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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
1Am I not a free man? Am I not an emissary of the Messiah? Haven’t I seen Yeshua our Lord? And aren’t you yourselves the result of my work for the Lord? 2Even if to others I am not an emissary, at least I am to you; for you are living proof that I am the Lord’s emissary. 3That is my defense when people put me under examination.
4Don’t we have the right to be given food and drink? 5Don’t we have the right to take along with us a believing wife, as do the other emissaries, also the Lord’s brothers and Kefa? 6Or are Bar-Nabba and I the only ones required to go on working for our living? 7Did you ever hear of a soldier paying his own expenses? or of a farmer planting a vineyard without eating its grapes? Who shepherds a flock without drinking some of the milk? 8What I am saying is not based merely on human authority, because the Torah says the same thing — 9for in the Torah of Moshe it is written, “You are not to put a muzzle on an ox when it is treading out the grain.” If God is concerned about cattle, 10all the more does he say this for our sakes. Yes, it was written for us, meaning that he who plows and he who threshes should work expecting to get a share of the crop. 11If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12If others are sharing in this right to be supported by you, don’t we have a greater claim to it?
But we don’t make use of this right. Rather, we put up with all kinds of things so as not to impede in any way the Good News about the Messiah. 13Don’t you know that those who work in the Temple get their food from the Temple, and those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrifices offered there? 14In the same way, the Lord directed that those who proclaim the Good News should get their living from the Good News.
15But I have not made use of any of these rights. Nor am I writing now to secure them for myself, for I would rather die than be deprived of my ground for boasting! 16For I can’t boast merely because I proclaim the Good News — this I do from inner compulsion: woe is me if I don’t proclaim the Good News! 17For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if I do it unwillingly, I still do it, simply because I’ve been entrusted with a job. 18So then, what is my reward? Just this: that in proclaiming the Good News I can make it available free of charge, without making use of the rights to which it entitles me.
19For although I am a free man, not bound to do anyone’s bidding, I have made myself a slave to all in order to win as many people as possible. 20That is, with Jews, what I did was put myself in the position of a Jew, in order to win Jews. With people in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah, I put myself in the position of someone under such legalism, in order to win those under this legalism, even though I myself am not in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah. 21With those who live outside the framework of Torah, I put myself in the position of someone outside the Torah in order to win those outside the Torah — although I myself am not outside the framework of God’s Torah but within the framework of Torah as upheld by the Messiah. 22With the “weak” I became “weak,” in order to win the “weak.” With all kinds of people I have become all kinds of things, so that in all kinds of circumstances I might save at least some of them.
23But I do it all because of the rewards promised by the Good News, so that I may share in them along with the others who come to trust. 24Don’t you know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one wins the prize? So then, run to win! 25Now every athlete in training submits himself to strict discipline, and he does it just to win a laurel wreath that will soon wither away. But we do it to win a crown that will last forever. 26Accordingly, I don’t run aimlessly but straight for the finish line; I don’t shadow-box but try to make every punch count. 27I treat my body hard and make it my slave so that, after proclaiming the Good News to others, I myself will not be disqualified.