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. Chapter 9.

The Rights of an Apostle

1 AM I NOT A FREE MAN? Am I not an apostle? Did I not see Jesus our Lord? Are not you my own handiwork, in the Lord? 2 If others do not accept me as an apostle, you at least are bound to do so, for you are yourselves the very seal of my apostolate, in the Lord.

3 To those who put me in the dock this is my answer: 4 Have I no right to eat and drink? 5 Have I no right to take a Christian wife about with me, like the rest of the apostles and the Lord's brothers, and Cephas? 6 Or are Barnabas and I alone bound to work for our living? 7 Did you ever hear of a man serving in the army at his own expense? or planting a vineyard without eating the fruit of it? or tending a flock without using its milk? 8 Do not suppose I rely on these human analogies; 9 [ Dt.25.4. ] in the Law of Moses we read, 'You shall not muzzle a threshing ox.' Do you suppose God's concern is with oxen? 10 Or is the reference clearly to ourselves? Of course it refers to us, in the sense that the ploughman should plough and the thresher thresh in the hope of getting some of the produce. 11 If we have sown a spiritual crop for you, is it too much to expect from you a material harvest? 12 If you allow others these rights, have not we a stronger claim?

But I have availed myself of no such right. On the contrary, I put up with all that comes my way rather than offer any hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 13 You know (do you not?) that those who perform the temple service eat the temple offerings, and those who wait upon the altar claim their share of the sacrifice. 14 In the same way the Lord gave instructions that those who preach the Gospel should earn their living by the Gospel. 15 But I have never taken advantage of any such right, nor do I intend to claim it in this letter. I had rather die! No one shall make my boast an empty boast. 16 Even if I preach the Gospel, I can claim no credit for it; I cannot help myself; it would be misery to me not to preach. 17 If I did it of my own choice, I should be earning my pay; but since I do it apart from my own choice, I am simply discharging a trust. [Or: If I do it willingly I am earning my pay; if I do it unwillingly I should still have a trust laid upon me.] 18 Then what is my pay? The satisfaction of preaching the Gospel without expense to anyone; in other words, of waiving the rights which my preaching gives me.

19 I am a free man and own no master; but I have made myself every man's servant, to win over as many as possible. 20 To Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; as they are subject to the Law of Moses, I put myself under that law to win them although I am not myself subject to it. 21 To win Gentiles, who are outside the Law, I made myself like one of them, although I am not in truth outside God's law, being under the law of Christ. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. Indeed, I have become everything in turn to men of every sort, so that in one way or another I may save some. 23 All this I do for the sake of the Gospel, to bear my part in proclaiming it.

24 You know (do you not?) that at the sports all the runners run the race, though only one wins the prize. Like them, run to win! 25 But every athlete goes into strict training. They do it to win a fading wreath; we, a wreath that never fades. 26 For my part, I run with a clear goal before me; I am like a boxer who does not beat the air; 27 I bruise my own body and make it know its master, for fear that after preaching to others I should find myself rejected.

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