1 Corinthians 9-11 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Rights of an Apostle
9 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[a] 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 that 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.
Don’t Worship Idols
10 Friends, I want to remind you that all of our ancestors walked under the cloud and went through the sea. 2 This was like being baptized and becoming followers of Moses. 3 All of them also ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink, which flowed from the spiritual rock that followed them. That rock was Christ. 5 But most of them did not please God. So they died, and their bodies were scattered all over the desert.
6 What happened to them is a warning to keep us from wanting to do the same evil things. 7 They worshiped idols, just as the Scriptures say, “The people sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up to dance around.” So don’t worship idols. 8 Some of those people did shameful things, and in a single day about twenty-three thousand of them died. Don’t do shameful things as they did. 9 And don’t try to test Christ,[b] as some of them did and were later bitten by poisonous snakes. 10 Don’t even grumble, as some of them did and were killed by the destroying angel. 11 These things happened to them as a warning to us. All this was written in the Scriptures to teach us who live in these last days.
12 Even if you think you can stand up to temptation, be careful not to fall. 13 You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to escape from your temptations.
14 My friends, you must keep away from idols. 15 I am speaking to you as people who have enough sense to know what I am talking about. 16 When we drink from the cup that we ask God to bless, isn’t that sharing in the blood of Christ? When we eat the bread that we break, isn’t that sharing in the body of Christ? 17 By sharing in the same loaf of bread, we become one body, even though there are many of us.
18 Aren’t the people of Israel sharing in the worship when they gather around the altar and eat the sacrifices offered there? 19 Am I saying that either the idols or the food sacrificed to them is anything at all? 20 No, I am not! That food is really sacrificed to demons and not to God. I don’t want you to have anything to do with demons. 21 You cannot drink from the cup of demons and still drink from the Lord’s cup. You cannot eat at the table of demons and still eat at the Lord’s table. 22 We would make the Lord jealous if we did that. And we are not stronger than the Lord.
Always Honor God
23 Some of you say, “We can do whatever we want to!” But I tell you that not everything may be good or helpful. 24 We should think about others and not about ourselves. 25 However, when you buy meat in the market, go ahead and eat it. Keep your conscience clear by not asking where the meat came from. 26 The Scriptures say, “The earth and everything in it belong to the Lord.”
27 If an unbeliever invites you to dinner, and you want to go, then go. Eat whatever you are served. Don’t cause a problem for someone’s conscience by asking where the food came from. 28-29 But if you are told that it has been sacrificed to idols, don’t cause a problem by eating it. I don’t mean a problem for yourself, but for the one who told you. Why should my freedom be limited by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I give thanks for what I eat, why should anyone accuse me of doing wrong?
31 When you eat or drink or do anything else, always do it to honor God. 32 Don’t cause problems for Jews or Greeks or anyone else who belongs to God’s church. 33 I always try to please others instead of myself, in the hope that many of them will be saved. 11 1 You must follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
Rules for Worship
2 I am proud of you, because you always remember me and obey the teachings I gave you. 3 Now I want you to know that Christ is the head over all men, and a man is the head over a woman. But God is the head over Christ. 4 This means that any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head brings shame to his head.
5 But any woman who prays or prophesies without something on her head brings shame to her head. In fact, she may as well shave her head.[c] 6 A woman should wear something on her head. It is a disgrace for a woman to shave her head or cut her hair. But if she refuses to wear something on her head, let her cut off her hair.
7 Men were created to be like God and to bring honor to God. This means that a man should not wear anything on his head. Women were created to bring honor to men. 8 It was the woman who was made from a man, and not the man who was made from a woman. 9 He wasn’t created for her. She was created for him. 10 And so, because of this, and also because of the angels, a woman ought to wear something on her head, as a sign of her authority.[d]
11 As far as the Lord is concerned, men and women need each other. 12 It is true that the first woman came from a man, but all other men have been given birth by women. Yet God is the one who created everything. 13 Ask yourselves if it is proper for a woman to pray without something on her head. 14 Isn’t it unnatural and disgraceful for men to have long hair? 15 But long hair is a beautiful way for a woman to cover her head. 16 This is how things are done in all of God’s churches,[e] and that’s why none of you should argue about what I have said.
Rules for the Lord’s Supper
17 Your worship services do you more harm than good. I am certainly not going to praise you for this. 18 I am told that you can’t get along with each other when you worship, and I am sure that some of what I have heard is true. 19 You are bound to argue with each other, but it is easy to see which of you have God’s approval.
20 When you meet together, you don’t really celebrate the Lord’s Supper. 21 You even start eating before everyone gets to the meeting, and some of you go hungry, while others get drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes where you can eat and drink? Do you hate God’s church? Do you want to embarrass people who don’t have anything? What can I say to you? I certainly cannot praise you.
The Lord’s Supper
23 I have already told you what the Lord Jesus did on the night he was betrayed. And it came from the Lord himself.
He took some bread in his hands. 24 Then after he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Eat this and remember me.”
25 After the meal, Jesus took a cup of wine in his hands and said, “This is my blood, and with it God makes his new agreement with you. Drink this and remember me.”
26 The Lord meant that when you eat this bread and drink from this cup, you tell about his death until he comes.
27 But if you eat the bread and drink the wine in a way that isn’t worthy of the Lord, you sin against his body and blood. 28 That’s why you must examine the way you eat and drink. 29 If you fail to understand that you are the body of the Lord, you will condemn yourselves by the way you eat and drink. 30 That’s why many of you are sick and weak and why a lot of others have died. 31 If we carefully judge ourselves, we won’t be punished. 32 But when the Lord judges and punishes us, he does it to keep us from being condemned with the rest of the world.
33 My dear friends, you should wait until everyone gets there before you start eating. 34 If you really are hungry, you can eat at home. Then you won’t condemn yourselves when you meet together.
After I arrive, I will instruct you about the other matters.
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