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1 Corinthians 9

The Rights of an Apostle
(Deuteronomy 18:1–8)

1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you yourselves not my workmanship in the Lord? 2 Even if I am not an apostle to others, surely I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

3 This is my defense to those who scrutinize me: 4 Have we no right to food and to drink? 5 Have we no right to take along a believing wife, a as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? b  6 Or are Barnabas and I the only apostles who must work for a living? c 

7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Who tends a flock and does not drink of its milk?

8 Do I say this from a human perspective? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses:“Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” d Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Isn’t He actually speaking on our behalf? Indeed, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they should also expect to share in the harvest.

11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much for us to reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right to your support, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not exercise this right. Instead, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

13 Do you not know that those who work in the temple eat of its food, and those who serve at the altar partake of its offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord has prescribed that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. 15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this to suggest that something be done for me. Indeed, I would rather die than let anyone nullify my boast.

16 Yet when I preach the gospel, I have no reason to boast, because I am obligated to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If my preaching is voluntary, I have a reward. But if it is not voluntary, I am still entrusted with a responsibility. 18 What then is my reward? That in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not use up my rights in preaching it.

Paul the Servant to All

19 Though I am free of obligation to anyone, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), to win those under the law. 21 To those without the law I became like one without the law (though I am not outside the law of God but am under the law of Christ), to win those without the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

Run Your Race to Win

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable. 26 Therefore I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight like I am beating the air. 27 No, I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

 

Footnotes:

5 a Literally take along a sister—a wife—
5 b That is, Peter
6 c Literally Or is it only Barnabas and I who do not have authority not to work?
9 d Deuteronomy 25:4

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