1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not YOU my work in [the] Lord?2If I am not an apostle to others, I most certainly am to YOU, for YOU are the seal confirming my apostleship in relation to [the] Lord.
3My defense to those who examine me is as follows:4We have authority to eat and drink, do we not?5We have authority to lead about a sister as a wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Ce′phas, do we not?6Or is it only Bar′na‧bas and I that do not have authority to refrain from [secular] work?7Who is it that ever serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who shepherds a flock and does not eat some of the milk of the flock?
8Am I speaking these things by human standards? Or does not the Law also say these things?9For in the law of Moses it is written: “You must not muzzle a bull when it is threshing out the grain.” Is it bulls God is caring for?10Or is it altogether for our sakes he says it? Really for our sakes it was written, because the man who plows ought to plow in hope and the man who threshes ought to do so in hope of being a partaker.
11If we have sown spiritual things to YOU, is it something great if we shall reap things for the flesh from YOU?12If other men partake of this authority over YOU, do we not much more so? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this authority, but we are bearing all things, in order that we might not offer any hindrance to the good news about the Christ.13Do YOU not know that the men performing sacred duties eat the things of the temple, and those constantly attending at the altar have a portion for themselves with the altar?14In this way, too, the Lord ordained for those proclaiming the good news to live by means of the good news.
15But I have not made use of a single one of these [provisions]. Indeed, I have not written these things that it should become so in my case, for it would be finer for me to die than—no man is going to make my reason for boasting void!16If, now, I am declaring the good news, it is no reason for me to boast, for necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news!17If I perform this willingly, I have a reward; but if I do it against my will, all the same I have a stewardship entrusted to me.18What, then, is my reward? That while declaring the good news I may furnish the good news without cost, to the end that I may not abuse my authority in the good news.
19For, though I am free from all persons, I have made myself the slave to all, that I may gain the most persons.20And so to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to those under law I became as under law, though I myself am not under law, that I might gain those under law.21To those without law I became as without law, although I am not without law toward God but under law toward Christ, that I might gain those without law.22To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to people of all sorts, that I might by all means save some.23But I do all things for the sake of the good news, that I may become a sharer of it with [others].
24Do YOU not know that the runners in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that YOU may attain it.25Moreover, every man taking part in a contest exercises self‐control in all things. Now they, of course, do it that they may get a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible one.26Therefore, the way I am running is not uncertainly; the way I am directing my blows is so as not to be striking the air;27but I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.