1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the product of my work in the Lord's service? 2 If I am not an apostle to other people, I certainly am one to you, for you yourselves, in your relation to the Lord, are the certificate of my apostleship. 3 My answer to those who want to investigate me is this: 4 Have we not a right to our food and drink? 5 Have we not a right to take a Christian wife about with us, like the rest of the apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I that have no right to give up working for a living? 7 What soldier ever pays his expenses out of his own pay? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat any of the grapes? Who tends a flock and does not get any of the milk? 8 Am I saying only what men say? Does not the Law say so too? 9 For in the Law of Moses it reads, "You shall not muzzle an ox that is treading out the grain." Is it about the oxen that God is concerned? 10 Is he not clearly speaking in our interests? Of course this law was written in our interests, because the plowman ought to plow, and the thresher to thresh, in the expectation of sharing in the crop. 11 If it was we who sowed the spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap material benefits from you? 12 If others enjoy such rights over you, have we not a still better claim? But, you say, we have never availed ourselves of this right. No, we will stand anything rather than put any hindrance in the way of the good news of the Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who do the work about the Temple get their living from the Temple, and those who attend to the altar divide the sacrifices with the altar? 14 In just that way the Lord directed that those who preach the good news should get their living from it.
15 But I have not availed myself of any of these rights. And I am not writing this now so that I may become an illustration of this; I had rather die than do that. No one shall deprive me of this boast of mine. 16 As far as preaching the good news is concerned, that is nothing for me to boast of, for I cannot help doing it. For I am ruined if I do not preach. 17 For if I do it of my own accord, I have my pay, but if I do it because I must, it is still a responsibility that I am charged with. 18 What pay then do I get? Why, that in my preaching I can offer the good news without cost, and so not take full advantage of my rights as a preacher.
19 Though I am free from anyone's control, I have made myself everyone's slave, so as to win over all the more. 20 To the Jews I have become like a Jew, to win Jews over; to men under the Law I have become like a man under the Law, though I am not myself under the Law, so as to win over those who are under the Law. 21 To those who have no law I have become like a man without any law??hough I am not without the law of God, but under the law of Christ??o as to win over those who are without any law. 22 To the overscrupulous I have become overscrupulous, so as to win the overscrupulous; I have become everything to everybody, so as by all means to save some of them. 23 And I do it all for the sake of the good news, so that I may share in its blessings along with the rest.
24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one wins the prize? That is the way you must run, so as to win. 25 Any man who enters an athletic contest goes into strict training, to win a wreath that will soon wither, but the one we compete for will never wither. 26 So that is the way I run, unswervingly. That is the way I fight, not punching the air. 27 But I beat and bruise my body and make it my slave, so that after I have called others to the contest I may not be disqualified myself.