6. Ministers being paid to preach?

 

DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT TEACH PAID MINISTRY OR SUPPORT FOR PASTORS, PREACHERS AND TEACHERS?

 

Most of the Church today other than Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholics Church are structured to have paid (and usually) fulltime located ministers…rather than a ministry which receives only necessary ‘support’.

Is any paid ministry or even support scriptural at all? Does it survive reasonable scrutiny or is it all based on out of context extracts of a scripture or ‘proof-texting’ which most have heard repeated many times without ever examining the clear context  in which it was taught?

Luke 10:1-10

After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. 2 Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.  3 Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.  4 Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.  5 But whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house.'  6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you.  7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.  8 Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.  9 And heal the sick there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'   NKJV

 

Please NOTE that the scriptures do not give any suggestion that anyone ever paid Jesus a salary to minister....and Jesus was certainly NOT telling the apostles that they could expect a salary for preaching the gospel.  Jesus as a rabbi would NEVER have taken money for preaching.

He was telling the apostles that when they travelled as itinerant preachers (ie sent out ones) they were entitled to receive support in the form of hospitality ...that which was freely offered .....by those they ministered to.

Let us all agree that this scripture does NOT in any way support 'salaried positions' for resident ministers.

 

The 'first-mention' to the wages of itinerant workers is however seldom quoted

Matt 10:9-10
9 Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts,  10 nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.     NKJV
 

This passage conclusively defines what the wages were that Jesus was refering to as being appropriate! This would be the same as the wages which were to be supplied in ALL other cases....as confirmed by their context!

 

These same scriptures are refered to by Paul to the Corinthians ...about the rights of itinerant preachers...or apostles

1 Cor 9:14

14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.  NKJV

Note that this command refers to what Jesus said in Mat 10:10.....It was given to the apostles when they were itinerant...a right to receive what is freely offered. It is NOT a right to demand support and it is NOT directed at the people as an 'obligation' to give!

 

And again to Timothy

1 Tim 5:18

Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages."   NKJV

The word used for honor NEVER referred to a salary...that is a completely different word (ie in 1 Tim 5:3  .. honor widows does not mean pay them a salary....and in 1 Tim 6:1 ... the slave honoring his master would certainly not refer to paying him a salary either!)

The wages which the worker (in this case a resident elder) should receive is HONOR....and definitely not money!. This is confirmed in a parallel verse below. (ie 'in the mouth of two witnesses or three let every word be confirmed')

Thess 5:13

And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves.    NKJV

Double honor is being recognised ....and highly esteemed!.....This has nothing to do with being paid a salary!

 

Historically Jewish rabbis, prophets and religious leaders were never were paid a salary for their ministry…they lived off of support voluntarily given to them by their students

 

Teachings in the Mishnah prohibit rabbis from taking money for teaching the Torah:

“He who makes a profit from Torah has brought about his own destruction.” Avot 4:5

“Do not charge for teaching Torah. Accept no remuneration for it.” Derek Erutz Zuta 3:3

The Levites NEVER worked for money....they received FOOD in return for forfeiting their share of inheritance in the promised land. Many believe that the Levites were the 'full-time' workers in the Old Testament....this is wrong as demonstrated in 2 Chron 24-26 which shows that they were only on rooster in Jerusalem for 1 week in 24!

 

2 Kings 5:16

16 But he said, "As the LORD lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing." And he urged him to take it, but he refused.   NKJV

Even though he was an itinerant prophet Elisha refused to be paid for ministering healing to Naaman. Look at what happened to Gehazi who took some money!

  

Mic 3:11…rebuking Israel ...confirms GOD's attitude to 'paid ministers'

Her priests teach for pay

And her prophets divine for money

Yet they lean on the LORD, and say,

"Is not the LORD among us?  NKJV

 

Extra biblical documents like the Didache (meaning ‘doctrine’) are very clear

"And concerning the apostles and prophets....Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But let him not stay more than one day, or if need be a second as well; but if he stay three days, he is a false prophet. And when an apostle goes forth let him accept nothing but bread till he reach his night's lodging; but if he ask for money, he is a false prophet. If he who comes is a traveller, help him as much as you can, but he shall not remain with you more than two days, or, if need be, three. And if he wishes to settle among you and has a craft, let him work for his bread...A true teacher is himself worthy, like the workman, of his food.”

 

Jesus himself also spoke against pastors (ie shepherds) who worked for pay 

John 10:12-14

12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.  13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.   NKJV

The word ‘minister’ is derived from the Greek word ‘diakonos’ meaning servant. It is distinguished from a slave who may have to work against his will….and a hireling who works for wages. (Zondervan Bible Dictionary)

 

Mammon IS money!

It seems that today very few ‘ministers’ would shepherd the flock if they were not being paid a salary to do it.

Luke 16:13

13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."   NKJV

These are Jesus words…not merely man's opinion!

 

Matt 10:8

Freely you have received, freely give.  NKJV

There is no way that ministering after you have been paid a salary can qualify as 'freely giving'  

The apostle Paul set THE example for ALL gentile elders and leaders ....one which he COMMANDED them to follow when they were itinerant. Where-ever he could he worked and supported himself and his ministry.

Nowadays it appears that very few ministers are prepared to follow his example...and most are looking for a 'congregation' to pay them a salary so that they can be ‘full-time’ 'ministers'

 

Acts 20:33-35

33 I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"  NKJV

The context of Jesus words are that YOU MUST work so that you can not only be self supporting but ALSO support the weak....rather than burdening them! These two components are referred to many times by Paul ....ie working with your own hands ....and not being a burden on the church. Paul distinguishes between 'laboring in the word' ...and work which earns money so that the church is not burdened. Full time ministry today may well be work.....but it fails to comply with the commands not to be a burden on the church!  (Acts 20:34-35, Eph 4:28 were addressed to Ephesian elders....where Paul addressed 1 Tim 5:17-18....also 1 Cor 4:12, 2 Cor 11:9, 2 Cor 12:16 to the Corinthian church....Gal 6:5 to the Galatians....in addition to 1 Thes 2:9, 1 Thes 4:11-12, 2 Thes 3:6-12 to the Thessalonians)

This was definitely not only a 'Thessalonian church specific problem' as many seminaries claim to try and explain it away. 

Preachers this is NOT a suggestion ....MUST is a COMMAND!

This COMMAND was the final instruction given to the elders at Ephesus ....the same church as Timothy was in when (as some now claim) Paul wrote to him in 1 Tim 5:17-18, supposedly teaching that financial support should be given  for elders ....even to resident elders. Surely we should know this is wrong?

 

1 Cor 9:12-16

Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. ……

15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.    NKJV

Clearly Paul as an itinerant apostle is teaching that while he was entitled to receive support, HE was not willing to do so if it was possible for him to work. Paul was practising what Jesus taught him!

 

1 Cor 9:18

18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.  NKJV

Paul as an apostle regarded receiving support un-necessarily an ABUSE of apostolic authority! How much more would this be an abuse for a 'located elder' who may preach periodically but is clearly able to work....to receive a salary?

 

Paul also warned about people to reject those who preached for money.

2 Cor 2:17

17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God (NIV for gain); but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ. NKJV

Please tell me how we can possibly justify paid full time ministers in the light of this scripture....and Paul's commands above!

 

Paul, after listing the qualifications for an overseer and a deacon...specifically that they are NOT to be coveteous, instructs the church what must be done to those who do not comply.

Titus 1:11

For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.     NKJV

 

This is a reference to those teaching the requirement for christians to give ‘tithes’ or ‘offerings’ as  deceivers (ie for teaching things which were 'of the Law' or circumcision)   ... teaching things they 'ought not' for the purpose of DISHONEST GAIN!

  

Financial integrity and NOT being greedy for money or covetous are key requirements for anyone who is appointed as an elder.

1 Tim 3:1-10

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; ……… 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

8 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless  NKJV

 

GREED is the almost ‘insatiable’ demand for money …How often do we feel this when we go to 'churches' today?

COVETOUSNESS is the eye which looks lustfully at that which belongs to another and devises 'doctrines of men' to get hold of it.

1 Tim 6:3-5

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.  (NB Amplified includes ‘livelihood’ in the definition of gain)   From such withdraw yourself.    NKJV

 

This refers specifically to teachers... yes specifically to located elders ....and the required response is confirmed in Paul’s later command

2 Thess 3:6-9

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 8 nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.      NKJV

According to this scripture almost the whole church is in disobedience for supporting paid ministers! We are to WITHDRAW from those who will not be self-supporting.

 

Titus 1:7-11

7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

ie Hospitable means he must be a  giver an NOT a taker!

Church leaders MUST also be prepared to answer questions about their teachings on money matters, including tithing…..open-ness and accountability are non-negotiable if one is to qualify as being 'blameless'!

2 Cor 12:14

Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.     NKJV 

The test for whether someone is a 'father of the house' is whether he TAKES ...or GIVES

And Jude warned about those who prophesy for ‘profit’

Jude 11

11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.   NKJV

This addresses 'prophets' who seek 'a prophets reward' for ministering!...the christian church world is full of these types who go from church to church FLEECING the flock instead of FEEDING them!

Peter warned also

1 Peter 5:2-3

2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;   NKJV

Anything more than that which covers NEEDS and is kept rather than being given to the poor, is ‘DISHONEST gain’

 

So let us look into what ‘wages’ the bible taught that the worker was worthy of ……and which workers specifically are worthy……and as we look we will find a very clear picture which much of the church today seems unable to accept and obey.

 

So what were the wages to be?

Luke 10:1-10

4 Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.  5 But whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house.’…..  7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.  8 Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. 

The word 'for' which prefaces the key scripture requires that we look at the context to understand the what and why of the ‘for’.

Clearly the wages the worker received here are defined BY JESUS to be hospitality which includes stay at a house….and eating and drinking what they were given.

Let us all agree that this verse does not teach that any of these men were ‘paid money as a salary’ for the ministry they did.

Let us also agree that when Jesus called them it was NOT to a paid position!….they only received what was ‘freely’ given. This may have included (unsolicited) money as a gift to send them on their way but was primarily hospitality.

 

How could this passage then possibly be used as the prime scripture to justify FULLTIME PAID MINISTRY today?

 

The content of the 'wages' are categorically defined in the parallel verse from Matthew 10:8-10

9 Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10 nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.   NKJV   (or keep NIV)

Brethren FOOD is not money or a salary!

(The Law of ‘First Mention’ requires that Mat 10:10 determines how future uses of wages should be interpreted!...specifically in Luke and 1 Cor 9 and 1 Tim 5:18...this and the context confirming the restriction of the 'wages' in Luke to being FOOD and or KEEP!)

  

Now let us see if the nature of the 'wages' is confirmed in the other scriptures about support for ministers…or if it is ever changed to a salary!

Luke 8:1-3

Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, 2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities — Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, 3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.    NKJV

This clearly refers to hospitality and not a financial salary

1 Cor 9:1-14

(Many claim that this passage justifies paid ministry BUT please notice that the WHOLE CONTEXT relates to itinerant apostles and NOT located elders or 'pastors'........however  let us first look at what the 'wages' are to defined to be)

Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we have no right to eat and drink?(hospitality) 5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain (implying temporary cessation) from working? 7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? (again food and sustenance)

8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?

Nevertheless we have not used this right but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, (ie wine, oil, grain and meat) and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar  

The altar and sacrifices are fulfilled in Christ. The only things that were ever brought to the altar was God’s blessing on the land ie FOOD…(money was NEVER brought to the altar…as it would have represented the work of man’s hands!)

14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. NKJV

What the Lord commanded is that the itinerant apostles were entitled to receive hospitality if necessary (Mat 10:8)…..this in NO WAY suggests a wage or a career and the preface "even so"  limits it to FOOD. This does not in anyway condone being ‘paid a salary to preach’

Let us again be clear…living from the Gospel refers ONLY to support and NOT to being paid a salary to do a job.

or  ...Are we to conclude that Paul was 'in disobedience' to Jesus command for working and being self supporting?

If preachers are REQUIRED to be paid....then this must apply to ALL who are preachers....not just the 'senior pastor'

 

Gal 6:6-10

Let (ie permit) him who is taught the word share (ie partake in a meal with) in all good things (ie food and hospitality) with him who teaches.

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. …………….. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. NKJV

The context of this verse is set in vs 5 ...'for each one should carry his own load'....this certainly does not support paying someone else to minister to us!

Doing good means being charitable/hospitable….this indicates ‘needs’ 

 

2 Thess 3:7-10

7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 8 nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. 10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.  NKJV

1 Tim 5:16-18

16 If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.

(The context of this passage is about the provision of alms ie FOOD for genuine needs ONLY....and that the church is NOT burdened..2 Cor 11:9, 12:16, 2 Thes 2:9 and 3:8....by ministers who will not earn their own keep....seldom is the following 'proof text' taught IN its correct CONTEXT)

"Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor"

(honor is honor…it is not wages…but does include support if needed as implied by ‘honor your parents’. There are very different specific words for salary or money…these are specifically NOT used)

especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages." NKJV    

(as per the context of Mat and Luke these wages would only be food and hospitality where required)

Please note that Timothy was Paul’s disciple who was ministering in Ephesus…the same city where Paul taught that all must labor and provide for themselves (Acts 20:29-35). Paul was NOT teaching privately to Timothy anything contrary to the final public instruction to ALL the elders of that church! ...ie they should ALL work and support the poor rather than being a burden on them!

The following parallel scripture which clarifies what Paul intended by 'double honor'  ... Scripture MUST be used to interpret scripture

1 Thess 5:12-13

And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake.   NKJV

This is what ‘double honor’ is…recognition and esteeming highly! 

 

1 Tim 6:6-8

6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.    NKJV

2 Tim 2:3-6

4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops….(ie food)  NKJV

Titus 3:13-14

13 Send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey with haste, that they may lack nothing. 14 And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful. NKJV

Clearly the context was always items which were included under ‘hospitality’ and 'necessities'…and perhaps provisions for the journeys!

It certainly never even implies the right to be ‘paid a salary for a full-time position’'....(except when proof-texted and out of context)

 

Was money ever received by the apostles?

John 13:29

29 For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, "Buy those things we need for the feast," or that he should give something to the poor.

This would lead us to conclude that either the apostles worked in certain places to earn money (like fishing when they could…ie Peter paid the temple tax this way) …..or they were possibly given money by some people who they ministered to….to cover their NEEDS and expenses. This does not in anyway support a claim that they were paid a salary!

Mark 6:7-8

7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;

8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:   NKJV

The apostles were sent to preach at times to preach and to heal and cast out demons. The ‘empty purses’ meant they were to rely on charity being given…including money.

This clearly does not in anyway imply a permanent fulltime salaried position, even while on ‘missions’. It actually indicates that they were to rely on receiving FREEWILL giving! It also shows that each of them normally HAD a purse which would have had money in it…ie that they were at other times self-supporting!

John 12:5-6

5 "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.  NKJV

The money box or bag contained surplus funds from what was given to them as above OR wages which they earned in accordance with Acts 20:35. It was clearly kept PRIMARILY to enable them to minister to the poor rather than their own needs!

Luke 12:33

33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.  NKJV

Jesus lived what He preached...ALMS are to POOR and NOT preachers. Jesus knew that Judas was helping himself to the money…and would choke on giving it away!

  

Who was to be supported?

Mat 10 and Luke 10 clearly refer to those who were sent out by Jesus to preach the Gospel

Rom 10:15

15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent?    NKJV

This scripture almost single-handedly refutes the ‘located preacher’ lobby

 

Matt 10:7-9

7 And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'  8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.  NKJV

Could it be that the reason ministers are not able to minister in power is because they are seeking to be "paid to stay" instead of "freely giving as they go"?

This scripture shows that itinerant preachers have the right to receive support from those they minister to. Please note that this is NOT a command for the believers to give...it merely tells those who minister that 'it is OK to receive hospitality'. Again this is not in anyway supporting a paid fulltime position but only for the duration of the ‘mission’…and this referred ONLY to hospitality.

 

2 Cor 11:7-10

7 Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?

8 I robbed other churches, taking wages

(the Greek word translated here as 'wages' is opsonian  ...ie implying support and meals....not money)

(this must be also read in context of Jesus teachings that hospitality and provisions were THE acceptable wage for apostles as per Mat 10 and Luke 10 and as Paul taught …and then only while on missionary journeys.)

from them to minister to you. 9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.

The Macedonian church chose to support Paul’s ministry while he was travelling…..this was their free choice. The wages Paul received were 'what he lacked'...ie support for his needs…and travel expenses…while he was not able to work. (To interpret this as a ‘salary’ would be to completely contradict Paul’s life example and all his other very specific teachings on this matter)

Acts 6:2-4

"It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."  NKJV

The apostles decided that they should be give themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word. This does not state that they decided that they should be supported for all their needs and not work at all…but just that they would no longer work at serving tables. The context of the passage again is for provision of needs (ie serving at tables = food)… and certainly not for the apostles to be paid a salary.

Remember that Peter and John were the apostles who walked around saying 'Silver and gold have I NONE'    (ie empty purses!)

Church history records that the apostles were NEVER paid a monetary salary

 

The following passage is frequently used to support claims that the bible teaches paid ministry even for located pastors. Any reasonable examination will conclude that this is not correct and that it addresses specifically the APOSTOLIC right of support only....ie for ITINERANT gospel preachers!

1 Cor 9:1-14

Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we have no right to eat and drink? 5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?

Clearly apostles (those who are sent out) have a 'right of support'…..but again this was hospitality and provision of needs…not MONEY/SALARY.

It is also clear that this was not ‘fulltime’ right …  ie take along clearly indicates that support was for the duration of the itinerant missionary work only…just as refrain from indicates a temporary situation. This is proven by the fact that Paul worked wherever possible!

8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?

This right is the 'right to eat and drink' as referred to in vs 4.....This is an APOSTOLIC right ONLY. ...ie while travelling

12 Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.

Today the vast majority of pastors in the church choose to hinder the gospel of Christ and be a burden to the church rather than being self supporting.....using the following out of context 'proof text' to support their claims even where they are not itinerant!

13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. NKJV
 

The ONLY place where 'the Lord commanded’ this was Mat 10 and Luke 10 ... and it was to ITINERANT apostles....and it was SOLELY hospitality!

(If you disagree please show me the scripture I have missed)

 

1 Tim 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor (honor is honor…it is not wages…these are two completely different words in Greek)…especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.

18 For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages."   NKJV

The context of this passage is set in vs 16 ... ie that ONLY the genuinely needy should be supported by the church. It would therefore extend only to elders when they are itinerant and not ABLE to work......OR if they were POOR and not ABLE to work!

 

2 Tim 2:3-6

4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops  NKJV

Timothy, as an itinerant preacher like Paul, was also entitled to support…he too was to be HARD WORKING (following Paul's example) and there is no scripural or historical support that a salary was ever taken or that a ‘fulltime paid position’ was ever held.

Historical church records confirm that this was not the practice of the early church.

 

Gal 6:4-10

5 For each one shall bear his own load. (ie WORK AND EARN YOUR KEEP)...Note that vs 6 is seldom quoted IN CONTEXT

6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.    NKJV

 

While we are receiving teaching from an itinerant minister or one who is poor, we should be hospitable…BUT this does not in any way teach that a resident teacher must be permanently supported, let alone paid a salary!

 

Were people ever told that they ‘MUST’ give to support salaries?

1 Tim 6:17-19

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches (Mark 10:24) but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. NKJV

Note there is not a single scripture where in the New Testament Gods people are told to give offerings to …or to tithe to the church as an organization. Nor did Jesus ever command people to give money to himself or the apostles. As someone from the tribe of Judah, Jesus could NOT receive tithes under the Law...it would have been a sin.

In all cases people were FREE to give…as THEY HAD FREELY RECEIVED....and the ONLY direction of giving was to the NEEDY or hospitality to itinerant ministers.

 

Phil 4:14-18

15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. NKJV

They gave to him when he DEPARTED ...NOT when he was 'located' ... and this was UNSOLICITED!  .........

Generosity demonstrates that the heart has been touched by God….it is FRUIT!

(ie the Zaccheus principle…but note that he only gave to the poor and needy and those he had robbed…..but NOT to God!        Jesus received only HOSPITALITY from him!   Luke 19:5)

Paul as an itinerant apostle was worthy of his KEEP....and even he did 'not seek the gift'.   (This is not the experience of most who go to 'church' meetings today)

  

Gal 2:9-10

10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do. NKJV

The word ONLY proves that there was no requirement for other giving!....and they did not ask for it themselves!

 

Was giving to the Church organization ever a New Testament requirement?  

Not in the bible

 

Was giving to anyone other than to the needs of the poor or itinerant preachers ever equated to giving to God?

Not in the bible

 

 

The early church in Acts…(to feed 3000 new visiting converts)

Acts 2:44-45

44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

Acts 4:34-35

34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

No where is the church told to give for any reason other than the needs of the poor. We are never told to follow the example of  ‘communal life’  in the book of Acts (this was for an overwhelming need....and in the backdrop of a city which would soon be totally destroyed). This practice was never taught to the Gentile churches.

Acts 6:2-3

2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables(ie food)  3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; (ie feeding people) NKJV

Note that the money received was NOT administered by the apostles….BUT by men selected by the people amongst those who gave…not chosen by the apostles….this would allay concerns about the lack of accountability which exists in almost every church today.

AND people had the RIGHT to check that it was equitably distributed! (Acts 6:1)

 

What about the ‘collection for the saints

The scriptures do not contain a single New Testament situation where collections were taken for anyone other than the poor or needy saints (ie when there was a famine)……and certainly NEVER for buildings or for organizations!

1 Cor 16:1-4

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 3 And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. 4 But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.

Note that what was 'laid aside in store' was NOT brought to the 'church'.....it was kept at home for the gift to the poor

This has NO connection to giving to ‘churches’…just starving saints as per Gal 2:10 

 

Accountability scriptures overlooked today

1 Cor 4:1-2

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.      NKJV

2 Cor 8:18-21
18 And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches, 19 and not only that, but who was also chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself and to show your ready mind, 20 avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us —  21 providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. NKJV

Paul required the DEMONSTRATION of accountability for the gifts distribution.

 

2 Cor 8:13-15

13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lackthat there may be equality. 15 As it is written, "He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack."   NKJV

It is very sad to see a ‘prosperity preaching’ pastor made rich out of deceitfully preaching of the Gospel while the sheep in his care are battling to pay rent & have money to feed themselves or provide for their children.....this certainly is not "equality"

 

A ‘Church’ organization is entitled to ask for support without demanding…..to give first and trust people to respond….BUT never to deceive people about what God’s word requires of them.

 

Please note that the following scripture is directed at ministers …ie servants…who take money…and not the sheep!

Luke 16:10-13

10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.  11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?  12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?  13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.

You cannot serve God and mammon."  NKJV

 

Accountability and financial integrity are not optional……they are required!    It is when leaders refuse to be accountable that freewill giving from the body dries up!

 

There is no scriptural support for anyone other than the deacons to administer funds collected for the support of those in need in the church…ie widows and others unable to work ….and itinerant missionaries

 

The scriptures in no way support a ‘single or senior pastor led church’ which has no effective eldership or oversight  &  where the vast majority of all funds are not spent on needs of the poor but on salaries and buildings and administration.

(According to a survey of U.S. Protestant congregations, on average over 95% of church revenues go to buildings, staff and internal programs, leaving less than 5% for missionary and charitable works….…What is your churches ratio?)

 

Money collected in the New Testament was never for ‘visions’ of the senior pastor to build buildings, colleges and schools of ministries….OR TO PAY SALARIES!

  

ALL SUCH USES ARE “EXTRA BIBLICAL” (to the New Testament)

  

THERE IS NO NEW TESTAMENT  “GIVING TO GOD” OUTSIDE OF GIVING TO THE POOR (Mat 25)

  

The bible teaches the priesthood of ALL believers!

1 Peter 2:5

5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.   NKJV

1 Peter 2:9

9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;   NKJV

Rev 1:5-6

To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.   NKJV

Rev 5:9-10

And have redeemed us to God by Your blood

Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;

And we shall reign on the earth."   NKJV

 

As we are all priests, we should give to ourselves...and support our own ministries

Paid fulltime ministry undermines the priesthood of all believers…..it makes some more priestly than others…..ie they believe that they have the right demand support in order to be PAID    

 

So what did they do in early church history?

As for the expenses of presiding ministers in the early congregation, the book Early Church History says: “In her days of pristine simplicity, the ministers of the church supported themselves by their own labour.” To cover other expenses voluntary contributions were given.
 

Historian John F. Hurst writes in History of the Christian Church: “In every place of worship, however small, there was a box, where all worshippers deposited their offerings.”
 

Tertullian, who became a convert to Christianity about 190 C.E., wrote: “Even if there is a chest of a sort, it is not made up of money paid in entrance-fees, as if religion were a matter of contract. Every man once a month brings some modest coin—or whenever he wishes, and only if he does wish, and if he can; for nobody is compelled; it is a voluntary offering.”

 

Frances Young quoting Cornelius in Eusebius, Cyprian and Chrysostom

Third Century:

The Roman Church supported

1,500 widows and poor persons

+ 150 clergy16                                                                                                                           

‘No Jew has ever had to beg, and the impious Galilaeans (ie Christians) support not only their own poor, but ours as well.’

‘The above examples come from a time when the Church was an illegal group liable to persecution; after Constantine the scale became even more impressive: just after 400 AD, the Antiochene Church supported 3,000 virgins and widows, and the Church in Constantinople financed the care of 50,000 poor.’

‘The poor were to be helped ...not exploited.’

 

Am I alone in holding this opinion of what the scriptures teach?

John Howard Yoder

"There are few more reliable constants running through all human society than the special place every human community makes for the professional religionist . . . But if we were to ask whether any of the N.T. literature makes the assumptions listed -- Is there one particular office in which there should be only one or a few individuals for whom it provides a livelihood, unique in character due to ordination, central to the definition of the church and the key to her functioning? Then the answer from the biblical material is a resounding negation [no]."  

Upton Sinclair

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." 

Frank Viola

In the book (Pagan Christianity), we are challenging something very specific: a paid professional clergy that receives a salary for being "the minister" to a local congregation. We discuss the biblical, historical, and pragmatic reasons for our challenge. By the same token, we have no problem with ministries that receive money from those who feel inclined to support them. For example, the New Testament teaches that church planters who spend their time on the road travelling to preach the gospel and raise up churches have a right to live off the gospel (see 1 Cor. 9). ……… All of these things are worlds apart from a paid professional "clergy" that's being salaried to minister to a local group of non-professionals called the "laity." 

 

Merchandising of Christianity

How do you believe Jesus would react if he were to walk into a modern 'church' separated into clergy and laity, with paid professional preachers pontificating from pulpits..., and selling the truths of God in CDs and books, selling food after services, preaching the “law of tithing”, “sowing and reaping”, “sacrificial offerings”, etc …. TO the POOR….and where the vast majority of moneys collected on behalf of God is being spent on salaries and buildings instead of being given for NEEDS? And where the storehouse never has any food in it for the POOR…..because it has all been spent on budgets, buildings and TV promotion of big-shots.

John 2:13-17

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up." 

Matt 21:12-13 (Mark 11:17)

12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.     KJV

 

Why are the nations of the world saying of churches today  …"All they want is your money"  ?

 

Are they setting people free …..or putting them under bondage of the Law?

 

Are paid or salaried ‘pastors’ serving God or mammon?

 

Is the gospel being given for free…or sold?

 

Are we required to 'earn our blessings'?....or will they not also be freely given to us (Rom 8:32)

 

Is salvation a ‘free gift’….or do you pay the pastor for it  for the rest of your life?

 

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