1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen our Lord Jesus? Aren't you yourselves my work achieved in union with the Lord?
2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet at least I am to you; for you are the seal that stamps me as an apostle in union with the Lord.
3 The defence that I make to my critics is this:
4 Haven't we a right to food and drink?
5 Haven't we a right to take a wife with us, if she is a Christian, as the other apostles and the Master's brothers and Cephas all do?
6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to give up working for our bread?
7 Does anyone ever serve as a soldier at his own expense? Does anyone plant a vineyard and not eat its produce? Or does anyone look after a herd and not drink the milk?
8 Am I, in all this, speaking only from the human standpoint? Does not the Law also say the same?
9 For in the Law of Moses it is said —
“You should not muzzle a bullock while it is treading out the grain.”
Is it the bullocks that God is thinking of?
10 Or is not is said entirely for our sakes? Surely it was written for our sakes, for the ploughman ought not to plough, nor the thrasher to thrash, without expecting a share of the grain.
11 Since we, then, sowed spiritual seed for you, is it too much that we should reap from you an earthly harvest?
12 If others share in this right over you, don't we even more? Still we did not avail ourselves of this right. No, we endure anything rather than impede the progress of the good news of the Christ.
13 Don't you know that those who do the work of the Temple live on what comes from the Temple, and that those who serve at the altar share the offerings with the altar?
14 So, too, the Master has appointed that those who tell the good news should get their living from the good news.
15 I, however, have not availed myself of any of these rights. I am not saying this to secure such an arrangement for myself; indeed, I would far rather die — Nobody will make my boast a vain one!
16 If I tell the good news, I have nothing to boast of, for I can but do so. Woe is me if I do not tell it!
17 If I do this work willingly, I have a reward; but, if unwillingly, I have been charged to perform a duty.
18 What is my reward, then? To present the good news free of all cost, and so make but a sparing use of the rights which it gives me.
19 Although I was entirely free, yet, to win as many converts as possible, I made myself everyone's slave.
20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews. To those who are subject to Law I became like a man subject to Law — though I was not myself subject to Law — to win those who are subject to Law.
21 To those who have no Law I became like a man who has no Law — not that I am free from God's Law; no, for I am under Christ's Law — to win those who have no law.
22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so as at all costs to save some.
23 And I do everything for the sake of the good news, so that with them I may share in its blessings.
24 Don't you know that on a racecourse, though all run, yet only one wins the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
25 Every athlete exercises self-restraint in everything; they, indeed, for a crown that fades, we for one that is unfading.
26 I, therefore, run with no uncertain aim. I box — not like a man hitting the air.
27 No, I bruise my body and make it my slave, so that I, who have called others to the contest, will not myself be rejected.