1 Cor 9: 16-19 confuses me. What does recompense mean? If it means to “pay back to”, then who is Paul paying back? Why isn’t his preaching of the Gospel enough of a recompense?
“What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.”


It’s simple enough, really. All he means is that he didn’t charge anything for his time, trouble, travel expenses, etc. for preaching the Gospel even though, as he wrote elsewhere, “the workman is worthy of his hire.” He gave all freely for the sake of the Gospel–that’s what he means, as he tries to find of some sign of gratitude from those to whom he ministered, who so often also listened to conflicting voices. He’s saying, “Look, I didn’t have to do this for you. My only motive is to bring you the truth not take advantage of you, so you ought to believe what I’m telling you.”


Basically what he is saying is that he deserves to get paid for bringing them the gospel. He says that folks who do these other jobs get paid, but what he does is even more important so obviously he deserves to get paid. But he then says that he is making a sacrifice by not taking money for it so that he can’t be accused of being partial or whatnot. He is saying that his recompense is to preach for free… in other words, he is getting a spiritual joy out of giving up his rights for Christ.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit