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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
The Rights of an Apostle
1#1Co 3:6; Ac 9:3Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2If I am not an apostle to others, yet indeed I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3This is my answer to those who examine me. 4#1Th 2:6; 2Th 3:8–9Do we have no right to eat and to drink? 5#Mt 8:14; Jn 1:42Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife as do other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6#Ac 4:36Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?
7#Dt 20:6; Pr 27:18Who goes to war at any time at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, but does not eat of its fruit? Or who feeds a flock, but does not drink of the flock’s milk? 8Do I say these things as a man? Or does the law not say the same thing also? 9#Dt 25:4; 1Ti 5:18For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox while it treads out the grain.”#Dt 25:4. Is God concerned about oxen? 10#2Ti 2:6Or does He say it completely for our sake? For our sake, no doubt, this is written so that he who plows should plow in hope, and that he who threshes in hope should partake of his hope. 11#Ro 15:27; Gal 6:6If we have sown for you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your material things? 12#1Co 9:18; 2Co 11:12If others partake of this right over you, should not we instead?
Nevertheless, we have not used this right, but suffer all things, lest we might hinder the gospel of Christ.
13#Lev 6:26; Nu 18:8–20Do you not know that those who minister unto holy things live from the things of the temple? And do you not know that those who wait at the altar partake of the altar? 14#Mt 10:10; 1Co 9:4In the same way, the Lord has ordained that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
15#Ac 18:3; 1Co 9:12But I have used none of these rights, nor have I written these things that it should be so done to me. For it would be better for me to die than allow anyone to make my boasting void. 16#Ro 1:14; Ac 9:15Though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for the requirement is laid upon me. Yes, woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel! 17#Gal 2:7; 1Co 3:8So if I do this willingly, I have a reward, but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a commission. 18#1Co 7:31What is my reward then? Truly that when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, so that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
19#Mt 18:15; 1Co 9:1For though I am free from all men, I have made myself servant to all, that I might win even more. 20#Ac 16:3; 21:20–26To the Jews, I became as a Jew, that I might win the Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21#Ro 2:12; 2:14to those who are outside the law, as outside the law (being not without God’s law, but under Christ’s law) that I might win those who are outside the law. 22#Ro 11:14; 1Co 10:33To the weak, I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23This I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might partake of it with you.
24#Gal 2:2; Heb 12:1Do you not know that all those who run in a race run, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain it. 25#Jas 1:12; Rev 2:10; 1Ti 6:12Everyone who strives for the prize exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible one. 26So, therefore, I run, not with uncertainty. So I fight, not as one who beats the air. 27#Ro 8:13; Jer 6:30But I bring and keep my body under subjection, lest when preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.