Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord?
If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
This is my defense to those who would examine me.
Do we not have the right to our food and drink?
Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?
Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?
Who 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?
Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law say the same?
For 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?
Does 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.
If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits?
If 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.
Do 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?
In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
But 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.
For 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!
For 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.
What 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.
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more.
To 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.
To 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.
To 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.
I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air;
but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Revised Standard Version - Holy Bible)