Search Our Site
The Church Ethic
Support for Ministers (Part 1)
Importance of Music in Worship
The Church and Going to Church
Ministers, Pastors, and the Calling
Ministers, Pastors, and the Calling
Introduction: Financial Support for
Financial Support for Ministers (Part
Financial Support for Ministers (Part
Church Leadership and Authority
we get into the study, we want to state in the clearest and
most unqualified terms that any selling of doctrine, teaching,
revelation, or Bible education in any form is abominable.
That is not to say that many sincere and godly people do not
commit this practice, but only that they should be made aware
this practice is wholly unacceptable and that they should
cease from it immediately.
Whenever we enter a Christian bookstore or surf a Christian
bookstore online, we are amazed to see Christian leaders engaged
in this practice. Impressing upon lay people that from a spiritual
point of view they need to check out this or that tape or
book, etc, they then go on to sell that information at a profit.
This is blatantly wrong.
I wonder, did those men of God have to pay God anything for
that information? Even if it took hard work and study to develop,
it is still the free gift of God to teach it to them through
his Holy Spirit. Should they then turn around and sell it
to us at profit? Of course not. How different is this from
the medieval Roman Catholic practice of selling indulgences?
When did it become an acceptable godly practice to peddle
important spiritual truth in exchange for money? Since Jesus
freely paid the ultimate price on the cross how dare we then
charge money to share His teachings.
Now, before anyone starts saying, "What about this verse or
that verse?" let's take a look at exactly what the Bible has
to say about any form of payment to pastors. What we intend
to show is that the New Testament protocol on the extent to
which Christian leaders should receive goods for their service
has been drastically twisted to support the idea of regular
payment (salaries) just for local leaders.
1. True, The apostles, brothers of the Lord, and Cephas
had the authority to forbear working as did Paul and Barnabas.
They had the right to make their living from the Gospel.
I Corinthians 9: 5 Have we not power to lead about
a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren
of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or I only and Barnabas, have
not we power to forbear working? 7 Who goeth a warfare
any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard,
and eateth not of the fruit thereof?or who feedeth a flock,
and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 8 Say I these things
as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 9 For it is
written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the
mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take
care for oxen? 10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes?
For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that
ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in
hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown
unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall
reap your carnal things? 12 If others be partakers
of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we
have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest
we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do ye not know
that they which minister about holy things live of the things
of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers
with the altar? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that
they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
In I Corinthians 9, Paul is describing the protocols and methods
of support for missionaries as we will demonstrate. The protocols
for supporting local leadership positions are spelled out
in detail not here in I Corinthians 9 but in I Timothy 5 as
we will later show.
First, we should compare this set of protocols with the ones
Jesus gave when he first sent out the disciple in the Gospel
accounts. We find these accounts in Matthew 10:1-14, Mark
6:7-13, Luke 9:1-6, and Luke 10:1-12. (The second passage
in Luke deals with the sending of the 72, not just the 12,
but the protocols are the same.)
In these passages, we find Jesus giving his disciples instructions
for when they traveled to preach the Gospel. This is missionary
work. They were not to set up camp and remain in any one of
these villages but only to stay at a village for a time and
then move on to spread the Gospel elsewhere. They were not
yet acting as elders over local church communities, which
would be a stationary function. Instead they were acting as
mobile missionaries. Given this fact, we cannot assume any
of these protocols apply to Church elders in local communities,
a position not to be established for some years to come.
And the protocols Jesus gave them for provision fit perfectly
with the standards found for missionaries in I Corinthians
9. They were to stay in one house in every village. They were
to take no money with them because, as Jesus said in Matthew
10:10, "the workman is worthy of his meat." But, as Jesus
said in Luke 10:7, they were to eat such things as were given
them by the owners of those houses and were not to move around.
As Paul applies these things to himself, he does take money
but not his own. Instead, he receives voluntary offerings
from one Church before he goes to another in order to fund
the trip to the other Church. In this way, he would not have
to charge anyone at the Church he was going to. At times,
he even received support sent from another Church. At other
times, he even supported himself as he did in Acts 18.
However, all of these instructions deal with mobile missionaries.
Even Paul, who was visiting existing Churches, was not acting
as a local leader for any of them. He was traveling from one
to the next.
What does this all mean for our study? It means that the instructions
regarding provision found in I Corinthians 9 are consistent
with those given by Jesus in the Gospels. Since during the
Gospels there is no context for stationary leadership positions
only traveling missionaries, we cannot take the protocols
found in the Gospels and I Corinthians 9 as necessarily applying
to the local church elders.
And the protocols for missionaries are specifically tailored
for that kind of work. They were to take no money while they
traveled. They were not going to settle in any one town. They
were going from town to town and would only be in any given
place temporarily. In this way, no one household or community
would be providing for their needs on a permanent basis. This
sort of moving about would necessarily disrupt a man's ability
to provide for himself and because he was making that sacrifice,
those he was serving were required to provide for him.
But with the arrival of permanent local leadership positions
that were stationary (not mobile as missionaries were) there
arrived the need for different protocols for their provision.
Unlike mobile missionaries, local leaders lives would only
be partially diverted from full-time labor. However, they
could still work and make a living and so they were not dependent
like missionaries were. And, because their position and location
was permanent, it would be impractical for one household to
meet their needs on a permanent basis.
So, the provisions were different for local leaders than they
were for traveling missionaries and the protocols for this
different form of leadership are laid out by Paul in I Timothy
5 in accordance with the communal economy of the local Church
at that time. This communal economy was inherently supplementary
in nature (according to need) and so would be the provision
given to these permanent local leaders as we will later demonstrate.
Back to I Corinthians 9 - notice that in verse 13 Paul makes
reference to the Old Testament practice regarding the Levitical
priesthood. However, despite the fact that he uses their circumstances
to support his teaching, Paul still makes no mention of tithes.
Nor does he expressly invoke a right to collect tithes.
The comparison to the Levites does not require an extension
of the tithe only a comparison to provision coming from their
ministry. Paul can talk about a general comparison between
the two without implying they are one and without implying
he and other Church leaders are a new priesthood replacing
We also know that Paul is not intending this statement to
require Christians to pay tithes to their leaders because
of the phrase "partakers with the altar." When we read Malachi
3, in which God instructs on the payment of the tithe, we
understand the tithe was to be brought to the temple. But
there is no temple today and the system of service in the
temple has changed as signified by the changing of the priesthood
(See Hebrews 7:11-12.)
This passage and reference by Paul to the Old Testament no
more necessitates a tithe than it necessitates a Levitical
priesthood, a temple, or a sin offering (See Leviticus 6:26.)
And regarding the altar, we understand also that the priests
were allowed to partake of the animals sacrificed there. But
we do not have either an altar or sacrifices today. So, by
appealing to these examples of things that Paul knew were
obsolete at the time he wrote, Paul could not have been implying
a continuation of a particular aspect of that system (tithing)
that he does not even name in this passage.
To insist that Paul is upholding the paying of the tithe on
these grounds or that ministers in the New Testament are equivalent
to the Levitical priesthood is to commit the logical fallacy
known as non-sequitor. This means that these conclusions are
not mandated by the premises presented in the scripture. For
more about logical fallacies please visit our section entitled
"Logical Fallicies." For more on
the tithe please see our article entitled "Biblical
Support for Tithing in the New Testament."
2. This right to "forbear work" is applied here to
when someone was doing missionary work abroad.
The word "lead about" in verse 5 (Strong's #4013) occurs only
5 other times in the New Testament. Once it refers to Paul
going around looking for someone to lead him while he was
blind. The other four times it occurs are all in the Gospels.
3 times it refers to Jesus traveling ministry. 1 time it refers
to the scribes and Pharisees practice of doing missionary
work to create converts. The implication of this survey is
that this word in the New Testament primarily denotes traveling
ministry. Unless its occurrence here in I Corinthians 9 is
the only case, this word is not used in the New Testament
to refer to locally-based, stationary ministry.
3. Paul considered charging for ministry to be an abuse
of his power and a potential hindrance to the Gospel. Scripture
shows Paul only received financial support on a supplemental
basis when doing missionary work to other areas (See II Corinthians
11:7-9, Philippians 4:15-19.)
I Corinthians 9: 12 If others be partakers of this
power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not
used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should
hinder the gospel of Christ.
I Corinthians 9: 18 What is my reward then? Verily
that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ
without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
How we wish that our modern leaders would give more consideration
to Paul's position on this point.