Am I not free? Am I not an Apostle? Can it be denied that I have seen Jesus, our Lord? Are not you yourselves my work in the Lord?
If to other men I am not an Apostle, yet at any rate I am one to you; for your very existence as a Christian Church is the seal of my Apostleship.
That is how I vindicate myself to those who criticize me.
Have we not a right to claim food and drink?
Have we not a right to take with us on our journeys a Christian sister as our wife, as the rest of the Apostles do--and the Lord's brothers and Peter?
Or again, is it only Barnabas and myself who are not at liberty to give up working with our hands?
What soldier ever serves at his own cost? Who plants a vineyard and yet does not eat any of the grapes? Or who tends a herd of cattle and yet does not taste their milk?
Am I making use of merely worldly illustrations? Does not the Law speak in the same tone?
For in the Law of Moses it is written, "Thou shalt not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain."
Is God simply thinking about the oxen? Or is it really in our interest that He speaks? Of course, it was written in our interest, because it is His will that when a plough-man ploughs, and a thresher threshes, it should be in the hope of sharing that which comes as the result.
If it is we who sowed the spiritual grain in you, is it a great thing that we should reap a temporal harvest from you?
If other teachers possess that right over you, do not we possess it much more? Yet we have not availed ourselves of the right, but we patiently endure all things rather than hinder in the least degree the progress of the Good News of the Christ.
Do you not know that those who perform the sacred rites have their food from the sacred place, and that those who serve at the altar all alike share with the altar?
In the same way the Lord also directed those who proclaim the Good News to maintain themselves by the Good News.
But I, for my part, have not used, and do not use, my full rights in any of these things. Nor do I now write with that object so far as I myself am concerned, for I would rather die than have anybody make this boast of mine an empty one.
If I go on preaching the Good News, that is nothing for me to boast of; for the necessity is imposed upon me; and alas for me, if I fail to preach it!
And if I preach willingly, I receive my wages; but if against my will, a stewardship has nevertheless been entrusted to me.
What are my wages then? The very fact that the Good News which I preach will cost my hearers nothing, so that I cannot be charged with abuse of my privileges as a Christian preacher.
Though free from all human control, I have made myself the slave of all in the hope of winning as many converts as possible.
To the Jews I have become like a Jew in order to win Jews; to men under the Law as if I were under the Law--although I am not--in order to win those who are under the Law;
to men without Law as if I were without Law--although I am not without Law in relation to God but am abiding in Christ's Law--in order to win those who are without Law.
To the weak I have become weak, so as to gain the weak. To all men I have become all things, in the hope that in every one of these ways I may save some.
And I do everything for the sake of the Good News, that I may share with my hearers in its benefits.
Do you not know that in the foot-race the runners all run, but that only one gets the prize? You must run like him, in order to win with certainty.
But every competitor in an athletic contest practices abstemiousness in all directions. They indeed do this for the sake of securing a perishable wreath, but we for the sake of securing one that will not perish.
That is how I run, not being in any doubt as to my goal. I am a boxer who does not inflict blows on the air,
but I hit hard and straight at my own body and lead it off into slavery, lest possibly, after I have been a herald to others, I should myself be rejected.