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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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Rights and Duties of an Apostle
1Am I not a free man? Am I not an apostle? Haven't I seen Jesus our Lord? And aren't you the result of my work for the Lord? 2Even if others do not accept me as an apostle, surely you do! Because of your life in union with the Lord you yourselves are proof of the fact that I am an apostle.
3When people criticize me, this is how I defend myself: 4Haven't I the right to be given food and drink for my work? 5Haven't I the right to follow the example of the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Peter, by taking a Christian wife with me on my travels? 6Or are Barnabas and I the only ones who have to work for our living? 7What soldier ever has to pay his own expenses in the army? What farmer does not eat the grapes from his own vineyard? What shepherd does not use the milk from his own sheep?
8I don't have to limit myself to these everyday examples, because the Law says the same thing. 9#Deut 25.4; 1 Tim 5.18We read in the Law of Moses, “Do not muzzle an ox when you are using it to thresh corn.” Now, is God concerned about oxen? 10Didn't he really mean us when he said that? Of course that was written for us. The one who ploughs and the one who reaps should do their work in the hope of getting a share of the crop. 11#Rom 15.27We have sown spiritual seed among you. Is it too much if we reap material benefits from you? 12If others have the right to expect this from you, haven't we an even greater right?
But we haven't made use of this right. Instead, we have endured everything in order not to put any obstacle in the way of the Good News about Christ. 13#Deut 18.1Surely you know that the men who work in the Temple get their food from the Temple and that those who offer the sacrifices on the altar get a share of the sacrifices. 14#Mt 10.10; Lk 10.7In the same way, the Lord has ordered that those who preach the gospel should get their living from it.
15But I haven't made use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this now in order to claim such rights for myself. I would rather die first! Nobody is going to turn my rightful boast into empty words! 16I have no right to boast just because I preach the gospel. After all, I am under orders to do so. And how terrible it would be for me if I did not preach the gospel! 17If I did my work as a matter of free choice, then I could expect to be paid; but I do it as a matter of duty, because God has entrusted me with this task. 18What pay do I get, then? It is the privilege of preaching the Good News without charging for it, without claiming my rights in my work for the gospel.
19I am a free man, nobody's slave; but I make myself everybody's slave in order to win as many people as possible. 20While working with the Jews, I live like a Jew in order to win them; and even though I myself am not subject to the Law of Moses, I live as though I were when working with those who are, in order to win them. 21In the same way, when working with Gentiles, I live like a Gentile, outside the Jewish Law, in order to win Gentiles. This does not mean that I don't obey God's law; I am really under Christ's law. 22Among the weak in faith I become weak like one of them, in order to win them. So I become all things to all people, that I may save some of them by whatever means are possible.
23All this I do for the gospel's sake, in order to share in its blessings. 24Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize. 25Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last for ever. 26That is why I run straight for the finishing line; that is why I am like a boxer who does not waste his punches. 27I harden my body with blows and bring it under complete control, to keep myself from being disqualified after having called others to the contest.