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9
A Pattern of Self-Denial
1Am #Acts 9:15; 2 Cor. 12:12I not an apostle? Am I not free? #Acts 9:3, 17; 18:9; 22:14, 18; 23:11; 1 Cor. 15:8Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? #1 Cor. 3:6; 4:15Are you not my work in the Lord? 2If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are #2 Cor. 12:12the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3My defense to those who examine me is this: 4#1 Cor. 9:14; (1 Thess. 2:6, 9); 2 Thess. 3:8Do we have no right to eat and drink? 5Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, #Matt. 13:55the brothers of the Lord, and #Matt. 8:14; John 1:42Cephas? 6Or is it only Barnabas and I #Acts 4:36; (2 Thess. 3:8)who have no right to refrain from working? 7Who ever #2 Cor. 10:4; 1 Tim. 1:18; 2 Tim. 2:3goes to war at his own expense? Who #Deut. 20:6; Prov. 27:18; 1 Cor. 3:6, 8plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who #John 21:15tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?
8Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9For it is written in the law of Moses, #Deut. 25:4; 1 Tim. 5:18“You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that #2 Tim. 2:6he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11#Rom. 15:27; 1 Cor. 9:14If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?
#(Acts 18:3; 20:33); 1 Cor. 9:15, 18Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things #2 Cor. 11:12lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13#Lev. 6:16, 26; 7:6, 31Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the #Num. 18:8–31; Deut. 18:1temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14Even so #Matt. 10:10; Luke 10:7, 8; 1 Tim. 5:18the Lord has commanded #Rom. 10:15that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
15But #Acts 18:3; 20:33; 1 Cor. 9:12, 18I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for #2 Cor. 11:10it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. 16For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for #Acts 9:15; (Rom. 1:14)necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17For if I do this willingly, #John 4:36; 1 Cor. 3:8, 14; 9:18I have a reward; but if against my will, #1 Cor. 4:1; Gal. 2:7; Eph. 3:2; Col. 1:25I have been entrusted with a stewardship. 18What is my reward then? That #1 Cor. 10:33when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I #1 Cor. 7:31; 9:12may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
Serving All Men
19For though I am #1 Cor. 9:1free from all men, #2 Cor. 4:5; Gal. 5:13I have made myself a servant to all, #Matt. 18:15; 1 Pet. 3:1that I might win the more; 20and #Acts 16:3; 21:23–26; Rom. 11:14to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21#(Gal. 2:3; 3:2)to #(Rom. 2:12, 14)those who are without law, as without law #(1 Cor. 7:22; Gal. 6:2)(not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22#Rom. 14:1; 15:1; 2 Cor. 11:29to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. #1 Cor. 10:33I have become all things to all men, #Rom. 11:14that I might by all means save some. 23Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
Striving for a Crown
24Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? #Gal. 2:2; 2 Tim. 4:7; Heb. 12:1Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for #2 Tim. 4:8; James 1:12; (1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 2:10; 3:11)an imperishable crown. 26Therefore I run thus: #2 Tim. 2:5not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27#(Rom. 8:13)But I discipline my body and #(Rom. 6:18)bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become #Jer. 6:30; 2 Cor. 13:5disqualified.
9
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.