Paul Surrenders His Rights
Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet indeed I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a wife who is a sister, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who must work for a living? Who ever serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink from the milk of the flock?
Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say these things also? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it threshes.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say this altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, for it is written, that he that plows should plow in hope, and he that threshes, in hope should partake of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others partake of this right over you, do not we even more?
Nevertheless we did not use this right, but bear all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat from the temple, and those who serve at the altar have a share in the altar? 14 Thus also the Lord commanded those who proclaim the gospel to live from the gospel.
15 But I used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should become thus for me; for it is better for me rather to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. 16 For if I preach the gospel, there is nothing for me to boast about, for necessity is pressed upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if unwillingly, I have been entrusted with a commission. 18 What then is my reward? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ free of charge, so as not to exploit my rights in the gospel.
Serving All Men
19 For being free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, in order that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, in order that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, in order that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those outside the law, as one outside the law (not being outside the law toward God, but subject to the law toward Christ), in order that I might win those outside the law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, in order that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the sake of the gospel, in order that I may become a partaker of it with you.
Striving for a Crown
24 Do you not know that those running in a stadium all run, but only one receives the prize? So run, in order that you may win. 25 And everyone who competes exercises self-control in all things. Now they compete in order that they may receive a perishable crown, but we compete for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not as without a goal, thus I box: not as one beating the air. 27 But I treat my body roughly, and I bring it into subjection, lest, having preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.