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Summary – Should elders/pastors be paid a salary?

Posted by on Oct 10, 2007 in elders, office | 54 comments

Summary – Should elders/pastors be paid a salary?

This is a summary of my position and the argument for that position:

Position: Scripturally, we cannot justify paying elders/pastors a salary based on their position:

1. Generally, all believers should “work with their hands” in order to provide support for themselves and others. (see “What about work?“) Whatever it means to “work with your hands”, Paul keeps it separate from work that is offered in service to others as a follower of Jesus – leading, teaching, admonishing, etc.

1. a. Elders specifically should “work with their hands” in order to provide for themselves and others. (see “What about work for elders/pastors?“) Again, according to Paul, this type of work is distinct from their work in shepherding the flock of God.

2. “Double honor” is not a salary offered to elders because of their position. (see “What about honor for elders/pastors?“) Instead, “double honor” represents a response from individuals given to those who have already taught and led (including elders). This response may include money, but it is given by the individual (not a corporate salary) in response to the elders’ service, not their position.

3. Elders/pastors do not have a “right” to receive compensation because of their position. (see “What about the right of elders/pastors?“) Instead, this “right” is reserved to believers who are travelling away from their home and their source of income. Plus, even those travelling believers are encouraged to give up their right by Paul’s instruction and example.

While there have been several comments regarding testimony or experience, only a few have interacted with the points of my argument. I would encourage you to consider these points of argument and either refute them or support them as you see fit. Thank you for your interaction on this very important topic.

By the way, I do not believe that we can justify paying a salary to an elder/pastor from Scripture. This does not mean that I condemn everyone who believes otherwise. There have been many believers (the majority by far) throughout history who have believed that it is acceptable to pay a salary to an elder/pastor. There are many believers (the majority by far) today who believe that it is acceptable to pay a salary to an elder/pastor. I disagree with them, but I admit that I could be wrong. And, this is why I welcome your input on this issue.

——————————————————————–

Series: Scripturally, we cannot justify paying elders/pastors a salary based on their position.

1) What about work?
2) What about work for elders/pastors?
3) What about honor for elders/pastors?
4) What about the right of elders/pastors?
5) Summary – Should elders/pastors be paid a salary?


54 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-10-2007

    Alan,

    I am blessed to read your blog and the interaction you have with your respondents. I am particularly blessed because you are voicing the position I have come to over many years. I happen to agree with what you are saying, and saying far more competently than I could. I could inject nothing of worth apart from saying a loud,”Amen!!! (I know brother Dave doesn’t like multiple exclamation marks).

    Your conclusions have come from a study of the particular subject,
    something I seldom had time to do, mine have come from an accumulation of these truths in my studies for preaching/teaching/writing.

    I confess that, had I had these convictions and certainty when I began ministering full time, I suspect my early years would have been very different, less overwhelming, and less trying to be all things to all men.

    My prayer is, that instead of feeling threatened by what you are saying, those who have eldership responsibilities have the same noble-mindedness as the Bereans and look to Scripture.

  2. 10-10-2007

    I read your first post and responded there. Your response included this in conclusion:

    From your response, it seems that you would answer, “No, Paul did not distinguish between vocational work and minstry work.”

    I’m not sure I follow how this helps you arrive at your conclusion or why my response was not considered further. I also don’t think there should be a distinction between the two types of work just as there shouldn’t be a distinction between secular and spiritual. I also don’t really understand how you get where you do, even with reading your posts. Whereas you talk about not getting substantive responses, I suppose I don’t see enough substance in the passage to support a full blown final answer that scripture teaches pastors shouldn’t get paid.

    Perhaps I am just struggling because I haven’t read all of these carefully or thought through it much.

    Now, I will say I like the result that would occur if this were practiced. But, what about missionaries?

  3. 10-10-2007

    hey allan
    i have liked most of the things talked about but not all. Is there middle ground to say salary is not prescribed but not unbiblical? Somewhere between yes and no? I find it difficult in studying ecclesiology (due to you) to say much of what is done in modern evangelicalism is solely biblical. But, is some practice unbiblical if it is not prescribed in the bible? the gray areas? what of smoking? not spelled out but unhealthy. is it ok to smoke on rare occasion (this is close to a confession). I think it is ok. but… it is not in the bible. are we to look for guidelines or principles or in our communal practices only what is spelled out? That is my question for you with the way church is done in terms of ecclesiology. And then there is the whole hermeneutics issue and Acts. nevertheless, I have liked the series.

  4. 10-10-2007

    Well done, Alan. I commend your wisdom and courage. I trust you are carrying your shield of faith. Seriously though, I think you provided an accurate scriptural study of this issue. I think if people become irritated by your conclusions then they should examine themselves and ask themselves…why? And if they disagree with you (and many others), then from scripture explain why.

    The only place in scripture that I can think of where they practiced similarly what we practice today in the church, as far as “paid clergy”, would be back in the Levitical priesthood. A group that was set aside to work for God. They didn’t receive an inheritance and so were supported by all the other people’s tithes. Could this be where they are getting the “paid clergy” idea from?

    Jeff

  5. 10-10-2007

    Aussie John,

    Thank you for your encouragement. It is exciting when scriptural studies match personal experience. I hope you keep sharing your experiences.

    Bryan,

    Thank you also for commenting. This series was primarily about paying salaries to elders/pastors, not necessarily about missionaries, who would probably fall under the category of Christians travelling away from home. That would be an interesting study sometime.

    I appreciate that fact that you are maintaining this dialog in spite of not following the argument. I’m sure that many people will not follow my argument and many more will not agree. The best thing we can do is continue relating to one another in spite of those differences. I knew you would be one to want to continue interacting. I’ve learned alot about that from you.

    Ed (ten juices),

    Is there middle ground? Is there something between yes and no? Maybe. I’d love to hear any arguments in that direction. I agree there are many gray areas. Is this one of them? If my argument is valid, then it may not be gray. But, then again, my argument may not be valid.

    Jeff,

    Thank you also for the encouragement. Yes, we get much of our ecclesiology from the Levitical priesthood in the OT. Much of this occurred as the early medieval church allegorized the OT so it would be less Jewish and more Christian. Is this valid? I don’t know. I suppose that’s something we need to think about.

    -Alan

  6. 10-11-2007

    I do not dispute your exegisis of the relevent text. We on the M field teach this the same way. We never encourage paid ministers and when others do there are always unhappy consequences such as dependance on foreign funds and separation of clergy from the community.
    The ‘middle ground’ I offer is just as unpalpable to many as your conclusions but here goes. I think we need to recognize that ‘Church as we know it’ in the West is a large corporate institution. People running large corporations should get paid for it. It is a legitimate ‘secular’ job. We should not pay people to exercise their spiritual gifts. We should empower and enable people to exercise them. This means that today’s pastors should be paid not to preach but to lead large organizations. If we want to follow the Pauline example in the NT then we have to return to an NT model of small house churches which does not need a large management structure to maintain it.
    If we conclude that we must not give up the Western Church model then we must keep paying for it- but if your exegisis is completely unchallenged can we live with that? Are we people of the Book or not?

  7. 10-11-2007

    Strider, I really like what you have written. Church in the US is hardly biblically recognizable as church at all.

    I think it is clear that money was given to ministers throughout the NT, and that Paul and John both encouraged supporting the work of the ministry. How that falls with regard to pastors…

  8. 10-11-2007

    Alan,

    I sure have enjoyed your recent posts about this topic as well as the comments from your readers. I would like to offer a few arguments against your position and get your response.

    As you pointed out from the Thessalonian epistles, it is clear that all believers (whether leaders in the local church or not) are instructed to work with their hands. I believe you are correct in pointing out that while this passage was likely given to believers who were idly waiting for the return of Christ, the instructions are for every believer in every age. The question that seems to be difficult to answer and in which there is disagreement is what constitutes “working with one’s own hands” and how should this be applied?

    When we make a distinction between ministry and secular employment(which I don’t believe Scripture does) many other problems and questions arise. From reading the many comments on this post I see people in various ministry positions each attempting to reconcile what side of the fence they are on. Some may claim that because they are not recognized as elders they are justified for offering their skills/talents in certain areas (e.g., music, accounting, administration, etc.) and receiving compensation. But how do we make such a distinction and where do we stop? Are you saying that missionaries should not be compensated? After all, many of them do not work in a secular workplace but receive payment from a mission board for the ministry they are part of. What about professors? I’m sure a majority of them would consider what they do ministry, as there are certainly some overlapping functions with pastoral ministry. I believe that because all work, whether for a church, ministry or a secular company is ministry; there will always be a degree of confusion on this issue if we insist that work should be divided into the secular and non-secular.

    Concerning Acts 20, I believe you are correct in your observation that when Paul instructed the elders to work “hard in this way,” he was making a specific reference to the tent-making enterprise he was engaged in. I’m not convinced, however, that Paul was forbidding income for hard work if it was considered ministry in some kind of official sense. After all, every place a believer works should be a place of ministry. When I was in the Army I had a great “ministry.” While I was not recognized as an elder by a church, my secular work to me was in many ways a rewarding ministry. Maybe you can help me understand this better, but I don’t see anywhere in Scripture where work is divided into secular and non-secular. All work should be considered ministry regardless of where it is (cf. Col 3:23). If our place of employment is in a church we should work there as to the Lord. If it is in an office or some other place in the secular world, we should likewise work there as to the Lord, recognizing that no matter where we find ourselves, it is a place of ministry. So what was Paul instructing the Ephesian elders to do? I think he was simply telling them to work hard (no matter where it was) and to set an example for other believers. If Paul had received income working anywhere else (including in “the ministry”) he could have pointed to what he did as an example of hard work. Paul’s focus doesn’t seem to be on where one works but simply on working and not being an unnecessary burden to others.

    We must always be ready to apply our interpretation of the text. According to 2 Thessalonians 3:14, we should note those who do not follow Paul’s instruction (including his instruction on work) and have nothing to do with them. According to what you are saying (correct me if I am wrong), pastors who do not support themselves by working outside the church are really not working as Paul instructed. If this is true, and if we want to be obedient to Paul’s teaching, we must disassociate ourselves from all pastors (and possibly several others including missionaries and professors) who do not “work” in the way you have described it. This might sound rather ridiculous, but if what you are saying about work is correct, this is the conclusion and application we must be willing to make based upon that passage.

    A couple of other considerations also come to my mind. We know that in the OT the Levites were supported for their work. I realize that we are no longer living under the law in a theocracy, but I think it goes to show that it is not a foreign concept in Scripture for a man to be compensated for ministry. Also, (I realize this could be considered an argument from silence), do you believe that each of the Apostles found secular work like Paul did? We know how many of them supported themselves before following Christ, but should we assume that each of the disciples worked with their own hands in the sense that Paul did, or was Paul an exception? These may or may not be good arguments but I would appreciate your response as I’m sure you have spent much more time than I have looking into this.

    While I do not believe we can legitimately claim that it is biblically unjustifiable to pay elders/pastors, I do believe that there are many good practical reasons for not doing so and I believe you have spoken well in this area. Being a salaried elder, I can testify that the hireling mentality is something our church and other churches have to deal with. Instead of the pastor being seen as a leader and overseer, he is frequently seen as someone who is paid to visit and preach/teach. Another disadvantage is that I have is being removed from day-to-day interaction with unbelievers. While my opportunities for equipping and discipling are greater, my opportunities for evangelism have certainly diminished. If I had work outside the church I would have more opportunities to share the Gospel, as I constantly instruct the congregation to do. These are just a couple of practical benefits that come from not paying a pastor a salary. I believe, however, that it is unwarranted to make such a biblical distinction between secular and non-secular work. Each church must evaluate what is best for them in light of their situation, and I believe that is what Paul did, evaluating each church and situation individually.

    While we may disagree on this particular issue, I want you to know that I greatly appreciate your commitment to understand and follow the Scriptures. Thank you for encouraging us to wrestle with what the Bible teaches instead of assuming without thought that our traditions and practices are correct.

    Ben Laird

  9. 10-11-2007

    Since you know I already disagree with your conclusion, I won’t say more. I think the difference can be summarize in the fact that we are in different places hermeneutically and that is why we disagree.

    With that said, I’ve been impressed with your study. You’ve done good detailed work with sound conclusions on your hermeneutical method.

    For that I congratulate you. Well done. You’ve written a very thoughtful study.

  10. 10-11-2007

    Wow, I’m way out of my league here. Is that going to stop me from commenting? Heck no! :)

    I found Bryan’s question about missionaries interesting. My husband and I felt called to move to Japan as a missionfield in great need of the gospel. But we were inspired by Paul’s teaching (and his missionary example) and felt that we should utilize the “tent-making” model. So we obtained work as English teachers so that we could support our missionary efforts that way. Having done it both ways, I think it’s safe to say that working (and seeing that as part and parcel of the mission) is just easier than trying to raise money.

    Sorry, Alan, that this is just a personal experience comment and not really a discussion of the relevant scriptures. It’s just that my husband and I drew the same conclusions you have drawn, except from the missions end of things.

  11. 10-11-2007

    Sarah and Alan,

    Am I missing something or didn’t Paul do all of the above… some tentmaking and some support raising (and even some support raising for others)?

  12. 10-11-2007

    Ed (tenjuices),

    Let me shamelessly refer you to an old blog post of mine. In it, I stipulate that the gray areas in ecclesiology are not as gray as we might think when the church is set in a specific cultural setting.

    Are things possible? Paul would say that all things are possible, but not all things are beneficial.

    Love you and miss y’all.

    Mae:l

  13. 10-12-2007

    Strider,

    Your comments are always very important, because they give us glimpses of what the church could look like outside of our church culture.

    Bryan,

    I agree that money was often given to believers in the NT. My study attempted to look at how that money was given to elders/pastors. Perhaps you or someone else could do a similar study with regard to “missionaries”?

    Ben,

    First, thank you very much for your thoughtful comment. I asked for feedback and I honestly appreciate getting feedback, even from those who disagree.

    I’m not making a distinction between the secular and the spiritual, although I see why it may appear that I am. I am trying to make a distinction between 1)ministering while working to support yourself and 2) working to support yourself by ministering.

    Mike,

    I think that we probably have different hermeneutical methods, but we also probably have a different understanding of the church and elders. I have appreciated your thoughts in this discussion though. Thank you!

    Sarah,

    Out of your league? No way! I very much appreciated your “personal experience comment”. Thank you also!

    Bryan,

    Yes, I think Paul did both. But, Paul wasn’t an elder.

    Maël,

    Thanks for the shameless plug. :)

    Serioulsy, thank you for pointing us to that article.

    -Alan

  14. 10-12-2007

    Alan,

    On a note similar I believe you might enjoy this sermon:

    http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=10180222445

    “Ten Sheckels and a shirt” the price of a priest and a christian

  15. 10-12-2007

    Perhaps you addressed it elsewhere. But how do you understand 1 Corinthians 9:6 and its implications?

  16. 10-12-2007

    Anonymous #1,

    Thank you for the link. I don’t know if I’ll have to time to listen. Would you be able to list the main points?

    Anonymous #2,

    I addressed 1 Corinthians 9:6 in the fourth post of this series, which was called “What about the right of elders/pastors?“. In short, I suggested that 1 Corinthians 9:1-6 set the context for the remainder of 1 Corinthians 9: that is, Paul is talking about believers who are travelling away from their home and job, and thus have a “right” to be supported by other Christians.

    -Alan

  17. 10-12-2007

    I believe that there is a false argument that you are employing in this post. You argue that no where does the Scripture direct us to pay our pastors a salary therefore we cannot justify it scripturally. Then you list a few observations from scripture regarding a “right” to be paid and Paul’s example of giving up his “right” as a traveling teacher being the one pastor’s should follow.

    However, I searched in vain for any information in your post about texts that actually forbid the giving of a salary to a pastor. Of course, the reason is that there are none. Therefore your point becomes one of opinion rather than biblical instruction. The best you can do is make some extrapolations from a few passages that are certainly open to differing application. But I can give you an opposite thesis and you cannot dispute it scripturally. “Scripturally, we cannot justify deciding not to pay elders/pastors a salary based on their position.”

  18. 10-12-2007

    Matthew,

    Welcome to my blog! Thank you for your comment. You are correct: there are no passages of Scripture that forbid paying a salary to an elder.

    However, I think this misses the point of my argument. The argument is that all believers (and especially elders in Acts 20) are instructed (commanded) to “work with their hands” to support themselves as well as (that is, in addition to) working among one another by serving, teaching, leading, etc. Thus, according to this argument “pastoral work” is not the same as “working with your hands”, since Paul separates the two.

    If this is correct, then there is no need for a passage forbidding the payment of a salary to an elder. Since the elder has already been instructed to “work with his hands” to provide support for himself and others, he has no need of a salary for his “pastoral work”.

    -Alan

  19. 10-14-2007

    The 1689 London Baptist Assembly understood scripture otherwise:

    “They unanimously adopted the 1677 Confession of Faith, and urged all the members of each church to familiarize themselves with its contents. Similarly, they declared their “Approbation” of the anonymously published book The Gospel Minister’s Maintenance Vindicated (it was written by Benjamin Keach) and urged that every church obtain a copy. This book was a defense of the financial support of pastors.

    Another significant proposal that was adopted and implemented by the Assembly was to begin a fund, to be raised from all of the member churches, that might be used for three purposes: 1. To assist poor churches in providing suitable remuneration for their pastors; 2. To provide the financial means to allow pastors to itinerate in evangelism of the lost and edification of the churches in the country; and 3. To provide financial support so that promising young men might be trained in “knowledge and understanding of the Languages, Latin Greek and Hebrew” and prepared for the ministry. A standing committee of nine trustees from London churches was appointed, charged with soliciting and distributing the funds that were received.
    The Assembly also debated a series of theological questions, among which were such topics as the support of ministers,…”

  20. 10-14-2007

    Jerome,

    I read the whole link that you gave there. Very interesting stuff.

    My sense, however, in reading it is wondering whether or not we gain anything from it in the context of this discussion.

    Consider with me the following points:

    1. No scriptural exegesis is given in the link you gave, and I have no access to the book they reference, so it is impossible in this context to know whether or not their conclusions were actually based on scripture, as you claim.

    2. The troubled story found in that link of the dissension, name-calling, etc. that came just three years later in the same association leads me to wonder whether these are men that we should be looking to for guidance on these types of matters.

    3. There are many, many people who believe, and who have believed, that paying a pastor is a biblical concept. Does that mean one should not re-examine the issue the way Alan is? Just because there was a formal confession drawn up and agreed to doesn’t add any more weight to it if it’s based on faulty (or non-existent) exegesis.

    4. Forgive my cynicism in this last point, but a group of pastors sitting around determining that they have a right to be paid is a bit of a conflict of interest, don’t you think? Notice how the way this was played out is that they established a system where representatives of the general assembly would travel around to the churches for the express purpose of making sure this was being done. Do we see any evidence of that in the New Testament? I don’t.

  21. 10-14-2007

    Jerome,

    Thanks for telling us about the London Baptist Confession of 1689. Like I said in my summary, I recognize that most believers through history have been quite happy with paying elders, and most believers today believe this practice is biblical.

    I would love to see their reasons for supporting paying a salary to elder because of their position. I don’t have time to search for this now, so perhaps you could summarize their argument for us?

    I’m actually surprised that there was a debate on this issue. That means that some believer did not agree with the practice. It would be interesting to see both of their arguments.

    Steve,

    Interesting points. Thank you for sharing them with us. I know that when I’ve studied historical decisions, there is usually more to it than what has been published. Hopefully, Jerome will be able to share the scriptural justification for paying a salary to an elder from those who published the London Baptist Confession of 1689.

    -Alan

  22. 10-14-2007

    Alan, Southeastern’s library has “A Narrative of the Proceedings of the General Assembly” on microfilm.

    Steve, ASU’s library subscribes to the Early English books Online database, where you can find the microfilmed images of Keach’s book.

    Committed as they were to the maintenance of their ministers, many early Baptist churches could not afford (literally) a plurality of such elders, especially in smaller churches. Keach’s 1697 “Articles of the Faith” calls for an elder, or elders, in every church. (Article 25).
    Hercules Collins in The Temple Repair’d (1702) describes Baptist churches in London, “where there is but one Gift in a Church ordinarily in exercise”. (p. 13).

    Likewise today, if you insist on a plurality and parity of elders, vocational maintenance is usually not practicable.

  23. 10-14-2007

    I think you’re making a stretch with the passage about “working with hands.” Paul’s occasion was that some were actually stealing. I don’t think he’s actually separating different kinds of work. If he is, then that would also mean Christians should not be paid for “think work” (teaching in school, governmental work, philosophy, writing, etc.).

    I’m also very puzzled why you don’t think “double honor” means some type of pay, since the “laborer deserves his wages” and “you shouldn’t muzzle the ox while he’s plowing,” and “Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.”

    You argue that money, if given at all, is to be given by individuals, but look at 1 Cor. 9 again… Paul argues from the OT priests and altar attendants. Where did their food come from? The Israelites… The individuals gave to the temple and the priests received some fruit of it.

    I can more clearly see the argument that ministers have the “right” to be paid, but it would be better for them to voluntarily be unpaid, as Paul.

    It looks more like a Christian liberty issue, rather than black and white.

  24. 10-14-2007

    Jerome,

    Thanks for the explanation. I understand that historically baptists have been interested in paying their elders/pastors. I am still interested in their scriptural argument, but unfortunately I do not have the time to research it now. Again, perhaps you could summarize their argument for us?

    Jim U.,

    Thank you for the comment, and welcome to my blog! Actually, I only see stealing mentioned in Ephesians 4. I don’t see stealing mentioned at all in 1 or 2 Thessalonians. With regard to elders, I also don’t see stealing mentioned in Acts 20.

    The phrase “working with your hands” is a phrase that Paul used. He seems to have used it as work that is distinct from shepherding in Acts 20. So, since Paul used it in this fashion, I don’t think its a stretch for me to use it that way. We certainly would need to determine what “working with your hands” means today. The only thing that I’m suggesting is that we should maintain at least the same distinction that Paul maintains: that is, “working with your hands” is different from shepherding.

    Again, within the context of 1 Corinthians 9, elders/pastors are never mentioned. In fact, the only believers that are mentioned are those who are travelling away from their home and their place of work. They could not support themselves.

    I cannot find any place in the NT where priests and levites of the OT are compared to elders/pastors of the NT.

    Why do you think Paul said elders who lead well and teach well are worthy of “double honor” instead of being worthy of “wages”? He certainly knew the word for “wages”.

    By the way, like I said earlier, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. However, I would love to see an explanation of why you think I am stretching the distinction between “working with your hands” and shepherding type work when Paul uses the disinction himself.

    -Alan

  25. 10-15-2007

    Alan, I do not have access to the Narrative of the Proceedings of the General Assembly. Your library is one of few that have it on microfilm.

    Here is a paraphrased summary of arguments from The Gospel Minister’s Maintenance Vindicated:

    1. Christ sent out his Disciples not providing themselves scrip…
    2. God has positively ordained, or appointed his Ministers a comfortable maintenance under the Gospel.
    3. Ministers commanded to attend wholly upon their Work.
    -all his time little enough
    -Pastors must visit their members
    4. Ministers that follow Trades etc. exposes them to Reproach, therefore if possible to be avoided.
    5. Natural law
    6. Demands of sacred work preclude following other trades.
    7. Old Testament example of provision for ministers
    8. Ministers need to be able to be hospitable
    9. Double honour to Elders that labor in the Word is maintenance
    10. Good sermon preparation takes much time
    11. neglect of ministers is robbing God
    12. shameful that Papists support idolatry more than we uphold the true Worship of the Living God
    13. Ministers are without excuse not to faithfully fulfil their ministry when they are sufficiently provided for.

    on pp. 100-101 the working with hands verse is touched on:

    Not unlawful for preachers to work…but worldly business should not hinder preaching…when working with our hands may further the gospel, we may work (as Paul’s case once was)…tis but to make an expediment, if the people should fail you.. laboring with his hands set an example for ministers to provide for the necessities of life by other employments when they cannot live by the gospel, but this very thing Paul accounted among his afflictions.

    The title page reads:
    The gospel minister’s maintenance vindicated Wherein, a regular ministry in the churches, is first asserted, and the objections against a Gospel maintenance for ministers, answered. Also, the dignity, necessity, difficulty, use and excellency of the ministry of Christ is opened. Likewise, the nature and vveghtiness of that sacred vvork and office clearly evinc’d. Recommended to the baptized congregations, by several elders in and about the City of London.

    I believe WF and Duke have the Early English Books Online database, where this is available.

    Here is reproduced the letter recommending the book.

  26. 10-15-2007

    Alan,

    Looks like you have some people thinking about/struggling with this important topic. It challenges our “traditional” thinking about how we are to view the role or function of elders among us. Keep up the good work.

    Jon

  27. 10-15-2007

    Jerome,

    Did you look at the items as your listed them? I don’t think most of them can be defended from Scripture. The only one that is both scriptural and refers to elders is #9. I think most of the others have to do with cultural understandings of pastors/elders instead of a scriptural understanding. I also think there are probably better arguments for paying a salary to an elder. Thank you for the list though. It is insteresting to see how some believers justified their practices a couple of hundred years ago.

    Jon,

    If my blog posts cause believers to think – even if they do not agree with me – then I will be very happy.

    -Alan

  28. 10-16-2007

    During WWII, Victor Blackwell was an attorney who represented several of Jehovah’s Witnesses who sought exemption from the military due to being a minister of religion. Such exemptions were almost always denied. In contrast, paid ministers [Blackwell uncharitably calls them “mercenary ministers”] were granted such exemptions as a matter of course. On occasion, though, he would win a case, as when the judge addresses this client of his:

    “If I remember my Bible, our Lord was a carpenter, Peter and John were fishermen, and Paul a tent-maker. they were ministers. Young man, I commend you for working at an honest occupation to support yourself and your ministry. I wish my preacher would go to work.”

    (From Oer the Ramparts They Watched, Victor Blackwell, Carlton Press, NY, 1976, pg 167)

    I’ve noticed several ministers in your blog’s pages struggling with the issue of accepting salary or not, and a few taking the plunge and renouncing it. Extremely couragious on their part, not only for the obvious reason of replacing income, but also for running counter to the accepted practice of their peers.

  29. 1-16-2008

    Why do people hate so much for a minister to be paid? What other profession expects someone to be on call 24/7/365 without pay? Does a doctor get paid? Does a cashier get paid? Does a carpenter get paid? Paul said, “Those who labor in the gospel should also live of the gospel.” This is a quote from the Old Testament. Why do people think pastors don’t work if they don’t have a secular job? Why do they think that the sermons pop out of thin air without any effort? Why do they think the pastor is supposed to drop their whole life to minister to everyone else’s needs, but they don’t deserve to get paid? You all are crazy. There aren’t many who will put in the hours that pastors put in and not expect to get paid. Paul didn’t say that a preacher supporting their families was an end all thing, he said thats what he did. In fact if you will read further you’ll notice that he actually says that the church should take care of not only the preacher but his wife and kids if he has one. Get a grip people. Preachers are looking after your eternal souls, so why shouldn’t they get paid?

  30. 1-16-2008

    The main reason people have a problem with preachers getting a salary is that they will have to give to the church in order for the preacher to be paid. 99.9% of people today are too greedy and selfish to give to the church so they don’t endorse paying the preacher.

  31. 1-16-2008

    Anonymous #1,

    Thank you for your comment. I believe that the major distinction between my view of pastoring and your view of pastoring is that I do not see pastoring as a vocation. If you take the “vocation” idea out of being a pastor, I think you will see that most of your rhetorical questions fall apart.

    Anonymous #2,

    Perhaps you know more people that do not agree with paying pastors salaries than I do. However, the ones that I know are very generous and giving people. I’ve known many of them to do without themselves so that they can help people who are in need. I think perhaps your reasoning is a little faulty.

    -Alan

  32. 2-1-2008

    Alan, I’m going to continue my reply on this post rather than on the other.

    You replied to me yesterday saying.

    “In this post, I was pointing out that Paul himself makes a distinction between two types of work – that is working by serving others and working with your hands to support yourself. If you read the post called “What about work for elders/pastors?” you’ll see that I discuss Acts 20 where Paul specifically talks about this distinction in “work” for elders/pastors.”

    In acts 20 Paul uses himself as an example to the Ephesians elders of the importance of being charitable. Paul often holds himself up as an example without expecting others to follow exactly in his footsteps.

    Were this the case then when Paul says in 1 Cor 7:2 that he wishes everyone were as he is (celibate ) then we would conclude from this that elders should not only be unpaid but single. This we should be careful not to make Paul’s example a normative principle in all cases. And this is where I think your exegesis is flawed in Acts 20. Paul does not say that the must step up and become traveling church planters ministering to their own needs by tentmaking. He says that they (and he) must work hard to support the weak, embodying the principle of giving over receiving as spoken by Jesus and modeled by Paul in his providing for the men with him from his enterprises. I think you are reading more into outws in Acts 20:35 than can be substantiated from the greater context of scripture. Were they to work “exactly” as Paul did they would all have to enter the craft of tentmaking. Paul clearly argued that there were some in ministry positions who had the right to earn their living from the gospel (1 Cor 9:14). Paul didn’t assert this right, this is to his credit, but Paul’s example here cannot be exegetically construed to be prescriptive to all ministry workers lest a number of problems with the text arise.

    First, 1 Cor 9:6 becomes a rhetorical question with the answer no instead of yes thus vilifying Peter and Cephas for refraining from laboring (ergazomai).

    Second, It starts to cast doubt on the other rhetorical questions leading us to question whether or not Paul and Barnabas had the right to bring along a believing wife.

    And then leads us to answer the following questions in such a fashion.

    “Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense?”
    Answer: Elders

    “Who plants a vineyard does not eat the fruit of it?”
    Answer: Elders

    “Who tends a flock and does not use the milk from the flock?”
    Answer: Elders

    It is true that Paul didn’t trouble the Ephesians by asking for financial support while he was among them but, as has been pointed out, he gratefully accepted gifts from the Philippians and the Thessalonians. Furthermore, Jesus, as you have said, accepted financial sustenance from some women of means. Surely you would agree that Jesus embodied his own principle and that His “giving more than receiving” wasn’t tainted by his accepted of financial support.

    Your reply about BDAG was a little peculiar to me I have to admit.

    “Yes, BDAG does say that “honor” in 1 Tim 5:17 means “honorarium, compensation”. However, it is interesting that this is the only place in Scripture that they associate this meaning to “honor”. I think they could be wrong in this case.”

    What do you mean by “this is the only place in scripture that they associate this meaning to “honor.”? BDAG is a lexicon that gives specific examples of passages to illustrate the lexical meaning. It does not catalog all the instances of a word according to its nuanced meaning. 1 Tim 5:17 was a passage that BDAG used to illustrate the meaning of the word that means “honorarium”, that does not mean that this is the only place in Scripture where this word refers to being honored financially. We have no idea how many other places they associate this meaning to the word honor as BDAG is a lexicon not an exhaustive enchiridion on the meaning of timh in the Greek NT and the LXX.

    I think we can find many other passages in the NT where Timh has a fiscal element including:
    Matthew 27:6,9
    Acts 4:34
    Acts 5:2
    Acts 7:16
    Acts 19:19
    Acts 28:10

    Finally your next response if very confusing to me.

    “However, I think you’re making a distinction that I am not making. This series is an attempt to answer the question “Does Scripture support paying a salary to elders/pastors because of their position as elder/pastor?” I do think that financial gifts to elders/pastors are appropriate and scriptural. However, I do not think this is the same as a salary for a position. Instead, it is an individual’s response to the pastor’s serving and teaching.

    Yes, there were salaried positions when the NT was written (see 1 Tim 5:17) – Paul knew the word for “wages” but chose to use “honor” instead. I think there’s a good reason for that.”

    My first reaction is to point out that Paul says “someone” has the right to earn their living from the gospel (1 Cor 9:14) and you say that Elders aren’t them, so then who are they who have this right?

    Your answer is traveling workers who are away from their jobs back home. They are the ones who have the right to a “wage.”

    Ok, can you give me one example from the scriptures where a traveling missionary earned a fixed wage for their ministry contribution? Can you give me an example of a set salary of X amount per month for anyone in the NT for anything for that matter?

    (Paul made and then sold tents, he didn’t get a salary even from his “secular” work. Consequently, are all Elders in secular professions who earn a monthly salary to quite their jobs and go find a job that is paid by the hour or remunerated by the unit sold?)

    If you cannot give us an example of a “salary” for traveling workers, then I’d argue you are making a distinction without a difference. All of the examples of traveling missionaries that I have read in the NT were recipients of the hospitality of their hosts but were not paid a “wage” as we understand one in our modern economy. Nevertheless, Jesus told the 72 to graciously accept the hospitality of their hosts using these words, “for the worker deserves his wages. (Luke 10:7). The interesting thing is that this phrase (ergaths tou misthou autou) occurs exactly as it does in Luke 10:7 again in 1 Tim 5:18 following the discussion on how to treat an elder who’s work is preaching and teaching.

    I think you have not given adequate consideration to what appears to be a very intentional allusion by Paul to Jesus’ words.

    Why is it considered wages when Jesus says it concerning the 72 but it becomes periodic gifts (at most), or just being very thankful (at least) when Paul says exactly the same thing referring to elders?

    Thanks,

    Jerry

  33. 2-1-2008

    Jerry,

    I think you’ve made some leaps in your logic.

    For example in 1 Cor. 7:2, Paul says that he “wishes everyone were as he is.” The conclusion is not that “elders” should be single. But that Paul wishes that “elders” (and everyone else) was single. However, if we read further, Paul admits that not everyone is as “he is.” Then he proceeds to give advice to those who are unfortunate enough to not be like him (i.e. not live as a celibate but as a married person). Also, there is a major difference between a “wish” and an imperative to follow his example.

    The rhetorical questions you answered are not quite accurate. The answer in Alan’s position for each question is not “Elders” it is still “no-one”. The question though is, what does a Elder “earn”? I would answer, that an Elder has the right to enjoy the fruits of his labor… i.e. the spiritual fruit gained from discipling, teaching, admonishing, etc. other believers.

    Regarding 1 Tim. 5:17, are you sure that is talking about salaried positions?

    You said, “My first reaction is to point out that Paul says “someone” has the right to earn their living from teh gospel (1 Cor 9:14) and you say that Elders aren’t them, sot hen who are they who have this right?”

    I would suggest that Alan never said that Elders do not have this right. In fact, Paul never says that only Elders have this right. In fact… Paul never even mentions Elders here. I think the better understanding is the plainer understand. “So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.”

    In my opinion, if we continue to read we understand exactly why we wouldn’t want to partake of this right.

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

  34. 2-1-2008

    Jerry,

    I appreciate your continuing this discussion. To be honest, I had a hard time following much of your argument. I’ll try to reply to your comments as I understand them.

    Your suggestion that Paul’s statement in 1 Cor 7:7 (“I wish that all men were even as myself”) means that he was commanding all men to live as celibates completely leaves out the remainder of that verse: “But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.” Yes, Paul recognized the benefits of living a celibate life, but he in no way commanded everyone to live that life. Instead, his command in 1 Cor. 7 is quite different: If you are celibate, live a celibate life; but if you are married, live as a married person.

    So, your comparison between 1 Cor 7 and Acts 20:35 is peculiar. Also, I’m surprised at your statement that “Paul often holds himself up as an example without expecting others to follow exactly in his footsteps”. I find that surprising, because it seems that Paul says he does just the opposite: He offers himself as an example so that others will follow him. I think 1 Cor 4:16 (“Therefore I urge you, imitate me”) and 1 Cor 11:1 (“Imitate me just as I imitate Christ”), as well as his praise of the Thessalonians for becoming “imitators of us” indicates that Paul did expect people to follow his example.

    As far as the meaning of “by working in this manner” in Acts 20:35, I’ve decided to write a blog post explaining my view of this. I should post it Sunday. In summary, no, I do not think Paul was telling them to be tentmakers, but then he doesn’t say anything about tentmaking in that context.

    As you mentioned, 1 Cor 9:14 says, “Those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel”. The question, of course, is to whom does Paul refer. The way I see, there can be two possibilities: 1) “those who proclaim the gospel” refers to all who proclaim the gospel or 2) “those who proclaim the gospel” refer to a limited number of those who proclaim the gospel.

    If we accept option #1, then we should expect all believers to get their living from the gospel, since all believers are expected and commanded to “proclaim the gospel”. If we accept option #2, then we must ask ourselves how to limit “those who proclaim the gospel”. I prefer option #2, and I prefer to limit “those who proclaim the gospel” to those mentioned in the context of this passage. Beginning in 1 Cor 9:1-6, Paul very carefully lays out who he’s talking about in this context. Most importantly to this comment and topic, elders are never mentioned in this passage or in the entire book of 1 Corinthians. If we want to add elders to “those who proclaim the gospel”, then we should also explain why we do not add other believers who also proclaim the gospel. Adding only elders to this group seems arbitrary.

    You chided me for not considering Jesus instructions to the 72 “to graciously accept the hospitality of their hosts”. In fact, I consider that to be very important to my understanding of what it means for elders to be worthy of double honor, and for those who are taught to share all good things with those who teach (Gal 6:6). Thus, one way that honor is demonstrated and good things are shared is through hospitality – which we should graciously accept, as Jesus instructs the 72.

    According BDAG, 1 Tim 5:17 IS the only place where “honor” is used in the since of “honorarium”. In the other passages that you cite, BDAG uses the translation “value” and placed it under a completely different meaning that in 1 Tim 5:17. I think that “value” would be a great translation in 1 Tim 5:17: “Elders are worthy of being doubly valued…”

    When we study these passages, it is very important to study them in context. We can and should compare Scripture to Scripture, but only after we study each passage in its own context.

    -Alan

  35. 2-2-2008

    This is a very interesting discussion. I have a certain amount of second-hand experience with this as my father-in-law has been an evangelist for over 20 years while living by faith. When he went out into the work, he was given a letter of commendation from his church and that was it – no money, no salary, no pledges of anything but prayer, etc. For over 20 years now he has travelled over two continents, raising a family and spreading the gospel. He receives no pay or promise of pay for anything that he does and yet has raised his family over the years while living by faith. He never asks for funds for himself or his work. There are no appeals, veiled or open. He has no pledged support from one month to another. Like George Mueller (who was a man of remarkable faith that you should read about if you haven’t), my father-in-law simply prays when there is a need to be met – and so far it always has been.

    He is not alone in this way of living either, as I know many, many missionaries, evangelists and teachers who live in this exact same way and I think that as you have noted, this is the pattern we see in Scripture.

    It seems to me, though, that we could take this question a step further. You have suggested (Alan) that Scripture never warrants nor suggests a paid clergy, but perhaps we would do well to ask whether Scripture ever intended or warranted a clergy at all.

    I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for writing.

    Steve

  36. 2-2-2008

    Steve,

    Thank you for the example of your father-in-law. And, by the way, I completely agree with you: Scripture does not suggest a clergy at all. In fact, I would say that the clergy/laity distinction is contrary to Scripture.

    -Alan

  37. 2-2-2008

    Concerning 1 Cor 9:14, Alan Wrote:

    “If we accept option #1, then we should expect all believers to get their living from the gospel, since all believers are expected and commanded to “proclaim the gospel”. If we accept option #2, then we must ask ourselves how to limit “those who proclaim the gospel”. I prefer option #2, and I prefer to limit “those who proclaim the gospel” to those mentioned in the context of this passage. Beginning in 1 Cor 9:1-6, Paul very carefully lays out who he’s talking about in this context.”

    Yes, he is talking, very specifically about Apollos, Peter, Barnabas and himself. So if you are to restrict it to only those specifically mentioned then these are the only ones in history who have the right of financial support. We know this can’t be the case as Jesus said at least 69 others did as well (Luke 10:7).

    When Jesus sent out the 72, they stayed in homes, ate the food of their hosts and drank their wine. This is a very understandable form of compensation in an economy that is more agrarian and prone to bartering than our modern economy. Today, most churches are likely to offer a pastor a salary rather than have them stay in their homes for the time he will pastor at their church. Why is this not an acceptable honorarium while living in someone else’s house, sleeping in their bed and eating their food is acceptable?

    You remarked:
    “When we study these passages, it is very important to study them in context. We can and should compare Scripture to Scripture, but only after we study each passage in its own context.”

    I completely agree. And that is why I think you run into a great deal of trouble in your interpretation of 1 Tim 5:17 as the context is very heavily weighted towards understanding “honor” as meaning monetary support and to conclude otherwise makes the passage quite stilted.

    In 1 Tim 5:3 Paul starts to talk about who is to receive and who is not to receive monetary support and he begins the discussion with widows. He uses Timaw (honor) which very clearly means monetary support toward widows who qualify. Then he goes from the discussion of which widows qualify and which ones don’t to the discussion of elders and how they will be honored.

    You are, in effect, arguing that Paul shifts gears and stops talking about honoring through material means of support and starts talking about honoring in other ways, then immediately shifts back to talking about material earnings using the example of the ox and the worker.

    I am arguing that Paul never shifts gears. He starts talking about the church’s responsibility to honor folks materially (widows in 5:3) and continues talking about honoring elders materially and then uses the example of the material right of oxen and the material wages due the worker. This is further supported by the fact that the verb timaw in verse 5 refers to honoring materially and then the noun form (timh) comes up in verse 17. Finally, I look to whom Paul was quoting in verse 18b (Jesus in Luke 10:7) and I see that Jesus very clearly speaking of wages as material rewards for ministry work.

    The context of 1 Tim 5:17 works against your conclusion, not in support of it.

    Finally, if you were to provide us with suitable reason to conclude that no elder in the first century ever received a salary that would still be insufficient for us to conclude that no pastor in the 21st century should unless you hold the very problematic regulative principle.

    All sorts of Christian folk receive material compensation for ministries that either did not exist in biblical times or were not compensated in biblical times. I think of things like, say, a professorship at a bible college. There is no biblical ground for compensating these folks whatsoever. How about just plain old going to seminary, if you accept any tuition break you are accepting money that came out of the collection plate from the church I attend as well as many other SBC churches who contribute to Southeastern through the Cooperative Program.

    How about Christian book authors and people who sell them? Did Paul submit Romans to Tyndale and have it published for royalty? Did the owner of a first century Christian bookstore sell Galatians for 14:99 per copy?

    How about Christian counselors, Christian military chaplains, denominational workers, teachers at Christian schools, people who manage or work for parachurch organizations, campus ministry staff, etc…

    None of them can point to a bible passage that anchors their vocation in the practices of the 1st century church. Should we fire them all and tell them to go get real jobs? Do you think we should send Dr. Akin a certified letter telling him that his salary for presiding over the seminary can’t be anchored to a proof text and neither can his faculty so he should fire all the professors at Southeastern and Wake Forrest and then resign to go work with his hands since accepting a “salary” from the church isn’t legitimate for his (or your) line of ministry? Your argument is weakest in its hermeneutics. It takes a great leap of logic to go from establishing that pastors weren’t paid salaries in the first century (which is still disputed) to saying that they are forbidden to in this century.

    God Bless,

    Jerry

  38. 2-3-2008

    Jerry,

    Just as a reminder, my argument is that we cannot justify paying elders/pastors a salary because of their position from Scripture. If you would like to argue that we can justify this culturally, fine. But that is not the purpose of my series, nor am I interested in discussing it for now.

    Also, comparing elders/pastors to professors, counsellors, etc. is jumping categories. We know nothing about professors from Scripture. We do know something about elders from Scripture.

    In 1 Corinthians 9:1-6, Paul lists the individuals as examples of those who travel away from their home (and source of income) for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel. We could argue from this context that anyone who travels away from their source of income should be supported by other believers. However, within this context elders are never mentioned. Why? Because elders did not travel from place to place to procalim the gospel. Like most other believers, elders remained in their city proclaiming the gospel.

    Using my interpretation, both widows and elders are honored in the same way. I do not think Scripture indicates that either one should be given a “salary”, but that they both deserve honor – which would include financial support. The way 1 Tim 5 is usually interpreted however, elders are given a salary, but widows are not. So, as you can see, I do not think that Paul shifts gears, and my interpretations demonstrates that.

    If you honor elders with a salary, what is the salary scale for your widows? I’m sure churches have one, because Paul didn’t shift gears.

    -Alan

  39. 2-3-2008

    I have enjoyed this post and responses very much. While I don’t have much to add in terms of explaining the text or context, I want to add some personal experience that may shed some light on some things.

    Three years ago, my wife and I left a world-wide fellowship of people who claim to be the only people saved on the face of the earth. They are the result of some men coming out the Faith Mission movement in Ireland around 1900. In 1903-1905 hundreds of young men and women left Ireland to spread this message all over the world and the result is the body of people we left. Some of you might be aware of them (2×2’s, Cooneyites, The Truth).

    We left for a number of reasons, the most important of which are: 1) We arrived at an understanding of salvation that did not agree that other believers outside of the group were unsaved simply by virtue of being outside the group, and 2) the gospel was not taught or believed. We are now rejoicing that God has shared the gospel (the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ) with us and saved us by his grace alone.

    What is pertinent to this discussion is that the claim of these people to exclusive salvation rested on the ministry method they claimed to follow. This ministry method they called “the homeless ministry”. They take the view that Matthew 10, Mark 6, and Luke 9 and 10 (Jesus sending out the 12 and the 70) apply literally today to missionaries and (quite mistakenly) to church elders as well. Matthew 10 is seen as demanding a homeless ministry, going out 2×2, trusting in God to meet natural needs.

    While the hireling heart is to be condemned and ministry-as-vocation has biblical problems as a ministry paradigm, these men went too far.

    It is one thing to point out problems and suggest solutions and/or better or more biblical methods. It is quite another to say that all paid pastors are unsaved, and that all people attending churches they lead are unsaved as well.

    Because the ministers in this group (yes, cult) do not have a guaranty of a salary or a contract, they claim all those who have such guaranties or contracts are unsaved and false ministers. And yet, they accept money, goods, hospitality, and even bequests of inheritance and estates for support.

    They condemn sinking money into buildings and staff and meet in homes. They condemn all those who meet in buildings as unsaved and desperately wrong.

    Of interest is that in their early days, they experienced great poverty and hardship as they went about without guaranteed support. Some worked to support themselves. Today, they totally miss Paul’s point about choosing to forgo his right as an apostle to support and are smug in their easy life style supported entirely at others’ expense, living in others’ homes, driving others’ cars, not working to support themselves a whit. Those who work are looked on as not trusting in God for support and therefor false ministers.

    Further, they take Jesus singleness and Paul’s words in I Corinthians 7 about singleness as an imperative and thus demand celibacy from all their ministry, with its attendant problems. Married pastors are condemned as not following Jesus’ example.

    In fact, this ministry method is their gospel. And the understanding they want their listeners to arrive at is that they are the only true servants of God.

    I’m sure many of you can see the hermeneutic challenges, categorical mistakes, and wrongheaded thinking in all this. It should give warning about making methods, as biblical as they may be, the test for salvation.

    This is not to say that ministry methods are unimportant or value-neutral. Nor am I saying that we shouldn’t seek to be biblical in our methods. Ideas have consequences and methods have outworkings for good or for ill.

    Scott Parish

  40. 2-3-2008

    Scott,

    Its always amazing to me how quickly Christians separate over beliefs other than the gospel. While I disagree with many Christians over their beliefs about the church – as well as other beliefs – they remain my brothers and sisters in Christ. It is our responsibility to live together in unity by the Spirit, not to separate ourselves based on our own rationalizations and understandings. Thank you for this warning.

    -Alan

  41. 2-4-2008

    If you honor elders with a salary, what is the salary scale for your widows?

    And even more to the point, show me a church that pays all of their elders.

    The most common experience is that this ends up being applied to “pastors”, not “elders”. This has the net effect of totally confusing the issue, and hints at a “pick-and-choose” hermeneutic.

  42. 8-31-2008

    Alan,

    Thirty-two years ago, I came to much the same conclusion on this subject that you have, and it was life-changing for our family. The insight that struck us is not only that there is no NT basis for a salary for elders, but in fact that Acts 20:32-35 forbids such an arrangement. In response to your kind invitation for input, I offer a paper I wrote at that time to organize my understanding of the NT teaching concerning the role and remuneration of elders-overseers-pastors in the NT and explain my new position to my colleagues and friends. Back in those dark ages, we couldn’t interact via blogging, and had to type up physical papers, photocopy them, and send them around physically. The paper is now available on-line at http://www.cyber-chapel.org/Elders.pdf .

    In Christ,
    Van Parunak

  43. 8-31-2008

    Van,

    I agree that Acts 20:32-35 is a very important passage for elders. Paul specifically instructs elders to work in the same what that he did so that they will be able to support themselves and others.

    Thank you for the link to your paper. I hope to read it soon.

    -Alan

  44. 10-8-2008

    This is a great discussion Alan. Thanks for bringing it up in such a great manner.

  45. 2-1-2011

    I know this is an old post but I am fascinated with Jewish custom, history, etc. as it pertains to my faith in Christ. Last year I came across a teaching in the Mishnah that prohibits 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

    I discussed this in an article last summer http://jephandcraig.com/?p=432

  46. 2-1-2011

    Craig,

    Very interesting information… Thank you!

    -Alan

  47. 9-19-2011

    Good post Alan! Someone quote Matt 10:9,10 in support of paying clergy. 9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.”

    What is you take on this. Thanks for your time and ministry.

  48. 9-19-2011

    Sam,

    In Matthew 10:9-10, Jesus was talking to the twelve apostles as he was sending them out. He expected them to trust God by relying on the hospitality of others. We see Paul and those traveling with him relying on hospitality also. So, I think Jesus’ words would apply today to itinerant servants who travel from place to place, but not to elders/pastors who remain in one place where they are able to work for support. (I think 1 Corinthians 9 is referring to itinerant servants as well.)

    -Alan

  49. 5-30-2012

    Hi.

    Just picked this up off of twitter.
    Its a very interesting debate.

    My understanding is that in terms of ministers within the Presbyterian Church, they get given a stipend – not a salary. Basically people say, we choose you to be set aside to atudy the Word, and to administer the sacraments, and to shepherd us – and in response we will see that your needs are met so that you do not need to worry about food on your table or whether your kids will go to school. Thus you are able to fully serve us.
    Thus its not a “we pay you to do Gods work” but rather we free you from responsibility and take care of you – so that in turn, you take care of us and teach us to care for each other. Thus each minister’s stipend is worked out in terms of what he needs – not according to position or gifting…

    I realise you are arguing this Biblically, but this seems to make a whole lot of sense to me.

    Blessings
    Jackie

  50. 5-30-2012

    Jackie,

    Right. Each denomination has their own plan for paying professional pastors/elders. And, yes, I’m looking at the scriptural evidence instead of any of the denominational plans.

    You said, “Thus each minister’s stipend is worked out in terms of what he needs – not according to position or gifting…” The point is, that “minister” is paid a stipend because of his position, even if the amount is decided based on need.

    -Alan

  51. 7-29-2012

    Hi Alan

    A great presentation of truth

    So many times people simplistically respond….Jesus said that ‘the worker is worthy of his wages’

    The key questions you have answered so scripturally are….

    Which worker was Jesus addressing?
    and
    What wage did Jesus say they could accept?

    Apostles accepting hospitality (where they were unable to support themselves) is what Paul and the other aposles taught and practiced as Jesus intentions.

    Somehow I cannot see that behind the scenes Jesus himself was accepting money as a salaried preacher….and then telling his apostles ‘you cannot serve God and mammon’

    regards in Christ
    Chris

  52. 7-29-2012

    Chris,

    Thanks for feedback. I should probably consider rewriting this series and include additional information such as some of the passages that you mention.

    -Alan

  53. 7-29-2012

    Bravo, Alan! I see your position has made you less than popular. Well-played, sir. For indeed, are we living to please God or man? Exactly.

    Having a “pastor” or other such “position” within the local churches may require the religious and cultural Christians to wish to pay them money, but as a son and a member of His Church, I see no reason for it. It’s that whole “churches of men” vs. Church of Jesus controversy. I’ve no stomach for the churches of men, since I am being fed by Jesus who is the Head of The Bride.

  54. 7-30-2012

    Donald,

    Thanks again for taking part in the discussions here. I’m guessing that many modern church practices (including salaries for professional ministers) began with very good intentions. Unfortunately, I also think they are hindering the growth of the church.

    -Alan

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  1. Leading By Example: Why I Think Elder’s Should Work — A Better Covenant - [...] add that I will not attempt to argue all of the perspectives from 1 Corinthians 9 nor 1 Timothy …
  2. Comment highlights for week of January 30, 2011 | The Assembling of the Church - [...] from “Jeph and Craig’s Podversations” left (what I believe is) his first comment at my blog on an older …