The Rights of an Apostle
1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 2If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4Do we not have the right to our food and drink? 5Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife,a as the other apostles and the brethren of the Lord and Cephas? 6Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?
8Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law say the same? 9For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain." Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of a share in the crop. 11If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits? 12If others share this rightful claim upon you, do not we still more?
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
15But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have any one deprive me of my ground for boasting. 16For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18What then is my reward? Just this: that in my preaching I may make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the gospel.
19For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law-though not being myself under the law-that I might win those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law-not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ-that I might win those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; 27but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.