It is implied here that the opposition to the gospel was everywhere great; that people were reluctant to embrace it; that the great mass were going to ruin, and that Paul was willing to make the highest possible exertions, to deny himself, and practice every innocent art, that he might save "a few at least" out of the innumerable multitudes that were going to death and hell. It follows from this:
(1) That people are in danger of ruin.
(2) we should make an effort to save people. We should deny ourselves, and give ourselves to toil and privation, that we may save some at least from ruin.
(3) the doctrine of universal salvation is not true. If it were, what use or propriety would there have been in these efforts of Paul? If all were to be saved, why should he deny himself, and labor, and toil, to save "some?" Why should a man make a constant effort to save "a few at least," if he well knew that all were to be saved? Assuredly Paul did not "know" or believe that all people would be saved; but if the doctrine is true, he would have been quite as likely to have known it as its modern advocates and defenders.
on 1-corinthians 9 :22
9:22 I became as weak - As if I had been scrupulous too. I became all things to all men - Accommodating myself to all, so far as I could consistent with truth and sincerity.