1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the work I have accomplished in the Lord? 2 To other people I may be no apostle, but to you I am, for you are the seal set upon my apostleship in the Lord. 3 Here is my reply to my inquisitors. 4 Have we no right to eat and drink at the expense of the churches? 5 Have we no right to travel with a Christian wife, like the rest of the apostles, like the brothers of the Lord, like Cephas himself? 6 What! are we the only ones, myself and Barnabas, who are denied the right of abstaining from work for our living? 7 Does a soldier provide his own supplies? Does a man plant a vineyard without eating its produce? Does a shepherd get no drink from the milk of the flock? 8 Human arguments, you say? But does not Scripture urge the very same? 9 It is written in the law of Moses, You must not muzzle an ox when he is treading the grain. Is God thinking here about cattle? 10 Or is he speaking purely for our sakes? Assuredly for our sakes. This word was written for us, because the ploughman needs to plough in hope, and the thresher to thresh in the hope of getting a share in the crop. 11 If we sowed you the seeds of spiritual good, is it a great matter if we reap your worldly goods? 12 If others share this right over you, why not we all the more? We did not avail ourselves of it, you say? No, we do not mind any privations if we can only avoid putting any obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that as men who perform temple-rites get their food from the temple, and as attendants at the altar get their share of the sacrifices, 14 so the Lord's instructions were that those who proclaim the gospel are to get their living by the gospel?
15 Only, I have not availed myself of any of these rights, and I am not writing in order to secure any such provision for myself. I would die sooner than let anyone deprive me of this, my source of pride. 16 What I am proud of is not the mere preaching of the gospel; that I am constrained to do. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 I get a reward if I do it of my own accord, whereas to do it otherwise is no more than for a steward to discharge his trust. 18 And my reward? This, that I can preach the gospel free of charge, that I can refrain from insisting on all my rights as a preacher of the gospel.
19 Why, free as I am from all, I have made myself the slave of all, to win over as many as I could. 20 To Jews I have become like a Jew, to win over Jews; to those under the Law I have become as one of themselves ??though I am not under the Law myself ??to win over those under the Law; 21 to those outside the Law I have become like one of themselves ??though I am under Christ's law, not outside God's Law ??to win over those outside the Law; 22 to the weak I have become as weak myself, to win over the weak. To all men I have become all things, to save some by all and every means. 23 And I do it all for the sake of the gospel, to secure my own share in it.
24 Do you not know that in a race, though all run, only one man gains the prize? Run so as to win the prize. 25 Every athlete practises self-restraint all round; but while they do it to win a fading wreath, we do it for an unfading. 26 Well, I run without swerving; I do not plant my blows upon the empty air ??27 no, I maul and master my body, in case, after preaching to other people, I am disqualified myself.