I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.


Although I am free from all and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win those under the law. To those who are without the law, like one without the law—though I am not without God’s law but under the law of Christ—to win those without the law. To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel, so that I may share in the blessings.

-1 Corinthians 9:19-22

How do we become all things to all people, so that some will be saved? What is this that Paul is speaking of here?

We must get close to people to share with them. We must seemingly assimilate with them to witness to them. We might take on practices or customs that have no meaning for us, in order the bring Christ to people.

We can comply with the beliefs of people that we do not or no longer believe in, in order to help them not hold prejudice against us and to listen to us.

We are free in Christ of obligations from people, while being a slave to all through the gospel, to win them to Christ. We can be accommodating in lifestyle, while not at all in our theology or ethics.

Leadership in ministry is slavery to Christ. The minister’s authority comes from his having Christ as his master. This cuts against the idea of leaders having status over others to rule as dictators in a hierarchy.

For Paul to be a Jew to the Jews simply means he can freely be Jewish among Jews while no longer being under the Law. Paul is free to be Jewish to evangelize. And this means abiding by their lifestyle.

What does it mean to be like one without the law? It could mean to be like the Gentiles who were not obligated to the Law, while not meaning pagan lawlessness; because Paul says he is under the law of Christ.

The law of Christ is not a way to gain right standing with God, but an obligatory way of life, Christian living, where we work out living in the ethics, the lifestyle of Christ, to inherit the kingdom of God. Christ saves me and I receive him to live his life through me.

To the weak I became weak, does not mean sinful and does not mean you don’t speak the truth. This means that I don’t try to shock or offend or say things that make me feel good or superior. It means we don’t want to purposely push people’s hot buttons. This is about ceremony, dress, habits, and customs. Men might feel free to wear a hat indoors, but someone may feel strongly that it is wrong. We don’t teach them a lesson about freedom, but take our hats off, unless there is a serous medical reason to keep it on.

To become all things to all people means to be accommodating. It means adaptable and versatile, but not at all inconsistent concerning Christ. A person may be criticized for getting close and spending time with people not like us. But we have to get close to people in order to share the gospel with them.

The modern idea is to bring people to church so they can get saved, but the original way was to go to the people and meet them where they are and share Christ with them.



Bruce, F.F.; 1 Corinthians (TNCBC, 1971)

Witherington, Ben; Conflict & Community in Corinth (1995)