Paul the Apostle
1 Corinthians 9:1-2
(1) Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Isn’t the church in Corinth the result of my ministry in the Lord? (2) Even if I’m not considered an apostle by some people, surely I am an apostle to you in Corinth! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
The Rights of Paul
1 Corinthians 9:3-11
(3) This is my defense to those in Corinth who sit in judgment against me. (4) Don’t we have the right to food and drink? (5) Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us on our travels, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Peter (Cephas)? (6) Or is it only Barnabas and I who do not have the right to not work for a living?
(7) No soldier serves at his own expense, no farmer plants a vineyard without eating of its fruit, and no shepherd watches over a flock without drinking some of the milk. (8) What I am telling you is not simply based on human authority, (9) because the law of Moses teaches us in Deuteronomy 25:4, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is God concerned about oxen? (10) He writes this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to work with the hope of sharing in the harvest. (11) If we have planted spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we receive a material benefit from you?
Paul Gives Up His Rights
1 Corinthians 9:12-18
(12) If others in Corinth have used this right to receive financial support from you, shouldn’t we have a much greater right? Nevertheless, we have decided not to use our right to receive support from you, because we will endure all things rather than hinder the gospel (good news) of Christ.
(13) Don’t you know that temple workers get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in the sacrifices that are offered on the altar? (14) In the same way, the Lord has taught that those who proclaim the gospel of God should receive their living from the gospel.
(15) But I haven’t used any of these rights. And I am not writing this letter in the hope of getting any support from you, because I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. (16) For I am compelled by God to proclaim the gospel, so I have no right to boast. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
(17) If I proclaim the gospel voluntarily, I have a reward, but if I proclaim the gospel involuntarily, then I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. (18) So then, what is my reward? This is my reward: That I can proclaim the gospel free of charge, without making full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel of Christ.
Paul Becomes All Things to All People
1 Corinthians 9:19-23
(19) Although I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I might win as many people to Jesus Christ as possible. (20) To the Jews, I became like a Jew, so that I might win Jews. To those under the law of Moses I became like one under the law (although I do not live under the law) so that I might win those under the law. (21) To the non-Jews outside of the law, I became as one outside the law (although I am not outside of God’s law, but under Christ’s law) so that I might win non-Jews. (22) To the weak, I became weak so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some of them. (23) I do all this for the sake of the gospel (good news), so that I will share in its blessings.
Live to Win the Race
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
(24) Don’t you know that there are many runners in a race, but only one runner wins the victor’s prize? So live your life (run) in such a way as to win the victor’s prize. (25) Every athlete who competes in the games goes through strict training so that they can win a perishable crown (wreath), but we run to win an everlasting crown from God.
(26) Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly. I do not fight like a boxer who simply punches the air. (27) No! I discipline (beat) my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached the good news (gospel) to others I will not disqualify myself from winning the prize.