1 Am I not free? Am I not an Apostle? Have I not seen Christ Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
2 And if I am not an Apostle to others, yet still I am to you. For you are the seal of my Apostleship in the Lord.
3 My defense with those who question me is this:
4 Do we not have the authority to eat and to drink?
5 Do we not have the authority to travel around with a woman who is a sister, just as do the other Apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
6 Or is it only myself and Barnabas who do not have the authority to act in this way?
7 Who has ever served as a soldier and paid his own stipend? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat from its produce? Who pastures a flock and does not drink from the milk of the flock?
8 Am I saying these things according to man? Or does the law not also say these things?
9 For it is written in the law of Moses: “You shall not bind the mouth of an ox, while it is treading out the grain.” Is God here concerned with the oxen?
10 Or is he saying this, indeed, for our sake? These things were written specifically for us, because he who plows, ought to plow in hope, and he who threshes, too, in hope of receiving the produce.
11 If we have sown spiritual things in you, is it important if we harvest from your worldly things?
12 If others are sharers in this authority over you, why are we not more entitled? And yet we have not used this authority. Instead, we bear all things, lest we give any hindrance to the Gospel of Christ.
13 Do you not know that those who work in the holy place eat the things that are for the holy place, and that those who serve at the altar also share with the altar?
14 So, too, has the Lord ordained that those who announce the Gospel should live by the Gospel.
15 Yet I have used none of these things. And I have not written so that these things may be done for me. For it is better for me to die, rather than to let anyone empty out my glory.
16 For if I preach the Gospel, it is not glory for me. For an obligation has been laid upon me. And woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel.
17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward. But if I do this reluctantly, a dispensation is granted to me.
18 And what, then, would be my reward? So, when preaching the Gospel, I should give the Gospel without taking, so that I may not misuse my authority in the Gospel.
19 For when I was a free man to all, I made myself the servant of all, so that I might gain all the more.
20 And so, to the Jews, I became like a Jew, so that I might gain the Jews.
21 To those who are under the law, I became as if I were under the law, (though I was not under the law) so that I might gain those who were under the law. To those who were without the law, I became as if I were without the law, (though I was not without the law of God, being in the law of Christ) so that I might gain those who were without the law.
22 To the weak, I became weak, so that I might gain the weak. To all, I became all, so that I might save all.
23 And I do everything for the sake of the Gospel, so that I may become its partner.
24 Do you not know that, of those who run in a race, all of them, certainly, are runners, but only one achieves the prize. Similarly, you must run, so that you may achieve.
25 And one who competes in a contest abstains from all things. And they do this, of course, so that they may achieve a corruptible crown. But we do this, so that we may achieve what is incorruptible.
26 And so I run, but not with uncertainty. And so I fight, but not by flailing in the air.
27 Instead, I chastise my body, so as to redirect it into servitude. Otherwise, I might preach to others, but become myself an outcast.