1 Corinthians 9:1
Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?
Note 1 at 1Co 9:1: 1Co 9 is a continuation of Paul's teaching on preferring the weaker brother (see notes 2 and 4 at 1Co 8:1), which he began in 1Co 8. In fact, he continued this same teaching all the way through the end of 1Co 10 (1Co 10:14-33).
In this chapter, Paul used personal examples to show how he had applied this truth in many areas of his own life. In 1Co 9:4, he mentioned how he had refused to take money for preaching the Gospel (see my note at that verse), and then he expounded on this point in 1Co 9:6-18. In 1Co 9:5, he mentioned his celibacy as an example of something he had personally given up for the good of others. In 1Co 9:20, he related how he had tried to appease the legalistic Jews and, in 1Co 9:21, how he had tried to relate to the lawless Gentiles. 1Co 9:22 sums it all up that he had tried to become all things to all people.
This is not to say that Paul didn't "draw the line" at times and fight for his freedoms. Paul was very uncompromising at times. However, there has to be a balance (see note 14 at 1Co 8:9).
Note 2 at 1Co 9:1: Paul was using himself as an example of the attitude he taught in 1Co 8. If he, as an apostle--freeborn, having seen the Lord Jesus, and the one responsible for their salvation--had humbled himself in this area, then certainly every one of them should do the same.