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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 I am not an apostle to others, yet at any rate I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.
3My defence to those who examine me is this: 4Have we not a right to eat and to drink? 5have we not a right to take round a sister as wife, as also the other apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 6Or I alone and Barnabas, have we not a right not to work? 7Who ever carries on war at his own charges? who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? or who herds a flock and does not eat of the milk of the flock? 8Do I speak these things as a man, or does not the law also say these things? 9For in the law of Moses it is written, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that is treading out corn. Is God occupied about the oxen, 10or does he say it altogether for our sakes? For for our sakes it has been written, that the plougher should plough in hope, and he that treads out corn, in hope of partaking of it. 11If we have sown to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12If others partake of this right over you, should not rather we? But we have not used this right, but we bear all things, that we may put no hindrance in the way of the glad tidings of the Christ. 13Do ye not know that they who labour at sacred things eat of the offerings offered in the temple; they that attend at the altar partake with the altar? 14So also the Lord has ordained to those that announce the glad tidings to live of the glad tidings.
15But I have used none of these things. Now I have not written these things that it should be thus in my case; for it were good for me rather to die than that any one should make vain my boast. 16For if I announce the glad tidings, I have nothing to boast of; for a necessity is laid upon me; for it is woe to me if I should not announce the glad tidings. 17For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with an administration. 18What is the reward then that I have? That in announcing the glad tidings I make the glad tidings costless to others, so as not to have made use, as belonging to me, of my right in announcing the glad tidings.
19For being free from all, I have made myself bondman to all, that I might gain the most possible. 20And I became to the Jews as a Jew, in order that I might gain the Jews: to those under law, as under law, not being myself under law, in order that I might gain those under law: 21to those without law, as without law, (not as without law to God, but as legitimately subject to Christ,) in order that I might gain those without law. 22I became to the weak, as weak, in order that I might gain the weak. To all I have become all things, in order that at all events I might save some. 23And I do all things for the sake of the glad tidings, that I may be fellow-partaker with them.
24Know ye not that they who run in the race-course run all, but one receives the prize? Thus run in order that ye may obtain. 25But every one that contends for a prize is temperate in all things: they then indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore thus run, as not uncertainly; so I combat, as not beating the air. 27But I buffet my body, and lead it captive, lest after having preached to others I should be myself rejected.
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Paul does not exercise his right to be paid
1And in relation to all these questions let that be your first thought. Do not think only of the freedom that your faith and knowledge give you. Remember that knowledge may make a man self-sufficient and self-important. It is love that builds. I for instance am free — I am an apostle. I have seen the Lord Jesus myself. 2-5At Corinth, at any rate, my apostleship is unquestioned, because I have there a very certain witness to, and evidence of, the authenticity of my credentials; you yourselves are my credentials. I am the founder of your faith, your church. I repeat then that I have all the rights of this position. 6I have the right to live on the gospel, yes, and to support a wife, if I so choose, on the gospel, to take her with me, as do the other apostles, and our Lord's brethren in the flesh, and Cephas also. 7-8The vinedresser, the shepherd, the soldier earn their living by what they do. We have the same right ourselves. 9“Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.” (Deut xxv. 4) These ideas are not my own — they are laid down in scripture. 10Moses' words have a spiritual meaning, they refer to us and our faith. Do you think that anything in that law merely refers to cattle, and has not some moral or spiritual significance? This text means the law of supply whereby the worker lives through his work and is glad and hopeful thereby, partakes in the blessing he bestows. 11And such rights have I, they are mine according to the scriptures — I have a right to be paid by you, and to exercise authority over you. 12Others already do this, but I have more right than anyone, since it is I who am the founder of your spiritual good fortunes, and that includes also material well-being. But I have never exercised this right, my own idea has been that the gospel of Christ should not bind any burden upon men, however small, that is to say, so far as I was concerned. 13And yet you know that the priests who serve the altars and sacrifices make a living out of it, 14and similarly the Lord expressly declared that those who teach the gospel should live by it. 15But you know that I do not exercise the right and never have.
The reason for his unwillingness to receive pay
And why not? Well, that is my affair! At any rate, I am not writing this now preparatory to claiming any compensation in the future. Far from it — I would rather anything than that my special reason for satisfaction and self-congratulation should be taken away. What is that? you ask. 16The gospel? Oh no, that does not affect me in a personal sense — I have to preach the gospel, woe unto me, if I preach it not. 17If I enjoy it, and do it willingly, I am well paid. If it is distressful to me, still I have my stewardship to fulfil, and must be faithful to it. 18But what is my special reward, what is the peculiar compensation which accrues to me out of the pains I take in spreading this teaching? Why, just the doing it for nothing, — preaching the gospel at no man's charges — that is my special privilege. In other words, the privilege and the right which I most relish and cling to most earnestly, is just this — to make no use of my rights and privileges!
What it means to be all things to all men
19And I declare I carry that principle through all that I do. I absolutely neglect my own point of view. 20Other people's opinions, other people's beliefs and creeds and traditions, other people's weaknesses — these all become my own. The freer I am myself, the more I seem to become the slave of others! And though this is past a joke, yet I do it willingly, because thereby I win people. At one time the Jewish tradition and the law are everything to me — that is because I am with Jews. 21And now they are nothing to me — because I am with Gentiles. Oh yes, the law is something to me, the divine law, Christ's laws I mean, but not the law of the Jews. 22But with the weak I become weak myself — all things to all men in fact, if only I can win a few. 23And why do I do all this? Why do I take everybody else's point of view except my own? For the sake of the Gospel, because I wish to have a share in it myself — on just the same principle as the athlete trains for a contest. 24He sacrifices everything to the one end, if he can only carry off those much coveted laurels. 25And so a man must sacrifice himself, his own prejudices and predilections, and self-esteem, if he is to gain that immortal chaplet. 26That is the secret of my life. I do not hit out at random, but I go to work in a scientific manner, like one who trains for a boxing match. My blows are well and cunningly directed. 27They are aimed at myself, my physical being, my physical ego; otherwise what guarantee is there that I shall be saved myself, even though I have preached to others.