1 Corinthians 9

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? Even if I am not an apostle to others, to you at least I am; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

This is my reply to my critics. Have I no right to claim food and drink? Have I no right to take a believing wife with me on my journey, as the rest of the apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Peter do? Are we the only ones, Barnabas and I, who have no right to give up manual labor? What soldier ever serves at his own expense? What farmer ever plants a vineyard and his flock and does not taste the milk? Am I saying this on human authority only, or does not the Law also say the same? Yea, in the Law of Moses it is written, Thou shalt not muzzle an ox while he is treading out the grain. 10 Is it the oxen that God is thinking about, or is it really said for our sakes? It was written for us; because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher in hope of getting a share of the crop. 11 If I have sown for you the seeds of spiritual good, is it a great thing if I reap from you temporal goods? 12 If others share this authority over you, do not I far more? Yet I have not availed myself of it, but am patiently enduring; so that I may not in any way hinder the progress of Christ’s gospel. 13 You know, do you not, that those who minister in the temple, and those who serve at the altar, get their portion of the sacrifices? 14 Even so the Lord ordained that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

15 But for my part, I have never availed myself of any of these rights. I do not say this to bring it about in my own case. I would rather die than let any one make void this boast of mine. 16 Proclaiming the gospel gives me no ground of boasting; for necessity is laid upon me; woe is me if I preach not the gospel. 17 For if I do this of my own accord, I have my pay; but if unwilling, I have at least discharged my stewardship. 18 What then is my wage? This, that I can make the gospel free where I carry it; and that I can refrain from using my rights as a preacher of the gospel.

19 Though free from all men, I make myself the slave of all, that I may win the more. 20 To the Jews I am become like a Jew, that I may win Jews; to those under the Law, like one under the Law, though I am not under the Law, myself; 21 to those outside the Law, as one outside the Law, to win those outside the Law (though I am not outside the law of God, but inside the law of Christ). 22 I am become weak to the weak, to win the weak. I am become all these things to all men that, by any and by all means, I may save some. 23 And I am doing it all for the gospel’s sake, that I may become a copartner in it.

24 Do you not know that in a foot-race, though all run, only one receives the prize? So run that you may win. 25 Every man who contends in the games continually trains himself by all manner of self-restraint. Now they do it to get a fading garland, but we, one that is unfading. 26 For my part, then, I run with no wavering to the goal. I box not as one beating the air, 27 but I bruise my body and keep it in subjection, lest having called others to the contest, I should myself be disqualified.

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