1 Corinthians 9:19-27
New American Bible (Revised Edition)
All Things to All. 19 [a]Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.(A) 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win over those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became like one outside the law—though I am not outside God’s law but within the law of Christ—to win over those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.(B) 23 All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.
24 [b]Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win.(C) 25 Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.(D) 26 Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. 27 No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.[c]Read full chapter
- 9:19–23 In a rhetorically balanced series of statements Paul expands and generalizes the picture of his behavior and explores the paradox of apostolic freedom. It is not essentially freedom from restraint but freedom for service—a possibility of constructive activity.
- 9:24–27 A series of miniparables from sports, appealing to readers familiar with Greek gymnasia and the nearby Isthmian games.
- 9:27 For fear that…I myself should be disqualified: a final paradoxical turn to the argument: what appears at first a free, spontaneous renunciation of rights (1 Cor 9:12–18) seems subsequently to be required for fulfillment of Paul’s stewardship (to preach effectively he must reach his hearers wherever they are, 1 Cor 9:19–22), and finally is seen to be necessary for his own salvation (1 Cor 9:23–27). Mention of the possibility of disqualification provides a transition to 1 Cor 10.