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1 Am I not free? Am I not an Apostle? Have I not seen Christ Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
2 And if I am not an Apostle to others, yet still I am to you. For you are the seal of my Apostleship in the Lord.
3 My defense with those who question me is this:
4 Do we not have the authority to eat and to drink?
5 Do we not have the authority to travel around with a woman who is a sister, just as do the other Apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
6 Or is it only myself and Barnabas who do not have the authority to act in this way?
7 Who has ever served as a soldier and paid his own stipend? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat from its produce? Who pastures a flock and does not drink from the milk of the flock?
8 Am I saying these things according to man? Or does the law not also say these things?
9 For it is written in the law of Moses: "You shall not bind the mouth of an ox, while it is treading out the grain." Is God here concerned with the oxen?
10 Or is he saying this, indeed, for our sake? These things were written specifically for us, because he who plows, ought to plow in hope, and he who threshes, too, in hope of receiving the produce.
11 If we have sown spiritual things in you, is it important if we harvest from your worldly things?
12 If others are sharers in this authority over you, why are we not more entitled? And yet we have not used this authority. Instead, we bear all things, lest we give any hindrance to the Gospel of Christ.
13 Do you not know that those who work in the holy place eat the things that are for the holy place, and that those who serve at the altar also share with the altar?
14 So, too, has the Lord ordained that those who announce the Gospel should live by the Gospel.
15 Yet I have used none of these things. And I have not written so that these things may be done for me. For it is better for me to die, rather than to let anyone empty out my glory.
16 For if I preach the Gospel, it is not glory for me. For an obligation has been laid upon me. And woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel.
17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward. But if I do this reluctantly, a dispensation is granted to me.
18 And what, then, would be my reward? So, when preaching the Gospel, I should give the Gospel without taking, so that I may not misuse my authority in the Gospel.
19 For when I was a free man to all, I made myself the servant of all, so that I might gain all the more.
20 And so, to the Jews, I became like a Jew, so that I might gain the Jews.
21 To those who are under the law, I became as if I were under the law, (though I was not under the law) so that I might gain those who were under the law. To those who were without the law, I became as if I were without the law, (though I was not without the law of God, being in the law of Christ) so that I might gain those who were without the law.
22 To the weak, I became weak, so that I might gain the weak. To all, I became all, so that I might save all.
23 And I do everything for the sake of the Gospel, so that I may become its partner.
24 Do you not know that, of those who run in a race, all of them, certainly, are runners, but only one achieves the prize. Similarly, you must run, so that you may achieve.
25 And one who competes in a contest abstains from all things. And they do this, of course, so that they may achieve a corruptible crown. But we do this, so that we may achieve what is incorruptible.
26 And so I run, but not with uncertainty. And so I fight, but not by flailing in the air.
27 Instead, I chastise my body, so as to redirect it into servitude. Otherwise, I might preach to others, but become myself an outcast.
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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.