“This is my defense to those who would examine me” (v3). Paul was being questioned about his role and his rights as an apostle. He explained that full-time ministers of the gospel could have spouses and would normally receive support from those to whom they were ministering. “The Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel” (v14). This was the precedent set by the priests and Levites, who were supported by Temple offerings (v13). However, Paul himself didn’t use these “rights” (v12,15).
“Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right” (v12). We are free (v1, 19), yet we are often called to lay down our rights so that others can know Christ.