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1Am I not a free man? Am I not an emissary of the Messiah? Haven’t I seen Yeshua our Lord? And aren’t you yourselves the result of my work for the Lord? 2Even if to others I am not an emissary, at least I am to you; for you are living proof that I am the Lord’s emissary. 3That is my defense when people put me under examination.
4Don’t we have the right to be given food and drink? 5Don’t we have the right to take along with us a believing wife, as do the other emissaries, also the Lord’s brothers and Kefa? 6Or are Bar-Nabba and I the only ones required to go on working for our living? 7Did you ever hear of a soldier paying his own expenses? or of a farmer planting a vineyard without eating its grapes? Who shepherds a flock without drinking some of the milk? 8What I am saying is not based merely on human authority, because the Torah says the same thing — 9for in the Torah of Moshe it is written, “You are not to put a muzzle on an ox when it is treading out the grain.” If God is concerned about cattle, 10all the more does he say this for our sakes. Yes, it was written for us, meaning that he who plows and he who threshes should work expecting to get a share of the crop. 11If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12If others are sharing in this right to be supported by you, don’t we have a greater claim to it?
But we don’t make use of this right. Rather, we put up with all kinds of things so as not to impede in any way the Good News about the Messiah. 13Don’t you know that those who work in the Temple get their food from the Temple, and those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrifices offered there? 14In the same way, the Lord directed that those who proclaim the Good News should get their living from the Good News.
15But I have not made use of any of these rights. Nor am I writing now to secure them for myself, for I would rather die than be deprived of my ground for boasting! 16For I can’t boast merely because I proclaim the Good News — this I do from inner compulsion: woe is me if I don’t proclaim the Good News! 17For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if I do it unwillingly, I still do it, simply because I’ve been entrusted with a job. 18So then, what is my reward? Just this: that in proclaiming the Good News I can make it available free of charge, without making use of the rights to which it entitles me.
19For although I am a free man, not bound to do anyone’s bidding, I have made myself a slave to all in order to win as many people as possible. 20That is, with Jews, what I did was put myself in the position of a Jew, in order to win Jews. With people in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah, I put myself in the position of someone under such legalism, in order to win those under this legalism, even though I myself am not in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah. 21With those who live outside the framework of Torah, I put myself in the position of someone outside the Torah in order to win those outside the Torah — although I myself am not outside the framework of God’s Torah but within the framework of Torah as upheld by the Messiah. 22With the “weak” I became “weak,” in order to win the “weak.” With all kinds of people I have become all kinds of things, so that in all kinds of circumstances I might save at least some of them.
23But I do it all because of the rewards promised by the Good News, so that I may share in them along with the others who come to trust. 24Don’t you know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one wins the prize? So then, run to win! 25Now every athlete in training submits himself to strict discipline, and he does it just to win a laurel wreath that will soon wither away. But we do it to win a crown that will last forever. 26Accordingly, I don’t run aimlessly but straight for the finish line; I don’t shadow-box but try to make every punch count. 27I treat my body hard and make it my slave so that, after proclaiming the Good News to others, I myself will not 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 defense 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 plows 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 forever. 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.