Exit Parallel Mode
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.
Paul’s Apostolic Freedom
1Am I not completely free and unrestrained? Absolutely! Am I not an apostle? Of course! Haven’t I had a personal encounter with our Jesus face-to-face—and continue to see him? Emphatically yes! Aren’t you all the proof of my ministry in the Lord? Certainly! 2If others do not recognize me as their apostle, at least you are bound to do so, for now your lives are joined to the Lord. You are the living proof, the certificate of my apostleship.
3So to those who want to continually criticize my apostolic ministry, here’s my statement of defense. 4Don’t we apostles have the right to be supported financially? 5Don’t we have the right to travel accompanied by our believing wives and be supported as a couple, as do the other apostles, such as Peter the Rock and the Lord’s brothers? 6Of course we do! Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to stop working for a living?
Responsibility to Financially Support God’s Servants
7Who serves in the military at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not enjoy the grapes for himself? Who would nurture and shepherd a flock and never get to drink its fresh milk? 8Am I merely giving you my own opinions, or does the Torah teach the same things? 9For it is written in the law of Moses:
You should never put a muzzle over the mouth of an ox
while he is treading out the grain.
Tell me, is God only talking about oxen here? 10Doesn’t he also give us this principle so that we won’t withhold support from his workers? It was written so that we would understand that the one spiritually “plowing” and spiritually “treading out the grain” also labors with the expectation of enjoying the harvest. 11So, if we’ve sowed many spiritual gifts among you, is it too much to expect to reap material gifts from you? 12And if you have supported others, don’t we rightfully deserve this privilege even more?
But as you know, we haven’t used that right. Instead, we have continued to support ourselves so that we would never be a hindrance to the spread of the gospel of Christ. 13Don’t you know that the priests employed in sacred duty in the temple are provided for by temple resources? And the priests who serve at the altar receive a portion of the offerings? 14In the same way, the Lord has directed those who proclaim the gospel to receive their living by the gospel. As for me, I’ve preferred to never use any of these rights for myself. 15And keep in mind that I’m not writing all this because I’m hinting that you should support me.
Paul Renounces His Rights for the Sake of the Gospel
Actually, I’d rather die than to have anyone rob me of this joyous reason for boasting! 16For you see, even though I proclaim the good news, I can’t take the credit for my labors, for I am compelled to fulfill my duty by completing this work. It would be agony to me if I did not constantly preach the gospel! 17If it were my own idea to preach as a way to make a living, I would expect to be paid. Since it’s not my idea but God’s, who commissioned me, I am entrusted with the stewardship of the gospel whether or not I’m paid. 18So then, where is my reward? It is found in continually depositing the good news into people’s hearts, without obligation, free of charge, and not insisting on my rights to be financially supported.
Paul, a Servant to All
19Now, even though I am free from obligations to others, I joyfully make myself a servant to all in order to win as many converts as possible. 20I became Jewish to the Jewish people in order to win them to the Messiah. I became like one under the law to gain the people who were stuck under the law, even though I myself am not under the law. 21And to those who are without the Jewish laws, I became like them, as one without the Jewish laws, in order to win them, although I’m not outside the law of God but under the law of Christ. 22I became “weak” to the weak to win the weak. I have adapted to the culture of every place I’ve gone so that I could more easily win people to Christ. 23I’ve done all this so that I would become God’s partner for the sake of the gospel.
Paul’s Disciplined Lifestyle
24Isn’t it obvious that all runners on the racetrack keep on running to win, but only one receives the victor’s prize? Yet each one of you must run the race to be victorious. 25A true athlete will be disciplined in every respect, practicing constant self-control in order to win a laurel wreath that quickly withers. But we run our race to win a victor’s crown that will last forever. 26For that reason, I don’t run just for exercise or box like one throwing aimless punches, 27but I train like a champion athlete. I subdue my body and get it under my control, so that after preaching the good news to others I myself won’t be disqualified.