1 Corinthians 9
The Rights of an Apostle
9:1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 9:2 If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you, for you are the confirming sign1 of my apostleship in the Lord. 9:3 This is my defense to those who examine me. 9:4 Do we not have the right to financial support?2 9:5 Do we not have the right to the company of a believing wife, like the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? 9:6 Or do only Barnabas and I lack the right not to work? 9:7 Who ever serves in the army at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Who tends a flock and does not consume its milk? 9:8 Am I saying these things only on the basis of common sense,3 or does the law not say this as well? 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.”4 God is not concerned here about oxen, is he? 9:10 Or is he not surely speaking for our benefit? It was written for us, because the one plowing and threshing ought to work in hope of enjoying the harvest. 9:11 If we sowed spiritual blessings among you, is it too much to reap material things from you? 9:12 If others receive this right from you, are we not more deserving?
But we have not made use of this right. Instead we endure everything so that we may not be a hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 9:13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple5 eat food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar receive a part of the offerings? 9:14 In the same way the Lord commanded those who proclaim the gospel to receive their living by the gospel. 9:15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing these things so that something will be done for me.6 In fact, it would be better for me to die than – no one will deprive me of my reason for boasting!7 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason for boasting, because I am compelled to do this. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 9:17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward. But if I do it unwillingly, I am entrusted with a responsibility. 9:18 What then is my reward? That when I preach the gospel I may offer the gospel free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights in the gospel.
9:19 For since I am free from all I can make myself a slave to all, in order to gain even more people.8 9:20 To the Jews I became like a Jew to gain the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law)9 to gain those under the law. 9:21 To those free from the law I became like one free from the law (though I am not free from God’s law but under the law of Christ) to gain those free from the law. 9:22 To the weak I became weak in order to gain the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some.
9:23 I do all these things because of the gospel, so that I can be a participant in it.
9:24 Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. 9:25 Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.
9:26 So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. 9:27 Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.