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1 Corinthians 9

Paul talks about himself as an example

1 You know that I am a free man. You know also that God has sent me to be a special worker and teacher on his behalf. You know that I have seen Jesus, our Lord. He chose me to work on his behalf. And you are the result of that work. You know that. 2 Other people may not accept me as a special worker whom the Lord has sent to them. But I am sure that you accept me like that. As a result of my work, you have become united with the Lord. And that fact shows that the Lord really sent me.

3 When people say bad things about me, this is my answer to them: 4 It is right that people give food and drink to me for my work. 5 It is right for each of us special workers to have a Christian wife. And it is right if we take our wives with us. We can take them with us to all the places where we go. The other men whom the Lord has sent take their wives with them. So do the Lord's brothers and Peter. 6 Barnabas and I seem to be the only ones who must work with our hands. 7 Think about these examples, which are certainly true. A soldier never has to pay for his own food and clothes. A farmer will eat some of the fruit from the bushes that he has planted. A person who works with cows or sheep or goats will drink some of the milk from those animals.

8 I am not only saying what a man would say. God's Law says the same thing. 9 God's Law that Moses wrote says this: ‘Your ox works for you. It walks on your plants so that the seeds come out. Do not tie its mouth shut while it works. It is right for the ox to eat some of the seeds itself.’

God is not telling us only about oxen that work. 10 No, certainly he is speaking about us. God told Moses that he should write these words down. That was because God wanted to help us. A man ploughs the fields so that he can plant seeds. He is like us. The man who threshes the plants from the fields is like us too. Both of them hope to enjoy some of the food that has grown in the fields. 11 We have planted spiritual things in you. So, you can give to us the food and clothes that we need. That is not wrong. And that should not be too much for you to do.

9:10To thresh means to hit wheat (or other plants) on the ground to get the seeds out.

12 Other people think that they should receive things like this from you. So, it is even more right for us to think like that. But we have not asked you to give anything to us. We do not want anyone to stop listening to the good news about Christ because of us. Instead, we would rather have any kind of trouble. So, we chose not to demand anything from you. 13 You know about the people who work in God's Great House. They get their food from that place. The same thing is true about the people who work at the altar in God's house. They burn the gifts that other people bring to God. God's rules say that they may have part of those gifts for themselves. 14 In the same way, the Lord has spoken about people who tell his good news. Those people need certain things so that they can live. Those people should receive those things as a result of their work. As a result of the good news, they should receive what they themselves need.

15 So, as a result of my work, I should receive everything that I need. That would be right. But I have not asked for anything. And I do not demand anything from you now, while I write to you. I would die, rather than demand anything for myself. This is the true reason that I can boast. And I do not want anyone to take it away. 16 I tell the good news to people. But I have no reason to boast because of that. No, because God has told me that I must tell it. If I did not tell the good news, I would be very sad. I would not be obeying God.

17 I was not the person who decided to tell the good news to people. If I myself had decided to do it, then I could demand money for this work. But it was God who decided. He has given a duty to me to tell the good news. 18 I do get something as a result of my work, but it is not money. Instead, it is this. It makes me very happy that I can tell the good news to people without any cost to them. It would be right if they did pay me for my work. But I do not ask them to pay, and that makes me very happy.

19 I am a free man. I am not anybody's slave. But I have made myself everybody's slave because I want to help as many people as possible. I want to bring them to Christ. 20 With Jews, I became like a Jew, because I wanted to bring Jews to Christ. The rules that God gave to Moses do not really have authority over me. But the Jews obey those rules. So, I chose to obey Moses' rules too. I became like the Jews, because I really wanted them to know Christ. 21 With people who are without Moses' rules, I became like someone without those rules too. But this does not mean that I do not obey God's rules. No, I let Christ rule me. I became like the people without Moses' rules because I really wanted them to know Christ. 22 With weak people, I became like someone who is weak too. I became weak like them because I really wanted them to know Christ. I have become all things to all people so that I could, by all possible ways, save some of them. 23 I do all these things because of the good news about Christ. I want other people, together with me, to enjoy the good things that the good news promises.

24 You should know that, in a race, all the runners run. But only one of them wins the race, and he receives the reward. You must run like that, to win the reward. 25 All people who do athletics make their own bodies practise. They want to make their bodies do what they want them to do. So they rule themselves in all things. They do this so that they will win a reward. But that reward continues for a short time only. But we rule ourselves in all things so that we will win God's reward. And that reward continues always. 26 So, I run in a straight line to the end of the race. Also, I fight like someone who hits well. I do not hit the air. 27 I rule my own body strongly and I make it my slave. I have taught other people about how to run this race. And I myself also want to win the reward from God. I do not want God to say to me: ‘You yourself do not do the things that you teach. So, I am removing you from the race.’

9:25A reward is a gift that a person receives. He receives it as a result of what he has done.