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 bebetter 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 of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
this right (v.12) — the right to be financially supported by the church. Paul did not want to leave himself open to the accusation that he preached for money, so he was willing to sacrifice his right.
are we not even more (v.12) — “If others have a claim, don’t we have a greater claim?”
hinder (v.12) = cut in, an obstacle that blocks a path
those who minister (v.12) — Leviticus 6:16, 26; Numbers 18:8-19; Deuteronomy 18:1-4
When the appointed priests of God made the peace offering on the altar, a portion of the offering was consumed on the altar and a portion of it was designated for the priests’ own personal use. The Greek verb translated “wait upon” is paredreuo, and literally denotes “to sit constantly beside.” In our present verse [v.12], the verb speaks of the priests’ presentation of themselves at the altar — being constantly beside the altar to offer sacrifice. — Greene, page 302.
the Lord commanded that those who preach the gospel (v.14) — Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7
boasting (v.15) — the grounds of his boasting, the gospel
void (v.15) = empty, of no effect
In verse 16, Paul is saying that no praise is due him for preaching the gospel because, to him, it is a necessity.
Paul would rather die than in any way hinder the gospel of Christ in loose-lipped Corinth. Still, this was not the only reason of Paul’s gratis labor. It is of prime importance between the twelve and Paul on the point of preaching. Not only from a material but from a formal point as well. The twelve voluntarily left John the Baptist to follow Christ. Just to cast their lot freely with Him was so great in His eye, that He as reward would lift them to a royal throne and make them Kings reigning over Israel. Paul was outside that hallowed circle, for he had never volunteered freely for the Lord. Just the reverse, necessity was laid upon him.
He was miraculously arrested to preach with the heavenly warning that it would be hard for him to kick against the pricks like a lazy or stubborn ox. Hence, it was perfectly evident that he would have no reward for following and earthly Jesus. Nor would he have a reward for preaching, because he had not done even this voluntarily. He had been set to work with a threat. There was now just one way left open to him to get the wonderful reward of grace, and that was to practice (prasso) the gospel willingly, spontaneously, joyfully without any pay from mortals. Then the Lord in His remunerative justice would reward him in the great day of reward (2 Timothy 4:8-9; Revelation 22:12). God gave him liberty to refuse a salary and waive all his rights to remuneration from men in order to await for it from God alone. — Bultema, pages 75-76.
laid (v.16) = pressed heavily upon
against my will (v.17) = not of my own will (but of God’s)
stewardship (v.17) — he is a servant doing what is required
Paul’s reward (v.18) is making the gospel known freely.