1 Corinthians 9

Paul Is like the Other Apostles

9 I am a free man. I am an apostle. I have seen Jesus our Lord. You people are all an example of my work in the Lord. 2 If others do not accept me as an apostle, surely you do, because you are proof that I am an apostle in the Lord.

3 This is the answer I give people who want to judge me: 4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to bring a believing wife with us when we travel as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Peter? 6 Are Barnabas and I the only ones who must work to earn our living? 7 No soldier ever serves in the army and pays his own salary. No one ever plants a vineyard without eating some of the grapes. No person takes care of a flock without drinking some of the milk.

8 I do not say this by human authority; God’s law also says the same thing. 9 It is written in the law of Moses: “When an ox is working in the grain, do not cover its mouth to keep it from eating.”[a] When God said this, was he thinking only about oxen? No. 10 He was really talking about us. Yes, that Scripture was written for us, because it goes on to say: “The one who plows and the one who works in the grain should hope to get some of the grain for their work.” 11 Since we planted spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we should harvest material things? 12 If others have the right to get something from you, surely we have this right, too. But we do not use it. No, we put up with everything ourselves so that we will not keep anyone from believing the Good News of Christ. 13 Surely you know that those who work at the Temple get their food from the Temple, and those who serve at the altar get part of what is offered at the altar. 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who tell the Good News should get their living from this work.

15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this now to get anything from you. I would rather die than to have my reason for bragging taken away. 16 Telling the Good News does not give me any reason for bragging. Telling the Good News is my duty—something I must do. And how terrible it will be for me if I do not tell the Good News. 17 If I preach because it is my own choice, I have a reward. But if I preach and it is not my choice to do so, I am only doing the duty that was given to me. 18 So what reward do I get? This is my reward: that when I tell the Good News I can offer it freely. I do not use my full rights in my work of preaching the Good News.

19 I am free and belong to no one. But I make myself a slave to all people to win as many as I can. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew to win the Jews. I myself am not ruled by the law. But to those who are ruled by the law I became like a person who is ruled by the law. I did this to win those who are ruled by the law. 21 To those who are without the law I became like a person who is without the law. I did this to win those people who are without the law. (But really, I am not without God’s law—I am ruled by Christ’s law.) 22 To those who are weak, I became weak so I could win the weak. I have become all things to all people so I could save some of them in any way possible. 23 I do all this because of the Good News and so I can share in its blessings.

24 You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. So run to win! 25 All those who compete in the games use self-control so they can win a crown. That crown is an earthly thing that lasts only a short time, but our crown will never be destroyed. 26 So I do not run without a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something—not just the air. 27 I treat my body hard and make it my slave so that I myself will not be disqualified after I have preached to others.


  1. 9:9 “When an ox . . . eating.” Quotation from Deuteronomy 25:4.

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