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9
Paul's Use of Liberty
1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3My defense to those who examine me is this: 4Do we not have a right to eat and drink? 5Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working? 7Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?
8I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? 9For it is written in the Law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing." God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 13Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? 14So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.
15But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. 16For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
19For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
24Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
9
Rights and Duties of an Apostle
1Am I not a free man? Am I not an apostle? Haven't I seen Jesus our Lord? And aren't you the result of my work for the Lord? 2Even if others do not accept me as an apostle, surely you do! Because of your life in union with the Lord you yourselves are proof of the fact that I am an apostle.
3When people criticize me, this is how I defend myself: 4Haven't I the right to be given food and drink for my work? 5Haven't I the right to follow the example of the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Peter, by taking a Christian wife with me on my travels? 6Or are Barnabas and I the only ones who have to work for our living? 7What soldier ever has to pay his own expenses in the army? What farmer does not eat the grapes from his own vineyard? What shepherd does not use the milk from his own sheep?
8I don't have to limit myself to these everyday examples, because the Law says the same thing. 9#Deut 25.4; 1 Tim 5.18We read in the Law of Moses, “Do not muzzle an ox when you are using it to thresh corn.” Now, is God concerned about oxen? 10Didn't he really mean us when he said that? Of course that was written for us. The one who ploughs and the one who reaps should do their work in the hope of getting a share of the crop. 11#Rom 15.27We have sown spiritual seed among you. Is it too much if we reap material benefits from you? 12If others have the right to expect this from you, haven't we an even greater right?
But we haven't made use of this right. Instead, we have endured everything in order not to put any obstacle in the way of the Good News about Christ. 13#Deut 18.1Surely you know that the men who work in the Temple get their food from the Temple and that those who offer the sacrifices on the altar get a share of the sacrifices. 14#Mt 10.10; Lk 10.7In the same way, the Lord has ordered that those who preach the gospel should get their living from it.
15But I haven't made use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this now in order to claim such rights for myself. I would rather die first! Nobody is going to turn my rightful boast into empty words! 16I have no right to boast just because I preach the gospel. After all, I am under orders to do so. And how terrible it would be for me if I did not preach the gospel! 17If I did my work as a matter of free choice, then I could expect to be paid; but I do it as a matter of duty, because God has entrusted me with this task. 18What pay do I get, then? It is the privilege of preaching the Good News without charging for it, without claiming my rights in my work for the gospel.
19I am a free man, nobody's slave; but I make myself everybody's slave in order to win as many people as possible. 20While working with the Jews, I live like a Jew in order to win them; and even though I myself am not subject to the Law of Moses, I live as though I were when working with those who are, in order to win them. 21In the same way, when working with Gentiles, I live like a Gentile, outside the Jewish Law, in order to win Gentiles. This does not mean that I don't obey God's law; I am really under Christ's law. 22Among the weak in faith I become weak like one of them, in order to win them. So I become all things to all people, that I may save some of them by whatever means are possible.
23All this I do for the gospel's sake, in order to share in its blessings. 24Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize. 25Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last for ever. 26That is why I run straight for the finishing line; that is why I am like a boxer who does not waste his punches. 27I harden my body with blows and bring it under complete control, to keep myself from being disqualified after having called others to the contest.