1Am I not free? 2Am I not an apostle? 3Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? 4Are not you my workmanship in the Lord?
If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are 5the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
This is my defense to those who would examine me.
6Do we not have the right to eat and drink?
7Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and 8the brothers of the Lord and 9Cephas?
Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?
10Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? 11Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?
Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same?
For it is written in the Law of Moses, 12"You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain." Is it for oxen that God is concerned?
Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written 13for our sake, because 14the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.
15If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?
If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, 16we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything 17rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.
Do you not know that 18those 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 19those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
But 20I 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 21deprive me of my ground for boasting.
For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For 22necessity 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 still entrusted with 23a stewardship.
What then is my reward? That in my preaching 24I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
For 25though I am free from all, 26I have made myself a servant to all, that I might 27win more of them.
28To 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 29those outside the law I became 30as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but 31under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.
32To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. 33I have become all things to all people, that 34by all means I might save some.
I do it all for the sake of the gospel, 35that I may share with them in its blessings.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives 36the prize? So 37run that you may obtain it.
Every 38athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we 39an imperishable.
So I do not run aimlessly; I 40do not box as one 41beating the air.
But I discipline my body and 42keep it under control, lest after preaching to others 43I myself should be 44disqualified.