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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.
Servant Leadership Wins Over All
1Am I not free? Am I not an emissary? Have I not seen Yeshua our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
2If to others I am not an emissary, at least I am to you—for you are the seal of my office of emissary in the Lord.
3My defense to those who examine me is this.
4Don’t we have the right to food and drink?
5Don’t we have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other emissaries and the Lord’s brothers and Kefa?
6Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to not work?
7What soldier ever serves at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink its milk?
8I don’t say these things merely as a man, do I? Doesn’t Torah also say these things?
9For it is written in the Torah of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is threshing.” Is it the oxen that concern God,
10or is He speaking entirely for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake, because the one plowing ought to plow in hope and the one threshing in hope of a share in the crop.
11If we sowed spiritual things into you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?
12If others have a share in this claim over you, shouldn’t we even more? Nevertheless we did not use this right, but we put up with all things so that we cause no hindrance to the Good News of Messiah.
13Don’t you know that those who perform the holy services eat from the Temple, and those who wait on the altar receive a share at the altar?
14So also the Lord ordered those who proclaim the Good News to get their living from the Good News.
15But I have used none of these things, and I am not writing these things so it will happen this way in my case—for I would rather die than let anyone deprive me of my reason to boast.
16For if I proclaim the Good News, I have no reason to boast—for pressure is put on me and woe to me if I don’t proclaim the Good News!
17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward. But if not of my own will, I have been entrusted with a commission.
18What then is my reward? That when I preach, I may present the Good News free of charge, not making use of my right in the Good News.
19For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win over more of them.
20To the Jewish people I identified as a Jew, so that I might win over the Jewish people. To those under Torah I became like one under Torah (though not myself being under Torah), so that I might win over those under Torah;
21to those outside Torah, like one outside Torah (though not being outside God’s Torah but in Messiah’s Torah), so that I might win over those outside Torah.
22To the weak I became weak, so that I might win over the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that by all means possible I might save some.
23I do it all for the sake of the Good News, so that I might be a fellow partaker of it.
24Don’t you know that in a stadium the runners all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win!
25Every competitor exercises self-control in all respects. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we do it to receive an imperishable one.
26So I run in this way—not aimlessly. So I box in this way—not beating the air.
27Rather, I punish my body and bring it into submission, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.