1 Corinthians 9:1-27

Paul's work as an apostle

1 I am a free man. I am an apostle. I have seen Jesus, our Lord. You yourselves are the result of the work that I do to serve the Lord. You know that is all true. 2 Other people may not accept me as a true apostle. But you surely must accept me. As a result of my work, you now belong to the Lord. That shows that I am truly his apostle.

3 Some people do not like what I do. This is my answer to what they say against me: 4 As apostles, Barnabas and I should receive food and drink from the people that we help. 5 If we have a Christian wife, we should take her with us as we travel. The other apostles do this. So do the Lord's brothers, and also Peter. We have the same authority that they have. 6 Barnabas and I seem to be the only leaders who must work at other jobs. We should not need to do that!

7 Think about these examples: A soldier never has to pay for his own food and clothes. A farmer who plants vines will eat some of the grapes. A person who takes care of sheep or goats will drink some of the milk from those animals. You know that is what always happens.

8 I am not just telling you human ideas. God's Law teaches the same thing. 9 God's Law that he gave to Moses says this: ‘Do not tie shut the mouth of your ox while it walks on your grain.’

9:9See Deuteronomy 25:4. Farmers used a bull to walk on the wheat that they had cut. They did that to remove the seeds for food. Moses' Law said that the farmer must let the bull eat some of the seeds.

But God's Law does not teach this only to help bulls. 10 No, God wanted to help us too. That is why he gave this rule to Moses for his people. Any farmer who works hard to grow food should get some of the food for himself. He ploughs his fields and he prepares the seeds because he hopes to eat some of the food. 11 Our spiritual work among you is like we have planted seeds. In return, you should give to us the food and clothes that we need to live. That is like the harvest that we should receive from our work. 12 You agree to help other people who teach God's message to you. So surely we should receive even more help from you!

But Barnabas and I have not used our authority to make you help us like that. Instead, we accept all these difficult things patiently. We want the good news about Christ to go everywhere. We do not want to do anything that might stop it.

13 Think about this: The people who work in the temple get their food from that place. The priests who offer sacrifices on the altar receive part of the animals for themselves. 14 In the same way, the people who tell God's good news to others should receive what they need to live. They should receive it from the people who hear the good news from them.

15 But I have not used my authority as an apostle to demand these things from you. And I am not writing this letter to demand that you help me now. No! It would be better for me to die than to change the way that I live. I can be proud of that and nobody should stop me. 16 I tell God's good news to people. But I have no reason to be proud because of that. It is something that I have to do. If I did not tell the good news, it would bring me great trouble.

17 If I were doing this work because I chose to do it, I would receive my pay. But I myself did not choose to do it. God has given me this work, so I have to do it. 18 So what kind of pay do I receive? It is this: I do not take any money from people when I tell them God's good news. I do not use all the authority that I could use when I tell God's good news to people.

19 Yes, I am a free man. I am not anybody's slave. But I choose to serve everybody like a slave. I do that so that I can help many more people to believe in Christ. 20 When I was among Jews, I lived like they do, because I wanted to bring Jews to Christ. The Law that God gave to Moses no longer has authority over me. But I chose to obey that Law when I was among Jewish people who obey it. I did that so that I could help them to believe in Christ. 21 With Gentile people, who do not have Moses' Law, I lived like they do. I continued to respect God's Law. Yes, I obey Christ's law. But I lived like a Gentile, so that I could help Gentiles to believe in Christ. 22 With weak people, I became like someone who is weak too. I did that so that I could bring weak people to believe in Christ. Whoever I am living among, I live like they do. I want to do everything that I can to save some of them.

23 I want to help people to accept God's good news. That is why I do all these things. I want to share in the good things that the good news gives to believers.

24 Think about how people run in a race. All the runners run, but only one of them receives the prize. You must run like that, to win the race. 25 People who run in races prepare their bodies well. They make themselves work very hard. They do this so that they will win a prize that will quickly become spoiled. But we work hard to receive a prize that will never become spoiled.

26 Because of that, I do not run with no purpose. I do not fight like someone who only hits the air. 27 I make my body do what I want it to do. I make it like my slave. I have told God's message to other people. I do not want to lose the prize myself. So I try very much to obey the rules of the race.