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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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Rights That Paul Has Not Used
1I am a free man. I am an apostle. I have seen Jesus our Lord. You people are an example of my work in the Lord. 2Others may not accept me as an apostle, but surely you do. You are proof that I am an apostle in the Lord.
3Some people want to judge me. So this is the answer I give them: 4We have the right to eat and drink, don’t we? 5We have the right to bring a believing wife with us when we travel, don’t we? The other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Peter all do this. 6And are Barnabas and I the only ones who must work to earn our living? 7No soldier ever serves in the army and pays his own salary. No one ever plants a vineyard without eating some of the grapes himself. No one takes care of a flock of sheep without drinking some of the milk himself.
8These aren’t just my own thoughts. God’s law says the same thing. 9Yes, it is written in the Law of Moses: “When a work animal is being used to separate grain, don’t keep it from eating the grain.”#Quote from Deut. 25:4. When God said this, was he thinking only about work animals? No. 10He was really talking about us. Yes, that was written for us. The one who plows and the one who separates the grain should both expect to get some of the grain for their work. 11We planted spiritual seed among you, so we should be able to harvest from you some things for this life. Surely that is not asking too much. 12Others have this right to get things from you. So surely we have this right too. But we don’t use this right. No, we endure everything ourselves so that we will not stop anyone from obeying the Good News of Christ. 13Surely you know that those who work at the Temple get their food from the Temple. And those who serve at the altar get part of what is offered at the altar. 14It is the same with those who have the work of telling the Good News. The Lord has commanded that those who tell the Good News should get their living from this work.
15But I have not used any of these rights, and I am not trying to get anything from you. That is not my purpose for writing this. I would rather die than to have someone take away what for me is a great source of pride. 16It’s not my work of telling the Good News that gives me any reason to boast. That is my duty—something I must do. If I don’t tell people the Good News, I am in real trouble. 17If I did it because it was my own choice, I would deserve to be paid. But I have no choice. I must tell the Good News. So I am only doing the duty that was given to me. 18So what do I get for doing it? My reward is that when I tell people the Good News I can offer it to them for free and not use the rights that come with doing this work.
19I am free. I belong to no other person, but I make myself a slave to everyone. I do this to help save as many people as I can. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew so that I could help save Jews. I myself am not ruled by the law, but to those who are ruled by the law I became like someone who is ruled by the law. I did this to help save those who are ruled by the law. 21To those who are without the law I became like someone who is without the law. I did this to help save those who are without the law. (But really, I am not without God’s law—I am ruled by the law of Christ.) 22To those who are weak, I became weak so that I could help save them. I have become all things to all people. I did this so that I could save people in any way possible. 23I do all this to make the Good News known. I do it so that I can share in the blessings of the Good News.
24You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one runner gets the prize. So run like that. Run to win! 25All who compete in the games use strict training. They do this so that they can win a prize—one that doesn’t last. But our prize is one that will last forever. 26So I run like someone who has a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something, not just the air. 27It is my own body I fight to make it do what I want. I do this so that I won’t miss getting the prize myself after telling others about it.