1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord? Aren’t you the result of my work for the Lord?2Others may not think of me as an apostle. But I am certainly one to you! You are the proof that I am the Lord’s apostle.3That is what I say to stand up for myself when people judge me.4Don’t we have the right to eat and drink?5Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife with us when we travel? The other apostles do. The Lord’s brothers do. Peter does.6Or are Barnabas and I the only ones who must do other work for a living? Are we the only ones who can’t do only the work of apostles all the time?7Who serves as a soldier but doesn’t get paid? Who plants a vineyard but doesn’t eat any of its grapes? Who takes care of a flock but doesn’t drink any of the milk?8Do I say this only on human authority? The Law says the same thing.9Here is what is written in the Law of Moses. ‘Do not stop an ox from eating while it helps separate the corn from the straw.’ Is it oxen that God is concerned about? (De 25:4)10Doesn’t he say that for us? Yes, it was written for us. Whoever ploughs and separates the corn hopes to share the harvest. And it is right for them to hope for this.11We have planted spiritual seed among you. Is it too much to ask that we receive from you some things we need?12Others have the right to receive help from you. Don’t we have even more right to do so? But we didn’t use that right. No, we have put up with everything. We didn’t want to keep the good news of Christ from spreading.13People who serve in the temple get their food from the temple. Don’t you know this? People who serve at the altar eat from what is offered on the altar. Don’t you know this?14So those who preach the good news should also receive their living from their work. That is what the Lord has commanded.15But I haven’t used any of those rights. And I’m not writing because I hope you will do things like that for me. I would rather die than allow anyone to take away my pride in my work.16But when I preach the good news, I can’t boast. I have to preach it. How terrible it will be for me if I do not preach the good news!17If I preach because I want to, I get a reward. If I preach because I have to, I’m only doing my duty.18Then what reward do I get? Here is what it is. I am able to preach the good news free of charge. And I can do this without using all my rights as a person who preaches the good news.
Paul uses his freedom to share the good news
19I am free and don’t belong to anyone. But I have made myself a slave to everyone. I do it to win as many as I can to Christ.20To the Jews I became like a Jew. That was to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one who was under the law. I did this even though I myself am not under the law. That was to win those under the law.21To those who don’t have the law I became like one who doesn’t have the law. I did this even though I am not free from God’s law. I am under Christ’s law. Now I can win those who don’t have the law.22To those who are weak I became weak. That was to win the weak. I have become all things to all people. I have done this so that in all possible ways I might save some.23I do all this because of the good news. And I want to share in its blessings.
Training to win the prize
24In a race all the runners run. But only one gets the prize. You know that, don’t you? So run in a way that will get you the prize.25All who take part in the games train hard. They do it to get a crown that will not last. But we do it to get a crown that will last for ever.26So I do not run like someone who doesn’t run towards the finish line. I do not fight like a boxer who hits nothing but air.27No, I train my body and bring it under control. Then after I have preached to others, I myself will not break the rules. If I did break them, I would fail to win the prize.
1 Corinthians 9
English Standard Version
Paul Surrenders His Rights
1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? (Ac 9:3; Ac 9:17; Ac 14:14; Ac 18:9; Ac 22:14; Ac 22:18; Ac 23:11; 1Co 3:6; 1Co 9:19; 1Co 15:8; 2Co 10:7; 2Co 12:12; 1Th 2:6; Re 2:2)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. (2Co 3:2)3This is my defense to those who would examine me.4Do we not have the right to eat and drink? (1Co 9:14; 1Th 2:6; 1Th 2:9; 2Th 3:8)5Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? (Mt 8:14; Mt 12:46; Joh 1:42; 1Co 7:7)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? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? (De 20:6; Pr 27:18; So 8:12; 1Co 3:6; 2Co 10:4; 1Ti 1:18; 2Ti 2:3)8Do I say these things 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 treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? (De 25:4; 1Ti 5:18)10Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. (Ro 4:24; 2Ti 2:6)11If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? (Ro 15:27; Ga 6:6)12If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even 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. (Ac 20:33; 1Co 9:15; 1Co 9:18; 2Co 6:3; 2Co 11:12)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? (Le 6:16; Le 6:26; Le 7:6; Nu 5:9; Nu 18:8; De 18:1)14In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. (Mt 10:10; 1Co 9:4)15But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. (Ac 18:3; 2Co 11:10)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! (Ac 4:20; Ac 9:6; Ro 1:14)17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. (1Co 4:1; Ga 2:7; Php 1:16)18What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. (2Co 11:7; 2Co 12:13)19For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. (Mt 18:15; 1Co 9:1; 1Co 10:29; Ga 5:13; 1Pe 3:1)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. (Ac 16:3; Ac 21:23)21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. (Ro 2:12; Ro 2:14; 1Co 7:22; Ga 2:3; Ga 3:2)22To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (Ro 11:14; 1Co 7:16; 1Co 10:33; 2Co 11:29)23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1Co 10:24)24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. (Ga 2:2; Ga 5:7; Php 2:16; Php 3:14; Col 2:18; 2Ti 4:7; Heb 12:1)25Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (1Ti 6:12; 2Ti 2:5; 2Ti 4:7; Jas 1:12; Jud 1:3)26So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. (1Co 14:9; Heb 12:4)27But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (So 1:6; Jer 6:30; Ro 1:28; Ro 6:19; Heb 6:8)