For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul felt the need to defend his apostleship and to prove that ministers had a right to be paid for their work. Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand that, as an apostle, he had the right to receive material support from them, though he had not claimed it. He did not want his pattern of self-denial to be misunderstood.
Of course, Paul was not preaching the gospel—the good news of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15)—for material gain or even to boast about what he had accomplished. Paul felt compelled to preach. He believed that if he did not fulfill his commission—if he, like Jonah, tried to escape his responsibility—“woe is me” (verse 16)!
God had entrusted this stewardship to him, and the best he could do was fulfill it willingly (verse 17). Then he hoped to become a partaker of the prize when the good news came to pass (verse 24).
Jesus Christ commissioned not just the apostle Paul but the entire Church to preach the good news to the world (Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20). Woe to us if we do not preach the gospel! Read more about the gospel in the article “What Is the Gospel of the Kingdom?”