As I am studying 1 Corinthians 9 I find that many believe Paul is defending his apostleship. Many believe that Paul's apostleship is being questioned in Corinth (I think I agree to an extent with this point). 1 Corinthians 9 is then read through that lens as if Paul is defending himself with all of these rhetorical questions. Each question is thought to be a jab and a defense of Paul's apostleship.
Those that have such a view often have a hard time understanding why the change of tone and the seeming change of topic only to pick it back up again in chapter 10. This has led some to question the unity of 1 Corinthians.
But, I have a few questions. What if the presupposition is wrong? What if Paul's rhetorical questions are not defensive jabs but things he expects a reserved "amen" to? What if 1 Corinthians 9 is not departing from chapter 8 and chapter 10. What if Paul is merely using all of these rhetorical questions to show himself as an example of what he has just discussed in chapter 8?
I see verse 12b as the main point of this passage, "Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ." Is this not the same thing that he is encouraging those in Corinth to do in 8:13?
Does Paul not say in verse 15 "nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision"? To me Paul is helping them see that his point is not to say, "you need to listen to me, you need to pay me better, I want a wife, and did I mention you need to pay me". All of these leads up to the climax of the passage, "I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings".
As I have read through 1 Corinthians I do not see a distrust of Paul and a deep questioning of his apostleship as the fundamental and root issue. Instead what I see is pride, disunity, a lack of love, exalting of knowledge at the expense of love, and fundamentally a lack of love and submission to Jesus. I think the main point that Paul is proclaiming to the church at Corinth is this: Jesus is enough, live your life in such a way that Christ and his gospel is the foundation for everything you do.
Having said all of that...am I way off base with 1 Corinthians 9? How do you read it? Would you agree with what seems to be the majority that Paul is defending his rights? Do you see what I see? Or do you see something else? Help!