Am I not a free man? Am I not an emissary of the Messiah? Haven't I seen Yeshua our Lord? And aren't you yourselves the result of my work for the Lord?
Even if to others I am not an emissary, at least I am to you; for you are living proof that I am the Lord's emissary.
That is my defense when people put me under examination.
Don't we have the right to be given food and drink?
Don't we have the right to take along with us a believing wife, as do the other emissaries, also the Lord's brothers and Kefa?
Or are Bar-Nabba and I the only ones required to go on working for our living?
Did you ever hear of a soldier paying his own expenses? or of a farmer planting a vineyard without eating its grapes? Who shepherds a flock without drinking some of the milk?
What I am saying is not based merely on human authority, because the Torah says the same thing -
for in the Torah of Moshe it is written, "You are not to put a muzzle on an ox when it is treading out the grain."i If God is concerned about cattle,
all the more does he say this for our sakes. Yes, it was written for us, meaning that he who plows and he who threshes should work expecting to get a share of the crop.
If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?
If others are sharing in this right to be supported by you, don't we have a greater claim to it? But we don't make use of this right. Rather, we put up with all kinds of things so as not to impede in any way the Good News about the Messiah.
Don't you know that those who work in the Temple get their food from the Temple, and those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrifices offered there?
In the same way, the Lord directed that those who proclaim the Good News should get their living from the Good News.
But I have not made use of any of these rights. Nor am I writing now to secure them for myself, for I would rather die than be deprived of my ground for boasting!
For I can't boast merely because I proclaim the Good News - this I do from inner compulsion: woe is me if I don't proclaim the Good News!
For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if I do it unwillingly, I still do it, simply because I've been entrusted with a job.
So then, what is my reward? Just this: that in proclaiming the Good News I can make it available free of charge, without making use of the rights to which it entitles me.
For although I am a free man, not bound to do anyone's bidding, I have made myself a slave to all in order to win as many people as possible.
That is, with Jews, what I did was put myself in the position of a Jew, in order to win Jews. With people in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah, I put myself in the position of someone under such legalism, in order to win those under this legalism, even though I myself am not in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah.
With those who live outside the framework of Torah, I put myself in the position of someone outside the Torah in order to win those outside the Torah - although I myself am not outside the framework of God's Torah but within the framework of Torah as upheld by the Messiah.
With the "weak" I became "weak," in order to win the "weak." With all kinds of people I have become all kinds of things, so that in all kinds of circumstances I might save at least some of them.
But I do it all because of the rewards promised by the Good News, so that I may share in them along with the others who come to trust.
Don't you know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one wins the prize? So then, run to win!
Now every athlete in training submits himself to strict discipline, and he does it just to win a laurel wreath that will soon wither away. But we do it to win a crown that will last forever.
Accordingly, I don't run aimlessly but straight for the finish line; I don't shadow-box but try to make every punch count.
I treat my body hard and make it my slave so that, after proclaiming the Good News to others, I myself will not be disqualified.