1I am a free man! I am an apostle! I have seen Jesus our Lord! You people are ˻an example of˼ my work in the Lord. 2Other people may not accept me as an apostle. But surely you accept me as an apostle. You people are proof that I am an apostle in the Lord. 3Some people want to judge me. So this is the answer I give them: 4We have the right to eat and drink, don’t we? 5We have the right to bring a believing wife with us when we travel, don’t we? The other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas all do this. 6And are Barnabas and I the only ones that must work to earn our living? 7No soldier ever serves in the army and pays his own salary. No person ever plants a garden of grapes without eating some of the grapes himself. No person takes care of a flock of sheep without drinking some of the milk himself. 8These things are not only what men think. God’s law says the same things. 9Yes, it is written in the law of Moses: “When a work animal is being used to separate grain, don’t cover its mouth ˻and stop it from eating the grain˼.” When God said this, was he thinking only about work animals? No. 10He was really talking about us. Yes, that Scripture was written for us. The person that plows and the person that separates the grain should hope ˻(expect)˼ to get some of the grain for their work. 11We planted spiritual seed among you. So we should be able to harvest ˻(get)˼ from you some things for this life. Surely that is not asking too much. 12Other men have this right to get things from you. So surely we have this right too. But we don’t use this right. No, we endure everything ourselves so that we will not stop ˻anyone from obeying˼ the Good News of Christ. 13Surely you know that people that work at the temple get their food from the temple. And people that serve at the altar get part of what is offered at the altar. 14It is the same with people that have the work of telling the Good News. The Lord has commanded that those people that tell the Good News should get their living from this work. 15But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not trying to get anything from you. That is not my purpose for writing this. I would rather die than to have my reason for boasting taken away. 16My work of telling the Good News is not my reason for boasting. Telling the Good News is my duty—something I must do. It will be bad for me if I don’t tell people the Good News. 17If I do this work of telling the Good News because it is my own choice, then I deserve a reward. But I have no choice. I must tell the Good News. I am only doing the duty that was given to me. 18So what do I get for doing this work? This is my reward: that when I tell people the Good News I can offer it to them for free. This way, I don’t use the right ˻to be paid˼ that I have in ˻this work of telling˼ the Good News. 19I am free. I belong to no other person. But I make myself a slave to all people. I do this to help save as many people as I can. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew. I did this to help save the Jews. I myself am not ruled by the law. But to people that are ruled by the law I became like a person who is ruled by the law. I did this to help save those people that are ruled by the law. 21To those that are without the law I became like a person that is without the law. I did this to help save those people that are without the law. (But really, I am not without God’s law—I am ruled by the law of Christ.) 22To the people that are weak, I became weak so that I could help save them. I have become all things to all people. I did this so that I could save people in any way possible. 23I do all these things because of the Good News. I do these things so that I can share in ˻the blessings of˼ the Good News. 24You know that in a race all the runners run. But only one runner gets the prize. So run like that. Run to win! 25All people that compete in the games use strict training. They do this so that they can win a crown ˻(reward)˼. That crown is an earthly thing that lasts only a short time. But our crown ˻(reward)˼ will continue forever. 26So I run like a person that has a goal. I fight like a boxer that is hitting something—not just the air. 27It is my own body that I hit. I make it my slave. I do this so that I myself will not be thrown out ˻by God˼ after I have told other people ˻about his blessings˼.
1 Corinthians 9