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The Rights of an Apostle

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 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.

This is my defense to those who would examine me.[a] Do we not have the right to our food and drink? Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife,[b][c] as the other apostles and the brethren[d] of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law say the same? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading 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 a share in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits? 12 If others share this rightful claim upon you, do not we still 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 this to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have any one deprive me of my ground for boasting.

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  1. 9.3 Paul set great store by the fact that he has earned his living and waived his right to support by the faithful. He used this as an authentication of his apostolate.
  2. 1 Corinthians 9:5 Greek woman, sister
  3. 9.5 wife: Greek, a “woman,” a “sister.” This could mean either a woman who is a Christian or a wife who is a Christian. There were pious women who ministered to the apostles (Lk 8.3). As many of the apostles must have been married, they may have been ministered to by their wives, though it is possible they had left their wives in answer to the Lord’s command to leave all (Lk 18.28-29).
  4. 9.5 brethren: See note on Mt 12.46.

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