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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 Right to Be Paid for His Work as an Apostle
1 Don’t you agree that I’m a free man? Don’t you agree that I’m an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord? Aren’t you the result of my work for the Lord? 2 If I’m not an apostle to other people, at least I’m an apostle to you. You are the seal which proves that I am the Lord’s apostle. 3 This is how I defend myself to those who cross-examine me. 4 Don’t we have the right to eat and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take our wives along with us like the other apostles, the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas #Cephas is the Aramaic name for the Apostle Peter. do? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who don’t have any rights, except to find work to support ourselves?
7 Does a soldier ever serve in the army at his own expense? Does anyone plant a vineyard and not eat the grapes? Does anyone take care of a flock and not drink milk from the sheep? 8 Am I merely stating some human rule? Don’t Moses’ Teachings say the same thing? 9 Moses’ Teachings say, “Never muzzle an ox when it is threshing #Threshing is the process of beating stalks to separate them from the grain. grain.” God’s concern isn’t for oxen. 10 Isn’t he speaking entirely for our benefit? This was written for our benefit so that the person who plows or threshes should expect to receive a share of the crop. 11 If we have planted the spiritual seed that has been of benefit to you, is it too much if we receive part of the harvest from your earthly goods? 12 If others have the right to expect this from you, don’t we deserve even more? But we haven’t used our rights. Instead, we would put up with anything in order not to hinder the Good News of Christ in any way.
13 Don’t you realize that those who work at the temple get their food from the temple? Don’t those who help at the altar get a share of what is on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who spread the Good News should earn their living from the Good News.
15 I haven’t used any of these rights, and I haven’t written this in order to use them now. I would rather die than have anyone turn my bragging into meaningless words. 16 If I spread the Good News, I have nothing to brag about because I have an obligation to do this. How horrible it will be for me if I don’t spread the Good News! 17 If I spread the Good News willingly, I’ll have a reward. But if I spread the Good News unwillingly, I’m ⌊only⌋ doing what I’ve been entrusted to do.
18 So what is my reward? It is to spread the Good News free of charge. In that way I won’t use the rights that belong to those who spread the Good News.
Paul’s Work as an Apostle
19 Although I’m free from all people, I have made myself a slave for all people to win more of them. 20 I became Jewish for Jewish people. I became subject to the laws in Moses’ Teachings for those who are subject to those laws. I did this to win them even though I’m not subject to Moses’ Teachings. 21 I became like a person who does not have Moses’ Teachings for those who don’t have those teachings. I did this to win them even though I have God’s teachings. I’m really subject to Christ’s teachings. 22 I became like a person weak in faith to win those who are weak in faith. I have become everything to everyone in order to save at least some of them. 23 I do all this for the sake of the Good News in order to share what it offers.
24 Don’t you realize that everyone who runs in a race runs to win, but only one runner gets the prize? Run like them, so that you can win. 25 Everyone who enters an athletic contest goes into strict training. They do it to win a temporary crown, but we do it to win one that will be permanent. 26 So I run—but not without a clear goal ahead of me. So I box—but not as if I were just shadow boxing. 27 Rather, I toughen my body with punches and make it my slave so that I will not be disqualified after I have spread the Good News to others.