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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 Example as an Apostle
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 I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you, because you are the seal#Rv 5:1 of my apostleship in the Lord.
3My defense to those who examine me is this: 4Don’t we have the right to eat and drink?#2Th 3:8-9 5Don’t we have the right to be accompanied by a believing wife#9:5 Lit a sister as a wife like the other apostles,#Jd 17 the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas?#Jn 1:42 6Or do only Barnabas#Ac 4:36 and I have no right to refrain from working? 7Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?#Lk 3:14 Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Or who shepherds a flock and does not drink the milk from the flock?
8Am I saying this from a human perspective? Doesn’t the law also say the same thing? 9For it is written in the law of Moses, Do not muzzle an ox#Lk 13:15 while it treads out grain.#9:9Dt 25:4#Dt 25:4 Is God really concerned about oxen? 10Isn’t he really saying it for our sake? Yes, this is written for our sake,#Rm 4:24 because he who plows ought to plow in hope,#Ac 23:6; 1Th 1:3 and he who threshes should thresh in hope of sharing the crop.#2Tm 2:6 11If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it too much if we reap material benefits from you? 12If others have this right to receive benefits from you, don’t we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right; instead, we endure everything#Ac 20:33-35; 2Co 6:3-10; 11:7-12 so that we will not hinder the gospel of Christ.
13Don’t you know that those who perform the temple services eat the food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar#Lv 6:16,26; 7:6,31-32; Nm 5:9-10; 18:8-20,31; Dt 18:1 share in the offerings of the altar? 14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should earn their living by the gospel.#Mt 10:8-10; Lk 10:7
15For my part I have used none of these rights, nor have I written these things that they may be applied in my case. For it would be better for me to die than for anyone to deprive me of my boast! 16For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason to boast, because I am compelled to preach#9:16 Lit because necessity is laid upon me  — and woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17For if I do this willingly, I have a reward, but if unwillingly, I am entrusted#Lk 16:11 with a commission. 18What then is my reward? To preach the gospel and offer it free of charge and not make full use of my rights in the gospel.#2Co 11:7; 12:13
19Although I am free from all and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win#1Pt 3:1 more people. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law — though I myself am not under the law#9:20 Other mss omit though I myself am not under the law  — to win those under the law.#Ac 16:3; 21:23-26 21To those who are without the law,#Rm 2:12,14; Gl 2:3; 3:2 like one without the law — though I am not without God’s law but under the law of Christ — to win those without the law. 22To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.#Rm 11:14; 1Co 7:16 23Now I do all this because of the gospel, so that I may share in the blessings.
24Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race,#Jd 3 but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.#Col 2:18 25Now everyone who competes exercises self-control#Gl 5:23 in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown,#1Pt 1:18; 5:4 but we an imperishable crown. 26So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.#Heb 6:8