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9
The rights of an apostle
1I am free. I am an apostle. I have seen the Lord Jesus and have led you to have faith in him. 2Others may think that I am not an apostle, but you are proof that I am an apostle to you.
3When people question me, I tell them 4that Barnabas and I have the right to our food and drink. 5We each have the right to marry one of the Lord's followers and to take her along with us, just as the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Peter#9.5 Peter: See the note at 1.12. do. 6Are we the only ones who have to support ourselves by working at another job? 7Do soldiers pay their own salaries? Don't people who raise grapes eat some of what they grow? Don't shepherds get milk from their own goats?
8-9I am not saying this on my own authority. The Law of Moses tells us not to muzzle an ox when it is grinding grain. But was God concerned only about an ox?#Dt 25.4; 1 Ti 5.18. 10No, he wasn't! He was talking about us. This was written in the Scriptures so that all who plough and all who grind the grain will look forward to sharing in the harvest.
11When we told the message to you, it was like planting spiritual seed. So we have the right to accept material things as our harvest from you.#Ro 15.27. 12If others have the right to do this, we have an even greater right. But we haven't used this right of ours. We are willing to put up with anything to keep from causing trouble for the message about Christ.
13Don't you know that people who work in the temple make their living from what is brought to the temple? Don't you know that a person who serves at the altar is given part of what is offered?#Dt 18.1. 14In the same way, the Lord wants everyone who preaches the good news to make a living from preaching this message.#Mt 10.10; Lk 10.7.
15But I have never used these privileges of mine, and I am not writing this because I want to start now. I would rather die than let someone rob me of the right to take pride in this. 16I don't have any reason to boast about preaching the good news. Preaching is something God told me to do, and if I don't do it, I am doomed. 17If I preach because I want to, I will be paid. But even if I don't want to, it is still something God has sent me to do. 18What pay am I given? It is the chance to preach the good news free of charge and not to use the privileges that are mine because I am a preacher.
19I am not anyone's slave. But I have become a slave to everyone, so that I can win as many people as possible. 20When I am with the Jews, I live like a Jew to win Jews. They are ruled by the Law of Moses, and I am not. But I live by the Law to win them. 21And when I am with people who are not ruled by the Law, I forget about the Law to win them. Of course, I never really forget about the law of God. In fact, I am ruled by the law of Christ. 22When I am with people whose faith is weak, I live as they do to win them. I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can. 23I do all this for the good news, because I want to share in its blessings.
A race and a fight
24You know that many runners enter a race, and only one of them wins the prize. So run to win! 25Athletes work hard to win a crown that cannot last, but we do it for a crown that will last for ever. 26I don't run without a goal. And I don't box by beating my fists in the air. 27I keep my body under control and make it my slave, so I won't lose out after telling the good news to others.
9
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.