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9
Paul does not exercise his right to be paid
1And in relation to all these questions let that be your first thought. Do not think only of the freedom that your faith and knowledge give you. Remember that knowledge may make a man self-sufficient and self-important. It is love that builds. I for instance am free — I am an apostle. I have seen the Lord Jesus myself. 2-5At Corinth, at any rate, my apostleship is unquestioned, because I have there a very certain witness to, and evidence of, the authenticity of my credentials; you yourselves are my credentials. I am the founder of your faith, your church. I repeat then that I have all the rights of this position. 6I have the right to live on the gospel, yes, and to support a wife, if I so choose, on the gospel, to take her with me, as do the other apostles, and our Lord's brethren in the flesh, and Cephas also. 7-8The vinedresser, the shepherd, the soldier earn their living by what they do. We have the same right ourselves. 9“Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.” (Deut xxv. 4) These ideas are not my own — they are laid down in scripture. 10Moses' words have a spiritual meaning, they refer to us and our faith. Do you think that anything in that law merely refers to cattle, and has not some moral or spiritual significance? This text means the law of supply whereby the worker lives through his work and is glad and hopeful thereby, partakes in the blessing he bestows. 11And such rights have I, they are mine according to the scriptures — I have a right to be paid by you, and to exercise authority over you. 12Others already do this, but I have more right than anyone, since it is I who am the founder of your spiritual good fortunes, and that includes also material well-being. But I have never exercised this right, my own idea has been that the gospel of Christ should not bind any burden upon men, however small, that is to say, so far as I was concerned. 13And yet you know that the priests who serve the altars and sacrifices make a living out of it, 14and similarly the Lord expressly declared that those who teach the gospel should live by it. 15But you know that I do not exercise the right and never have.
The reason for his unwillingness to receive pay
And why not? Well, that is my affair! At any rate, I am not writing this now preparatory to claiming any compensation in the future. Far from it — I would rather anything than that my special reason for satisfaction and self-congratulation should be taken away. What is that? you ask. 16The gospel? Oh no, that does not affect me in a personal sense — I have to preach the gospel, woe unto me, if I preach it not. 17If I enjoy it, and do it willingly, I am well paid. If it is distressful to me, still I have my stewardship to fulfil, and must be faithful to it. 18But what is my special reward, what is the peculiar compensation which accrues to me out of the pains I take in spreading this teaching? Why, just the doing it for nothing, — preaching the gospel at no man's charges — that is my special privilege. In other words, the privilege and the right which I most relish and cling to most earnestly, is just this — to make no use of my rights and privileges!
What it means to be all things to all men
19And I declare I carry that principle through all that I do. I absolutely neglect my own point of view. 20Other people's opinions, other people's beliefs and creeds and traditions, other people's weaknesses — these all become my own. The freer I am myself, the more I seem to become the slave of others! And though this is past a joke, yet I do it willingly, because thereby I win people. At one time the Jewish tradition and the law are everything to me — that is because I am with Jews. 21And now they are nothing to me — because I am with Gentiles. Oh yes, the law is something to me, the divine law, Christ's laws I mean, but not the law of the Jews. 22But with the weak I become weak myself — all things to all men in fact, if only I can win a few. 23And why do I do all this? Why do I take everybody else's point of view except my own? For the sake of the Gospel, because I wish to have a share in it myself — on just the same principle as the athlete trains for a contest. 24He sacrifices everything to the one end, if he can only carry off those much coveted laurels. 25And so a man must sacrifice himself, his own prejudices and predilections, and self-esteem, if he is to gain that immortal chaplet. 26That is the secret of my life. I do not hit out at random, but I go to work in a scientific manner, like one who trains for a boxing match. My blows are well and cunningly directed. 27They are aimed at myself, my physical being, my physical ego; otherwise what guarantee is there that I shall be saved myself, even though I have preached to others.
9
Paul’s Use of Liberty
1 Am I not free [unrestrained and exempt from any obligation]? Am I not an apostle? Have I not #Paul knew that to be an apostle in the same sense as the original twelve apostles (with Matthias replacing Judas Iscariot, Acts 1:26), he had to be an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:22). His encounter with Christ on his journey to Damascus met this requirement (Acts 9:2-8, 27; 22:6-21; 26:12-18).seen Jesus our [risen] Lord [in person]? Are you not [the result and proof of] my work in the Lord?2 If I am not [considered] an apostle to others, at least I am one to you; for you are the seal and the certificate and the living evidence of my apostleship in the Lord [confirming and authenticating it].
3 This is my defense to those who would put me on trial and interrogate me [concerning my authority as an apostle]:4 Have we not the right to our food and drink [at the expense of the churches]?5 Have we not the right to take along with us a believing wife, as do the rest of the apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas (Peter)?6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to stop doing manual labor [in order to support our ministry]?7 [Consider this:] Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?
8 Do I say these things only from a man’s perspective? Does the Law not endorse the same principles?9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain [to keep it from eating the grain].” Is it [only] for oxen that God cares? 10 Or does He speak entirely for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake: The plowman ought to plow #In the NT the word “hope” expresses a cherished desire along with the confident assurance of obtaining that which is longed for.in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the harvest.11 If we have sown [the good seed of] spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?12 If others share in this rightful claim over you, do not we even more? However, we did not exercise this right, but we put up with everything so that we will not hinder [the spread of] the good news of Christ.13 Do you not know that those who officiate in the sacred services of the temple eat from the temple [offerings of meat and bread] and those who regularly attend the altar have their share from the [offerings brought to the] altar? 14 So also [on the same principle] the Lord directed those who preach the gospel to get their living from the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these privileges, nor am I writing this [to suggest] that any such provision be made for me now. For it would be better for me to die than to have anyone deprive me of my #Paul was not bragging, but rejoicing because he could support himself as a tradesman while he ministered.boast [in this matter of financial support].16 For if I [merely] preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast about, for I am compelled [that is, absolutely obligated to do it]. Woe to me if I do not preach the good news [of salvation]!17 For if I do this work #Paul did not seek his call to minister, he was chosen by a sovereign act of God.of my own free will, then I have a reward; but if it is not of my will [but by God’s choosing], I have been entrusted with a [sacred] stewardship.18 What then is my reward? [Just this:] that, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge [to everyone], so as not to take advantage of my rights [as a preacher and apostle] in [preaching] the gospel.
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I may win more [for Christ].20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews [for Christ]; to men under the Law, [I became] as one #Cf Acts 21:20-26.under the Law, though not being under the Law myself, so that I might win those who are under the Law.21 To those who are without (outside) the Law, [I became] as one without the Law, though [I am] not without the law of God, but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.22 To the #Paul may be talking about those with spiritually immature consciences regarding questionable issues (see ch 8). If so, he means that he abstained from any practice which he knew was actually acceptable for him, but capable of posing a bad example for others who were less mature spiritually.weak I became [as the] weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means [in any and every way] save some [by leading them to faith in Jesus Christ].23 And I do all this for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings along with you.
24 #The Isthmian Games, held near Corinth, were among the major athletic competitions of ancient Greece. The Corinthians’ familiarity with this sporting event would have made this passage (vv 24-27) very meaningful to them.Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours!25 Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a #Lit perishable crown, usually a woven wreath of pine worn as a crown.crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither].26 Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing].27 But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service].