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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
1 # 1 Cor 9.19; 2 Cor 12.12; 1 Thess 2.6; Acts 9.3,17; 1 Cor 15.8. Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 2If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4#1 Cor 9.14. Do we not have the right to our food and drink? 5#1 Cor 7.7-8; Mt 12.46; 8.14; Jn 1.42. Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife,#9.5 Greek a sister as wife as the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6#Acts 4.36. Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?
8Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law say the same? 9#Deut 25.4; 1 Tim 5.18. For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10#2 Tim 2.6. Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of a share in the crop. 11#Rom 15.27. If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits? 12#2 Cor 6.3. If others share this rightful claim upon you, do not we still more?
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13#Deut 18.1. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14#Mt 10.10; Lk 10.7-8. In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
15 # 2 Cor 11.10. But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have any one deprive me of my ground for boasting. 16For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17#1 Cor 4.1; Gal 2.7. For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18#2 Cor 11.7. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my preaching I may make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the gospel.
19For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. 20#Rom 11.14. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law—though not being myself under the law—that I might win those under the law. 21#Rom 2.12,14. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law—not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ—that I might win those outside the law. 22#2 Cor 11.29; Rom 15.1; 1 Cor 10.33; Rom 11.14. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
24 # Heb 12.1. Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25#2 Tim 2.5; 4.8; Jas 1.12; 1 Pet 5.4. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; 27but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.