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9
The Rights of an Apostle
1#1Co 3:6; Ac 9:3Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2If I am not an apostle to others, yet indeed I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3This is my answer to those who examine me. 4#1Th 2:6; 2Th 3:8–9Do we have no right to eat and to drink? 5#Mt 8:14; Jn 1:42Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife as do other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6#Ac 4:36Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?
7#Dt 20:6; Pr 27:18Who goes to war at any time at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, but does not eat of its fruit? Or who feeds a flock, but does not drink of the flock’s milk? 8Do I say these things as a man? Or does the law not say the same thing also? 9#Dt 25:4; 1Ti 5:18For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox while it treads out the grain.”#Dt 25:4. Is God concerned about oxen? 10#2Ti 2:6Or does He say it completely for our sake? For our sake, no doubt, this is written so that he who plows should plow in hope, and that he who threshes in hope should partake of his hope. 11#Ro 15:27; Gal 6:6If we have sown for you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your material things? 12#1Co 9:18; 2Co 11:12If others partake of this right over you, should not we instead?
Nevertheless, we have not used this right, but suffer all things, lest we might hinder the gospel of Christ.
13#Lev 6:26; Nu 18:8–20Do you not know that those who minister unto holy things live from the things of the temple? And do you not know that those who wait at the altar partake of the altar? 14#Mt 10:10; 1Co 9:4In the same way, the Lord has ordained that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
15#Ac 18:3; 1Co 9:12But I have used none of these rights, nor have I written these things that it should be so done to me. For it would be better for me to die than allow anyone to make my boasting void. 16#Ro 1:14; Ac 9:15Though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for the requirement is laid upon me. Yes, woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel! 17#Gal 2:7; 1Co 3:8So if I do this willingly, I have a reward, but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a commission. 18#1Co 7:31What is my reward then? Truly that when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, so that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
19#Mt 18:15; 1Co 9:1For though I am free from all men, I have made myself servant to all, that I might win even more. 20#Ac 16:3; 21:20–26To the Jews, I became as a Jew, that I might win the Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21#Ro 2:12; 2:14to those who are outside the law, as outside the law (being not without God’s law, but under Christ’s law) that I might win those who are outside the law. 22#Ro 11:14; 1Co 10:33To the weak, I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23This I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might partake of it with you.
24#Gal 2:2; Heb 12:1Do you not know that all those who run in a race run, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain it. 25#Jas 1:12; Rev 2:10; 1Ti 6:12Everyone who strives for the prize exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible one. 26So, therefore, I run, not with uncertainty. So I fight, not as one who beats the air. 27#Ro 8:13; Jer 6:30But I bring and keep my body under subjection, lest when preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
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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.