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Paul Gives Up His Rights as an Apostle
1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2If to others I am not an apostle, yet indeed I am to you, for you are my seal of apostleship in the Lord. 3My defense to those who examine me is this: 4Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5Do we not have the right to take along a sister as wife, like the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6Or do only I and Barnabas not have the right to refrain from working#Literally “not to work”? 7Who ever serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Who#Some manuscripts have “Or who” shepherds a flock and does not drink#Literally “eat” from the milk of the flock? 8I am not saying these things according to a human perspective. Or does the law not also say these things? 9For in the law of Moses it is written, “You must not muzzle an ox while it#*Here “while” is supplied as a component of the participle (“threshing”) which is understood as temporal is threshing.”#A quotation from Deut 25:4 It is not about oxen God is concerned, is it?#*The negative construction in Greek anticipates a negative answer here 10Or doubtless does he speak for our sake#Literally “for the sake of us”? For it is written for our sake#Literally “for the sake of us”, because the one who plows ought to plow in hope and the one who threshes ought to do so in hope of a share. 11If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too great a thing if we reap material things from you? 12If others share this right over you, do we not do so even more? Yet we have not made use of this right, but we endure all things, in order that we may not cause any hindrance to the gospel of Christ.
13Do you not know that those performing the holy services eat the things from the temple, and those attending to the altar have a share with the altar? 14In the same way also the Lord ordered those who proclaim the gospel to live from the gospel. 15But I have not made use of any of these rights. And I am not writing these things in order that it may be thus with me. For it would be better to me rather to die than for anyone to deprive me of my reason for boasting. 16For if I proclaim the gospel, it is not to me a reason for boasting, for necessity is imposed on me. For woe is to me if I do not proclaim the gospel. 17For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward, but if I do so unwillingly, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. 18What then is my reward? That when I#*Here “when” is supplied as a component of the participle (“proclaim the gospel”) which is understood as temporal proclaim the gospel, I may offer the gospel free of charge, in order not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
19For although I#*Here “although” is supplied as a component of the participle (“am”) which is understood as concessive am free from all people, I have enslaved myself to all, in order that I may gain more. 20I have become like a Jew to the Jews, in order that I may gain the Jews. To those under the law I became as under the law (although I#*Here “although” is supplied as a component of the participle (“am”) which is understood as concessive myself am not under the law) in order that I may gain those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became as outside the law (although I#*Here “although” is supplied as a component of the participle (“am”) which is understood as concessive am not outside the law of God, but subject to the law of Christ) in order that I may gain those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, in order that I may gain the weak. I have become all things to all people, in order that by all means I may save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, in order that I may become a participant with it.
24Do you not know that those who run in the stadium all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25And everyone who competes exercises self-control in all things. Thus those do so in order that they may receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. 26Therefore I run in this way, not as running aimlessly; I box in this way, not as beating the air. 27But I discipline my body and subjugate it, lest somehow after#*Here “after” is supplied as a component of the participle (“preaching”) which is understood as temporal preaching to others, I myself should become disqualified.
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.