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Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

Our devotional text comes from The Church at Corinth and focuses on today’s Epistle: 1 Corinthians 9:16–27.

Scripture Readings

Isaiah 40:21–31
Psalm 147:1–11
1 Corinthians 9:16–27
Mark 1:29–39

Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.


Paul writes of becoming “all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). What does this look like for us as Christians living in a world and culture that can be in opposition to God’s Word? Like Paul, we pray that we would have humble hearts when sharing the Gospel, always looking to Christ and His unchanging Word, which alone brings life and salvation.

Devotional Reading

Never was he [Paul] concerned about himself, but he always showed the greatest amount of consideration for others. Even now he did not write these words to claim wages long past due (v. 15). In the mere act of preaching he could not glory, since that was his divinely imposed duty (v. 16). It was his willing and gratuitous preaching, his preaching without compensation, his preaching in such a manner that no earthly hindrance interfered with his mission of gaining souls, that constituted his glory (vv. 17–19). So dearly did Paul seek the salvation of men through the preaching of Christ that he waived every right in the interest of his weak brethren, who might have claimed that he preached the Gospel merely for the sake of gaining a living. Paul’s office was unique. It was not that of an ordinary preacher. He was the great Apostle to the Gentiles, who preached the Gospel where it never had been preached before. Hence it was necessary for him to avoid false appearances and not to preach as if he were a sophist, teaching and preaching for the sake of filthy lucre. Oh, how much did his holy office demand of him! How much was he obliged to forego in order to gain souls for Christ! Yet at all times he was willing to surrender every liberty for his Lord’s sake. But Paul did still more. To the Jew he became a Jew to gain the Jews for Christ (v. 20). He complied with their customs as far as he could without sacrificing the truth. Wherever it was necessary, he would place himself under the Law to gain them that were under the Law (v. 20). To them without the Law, that is, to the Gentiles, he became as one without the written Ceremonial Law, to gain them that were without the Law (v. 21). He was accustomed to observe the Law. The keeping of the Ceremonial Law had become, as it were, part and parcel of his nature. But away with that Law, away with conventions and prejudices, if they interfered with the work of winning souls for Christ! Again, to the weak, Paul became as the weak in order that he might gain them (v. 22). If some were weak in understanding the principles of Christian liberty, he did not insist upon it in order that he might by all means save some. And all this Paul did for the Gospel’s sake (v. 23), that he might be a partaker of its blessings with those to whom he preached. Oh, how precious was the Gospel of Christ Crucified to the great Apostle to the Gentiles! For the sake of the Gospel he sacrificed all the things that were dear to him, and the Gospel he used as the only means by which to incite himself and others to such thoughts, motives, and actions as would glorify the Christ who died for all sinners.

Devotional reading is from The Church at Corinth, pages 97–99 © 1928 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.


Hymn is “When to Our World the Savior Came,” hymn 551 from Lutheran Service Book. Video © 2018 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.


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