the weblog of Alan Knox

By working like this

Posted by on Feb 3, 2008 in elders, office, scripture | 28 comments

Last October, I wrote a series of posts where I argued that paying a salary to an elder/pastor because of their position cannot be supported from Scripture. The summary to the series, and links to the other posts in that series, can be found in the post “Summary – Should elders/pastors be paid a salary?

Recently, there have been some really good anonymous comments left in some of the posts of that series. One comment in particular by Jerry deserved further consideration. Jerry writes:

He [Paul] 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.

The primary passage that Jerry references is Acts 20:33-35:

I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:33-35 ESV)

In context, this is the end of a speech that Paul gives to the elders of the church in Ephesus. This is a very valuable passage, because it is one of the few places in Scripture where elders are specifically addressed. (By the way, one other passage is 1 Peter 5:1-4.)

Jerry raises the question concerning the referent of “outws” (οὑτως), which is an adverb that is generally translated “thus” or “in this manner”. It is translated “in this manner/way” in the ESV, NASB, and NET and “like this” in the NKJV and HCSB. Of course, the question is, “To what does ‘outws’ refer?” The NIV interprets the reference for us: “this kind of hard work”. But, is this a valid interpretation?

In verses 33-34, Paul says that he has demonstrated to these elders how he “worked hard with his hands” while he was among them. He did this in order to provide for himself and for others and so that he would not covet other people’s money – at least, according to the text this is why he did it. Notice that Paul does not mention how he worked. He does not mention that he made tents. That information is not necessary for his argument. What is necessary is that he worked hard with his hands in order to provide support for himself and others.

Next, in verse 35, Paul says that he showed the Ephesian elders (“you” – his audience was composed of elders from the church in Ephesus) that it was necessary for them to work “like this”. Literally, this verse reads, “In all things I showed you that it is necessary to help the weak by working hard like this…” The phrase “by working hard like this” is fronted both in the Greek text and in our English translations for emphasis. How do elders help the weak? Paul’s answer is, “By working hard like this”. Of course, this still brings up the question, “To what was Paul referring when he said “like this”?

From the context, Paul was using his own work (“with his hands”) as an example to the elders. They were to work in the same manner – that is, “with their hands in order to provide for themselves and others”. Again, Paul does not mention tentmaking in this argument, but it was not his emphasis. He did not expect nor encourage the elders to begin making tents like he did. However, he did expect each of them to “work hard with his hands”. This is the reference for “outws” – “in this way” or “like this”.

The remainder of verse 35 reinforced what Paul is saying. By working hard with their hands, the elders would be able to support themselves and to have enough to help others, especially those who are weak. Therefore, they would be remembering and living out Jesus’ words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

By the way, this is not a nice suggestion on Paul’s part. Instead, he says, “It is necessary”. This is one of the strongest imperatival forms in the New Testament. Paul could have said, “It is fitting” or “It is proper”, which carries less weight. However, he did not. He said that it is necessary for elders to help the weak by working hard with their hands in order to support themselves and others.

One more quick note. As I’ve said before, I do not think that paying a salary to a pastor/elder because of their position is scriptural. First, this does not mean that I think the practice is always wrong. A practice does not have to be in Scripture to be appropriate at times. However, I do not think a salaried pastorship is necessary, and I think it is detrimental in many contexts. This does not mean that I condemn every pastor who receives a salary. In fact, I do not even bring up the topic with pastors that I personally know who receive a salary. Why? Because for the most part they are very godly people, interested in serving God and the church. Also, while I think they are wrong in their understanding of this topic, I also recognize that I could be wrong. In humility, I prefer to let God sort that out, and live in unity with other believers instead of causing division. Finally, I do believe that giving financially to pastors/elders is scriptural, when it is done by individuals in response to that person’s teaching, leading, and other forms of service. I have gratefully accepted money from people many times, as well as other types of support – that is, financial and non-financial. I have also been the recipient of hospitality from many different brothers and sisters in Christ. I also give cheerfully to others in response to their needs or in response to their teaching, leadership, and other forms of service and offer hospitality to others. “Money” is not the issue in my argument. Instead, the issue is whether or not a pastor/elder should be paid a salary based on their position as pastor/elder.


28 Comments

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

  1. 2-4-2008

    Hello, I came across your blog as I was brousing someones elses!

    Just a thought about this subject. Doesn’t most of the pastors/elders take the tithing money for part of their salery? I know that it usually goes to pay for the building fees and so on but some of it supports the saleries of the “staff” of the church…

    I personally don’t thithe or attend a congregation but when I was previously, I remember this kind of conversation come up in the congregation that I was attending.

    Thanks for you time!

    Nicole!

  2. 2-4-2008

    Hello, I came across your blog as I was brousing someones elses!

    Just a thought about this subject. Doesn’t most of the pastors/elders take the tithing money for part of their salery? I know that it usually goes to pay for the building fees and so on but some of it supports the saleries of the “staff” of the church…

    I personally don’t thithe or attend a congregation but when I was previously, I remember this kind of conversation come up in the congregation that I was attending.

    Thanks for you time!

    Nicole!

  3. 2-4-2008

    Hello, I came across your blog as I was brousing someones elses!

    Just a thought about this subject. Doesn’t most of the pastors/elders take the tithing money for part of their salery? I know that it usually goes to pay for the building fees and so on but some of it supports the saleries of the “staff” of the church…

    I personally don’t thithe or attend a congregation but when I was previously, I remember this kind of conversation come up in the congregation that I was attending.

    Thanks for you time!

    Nicole!

  4. 2-4-2008

    Hello, I came across your blog as I was brousing someones elses!

    Just a thought about this subject. Doesn’t most of the pastors/elders take the tithing money for part of their salery? I know that it usually goes to pay for the building fees and so on but some of it supports the saleries of the “staff” of the church…

    I personally don’t thithe or attend a congregation but when I was previously, I remember this kind of conversation come up in the congregation that I was attending.

    Thanks for you time!

    Nicole!

  5. 2-4-2008

    Hello, I came across your blog as I was brousing someones elses!

    Just a thought about this subject. Doesn’t most of the pastors/elders take the tithing money for part of their salery? I know that it usually goes to pay for the building fees and so on but some of it supports the saleries of the “staff” of the church…

    I personally don’t thithe or attend a congregation but when I was previously, I remember this kind of conversation come up in the congregation that I was attending.

    Thanks for you time!

    Nicole!

  6. 2-4-2008

    Hello, I came across your blog as I was brousing someones elses!

    Just a thought about this subject. Doesn’t most of the pastors/elders take the tithing money for part of their salery? I know that it usually goes to pay for the building fees and so on but some of it supports the saleries of the “staff” of the church…

    I personally don’t thithe or attend a congregation but when I was previously, I remember this kind of conversation come up in the congregation that I was attending.

    Thanks for you time!

    Nicole!

  7. 2-4-2008

    Alan, perhaps the question comes back to whether or not a salary as we have developed in our mammon-based, buy and sell culture is the best way of sustaining a minister of the gospel or whether the Kingdom principles of giving and receiving are.

  8. 2-4-2008

    Nicole,

    Welcome to my blog. From my experience, most churches who pay salaries to pastors get that money from tithes and offerings.

    Bryan,

    Yes, I think you’re on to do something.

    -Alan

  9. 2-4-2008

    Alan

    I got to thinking at church last night-I wonder what kind of ministries our church could support if our six-figure per year pastor (about 45% of the church budget) worked to provide for his family.

    Later
    joe

  10. 2-4-2008

    After re-reading your post’s and examining myself I’ve come to a few conclusions. As you know I am not a paid “pastor/elder” of any local church. I am “laity”, if you will. Therefore my opinions could be biased one direction or another. So I’ve asked myself “why?”, why am I biased in a certain direction. What are my motives? Why do I care about this topic at all? And, why I shouldn’t care.

    Why I care: If I’m not a paid elder/pastor and others are then it makes me look illegitimate to those I’m around and minister to.
    Why I shouldn’t care: I know I am not illegitimate in God’s eyes and He can use me if I’m paid or not or have a title or not.

    Why I care: Paid elders/pastors are fleecing the flock of God for their own profit.
    Why I shouldn’t care: If they are fleecing the flock then God will deal with them more harshly than I could ever hope to. God knows our heart.

    Why I care: The church could use that money given in salary and building campaigns to further the Kingdom and to help those in need.
    Why I shouldn’t care: ALL CHRISTIANS could/should use their salaries to further the Kingdom and to help those in need, not just paid pastors. But, the bottom line is- God doesn’t hinge His working on our having/not having buildings or money.

    Why I care: I want to be right!
    Why I shouldn’t care: I could be wrong!!

    I’m sure if I thought about this longer I could come up with more reasons for thinking I should/shouldn’t care about whether or not pastors receive a salary. My conclusion is that it really doesn’t matter to me unless it matters to God. When the scripture isn’t 100% clear on something then I think each of us has to listen to our own Holy Spirit guided convictions. It is between you(not you, personally) and God and you will one day answer to God, just as we all will. Currently MY conviction is if I were ever to become a pastor in an institutional church I could not accept a salary when I am able to do both work with my hands and work ministering to others.

    Jeff

  11. 2-4-2008

    Alan,

    I’m new to your blog so I am unfamiliar with your writings on this topic in the past. I’m guessing that you are making a distinction between a) paying a pastor a bi-weekly salary , b) paying a pastor “every now and then” based on the giving of the church and c) not paying a pastor at all. Is this correct?

    Let me say that as a paid pastor I find 1 Cor. 9:14 as a sufficient argument for a pastor to receive pay.

    As far as a “salary” being biblically mandated, you may have a point. I think that a salary has come about mainly because churches have budgets and its easier to set aside a monetary amount to pay the pastor of your church. While it may not be biblical, I do not think it is sinful by any means.

  12. 2-4-2008

    Joe,

    Good question. Of course, the people would also have to ask themselves who else (besides the pastor) would be willing to serve others in order to allow the pastor to have time to work a job.

    Jeffrey,

    I agree with many (if not all) of your should/should not’s. As a pastor/elder, who has been asked to accept a salary, I had to answer this question for myself.

    Charlie,

    My preference is d) pastors/elders work jobs like other believers in order to support themselves and their families and to be able to give to those in need. As pastors/elders teach and lead, each believer determines how God wants him/her to honor pastors/elders in response to their service. In my experience, this happens in various ways: monetary gifts, hospitality, help with needs, etc.

    I also agree that a salary – in and of itself – is not sinful. I believe it can be a distraction, and can lead to a clergy/laity distinction that is not only unbiblical but anti-biblical.

    -Alan

  13. 2-4-2008

    Alan,

    Thank you for posting an explanation of your exegesis of the work Outws in Acts 20:35.

    I will try to be succinct but thorough in my response.

    First, I think you are too limited in what you are interpreting Outws to refer to. You seem to believe that it refers only to Paul’s working hard to provide for his needs and the needs of men with him through his own enterprises (tent making as was his trade).

    Essentially, you appear to think that Paul is referring to verse 34 alone.

    “Acts 20:34 “You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me.”

    However, one clue that I think is in the text that hasn’t received enough consideration is the word “everything” (pas) in verse 35 and I think it is important precisely because I think that “everything” that Paul showed them was what “in this manner” (outws) refers to.

    “In everything (pas) I showed you that by working hard in this manner (outws)…”

    What is “everything” that Paul speaks of? Surely it cannot mean only that he worked in his tentmaking trade to provide for himself. I think a more contextually satisfying explanation is that he referred to all the ways in which he worked hard ministering to the Ephesians that he lists in Acts 20:18-35 including…

    His dedication, “Being with them the whole time” (Acts 20:18)
    His service in the face of many trials (Acts 20:19)
    His unfailing declaration and his teaching publicly (probably referring to his lecturing in the school of tyrannus) and from house to house (Acts 20:20)
    His solemnly testimony to them (Acts 20:21)
    His declaring to them the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27)
    His ceaseless and tearful admonishment of them night and day, for three years (Acts 20:31)
    And as stated, his ministering to his own needs and others while engaged in the previous (Acts 20:34)

    I think that ALL of these elements to Paul’s ministry to the Ephesians is what he was speaking of when he said, “in everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak remember the words of the Lord Jesus , that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than receive.”

    In essence, I am arguing that we should read the verse to mean…
    I showed you that by working hard in this manner (in the manner of everything I did in your midst) you must help the weak…

    Rather than

    “I showed you that by working hard in this manner (ministering to my own physical needs and the needs of my traveling companions) you must help the weak.

    In short, I think narrowing the focus of verse 35 to Paul’s involvement in a secular vocation alone fails to take into consideration the full example Paul’s ministry among them.

    Second, I think you haven’t given us sufficient reason to conclude that working hard as Paul admonishes the Ephesians Elders can only refer to secular occupations rather than ministerial work given that “working hard” (kopiaw) is a word used by Paul specifically in the context of ministry of preaching and teaching by select elders in 1 Tim 5:17. Now, I realize that it “appears” to you that Paul is using this word differently than he is in Acts 20:35. I guess I just need more than “it appears to me” to be a compelling argument.

    Third, we can find some help from the principle Paul concludes his monolog with in this text. He refers to words he attributes to Jesus, “it is better to give than to receive.” Unfortunately, we don’t have the benefit of having this statement recorded in any of the four gospels, so we have very little to go on by way of context for these words of Jesus.

    However, we do see a similar statement by Jesus

    Matthew 10:5-10 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. 9 “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, 10 or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.

    Here, Jesus isn’t referring to the Apostles sharing their money with the lost sheep of the house of Israel, He was referring to them giving freely of the spiritual blessings that had been bestowed upon them. Here, Jesus instructs them not to take money with them for their support but rather to rely on the support they will receive from those the will minister to. Jesus basis His instruction on the rationale that “the worker is worthy of his support.”

    I also find it interesting that nowhere in the New Testament do I find any example of Jesus giving anyone money, not even his disciples. It would be strange of us to conclude that Jesus didn’t “give more than He received”. Yet for all that Jesus gave (and we can probably never understand the fullness of what He gave to us and for us) it appears from what we can discern from scripture that He actually received more in terms of monetary support during His ministry on earth than He gave in this respect. I don’t think that this fact means that Jesus took more from his flock than He gave and I don’t think you would want to argue this either.

    Finally, we go from exegesis to hermeneutics, a task that you appear reticent to do (understandably).

    I don’t know what criteria we are to use to determine what vocations today constitute “working with one’s hands” in our contemporary culture. I have a friend who pastors a house church in the Rockies who receives about ½ of his financial support form the house church network and the other half from driving school bus. He is using his hands to turn a wheel driving a bus full of kids to school. Why is this more obedient to Paul than when the youth pastor drives a van full of kids to camp and operates a bus ministry on Sunday?
    Someone might respond, “well the youth pastor is taking money from the church.”

    My response would be, “so is the school bus driver.”

    The church is made up of all those in the body of Christ, and if those Christian pay property taxes then they are paying the salary of the school bus driver. I suppose there is one difference, property taxes aren’t offered, their collected.

    I know another bi-vocational pastor who’s secular title is customer service manager in a call center. He is basically on the phone or at the computer all day. Not exactly as physically grueling as sewing tents is it? Should we urge him to quite his job and go be auto mechanic? What about college professors and school teachers? Does marking up a paper with a red pen and writing on the board really meet the criteria of “working with one’s hands?”

    It seems rather arbitrary to say that a “pastor” can’t accept a salary but a college professor at a Southern Baptist bible college can, especially given the remarkable similarities in the day to day activities. 1. Both essentially teach for a living. The pastor teaches church members from the pulpit and during weekly bible studies, the professor teaches students during class times. 2. Both research what they are teaching as a part of their vocation. 3. Both spend time counseling either with parishioners (as a pastor) or with students (as a professor). 4. Both have various administrative duties to attend to. 5. Both earn their living from money that comes out of the wallets of Christians 6. Both draw a portion of their salary from the collection plate.

    I think that the position of pastor and the position of college professor are rather similar to the point that I would argue that college professors are, in essence, fulfilling a role of a teaching elder to their students.

    We don’t get any impression from the text that Paul began accepting a ”salary” the moment he began lecturing in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:1) especially given the fact that this was during the time he was in Ephesus and claimed to support himself, as Alan points out, by making tents, not lecturing.

    So, Alan, Lew, et al. Do you similarly conclude that bible college professors should not receive a salary because of their position?

    Grace,

    Jerry

  14. 2-5-2008

    Jerry,

    Thank you for your continued interest in this discussion.

    I noticed that you did not mention Acts 20:33 in your discussion of Acts 20:34-35. I think this is a key verse. In fact, I think Acts 20:33 is parallel to Paul’s quotation of Jesus at the end of vs. 35. Thus, the struction would be something like this:

    A: Do not covet money from another person
    B: As an example I worked with my hands to support myself
    B’: It is necessary for you to do the same
    A’: It is better to give than to receive

    So, yes, I do think the “everything” in verse 35 refers to its immediate context – that is, back to verse 34.

    That being said, I do know that teaching, leading, and discipling is hard work, and yes, Paul states that it is hard work. However, he differentiates between the work of a believer among people – i.e. teaching, leading, discipling – and the kinds of work that one does for support (“work with your hands”). In fact, Paul uses that phrase (“work with your hands”) in severl passages to differentiate between the two when it is not obvious.

    I think that the main difference between my view of this passage and yours is clear from you final few paragraphs. The foundation for our difference lies in our different understanding of what it means to be a pastor/elder. You said: “I think that the position of pastor and the position of college professor are rather similar”. You compare the similar “professions” as follows:

    “1. Both essentially teach for a living. The pastor teaches church members from the pulpit and during weekly bible studies, the professor teaches students during class times. 2. Both research what they are teaching as a part of their vocation. 3. Both spend time counseling either with parishioners (as a pastor) or with students (as a professor). 4. Both have various administrative duties to attend to. 5. Both earn their living from money that comes out of the wallets of Christians 6. Both draw a portion of their salary from the collection plate.”

    I agree that you drew an accurate picture of what is commonly called “pastor” or “elder” today. However, I am not talking about a “position” in the sense that you described. In fact, I believe that teaching, leading, administering, giving, discipling, etc. are the responsbilities of all followers of Jesus Christ. The pastor/elder is not someone who is more responsible, but someone who has demonstrated that he is faithfully living according to the call of God on the lives of all believers. Thus, the pastor/edler is not a “position” or “office”, but a mature follower of Jesus Christ who is obeying Christ as all believers should obey him. The pastor/elder then lives as an example for other to emulate.

    I think it would be difficult to find a pastor/elder described in the terms that you used in Scripture. You will find teaching, discipling, administering, etc. in Scripture, but never associated only with the pastor/elder.

    If you are interested in my views in this area, I’ve explained them in detail in a series on elders. The series begins with a post called “Elders (Part 1) – Introduction“.

    -Alan

  15. 2-5-2008

    Alan,

    From where the rubber hits the road:

    The last 8 years of our full time ministry before retirement,was as an unpaid “pastor” of a new independent congregation. I drove a school bus (18 hours per week)for a very small wage. Our needs were met far more fully during that time, than during all the years of paid ministry.

    We never asked for money, nor preached about it, but always had sufficient for our needs, as well as being able to help others.

    Personally, I believe that our Sovereign God honored His words in 1 Cor.9:14.

  16. 2-5-2008

    I noticed that you did not mention Acts 20:33 in your discussion of Acts 20:34-35. I think this is a key verse. In fact, I think Acts 20:33 is parallel to Paul’s quotation of Jesus at the end of vs. 35. Thus, the struction would be something like this:

    A: Do not covet money from another person
    B: As an example I worked with my hands to support myself
    B’: It is necessary for you to do the same
    A’: It is better to give than to receive

    So, yes, I do think the “everything” in verse 35 refers to its immediate context – that is, back to verse 34.

    Well we will have to disagree. I would argue that you artificially exclude elements of Paul’s ministry among the Ephesians in order to salvage your point. I further argue that in doing so your interpretation doesn’t reflect the lexical meaning of “everything.” In short, I think your “everything” really is only “one thing” and that, I think, exposes a flaw in your exegesis that affects your conclusions significantly.

    I would point you to the translation teams of the NIV, ESV, NET, and NRSV all translate (panta) in Acts 20:35 as referring to the totality of Paul’s ministry to the Ephesians, including, but not limited to, his secular enterprise.

    ESV: “In all things”
    NET “By all these things”
    NIV “In everything I did”
    NRS “In all this”

    To the extent that this appears to be both the linchpin and the starting point of your argument I think your conclusions are shaky at best.

    Second, I think you are seeing chiasms where none exists. I would like to see who among the scholastic community besides yourself sees one here.

    Third, if accepting support is tantamount to coveting, why did the Lord INSTRUCT the 72 (or 70) not to take provisions for themselves but to rely on support from those whom they would minister to (see Matthew 10:9-10)?

    Going from Exegesis to Hermeneutics now. I think your hermeneutic can’t be consistently applied.

    In regards to the similarities between a bible college professor and a pastor, you responded by saying,

    I agree that you drew an accurate picture of what is commonly called “pastor” or “elder” today. However, I am not talking about a “position” in the sense that you described. In fact, I believe that teaching, leading, administering, giving, discipling, etc. are the responsibilities of all followers of Jesus Christ. The pastor/elder is not someone who is more responsible, but someone who has demonstrated that he is faithfully living according to the call of God on the lives of all believers. Thus, the pastor/edler is not a “position” or “office”, but a mature follower of Jesus Christ who is obeying Christ as all believers should obey him. The pastor/elder then lives as an example for other to emulate.”

    First, I don’t dispute that a pastor should demonstrate that he is faithfully living out God’s call. I do think you are selectively applying biblical principles. If teaching, administering, discipling etc… are the role of all followers of Jesus, and there should be no “office” observed or created for those who are more responsible in said areas, then why should we have bible college professors?

    Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t the primary role of a bible college professor to “teach,” administer and disciple (meaning “to cause one to be a pupil”)?
    If these responsibilities are the role of all believers with no professionalization that can be biblically justified then why not just let any Christian teach at Wake Forrest?

    One week, you can give the lecture, one of your students can the next? That way no one person has to be primarily responsible for all the lectures. We can make it all very organic and let the Spirit identify who is learned among you. Since all the work of teaching bible college doesn’t have to fall on a few professionalized scholars we can dissolve the “faculty/student” distinction completely and free you and your peers up to go find secular employment. That way, you won’t be a burden on your students or churches who give to the cooperative program.

    Why is the professionalization of the dissemination of biblical knowledge more acceptable at Wake Forrest than it is in First Baptist of “wherever?”

    Because if my pastor were to change the title on his business card from Rev. To Prof., rename the church from First Baptist Church of “X” to First Baptist college of “X” and say that tuition is voluntary, on a sliding scale, and collected weekly nothing would actually have to change “functionally.” We could call his midweek bible study a “lecture,” we could call the Sunday service “Chapel,” we could rename the Deacons to Trustees and, abra-cadabra, he would be working with his hands instead of “fleecing” the congregation as one commenter phrased it.

    What is the biblical substantiation for having an official “professor?” I’ve asked this question in some form or other three times now and I have yet to get an answer.

    Chances are I won’t.

    Grace,

    Jerry

  17. 2-5-2008

    Aussie John,

    Thanks for your testimony. Mine is similar. God is always provided for us in spite of that face that we do not take salary for being a pastor.

    Jerry,

    Thanks again for the discussion. Acts 20 is not the linch pin in my argument, but simply one link in a chain. I believe that link connects with other links throughout Scripture. I do not believe that Scripture describes an office of the pastorate. Instead, it describes mature believers recognized by the church for their teaching, leading, and most of all example in living for Christ. My hermeneutic begins with Scripture. I believe that the concept of a professional pastorate begins with later developements, which are then justified by Scripture. Thus, our hermeneutics are different.

    Teaching and pastoring are not the same thing. Do pastors teach? I hope so. They should. Do teachers pastor? Maybe, maybe not. I also pastor as a web developer. When I worked as an engineer, I pastored as an engineer. I think you are confusing gifting with profession. There is a difference between being paid as a professor in a college (a profession) and being paid as a pastor (a gifting).

    -Alan

  18. 2-5-2008

    Alan,

    It seems to me that pastors “earning” their money from gifts could lead to as much, if not more, corruption then just taking a paid salary that is voted on by the church.

  19. 2-5-2008

    Charlie,

    I’m not suggesting that pastors “earn” money from gifts. I’m suggesting that pastors “earn” money by “working with their hands” like Paul says. I’m also suggesting that those who benefit from the teaching, leading, and serving of pastors give to (share with, serve, etc.) those who teach and lead which would include pastors (1 Tim 5:17, Gal 6:6, 1 Thess 5:11-12). Of course, it is up to the pastors and other teachers to be good stewards of that money. In my experience, I’ve found that those gifts often help me and my family in times of unexpected needs, and at others times we’ve decided to give those gifts to others who are in need.

    -Alan

  20. 2-6-2008

    Alan said:

    “Thanks again for the discussion.”

    Thank you.

    “ Acts 20 is not the linch pin in my argument, but simply one link in a chain. I believe that link connects with other links throughout Scripture.”

    A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, I think this link is the weakest and is, in fact, broken.

    “ I do not believe that Scripture describes an office of the pastorate. Instead, it describes mature believers recognized by the church for their teaching, leading, and most of all example in living for Christ.”

    I think you are offering us a false choice here. I believe that scripture describes an office of the pastorate appointed from believers recognized by the church for their teaching, leading and most of all, example in living for Christ.

    I believe this based on scripture that suggest very strongly that having the qualifications of a pastor (Elder) is not sufficient alone. Paul left Titus in Crete to “appoint” elders. BDAG uses positional language in defining Kathistemi (see Titus 1:5). In addition to this, the word presbuteros is defined by BDAG as an official position (see definition 2 of BDAG’s entry on presbuteros). BDAG is not alone in its determination that an elder is an “official” position, both Thayer and Friburg also makes this claim. In fact, most lexicons conclude that an elder is an office and none have made the claim that it is not.

    Given the fact that your argument swims against some pretty strong currents in both traditional and prevailing lexiconographic studies, the onus is on you to show us why you think an elder isn’t an official of the church.

    You commented:
    “ There is a difference between being paid as a professor in a college (a profession) and being paid as a pastor (a gifting).”

    First, this argument fails to recognize that the “profession” of pastor is the teaching/preaching elder/overseer of a congregation. He is entrusted with the task of shepherding the flock entrusted to him. “Pastoring” as you point out, is a gifting and an activity, not an office. Elder and overseer is an office. There is no gifting of eldership, it is an appointment and an official position in the church.

    This is not so different from the “profession” of bible college professor. “Teaching” is not a profession, it is a gift. A college professor makes use of this gift in their profession (at least we would hope that a bible college professor has the gift of teaching), and it is the primary activity of their profession. We have no support in the NT for a professional teacher. In fact, the concept of a university or college can be traced to the form of education popularized by Greco-Roman paganism, but there isn’t a verse in the bible that can help you legitimize getting paid to exercise your spiritual gift of teaching as a “college professor.”

    As an aside, I find this particularly humorous since Viola, and now Barna, have written a book to rebuke the church for integrating pagan practices, like paying the pastor a salary, into their liturgy and ecclesiology. Since Viola taught philosophy and psychology in the public school and then charges Christ’s church 15 bucks a copy to read a his rebuke. So Viola made his living teaching hollow and deceptive philosophy in an educational institution patterned after the pagan form of public education and then has the audacity to criticize the institutional church for integrating pagan ideas. Then he charges 15 bucks a copy for his book (like the pagan orators did with their sermons). Where I come from, we call that hypocrisy.

    Again, I fail to see how you can legitimize a bible college professor being paid a salary for exercising his/her giftedness in the context of a bible college or seminary while arguing that a pastor should not be paid a salary for doing the same in the context of a local church.

    Grace,

    Jerry

  21. 2-6-2008

    Jerry,

    Your last comment confirms that the main difference in our understanding of these various passages is the presuppostions concerning pastors that we bring to the texts. I understand your presupposition, because I’ve heard it, learned it, and taught it. I hope that through this dialog you can at least begin to understand my presupposition. Perhaps soon I can write a blog post dealing with this. Thanks again for the dialog.

    -Alan

  22. 2-8-2008

    Jerry, does every elder in your church get a salary?

  23. 11-10-2011

    Brother Knox,

    I think that your statement below is one that’s worthy of recognition. I can’t tell you how blessed I was by the humility of that statement. There’s something in it we all can learn.

    “Also, while I think they are wrong in their understanding of this topic, I also recognize that I could be wrong. In humility, I prefer to let God sort that out, and live in unity with other believers instead of causing division.”

    I believe this is the key to any productive dialogue.

  24. 5-24-2012

    So I’m a fulltime Pastor who preaches two different messages a week over a four service schedule. On the weekends I’m preaching a Saturday Night service, then two on Sunday Morning. On Wednesday Night I’m doing a verse by verse expositional teaching on the book of Amos. I make house calls, I visit the sick in the hospital, I set the direction of our 8 person team for instituting curriculum that is Biblically based for not only our adult ministry but the youth and children. Someone has to make sure the parts are working together instead of colliding with each other.

    On top of that, the building has to be maintained, we have small groups that need to be lead with leaders who need to be trained. There are issues of adultery that have to be handled with several meetings and follow-ups as they pertain to the health of families, their children, and the ministry. There’s the inevitable fall out from human frailties in that and other less notable indiscretions.

    On top of that I’m in a small group. I volunteer with our regular outreach events. I am involved in the community events as a representative of not just our church but the Lord.

    I don’t get up and preach what I “think” the verse is saying. I study the Hebrew, the Greek, the historical context of each passage of a 2000 year old book to make sure we can culturally apply the text and not lead people down a path of false doctrine. Paul instructed Timothy to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The word for “workman” also appears in Luke 10:7 where Jesus sends out the 12 to preach the good news saying “remain in the same house, eating and drinking what THEY provide, for the laborer DESERVES his wages. Do not go from house to house.”

    Paul writes in 1 Timothy 5:17–18 (ESV) Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor (Gr. times – financial compensation in other forms of Greek literature), especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” He uses the same Old Testament scripture to call for financial support of those who teach and preach in 1 Cor. 9:9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?

    I wonder in your opinion, should someone like me give my time of preparation and preaching, visitation and leadership and ministry development to the church and then take on a 40 hour a week job on top of that? I’m sorry, I love my family far too much to even think of it. As well, I love my sanity.

    By the way, I hold this position with hands wide open. Should the Lord take it away tomorrow, I will still serve in the church, love people and share Christ with those I know as I do now. But in my experience there is no reasonable way this position could be executed successfully on a volunteer basis without complete disregard for my health and the health of my family.

    From what other service to our community do we reasonably expect the same conclusions you come to regarding pastors?

    Otherwise, I suggest you consider Pastoring a church for one year, experience the demands yourself, and then see if you can argue the same point based on the interpretation of one greek word from one verse of scripture.

    Respectfully in disagreement.
    Tim

  25. 5-24-2012

    Tim,

    Thanks for the comment. My understanding of the connection (or lack of connection) between elders and salary is not based on just this verse or phrase. If you’re interested, I’ll be glad to share more with you. It may be easier to communicate through email. You can contact me at aknox [at] sebts [dot] edu.

    By the way, is it possible that you are working so hard because you are doing things that God never intended for one person to do?

    -Alan

  26. 1-17-2013

    It’s always interesting how much feedback and discussion this topic gets whenever it is raised. I haven’t read every comment or related post, so please forgive me if my remarks are redundant.

    I believe there are some important distinctions to consider which are often lumped together in the same batch when discussing this topic.

    (1) Jesus sent out his disciples dependent on intermittent hospitality (in any form it was provided), not a full-time salary; and this was for a temporary period. It had a beginning and an end as a unique and itinerant apostolic ministry: a pre-Cross demonstration that the kingdom of God had arrived and Israel’s Messiah had come (Luke 22:35-36).

    (2) Paul’s mention of providing for “those who preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14) seems to apply more correctly to traveling, itinerant ministers like himself who carried the gospel to new places and worked temporarily for a season to establish and cultivate churches. Even for people like Paul, this does not assume a ‘full-time salary,’ but adequate hospitality and remuneration when/where needed, such as when some men today travel to speak and serve at churches, conferences and church-planting missions in various capacities. No worker should have to serve at his own expense . . . when expenses are involved and fruitful service is rendered (1 Cor. 9:7ff).

    (3) The concept of a team of elders (or pastors, overseers) often gets replaced in these discussions with ‘the pastor’ – an unbiblical concept which has all kinds of unwarranted assumptions and traditions associated with it. Some traditions (Bible school, seminary, preaching, counseling, conducting weddings and funerals) are certainly permissible, but they are not essential to serving as one of several elders (pastors, overseers).

    (4) “Full-time pay” for “full-time ministry” should not be the default expectation of any pastor. Some elders (or pastors) who excel in leadership might be financially supported to serve beyond their church (as writers, speakers, church planters, administrators, missionaries, etc.). But this is something to be demonstrated and discerned over time which will unlikely take place in every local church.

    (5) When it comes to the local church, the initial and primary goal of leadership, according to the NT, is not to become a ‘full-time pastor.’ A church leader should be SHARING leadership with other men, so that he is NOT having to serve ‘full-time;’ and he should be EXPANDING the leadership of the church by NOT doing everything himself. That is, he should oversee the activity of OTHERS — the entire congregation — in the collective, body-life ministry of the whole church. Within this context, other men will be learn, grow and be equipped to serve in various ways (teachers, deacons, elders, missionaries, etc.). The idea for any elder (pastor, overseer) is to ‘pass it on’ and replace oneself eventually, like a father raising children — not plant oneself institutionally as a professional pulpiteer. Talk is cheap. We need leaders who are doers — men who can show others how to work hard and raise a family as a godly man over a period of years.

    (6) If a man desires the work of oversight (which is a noble desire, 1 Tim. 3:1 — although not a ‘requirement’ for eldership), what should he do? Go to seminary and pursue ‘the ministry’ as a career or profession? There’s nothing wrong with academic training and preparation via any venue (Bible school, Seminary, Internet, church, home). However, the focus of Scripture is that such a man should prepare himself by imitating Paul — as this post underscores — proving himself by working hard and giving to others faithfully and sacrificially in every way (materially and spiritually). Living as a godly individual, husband, father, provider, worker, citizen in the community and servant in the church is what the qualifications for elders (and deacons) focus on in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3.

  27. 1-17-2013

    Rick,

    Thanks for the great comment. Do you mind if I share that with a wider audience? (Perhaps including it as a guest post on my blog?)

    -Alan

  28. 8-11-2013

    Hi Alan,

    I did not see your question until today — ha! You’re always welcome to share with others anything I share with you.

    Thanks for your ministry and gracious spirit in your discussion of ‘touchy’ topics.

    Rick

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