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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.
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Paul’s rights as an apostle
1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3This is my defence to those who sit in judgment on me. 4Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas#9:5 That is, Peter? 6Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?
7Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? 8Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9For it is written in the Law of Moses: ‘Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.’#9:9 Deut. 25:4 Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever ploughs and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.
13Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
15But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.
Paul’s use of his freedom
19Though I am free and belong to no-one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
The need for self-discipline
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever. 26Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.