Paul is kind of a big deal. He's an apostle. He's seen the Risen Christ. Even the fact that the church in Corinth exists is proof that God is working through him. Boo-ya.
He explains that, as an apostle, he is entitled to monetary support from his fellow Christians. Must be in the fine print of his contract.
He should get free food and beverages (no more BYOB for Paul!). He should have a faithful wife traveling by his side (a really cute one!). He shouldn't have to work little side jobs (tent-making can be a real drag). Really, the Corinthians should be fully supporting him.
Eyes on the Prize
But Paul doesn't roll this way.
Even though these are his rights, even though this is what God demands, Paul never took advantage of these perks.
And don't worry, he's not going to start doing it now. He's just trying to make a point. So put away your wallets, okay?
All Paul is saying is that he chose this life freely. He gets to spread the gospel around free of charge to everyone.
Paul might be free, but he's made himself into a slave (sans chains) in order to win more converts to Christ.
Wherever he goes, he becomes like the people he's with so that he can help convince them that Jesus is Lord. We believe this is called empathy.
And you've got to stay strong throughout. Christians are like world-class athletes. They have to train and be super discipled in order to win the prize at the end. The prize in this case is a little nicer than a trophy.
This is how Paul lives his life. Just a hint, Corinthians.