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 for the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to other people, I certainly am one to you, for you yourselves, by virtue of your union with the Lord, are the proof of my apostleship. 3 My vindication of myself to those who are investigating me is this: 4 It cannot be that we have no right to our food and drink, can it? 5 It cannot be that we have no right to take a Christian wife about with us, can it, as well as the rest of the apostles and the Lord's brothers, and Cephas? 6 Or is it Barnabas and I alone who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7 What soldier ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat any of its grapes? Who shepherds a flock and does not drink any of the milk the flock produces? 8 I am not saying this only by way of human illustrations, am I? Does not the law say so too? 9 For in the law of Moses it is written, "You must not muzzle an ox that is treading out your grain." Is it that God is concerned about oxen only? 10 Is He not really speaking on our behalf? Yes, indeed, this law was written on our behalf, because the plowman ought to plow and the thresher ought to thresh, in the hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown the spiritual seed for you, is it too great for us to reap a material support from you? 12 If others share this right with you, have we not a stronger claim? Yet, we have never used this right; no, we keep on bearing everything, to keep from hindering the progress of the good news of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who do the work about the temple get their living from the temple, and those who constantly attend on the altar share its offerings? 14 Just so the Lord has issued orders that those who preach the good news shall get their living out of it.
15 But I myself have never used any of these rights. And I am not writing this just to make it so in my case, for I had rather die than do that. No one shall rob me of this ground of boasting. 16 For if I do preach the good news, I have no ground for boasting of it, for I cannot help doing it. Yes, indeed, I am accursed if I do not preach the good news. 17 For if I do it of my own accord, I get my pay; but if I am unwilling to do it, I still am entrusted with trusteeship. 18 Then what is the pay that I am getting? To be able to preach the good news without expense to anybody, and so never to make full use of my rights in preaching the good news.
19 Yes, indeed, though I am free from any human power, I have made myself a slave to everybody, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I have become like a Jew for the winning of Jews; to men under the law, like one under the law, though I am not under the law myself, to win the men under the law; 21 to men who have no written law, like one without any law, though I am not without God's law but specially under Christ's law, to win the men who have no written law. 22 To the overscrupulous I have become overscrupulous, to win the overscrupulous; yes, I have become everything to everybody, in order by all means to save some of them. 23 And I do it all for the sake of the good news, so as to share with others in its blessings.
24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all run, but only one can get the prize? You must run in such a way that you can get the prize. 25 Any man who enters an athletic contest practices rigid self-control in training, only to win a wreath that withers, but we are in to win a wreath that never withers. 26 So that is the way I run, with no uncertainty as to winning. That is the way I box, not like one that punches the air. 27 But I keep on beating and bruising my body and making it my slave, so that I, after I have summoned others to the race, may not myself become unfit to run.