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9
Paul’s Example as an Apostle
1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you, for you are the seal # Rv 5:1 of my apostleship in the Lord. 3My defense to those who examine me is this: 4Don’t we have the right to eat and drink? # 2Th 3:8-9 5Don’t we have the right to be accompanied by a Christian wife # Lit a sister as a wife like the other apostles, # Jd 17 the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas? # Jn 1:42 6Or do Barnabas # Ac 4:36 and I alone have no right to refrain from working? 7Who ever goes to war at his own expense? # Lk 3:14 Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Or who shepherds a flock and does not drink the milk from the flock? 8Am I saying this from a human perspective? Doesn’t the law also say the same thing? 9For it is written in the law of Moses, Do not muzzle an ox # Lk 13:15 while it treads out grain. # Dt 25:4 # Dt 25:4 Is God really concerned with oxen? 10Or isn’t He really saying it for us? Yes, this is written for us, # Rm 4:24 because he who plows ought to plow in hope, # Ac 23:6; 1Th 1:3 and he who threshes should do so in hope of sharing the crop. # 2Tm 2:6 11If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it too much if we reap material benefits from you? 12If others have this right to receive benefits from you, don’t we even more?
However, we have not made use of this right; instead we endure everything # Ac 20:33-35; 2Co 6:3-10; 11:7-12 so that we will not hinder the gospel of Christ. 13Don’t you know that those who perform the temple services eat the food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar # Lv 6:16,26; 7:6,31-32; Nm 5:9-10; 18:8-20,31; Dt 18:1 share in the offerings of the altar? 14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should earn their living by the gospel. # Mt 10:8-10; Lk 10:7
15But I have used none of these rights, and I have not written this to make it happen that way for me. For it would be better for me to die than for anyone to deprive me of my boast! 16For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason to boast, because an obligation is placed on me. And woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17For if I do this willingly, I have a reward, but if unwillingly, I am entrusted # Lk 16:11 with a stewardship. 18What then is my reward? To preach the gospel and offer it free of charge and not make full use of my authority in the gospel. # 2Co 11:7; 12:13
19Although I am a free man and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win # 1Pt 3:1 more people. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law — though I myself am not under the law # Other mss omit though I myself am not under law — to win those under the law. # Ac 16:3; 21:23-26 21To those who are without that law, # Rm 2:12,14; Gl 2:3; 3:2 like one without the law — not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law — to win those without the law. 22To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. # Rm 11:14; 1Co 7:16 23Now I do all this because of the gospel, so I may become a partner in its benefits. # Lit partner of it
24Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, # Jd 3 but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. # Col 2:18 25Now everyone who competes exercises self-control # Gl 5:23 in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown # 1Pt 5:4 that will fade away, # 1Pt 1:18 but we a crown that will never fade away. 26Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified. # Heb 6:8
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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.