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ESV — 1 Corinthians 9

Paul Surrenders His Rights

jAm I not free? kAm I not an apostle? lHave I not seen Jesus our Lord? mAre not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are nthe seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

This is my defense to those who would examine me. oDo we not have the right to eat and drink? pDo we not have the right to take along a believing wife,1 as do the other apostles and qthe brothers of the Lord and rCephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? sWho serves as a soldier at his own expense? tWho 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, u“You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written vfor our sake, because wthe plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 xIf we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

Nevertheless, ywe have not made use of this right, but we endure anything zrather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that athose 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? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that bthose who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

15 But cI 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 ddeprive me of my ground for boasting. 16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For enecessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 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 fa stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching gI may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

19 For hthough I am free from all, iI have made myself a servant to all, that I might jwin more of them. 20 kTo 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. 21 To lthose outside the law I became mas one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but nunder the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 oTo the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. pI have become all things to all people, that qby all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, rthat I may share with them in its blessings.

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives sthe prize? So trun that you may obtain it. 25 Every uathlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we van imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I wdo not box as one xbeating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and ykeep it under control,2 lest after preaching to others zI myself should be adisqualified.

Footnotes

[1] 9:5 Greek a sister as wife
[2] 9:27 Greek I pummel my body and make it a slave