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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.
1Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord?2If I am not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3My answer to those that examine me is this,4Do we not have authority to eat and to drink?5Do we not have authority to bring with us a sister, a wife, as also the other apostles and as the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?6Do only Barnabas and I not have authority to forbear working?7Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? or who feeds a flock and does not eat of the milk of the flock?8Do I say this only according to men? or does not the law say the same also?9For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the grain. Does God take care for oxen?10Or does he say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that plows should plow in hope, and that he that threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.11If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap material things from you?12If others are partakers of this authority over you, why not us? Nevertheless we have not used this authority, but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.13Do ye not know that those who work with sacred things live of the things of the sanctuary? and those who serve at the altar partake of the altar?14Even so the Lord has ordained that those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
15But I have used none of these things, neither have I written these things that it should be so done unto me; for it were better for me to die than that anyone should make this my glory void.16For though I preach the gospel, I have no reason to glory, for it is an obligation laid upon me; for woe is me, if I do not preach the gospel!17For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, the stewardship of the gospel is committed unto me.18What reward, then, shall I have? That preaching the gospel, I may make the gospel of the Christ without charge, that I abuse not my authority in the gospel.
19Therefore, though I am free regarding everyone, yet I have made myself slave unto all, that I might gain the more.20And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to those that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain those that are under the law;21to those that are without law, as without law (being not without law of God, but under the law of Christ), that I might gain those that are without law.22To the weak I became as weak, that I might gain the weak; I am made all things to everyone, that I might by all means save some.23And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker together of it.
24Know ye not that those who run in a race indeed all run, but one receives the prize? So run, that ye may obtain it.25And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we, an incorruptible one.26I therefore so run, not as unto an uncertain thing; so I fight, not as one that beats the air;27but I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection, lest preaching to others, I myself should become reprobate.