1 Corinthians, CHAPTER 9
Paul’s Rights as an Apostle.
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
Although I may not be an apostle for others, certainly I am for you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
My defense against those who would pass judgment on me is this.
Do we not have the right to eat and drink?
Do we not have the right to take along a Christian wife, as do the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
Or is it only myself and Barnabas who do not have the right not to work?
Who ever serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating its produce? Or who shepherds a flock without using some of the milk from the flock?
Am I saying this on human authority, or does not the law also speak of these things?
It is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is God concerned about oxen,
or is he not really speaking for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope, and the thresher in hope of receiving a share.
If we have sown spiritual seed for you, is it a great thing that we reap a material harvest from you?
If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we still more?
Reason for Not Using His Rights.
Yet we have not used this right. On the contrary, we endure everything so as not to place an obstacle to the gospel of Christ.
Do you not know that those who perform the temple services eat [what] belongs to the temple, and those who minister at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings?
In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel.
I have not used any of these rights, however, nor do I write this that it be done so in my case. I would rather die. Certainly no one is going to nullify my boast.
If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
All Things to All.
Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.
To the Jews I became like a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law―though I myself am not under the law―to win over those under the law.
To those outside the law I became like one outside the law―though I am not outside God’s law but within the law of Christ―to win over those outside the law.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.
Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win.
Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.
Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.
No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.