A A A A A
Bible Book List

As of August 4th, Bible Gateway Classic will no longer be available. Start using the new BibleGateway.com today!

1 Corinthians 9 New King James Version (NKJV)

A Pattern of Self-Denial

Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the [a]seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we have no [b]right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along [c]a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?

Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?

Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel [d]of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.

Serving All Men

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the [e]law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without [f]law toward God, but under [g]law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became [h]as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

Striving for a Crown

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may [i]obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize [j]is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 9:2 certification
  2. 1 Corinthians 9:4 authority
  3. 1 Corinthians 9:5 Lit. a sister, a wife
  4. 1 Corinthians 9:18 NU omits of Christ
  5. 1 Corinthians 9:20 NU adds though not being myself under the law
  6. 1 Corinthians 9:21 NU God’s law
  7. 1 Corinthians 9:21 NU Christ’s law
  8. 1 Corinthians 9:22 NU omits as
  9. 1 Corinthians 9:24 win
  10. 1 Corinthians 9:25 exercises self-control
New King James Version (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1 Corinthians 9 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Paul’s Use of Freedom

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

My defense to those who examine me is this: [a]Do we not have a right to eat and drink? [b]Do we not have a right to take along a [c]believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord, and [d]Cephas? Or do only [e]Barnabas and I have no right to refrain from [f]working? Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not [g]consume some of the milk of the flock?

I am not just asserting these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does the Law not say these things as well? For it is written in the Law of Moses: “You shall not muzzle the ox while it is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10 Or is He speaking entirely for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing in the crops. 11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share [h]from the altar? 14 So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

15 But I have used none of these things. And I have not written these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than that. No one shall make my boast an empty one! 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast about, for I am under compulsion; for woe to me if I do not preach the gospel. 17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a commission nonetheless. 18 What, then, is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

19 For though I am free from all people, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may gain more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might gain Jews; to those who are under the Law, I became as one under the Law, though not being under the Law myself, so that I might gain those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without the Law, I became as one without the Law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might gain those who are without the Law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak; I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. So they do it to obtain a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way as not to run aimlessly; I box in such a way, as [i]to avoid hitting air; 27 but I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 9:4 Lit It is not that we have no right to eat and drink, is it?
  2. 1 Corinthians 9:5 Lit It is not that we have no right to take along...Cephas, is it?
  3. 1 Corinthians 9:5 Lit sister, as a wife
  4. 1 Corinthians 9:5 Peter’s Aramaic name
  5. 1 Corinthians 9:6 Lit I and Barnabas
  6. 1 Corinthians 9:6 I.e., to support themselves
  7. 1 Corinthians 9:7 Lit eat from
  8. 1 Corinthians 9:13 Lit with
  9. 1 Corinthians 9:26 Lit not hitting
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.

1 Corinthians 9 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Paul’s Use of Liberty

Am I not free [unrestrained and exempt from any obligation]? Am I not an apostle? Have I not [a]seen Jesus our [risen] Lord [in person]? Are you not [the result and proof of] my work in the Lord? If I am not [considered] an apostle to others, at least I am one to you; for you are the seal and the certificate and the living evidence of my apostleship in the Lord [confirming and authenticating it].

This is my defense to those who would put me on trial and interrogate me [concerning my authority as an apostle]: Have we not the right to our food and drink [at the expense of the churches]? Have we not the right to take along with us a believing wife, as do the rest of the apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas (Peter)? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to stop doing manual labor [in order to support our ministry]? [Consider this:] Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?

Do I say these things only from a man’s perspective? Does the Law not endorse the same principles? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain [to keep it from eating the grain].” Is it [only] for oxen that God cares? 10 Or does He speak entirely for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake: The plowman ought to plow [b]in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the harvest. 11 If we have sown [the good seed of] spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share in this rightful claim over you, do not we even more? However, we did not exercise this right, but we put up with everything so that we will not hinder [the spread of] the good news of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who officiate in the sacred services of the temple eat from the temple [offerings of meat and bread] and those who regularly attend the altar have their share from the [offerings brought to the] altar? 14 So also [on the same principle] the Lord directed those who preach the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

15 But I have used none of these privileges, nor am I writing this [to suggest] that any such provision be made for me now. For it would be better for me to die than to have anyone deprive me of my [c]boast [in this matter of financial support]. 16 For if I [merely] preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast about, for I am compelled [that is, absolutely obligated to do it]. Woe to me if I do not preach the good news [of salvation]! 17 For if I do this work [d]of my own free will, then I have a reward; but if it is not of my will [but by God’s choosing], I have been entrusted with a [sacred] stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? [Just this:] that, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge [to everyone], so as not to take advantage of my rights [as a preacher and apostle] in [preaching] the gospel.

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I may win more [for Christ]. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews [for Christ]; to men under the Law, [I became] as one [e]under the Law, though not being under the Law myself, so that I might win those who are under the Law. 21 To those who are without (outside) the Law, [I became] as one without the Law, though [I am] not without the law of God, but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the [f]weak I became [as the] weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means [in any and every way] save some [by leading them to faith in Jesus Christ]. 23 And I do all this for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings along with you.

24 [g]Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours! 25 Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a [h]crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither]. 26 Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. 27 But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service].

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 9:1 Paul knew that to be an apostle in the same sense as the original twelve apostles (with Matthias replacing Judas Iscariot, Acts 1:26), he had to be an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:22). His encounter with Christ on his journey to Damascus met this requirement (Acts 9:2-8, 27; 22:6-21; 26:12-18).
  2. 1 Corinthians 9:10 In the NT the word “hope” expresses a cherished desire along with the confident assurance of obtaining that which is longed for.
  3. 1 Corinthians 9:15 Paul was not bragging, but rejoicing because he could support himself as a tradesman while he ministered.
  4. 1 Corinthians 9:17 Paul did not seek his call to minister, he was chosen by a sovereign act of God.
  5. 1 Corinthians 9:20 Cf Acts 21:20-26.
  6. 1 Corinthians 9:22 Paul may be talking about those with spiritually immature consciences regarding questionable issues (see ch 8). If so, he means that he abstained from any practice which he knew was actually acceptable for him, but capable of posing a bad example for others who were less mature spiritually.
  7. 1 Corinthians 9:24 The Isthmian Games, held near Corinth, were among the major athletic competitions of ancient Greece. The Corinthians’ familiarity with this sporting event would have made this passage (vv 24-27) very meaningful to them.
  8. 1 Corinthians 9:25 Lit perishable crown, usually a woven wreath of pine worn as a crown.
Amplified Bible (AMP)

Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

1 Corinthians 9 New International Version (NIV)

Paul’s Rights as an Apostle

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas[a]? Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.”[b] Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.

Paul’s Use of His Freedom

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

The Need for Self-Discipline

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 9:5 That is, Peter
  2. 1 Corinthians 9:9 Deut. 25:4
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

1 Corinthians 9 King James Version (KJV)

Am I am not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?

If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.

Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,

Have we not power to eat and to drink?

Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?

Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?

For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.

13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?

14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Viewing of
Cross references
Footnotes