1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 2 If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. 3 This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? 8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. 15 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. 16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.


It seems as though Paul changes subjects from chapter 8 and 9 and dives into a discussion about how he financially supports himself. However, Paul is going to use his means of support as an example of how to live as a servant of Christ. In other words, Paul is saying, “I have authority and freedom to be supported by the church financially, as other leaders in the church do. But even though I have that right, I choose to not allow money to get in the way of my chief duty of preaching the gospel to others.” Verse 12 illuminates this point. Paul is presenting his own pattern of renouncing rights as exemplary and he’s calling the Corinthian Christians to follow suit.


What would it mean for us to embrace Paul’s determination to do everything for the sake of the gospel? In what specific ways would your life be different?

Out of love his love for God and others, Paul is passionate about living in a way that won’t hinder the gospel. If a spiritually curious person was to peek closely into your life, would there be anything there that would hinder their journey to Christ? And in what ways would they be drawn closer to Christ?