1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord?2Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.3This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me.4Don’t we have the right to food and drink?5Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?6Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?7Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk?8Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing?9For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned?10Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.11If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?12If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.13Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar?14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.15But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast.16For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!17If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.18What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.
Paul’s Use of His Freedom
19Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.20To 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), so as to win those under the law.21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.22To 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.23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
The Need for Self-Discipline
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.26Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.27No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for 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)