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1 Corinthians 9:15

ESV 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.
NIV 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.
NASB 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!
CSB For my part I have used none of these rights, nor have I written these things that they may be applied in my case. For it would be better for me to die than for anyone to deprive me of my boast!
NLT Yet I have never used any of these rights. And I am not writing this to suggest that I want to start now. In fact, I would rather die than lose my right to boast about preaching without charge.
KJV 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.

What does 1 Corinthians 9:15 mean?

In the previous verses, Paul established firmly his right as a minister of the gospel to receive financial support from the people he serves. Using citations from both the Old Testament (1 Corinthians 9:9) and the words of Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:14), he's shown this is a reasonable, legitimate expectation. However, Paul makes clear to his readers that he has never claimed those rights for himself. He does not intend to start.

Why? In verse 12, he said he would not ask for money from the Corinthians because he did not want to put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. He apparently did not want anyone to shy away from the gospel because they thought he was preaching it only for the sake of a financial reward.

Now he gives a new reason for not claiming any right to be paid by the Corinthians. He wants to keep on "boasting." In fact, Paul says that he would rather die than to lose his grounds for boasting about preaching the good news of the free grace of God in Jesus Christ free of charge of his own free will.

Is this a self-glorifying boast? Is Paul demonstrating selfish pride by refusing to take any money from those he serves? No. As the following verses will show, Paul feels free to boast about preaching the gospel without financial payment because that is the only thing he can give that is of his own free will. His calling comes from God, as does his ability to carry it out. Only turning down payment from those he serves is truly his to give (1 Corinthians 9:16–18).
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