The Rights of an Apostle
1 I am free. I am an apostle. I have seen the Lord Jesus and have led you to have faith in him. 2 Others may think that I am not an apostle, but you are proof that I am an apostle to you.
3 When people question me, I tell them 4 that Barnabas and I have the right to our food and drink. 5 We each have the right to marry one of the Lord's followers and to take her along with us, just as the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Peter do. 6 Are we the only ones who have to support ourselves by working at another job? 7 Do soldiers pay their own salaries? Don't people who raise grapes eat some of what they grow? Don't shepherds get milk from their own goats?
8-9 I am not saying this on my own authority. The Law of Moses tells us not to muzzle an ox when it is grinding grain. But was God concerned only about an ox? 10 No, he wasn't! He was talking about us. This was written in the Scriptures so that all who plow and all who grind the grain will look forward to sharing in the harvest.
11 When we told the message to you, it was like planting spiritual seed. So we have the right to accept material things as our harvest from you. 12 If others have the right to do this, we have an even greater right. But we haven't used this right of ours. We are willing to put up with anything to keep from causing trouble for the message about Christ.
13 Don't you know that people who work in the temple make their living from what is brought to the temple? Don't you know that a person who serves at the altar is given part of what is offered? 14 In the same way, the Lord wants everyone who preaches the good news to make a living from preaching this message.
15 But I have never used these privileges of mine, and I am not writing this because I want to start now. I would rather die than have someone rob me of the right to take pride in this. 16 I don't have any reason to brag about preaching the good news. Preaching is something God told me to do, and if I don't do it, I am doomed. 17 If I preach because I want to, I will be paid. But even if I don't want to, it is still something God has sent me to do. 18 What pay am I given? It is the chance to preach the good news free of charge and not to use the privileges that are mine because I am a preacher.
19 I am not anyone's slave. But I have become a slave to everyone, so I can win as many people as possible. 20 When I am with the Jews, I live like a Jew to win Jews. They are ruled by the Law of Moses, and I am not. But I live by the Law to win them. 21 And when I am with people who are not ruled by the Law, I forget about the Law to win them. Of course, I never really forget about the law of God. In fact, I am ruled by the law of Christ. 22 When I am with people whose faith is weak, I live as they do to win them. I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can. 23 I do all this for the good news, because I want to share in its blessings.
A Race and a Fight
24 You know that many runners enter a race, and only one of them wins the prize. So run to win! 25 Athletes work hard to win a crown that cannot last, but we do it for a crown that will last forever. 26 I don't run without a goal. And I don't box by beating my fists in the air. 27 I keep my body under control and make it my slave, so I won't lose out after telling the good news to others.
© Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®) © 2006 American Bible Society. All rights reserved.