“Am I not as free as anyone else? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord with my own eyes? Isn’t it because of my work that you belong to the Lord? Even if others think I am not an apostle, I certainly am to you. You yourselves are proof that I am the Lord’s apostle.” 1 Corinthians 9:1-2
In the very beginning, we must remember that Paul is answering letters that had been written to him from this church at Corinth. He is reminding them that his authority had come from him being an apostle of Jesus Christ. He also, reminds them that his calling was a dramatic call when he actually came in contact with the Light of the world. Jesus Christ Himself, who had sent Paul to minister to these people. It is with no small authority then that he is doing this. Paul even reminds them, that he was the one who founded the church in Corinth. He goes on to remind them that they were Christians through his ministry. He says, you are my children in the Lord.
Paul is saying to them that in some other places, he might not be accepted as the voice to the Gentiles, but here at Corinth the church established was through his preaching. He is saying, you cannot deny me without denying your own salvation. The Jews in nearly every city had rejected Paul, but he had been accepted here at Corinth by these believers. The existence of the church in Corinth was evidence of Paul’s apostolic authenticity.
The Corinthians who considered themselves mature Christians have been claiming that they are in such a privileged position that they are free to eat meat offered to idols if they like. Their Christian freedom gives them–as they think–a special position in which they could do things which might not be permissible to lesser men. Paul’s way of answering that argument is to set forth the many privileges which he himself had a perfect right to claim, but which he did not claim in case they should turn out to be stumbling-blocks to others and hindrances to the effectiveness of the gospel.