Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 16, 1950

Rights And Duties

Robert H. Farish

We should not confuse "rights" and "duties". Rights are granted, duties are imposed. A Christian is allowed and in some circumstances required to refrain from using a right, e.g., I Cor. 9:12 "If others partake of this right over you, do not we yet more? Nevertheless we did not use this right; but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ." Here Paul cites the fact that he had refrained from exercising a right, for fear that the using of that right might hinder the gospel. In the 8th chapter of this book, Paul urges the brethren to refrain from eating meats sacrificed to idols, when by their eating they would cause a brother to stumble. Then in the beginning of the 9th chapter he calls attention to some rights which he enjoyed in common with others. Having established that he partook of these rights along with others, he then says, "Nevertheless we did not use this right over you." Thus he illustrates with his example the principle he had advocated in the eighth chapter—that is refraining from exercising a right in the interest of edification.

It was Paul's right to eat meats which had been sacrificed to idols but it was not his duty. It was his right to eat these meats but was his duty to refrain from eating when by eating he caused his brother to stumble. Here a right granted by knowledge is restrained by a duty imposed by love. "For if because of meat thy brother is grieved, thou walketh no longer in love." Rom. 14:15.

It was within the province of Paul's rights for him to receive support from the brethren for preaching the gospel but whether the support was forth coming or not, it was his duty to preach the gospel. "For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; for woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel."