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1Am I not free? am I not an apostle? have I not seen Jesus our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? 2If to others I am not an apostle, yet at least I am to you; for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. 3My defence to them that examine me is this. 4Have we no right to eat and to drink? 5Have we no right to lead about a wife that is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 6Or I only and Barnabas, have we not a right to forbear working? 7What soldier ever serveth at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 8Do I speak these things after the manner of men? or saith not the law also the same? 9For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. Is it for the oxen that God careth, 10or saith he it assuredly for our sake? Yea, for our sake it was written: because he that ploweth ought to plow in hope, and he that thresheth, to thresh in hope of partaking. 11If we sowed unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your carnal things? 12If others partake of this right over you, do not we yet more? Nevertheless we did not use this right; but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 13Know ye not that they that minister about sacred things eat of the things of the temple, and they that wait upon the altar have their portion with the altar? 14Even so did the Lord ordain that they that proclaim the gospel should live of the gospel. 15But I have used none of these things: and I write not these things that it may be so done in my case; for it were good for me rather to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. 16For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; for woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel. 17For if I do this of mine own will, I have a reward: but if not of mine own will, I have a stewardship intrusted to me. 18What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel without charge, so as not to use to the full my right in the gospel. 19For though I was free from all men, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more. 20And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, not being myself under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21to them that are without law, as without law, not being without law to God, but under law to Christ, that I might gain them that are without law. 22To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak: I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. 23And I do all things for the gospel’s sake, that I may be a joint partaker thereof. 24Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? Even so run; that ye may attain. 25And every man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, as not uncertainly; so fight I, as not beating the air: 27but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.
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Paul’s Example as an Apostle
1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you, because you are the seal#Rv 5:1 of my apostleship in the Lord.
3My defense to those who examine me is this: 4Don’t we have the right to eat and drink?#2Th 3:8-9 5Don’t we have the right to be accompanied by a believing wife#9:5 Lit a sister as a wife like the other apostles,#Jd 17 the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas?#Jn 1:42 6Or do only Barnabas#Ac 4:36 and I have no right to refrain from working? 7Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?#Lk 3:14 Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Or who shepherds a flock and does not drink the milk from the flock?
8Am I saying this from a human perspective? Doesn’t the law also say the same thing? 9For it is written in the law of Moses, Do not muzzle an ox#Lk 13:15 while it treads out grain.#9:9Dt 25:4#Dt 25:4 Is God really concerned about oxen? 10Isn’t he really saying it for our sake? Yes, this is written for our sake,#Rm 4:24 because he who plows ought to plow in hope,#Ac 23:6; 1Th 1:3 and he who threshes should thresh in hope of sharing the crop.#2Tm 2:6 11If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it too much if we reap material benefits from you? 12If others have this right to receive benefits from you, don’t we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right; instead, we endure everything#Ac 20:33-35; 2Co 6:3-10; 11:7-12 so that we will not hinder the gospel of Christ.
13Don’t you know that those who perform the temple services eat the food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar#Lv 6:16,26; 7:6,31-32; Nm 5:9-10; 18:8-20,31; Dt 18:1 share in the offerings of the altar? 14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should earn their living by the gospel.#Mt 10:8-10; Lk 10:7
15For my part I have used none of these rights, nor have I written these things that they may be applied in my case. For it would be better for me to die than for anyone to deprive me of my boast! 16For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason to boast, because I am compelled to preach#9:16 Lit because necessity is laid upon me  — and woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17For if I do this willingly, I have a reward, but if unwillingly, I am entrusted#Lk 16:11 with a commission. 18What then is my reward? To preach the gospel and offer it free of charge and not make full use of my rights in the gospel.#2Co 11:7; 12:13
19Although I am free from all and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win#1Pt 3:1 more people. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law — though I myself am not under the law#9:20 Other mss omit though I myself am not under the law  — to win those under the law.#Ac 16:3; 21:23-26 21To those who are without the law,#Rm 2:12,14; Gl 2:3; 3:2 like one without the law — though I am not without God’s law but under the law of Christ — to win those without the law. 22To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.#Rm 11:14; 1Co 7:16 23Now I do all this because of the gospel, so that I may share in the blessings.
24Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race,#Jd 3 but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.#Col 2:18 25Now everyone who competes exercises self-control#Gl 5:23 in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown,#1Pt 1:18; 5:4 but we an imperishable crown. 26So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.#Heb 6:8