the weblog of Alan Knox

1 Corinthians 9 and salaries for pastors

Posted by on Oct 6, 2008 in elders, office, scripture | 58 comments

1 Corinthians 9 and salaries for pastors

In my post “Pastors and Churches and Salaries” from last week, I started a discussion concerning why a church might not allow pastors to “work with his hands,” but would instead desire to pay pastors a salary even if the pastors did not desire it. I did not intend to discuss my position on pastors and salaries, but listed some previous blog posts as background. However, some commenters brought up 1 Corinthians 9, and I thought it would be beneficial to discuss this passage.

I want to begin this discussion by stating what should be obvious. This post represents my own interpretation, although I think it is informed by several other studies. Also, I do not believe that this should be a basis of fellowship. Without hesitation I fellowship with those who disagree with me on this topic.

To begin, let’s place 1 Corinthians 9 in its context within Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. In 1 Conrinthians 8-10, Paul exhorts the “strong” in Corinth to consider the “weak” when making decisions. He tells the “strong” not to exercise their rights if that would hinder the faith of the “weak”. He concludes chapter 8 by saying that if eating meat would cause his brother to stumble, then Paul would never eat meat again.

This leads to chapter 9, especially verses 1-15. In this chapter, Paul gives an example from his own life. As an apostle, Paul had the right to be supported by the church in Corinth. However, he relinquished that right so that he would not be a hindrance to the spread of the gospel there (1 Cor 9:12, 15). Paul, as an example of the “strong”, gave up his right to support so that the faith of the “weak” would not be hindered.

(By the way, 2 Corinthians tells us that Paul’s refusal to accept support from the Corinthians caused some of doubt his apostleship. Nevertheless, Paul says that he would still not accept support from the Corinthians while he was in Corinth (2 Cor 11:7-9).)

As part of his argument, Paul assumes that apostles have the right to receive support (“eat and drink” – 1 Cor 9:4 – “refrain from working for a living” – 1 Cor 9:6). To reinforce this right, Paul gives several examples: a soldier does not go to war at his own expense, the one who plants a vineyard eats from the produce of the vineyard, the one who tends a flock receives milk from the flock (1 Cor 9:7), the law says not to muzzle an ox while it is threshing (1 Cor 9:9), and those who serve in the temple receive a part of the sacrificial offerings as food (1 Cor 9:13). Paul concludes his defense of “support” with the following statement: “… [T]he Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14 ESV)

Few would disagree with my interpretation so far. In fact, most people agree on the meaning of this passage. However, problems come along when we start asking questions about the implications and significance of this passage for today.

Primarily, the disagreements revolve around the extent of the metaphors: who is like the soldier; who is like the farmer; who is like the one who herds the flock; who is like the ox; who is like the temple servants?

Many begin to answer this question with 1 Corinthians 9:14 – “[T]he Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14 ESV) Some argue that since pastors proclaim the gospel, then they should “get their living by the gospel”, that is, they should be supported by the church. However, we should make a couple of observations about this verse before we associate it with pastors and elders.

The phrase “those who proclaim the gospel” could be associated with anyone who proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ. Or, the phrase could be limited to a certain group of people who proclaim the gospel. If we decide that the phrase references ANYONE who proclaims the gospel, then it certainly includes pastors and elders, assuming that they proclaim the gospel. However, the phrase would also include anyone who proclaims the gospel. Thus, if the phrase “those who proclaim the gospel” actually references “anyone”, then we should be prepared to support anyone who proclaims the gospel. We should not limit our support only to pastors and elders.

However, if we limit the phrase “those who proclaim the gospel” to a certain group of people, then we must explain why we limit the phrase to that group. For me, the only adequate explanation is to limit the phrase to the group discussed within its own context. What group is discussed in 1 Corinthians 9? Apostles and others who travel around. This is indicated in the first few verses of the chapter:

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? (1 Corinthians 9:1-6 ESV)

Remember that Paul is discussing his “right” to support, which he is relinquishing for the benefit of the “weak” in Corinth. According to 1 Cor 9:1-6, this “right” is shared by Paul, Barnabas, other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Peter. Notice specifically that “other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas” have the “right to take along a believing wife”. This is not discussing their right to be married, but their right to take their wife with them as they are travelling, and thus the entire family would have the right to be supported. The key here is that “the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas” are TAKING ALONG a believing wife. Paul does NOT say that they have the right to support because they are apostles, brothers of the Lord, or Peter. He says they have the right to support because they are travelling around, and thus TAKING ALONG their wives.

When discussing the ox metaphor (1 Cor 9:9) which Paul took from Deuteronomy 25:4, Richard Hays agrees that the metaphor is used in this passage with specific reference to apostles. He says:

[Deut 25:4] functions as an elegant metaphor for just the point that Paul wants to make: the ox being driven around and around on the threshing floor should not be cruelly restrained from eating the food that his own labor is making available… so, too, with apostles. (First Corinthians, 122)

Furthermore, most commentators agree that Paul takes his statement in 1 Corinthians 9:14 from either Matthew 10:10, Luke 10:7, or a combination of both. In both of these instances, the Lord is also giving instructions to those who are being sent away from their homes. Thus, the instructions are given to those travelling around in order to proclaim the gospel, not to those who are remaining in the same place to proclaim the gospel.

So, in the context of 1 Corinthians 9, and in the context where Paul found his command from the Lord, the reference is to those who are travelling away from home in order to proclaim the gospel. If we do not think we should give support to ANYONE who proclaims the gospel, then the only limiting group within the context is the group of believers who are travelling away from home (and their own source of income) in order to proclaim the gospel.

It is possible to decide that the phrase “those who proclaim the gospel” in 1 Cor 9:14 reference to a different limited group. However, there is no way to choose a different group from the context of 1 Corinthians 9. There is no other group listed in the context of 1 Corinthians 9. Thus, the choice of any other group (i.e. pastors, elders, teachers) would be arbitrary.

Therefore, in my interpretation, when Paul discusses his right to receive support in 1 Corinthians 9, he’s talking about a right that is possessed by those who travel away from home in order to proclaim the gospel. He is not talking about a right that is possessed by any other group of believers. Since Paul (and Peter) specifically talk of pastors and elders as being those who are chosen or recognized from among the church (in other words, they stay in their home location and do not travel from place to place), pastors and elders would not fall under the context of this passage.


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

  1. 10-6-2008

    Great analysis Alan. I’m sure you can guess that I would agree with you, but this really gave me something to look into and study more. Thanks. I appreciate it.

  2. 10-6-2008

    Very good explanation, Alan. I do agree with you. I think that this passage is a good example of how we often interpret scripture based on what conclusion is “convenient” or “beneficial”, rather than what is accurate.

    Your point about “anyone” is well-made. And therefore, the conclusion that it probably only applies to a particular group is well-supported.

    One could also probably make the point that the meeting of the needs of those who travel around need not be a “salary”, but could be literally receiving food and lodging when traveling.

  3. 10-6-2008

    There is a third option with regard to who is in the group of “those who proclaim the Gospel.” Those who proclaim the Gospel as their main vocation. In other words, proclaiming the Gospel is their main work in life.

    This is why I still don’t find your argument convincing. On the other hand, I certainly agree that there is no Scriptural mandate that any group MUST be compensated.

    Grace and Peace, Brother.

  4. 10-6-2008


    How does the words of Jesus and Paul ring when they say “freely you have received, freely you give”. When Jesus sends out the 70, they were commanded not to take pay, when was there a change of mind that I now should charge someone for the Gospel?

  5. 10-6-2008

    One of the main problems I see with Larry’s response (sorry Larry, not trying to pick on you) is that it seems as though he has already decided who the people are in the set denoted by “those who proclaim the gospel.” In our day, almost everyone in the mainstream church automatically envisions a modern day pastor, so the argument seems cut and dry to them. In other words, they sort of use this approach, “[insert you pastor’s name here] is a proclaimer of the gospel,” therefore he automatically falls under whatever Paul says about those people in I Cor. 9. I think Alan makes the point very well that I Cor. 9 is about a very specific group of people; namely, people who travel around sharing the gospel with the lost. Actually, Scripture almost always uses “proclaim” to denote both a function (sharing the gospel) and the audience (lost people). I think that if we are going to use I Cor. 9 to justify some sort of compensation or support, then we ought to identify the very group that it talks about, not any old group of individuals that we want it to talk about. Hence, if you are going to claim that your pastor ought to be compensated or supported in some way on the basis of I Cor. 9, then I would say that he better be spending the vast majority of his time traveling around sharing the gospel with lost people. In other words, he better be an evangelist or missionary, in which case, he wouldn’t be a pastor, either in the modern sense or the scriptural sense, which by the way are quite different.

    Conclusion: I Cor. 9 cannot be used to justify vocational/occupation/salaried pastors, because it isn’t even talking about pastors; it’s talking about sent ones (i.e. apostles and missionaries).

  6. 10-6-2008


    Your third option seems circular. This is the verse:

    “So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.”

    My understanding of your interpretation: “those who proclaim the gospel” = “those who proclaim the Gospel as their main vocation.”

    The new verse: “So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel [as their main vocation] to get their living from the gospel.”

    So, in other words, it looks like you are saying that those who make a living proclaiming the gospel should make a living proclaiming the gospel.

    For some reason that just doesn’t really make sense to me, especially given the context.

    God’s Glory,

  7. 10-6-2008


    As you know, I am 100% with you on this one. It took almost a half century of immersion in churchianity, and its study/reading habits, before I began to do my own serious thinking and study, which caused me to throw off the preconceptions upon which much traditional thinking is built.

    The old saying, which came from the ecclesiastical world, is so true that “old habits dye hard” (I meant to write “dye”). Religious dress dyes hard, stiff and unyielding to prayerful, careful, thoughtful scrutiny, which looks beyond learned preconceptions which prevent objective consideration of fixed opinions.

  8. 10-6-2008


    Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate your comment as well.


    I agree that the next step in this investigation would be to study what it means to “get their living from the gospel”. I think you’re right that it’s more likely food and lodging (hospitality) than a salary, even for apostles/missionaries.


    Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it – and I’m not just saying that. While I disagree with you (for reasons stated by Gary and Lew), I’m glad that you responded.


    That is an interesting verse, isn’t it. Its not “preached” about much.


    Thank you for the very clear explanation. I agree 100%.


    I agree again. We should be able to find the referent in the context. Any other referent would be arbitrary.

    Aussie John,

    Thank you for your comment. It helps to know that more mature believers agree with my interpretation. Some suggest that this kind of interpretation simply comes from the young and those angry with the church. I don’t think I’m either, however.


  9. 10-6-2008


    Do you believe that your interpretation of 1 Corinthians 9 implies that stationary pastors should never get paid? And I assume that the same applies to stationary seminary professors.

  10. 10-6-2008


    I do believe that Paul taught that pastors/elders should “work their hands” to support themselves and their families. (Acts 20:33-35, 2 Thess 3:6-12). Also, it seems that the ones taught/led are encouraged to “share with” or “honor” those who teach/lead in response to their teaching/leading (Gal 6:6, 1 Thess 5:12-13, 1 Tim 5:17-18). This should certainly include pators/elders. I do not think this kind of “sharing” and “honoring” in response to service is the same thing as the contemporary practice of giving someone a salary in order for them to do that service.

    As to professors, I do not consider education to be the same as discipleship. Similarly, I do not consider being educated the same as being spiritually mature. One deals with the transfer of information (education), while the other deals with transformation (discipleship).

    Thus, being an educator in this sense (whether it is elementary schoole, middle school, high school, or college) is not the same as being a pastor/elder or an apostle (or any other type of Christian, whose responsibility it is to disciple others). Instead, being an educator is an occupation, like fishing (wich is mentioned in Scripture) or computer work (which is not mentioned in Scripture).

    By the way, I am a computer developer (for which I am paid) and an educator (for which I am paid). The church has also recognized me as a pastor/elder. I am not paid to be a pastor, and I do not desire to be paid to be a pastor. I would “pastor” regardless of my occupation.

    Thanks for the questions.


  11. 10-6-2008


    I don’t see your dichotomy of elder/overseer discipleship versus seminary professor education. Teaching, which involves education, is a major role for elders (1 Timothy 3:2, 5:17; Titus 1:9). And Jesus taught that the Great Commission includes teaching disciples (Matthew 28:20). And many seminary/Bible school professors see themselves in a ministry of discipling Christian leaders. Are you sure about your dichotomy?


  12. 10-6-2008


    I’m sure that education is not the same as discipleship – I’m sure we can both point to educated people who are not disciples. I’m sure that the acquisition of information is not spiritual maturity – again, I’m sure we can both point to people who know vasts sums of information who are spiritually immature.

    Teaching is certainly part of discipleship. I do not doubt that at all. But, teaching is not discipleship. I would even argue that “teaching” in the scriptural sense goes beyond teaching as we consider it today, including much more than meeting educational objectives.

    Yes, there are many seminary professors who see themselves as making disciples. I can tell you that there are also many web developers who see themselves as making disciples. That does not make web developers to be the same as pastors/elders. Instead, it is simply showing that we who are Christians can make disciples in whatever profession we choose – web developer or professor.


  13. 10-6-2008


    It was good to get your perspective on this passage. While I find myself in disagreement with you, I want you to know how much your writings have encouraged and challenged me in many areas.

    The reason I disagree with your interpretation of the passage is that I recently interviewed 10 full-time pastors and they all said you were mistaken! Ok, just kidding, but here are some reasons why I disagree:

    1) The language of Paul’s metaphors seem to be illustrative of a practice that is continual and intentional rather than incidental or temporary (such as travel expenses for an evangelist). It would seem strange to me that Paul would use metaphors such as planting a vineyard or tending a flock to illustrate someone with an expense incurred from travel. One who tends a flock or plants a vineyard does so intentionally in order to reap the fruit of his labor, which is Paul’s point. In addition, vinedressers and shepherds are both permanent and stationary professions.

    2) In order to strengthen his argument, Paul appeals to the law on two occasions (verses 8-9 and 13). While Deut. 25:4 seems to be more proverbial than instructive, Paul’s reference in verse 13 to the temple priest would seem odd if Paul only had traveling gospel evangelist or apostles in mind. If there was ever a stationary or permanent profession, it would have been the Levitical priest. There was no moving on to a better temple down the road!

    3) 1 Tim. 5:18 quotes the same metaphor used by Paul in 1 Cor. 9:13. While we could argue about the identification of the “those who preach the gospel” in 9:13, it is undeniable that he is referring to elders in 1 Tim. 5:17-18.

    4) It seems unreasonably dogmatic to conclude that “those who preach the gospel” could not possibly refer in part to elders. If Paul had traveling evangelists and missionaries in mind, we must conclude that elders are not of those who “preach the gospel.” I’m not so sure we can draw that conclusion, especially in light of Paul’s many commands for elders to preach the gospel.

    Finally, I’m not convinced that your explanation concerning educators is consistent with your interpretation of 1 Cor. 9. It seems rather bizarre to say that a local church can provide a salary to a permanent and stationary educator (whether it be a computer teacher or Bible teacher who is not serving the local church directly) but not a pastor of a local church (who is serving the local church directly). I agree with you that teaching is a profession, but we must remember that the salaries given to many seminary professors (including those in SBC seminaries) are made possible through the financial support of local congregations. According to your interpretation of 1 Cor. 9, I am having difficulty understanding how you could justify teachers/professors receiving financial support. From what you have argued, I get the sense that a church is justified in financially supporting anyone but a pastor. It would be an entirely different matter if a teacher’s salary came from a source other than the local church. However, if a professor’s salary is made possible through the giving of local congregations, how can you argue on the one hand that his salary is justified, while on the other hand claiming that it is unbiblical to financially compensate a pastor?

    While I disagree with your conclusions of this chapter, I am thankful that you have brought to our attention some of the practical advantages of foregoing compensation “for the sake of the gospel.” It is my hope that more of us will consider foregoing our rights and experience the blessings that derive from financial self-reliance. We should all be willing to do all things for the sake of the gospel.

    Ben Laird

  14. 10-6-2008


    Thank you for the very thorough response. I appreciate the thoughtfulness that you put into this response, and I appreciate your final words. I agree that it would be good if more leaders began to work with their hands to support themselves.

    1) Metaphors are often used in Scripture related to unlike things. For example, leaven is used as a positive metaphor in Matt 13:33 and a negative metaphor in Matt 16:6. The use of the same metaphorical image does not necessarily connect the referents.

    2) But, Paul did use these “stationary” metaphors to compare to apostles who were travelling. Was he wrong to do this? By the way, can you show me any passage that connects Levites or priests to pastors/elders? Again, this was a metaphor, not a direct connection.

    3) I’ve dealt with metaphors already. The same metaphor can be used for different referents.

    4) “Proclaim the gospel” in Scripture is related to the work of apostles and missionaries among areas where the gospel has not been proclaimed. I think you would find it very interesting to do a study of the scruptural use of the kerygma / kerysso word groups. On the other hand, pastors/elders are exhorted to teach and encourage the church.

    The fact that churches today choose to pay professors is beside the point. You are arguing from contemporary practice: since professors are paid by churches, pastors whould be paid as well. If churches stopped paying salaries to pastors and professors, then more believers could use their money as Scripture commands: to take care of the poor, to support those who are travelling to proclaim the gospel, and to honor those who teach and lead them.


  15. 10-7-2008


    I’m baffled by both your exegesis and logic. It may take me a few rounds of questions and comments to understand this. May I please start with some comments and questions to understand the implications of what you teach about Bible verses related to ecclesiology?

    1) Do you agree or disagree that Matthew 28:19-20 teaches that teaching is a major part of discipleship?

    2) Do you agree or disagree that Matthew 28:19-20 teaches that water baptism and teaching are the primary components of discipleship?

    And please confirm if you agree with each of the following statements according to your exegesis and ecclesiology.

    a) Only traveling apostolic church leaders may get compensated for their hard work in the ministry
    b) A Christian who is an educator may get financially compensated for his or her teaching
    c) A Christian who is a public speaker may get financially compensated for his or her speaking
    d) A Christian who is a counselor may get financially compensated for his or her counseling

    May I request first closed yes or no answers and then of course any comments would be appreciated?

  16. 10-7-2008


    Hey lets not stop there let me add for you.

    E) A Christian that leads a small group.

    F) A Christian who evangelizes on Saturday Evenings Downtown.

    G)A Sunday School Teacher

    H) The person over the greeting ministry

    I) An Usher

    J) A Deacon

    K) Every single Elder

    L) Someone who volunteers for the infant ministry

    Jim, do you agree that since each of these proclaim the Gospel they should be paid also? There is a hint of sarcasm here but it is a genuine question once we work through it all. Thanks in advance

  17. 10-7-2008


    Paul clearly taught that apostolic gospel workers could get paid or refrain from pay for their hard work. And Paul clearly taught that all followers of Christ need to work hard. And Paul or anybody else in the New Testament never taught that all gospel work must be entitled to payment.

    Your example L is clearly a trick question because volunteers by definition don’t get paid.:) And I don’t think any of your examples require payment. On the other hand, perhaps a church could have dozens of services a week and need to hire full time ushers.

  18. 10-7-2008


    So then does Elders=Apostolic Gospel Workers? Are those two synonymous for you? I think that is where I struggle.

  19. 10-7-2008


    Thanks for the reply and for continuing this discussion. I don’t intend to be confusing. Hopefully this reply will help.

    First, I believe that ALL believers are responsible for “the hard work in the ministry”, which would include teaching, discipleship, serving, loving, exhorting, rebuking, etc. I do not believe that Scripture teaches that we should pay salaries to believers (any believers) in order for them to do “the hard work in the ministry”. However, I do believe that Scripture teaches that we can “share all good things” and demonstrate “double honor” toward those who have already served us through teaching or leading. Thus, our “sharing” is an individual’s response to someone’s service in their lives.

    Second, the difference between travelling Christians (i.e. apostles, missionaries) and all other Christians is that the travelling Christians are away from their home and their source of support – that is, their ability to work with their hands. Thus, these travelling Christians should be supported, at least with food and lodging. Of course, these travelling Christians could also choose to work with their hands and not to be supported, like Paul chose to do. (By the way, the Didache also made a distinction between travelling Christian leaders and Christian leaders who stayed in one place. So, this is not a novel distinction.)

    Now, to answer your first two questions:

    1) Yes, teaching is part of discipleship. I said that in the earlier comment. The difference, as I alluded to earlier, is that this type of teaching seems to include more than simply sharing information or reaching educational objectives, that is, educating. Thus, Paul would teach with words (what we call “teaching” or “educating” today) and he would also teach with his lifestyle. I also believe that ALL believers are responsible for discipleship and the type of teaching that goes along with discipleship. This is not the sole realm of pastors. I would also assume that ALL believers would be making disciples while they work at their occupation – whether that occupation is being a professor, or a tent maker, or a web developer. A professor is paid to impart information with students so the students can reach certain educational objectives. Hopefully, a professor who is a Christian will also disciple his or her students while imparting that information.

    2) Yes. I’m not sure how adding “water baptism” affects our discussion.

    Finally, for your second set of questions:

    Since you did not define “compensation”, I will define it for my answers. I’ve used the term “salary” in my discussion, so I will use that as the meaning of “compensation”: “Compensation” is a set wage paid by an employer to an employee in order for an employee to carry out a certain function. Thus, if the employee is not compensted then the employee is not obligated to carry out that function.

    a) No.
    b) Yes.
    c) Yes.
    d) Yes.

    If you would like to redefine “compensation”, I’ll be glad to answer the questions again. Remember, my argument is that Scripture does not justify paying a SALARY to a pastor based on his position as a pastor.

    By the way, in your response to Lionel you said, “[V]olunteers by definition don’t get paid”. Isn’t that the point of this very discussion? What functions should be carried out simply because someone is a Christian – without getting paid, i.e. by volunteering? If we decide that pastors have the right to earn a salary in order for them to teach or lead or disciple, then there is no scriptural reason that nursery workers, Bible study teachers, etc. shouldn’t also receive a salary for their teaching/leading/discipling.


    If we decide that Scripture does justify paying a salary to a pastor in order for him to teach/lead/disciple, then you are correct that we should also pay ALL believers who proclaim the gospel, teach, disciple, and/or lead other believers. (Gal 6:6, 1 Thess 5:12-13)


  20. 10-7-2008


    No, apostles are not always equal to elders/overseers. Both Peter the apostle and John the apostle referred to themselves as elders (1 Peter 5:1, 2 John 1, 3 John 1), but many elders aren’t also apostles. All elders, however, are delegates of apostles.

  21. 10-7-2008


    If I may can I ask you a few questions Sir?

    1. What would be a difference between an apostle and an elder? There are othe people called apostles beside the 13. What would make one an apostle?

    2. Given the fact that Elders were appointed from among the congregation. Would you say that they should quit their day jobs and become full-time salaried staff? Do you believe this is what is happening as Timothy and Titus are appointing elders in Crete and Ephesus?

    3. What exactly does an elder do that an average run of the mill believer should abstain from doing?

    4. Finally, you said “elders are delegates of apostles”. When was the last time an apostle delegated an elder? Even so what was Paul commanding the elders in Ephesus to do with their “own hands”?

  22. 10-7-2008


    1a. New Testament apostles typically had ministry to more than one city while non-apostolic elders where typically elders of a single city.

    1b. Apostles are called by God to be apostles and they fulfill their calling. Apostles are sent by God with authority and as I stated in 1a they typically minister to more than one city.

    2a. That would depend upon various factors such as the particular calling of the elder, the needs in the congregation, and the ability of a congregation to support a full time elder. I guess that there are other factors, but these come quickly to my mind.

    2b. If you’re asking me if Timothy and Titus appointed elders for full time ministry, then I doubt it. But then again, I never claim that an elder has to be called to full time paid ministry

    3. Nothing that I can think of off hand while everybody should have an idea about their limits in counseling and teaching. Misapplied teachings can cause a lot of damage.

    4a. Regardless of title, I believe that apostles with ministries to more than one city are appointing/confirming elders to this day. Even if you reject my apostolic ecclesiology, apostles established the appointment of elders.

    4b. Please give me a more specific Bible reference.

    Alan, thanks for continuing the conversation and I’ll get back to you when my time allows.:)

  23. 10-7-2008

    Wow, really great discussion, it’s good to see it delved into with such depth.

    I’ll go ahead and say I already agree with all that you’ve articulated, and I appreciate how much time and effort you’ve put into defining terms and contrasting modern ideas of leaders with biblical ones.

    I’ve been thinking about this verse a lot lately (“those who proclaim the gospel should get their living from the gospel”), and since you’ve spent a lot of time dealing with the first half of the sentence (dealing with the question of who proclaims the gospel), I was wondering if you could help unpack the second half. That is, what exactly does the bible mean by “a living” anyway?

    Lately I’ve been becoming more and more convinced that what scripture means by this term is vastly different from how we in modern America interpret it. You already alluded to this when you said, “Thus, these travelling Christians should be supported, at least with food and lodging.” I’m beginning to think that that’s all that is ever meant by “a living” by the NT authors, especially when I read verses like, 1 Timothy 6:6

    “6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

    To me, this verse seems to present a stark contrast between receiving food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to sleep, and getting paid a cash sum for preaching the gospel. I mean, if you can’t draw the line there, I don’t see where else a line can be drawn. But it obviously has to be somewhere, because the previous verse in 1 Timothy totally rebukes the one who thinks that godliness is a means to financial gain….

    Your thoughts?


  24. 10-7-2008

    My comment was addressed to Alan, by the way… (although it’s open to anyone)


  25. 10-7-2008


    Thank you all for this great discussion. I appreciate that we are able to discuss this issue and even disagree without resorting to divisiveness or the many other maladies that too often affect Christians when they disagree.

    I am going out of town tomorrow for several days (coming back Sunday). I may be able to comment tomorrow morning. But, after that, I will not have internet access. Please continue the conversation, as long as the tone remains Christ-like.

    Thank you all again,


  26. 10-7-2008


    Sorry Acts 20 near the end I think 32 or so.

    So are you saying if a congregation has the ability to pay then they should become full time and if not then don’t? Thanks again.

    By the way though we may disagree I am enjoying the dialouge Jim.

  27. 10-8-2008

    First, let me say that the following discussion is based on my observation of contemporary reality, and a cultural perspective of church ministry. I pray that you will excuse my approaching this question from a non-exegetical framework and accept my contribution to this discussion in the spirit in which it has been written.

    I fully accept the fact that our contemporary understanding of church, for the most part, does not have a one to one equivalent with the biblical understanding of church. In the New Testament, and for Paul, a church was a local expression of Christ’s body: believers who were wholly committed to the life, mission, and calling of Christ’s kingdom.

    Churches today are not, for the most part, bodies of believers who are wholly committed to the life, mission, and calling of Christ’s kingdom. Contemporary churches—I use contemporary in the general sense, not to denote style of worship—are human organizations that are imperfect cultural expressions of the body of Christ. And, while not a pure expression of the Christ’s body, that body generally exists within, in association with, or on the fringes of the human organization that we have come to call the church.

    There are, I believe, some rare contemporary churches that do come close to being pure expressions of Christ’s body. Perhaps the church in which Alan serves as an Elder is one of these churches. I believe, however, that the overwhelming majority of contemporary churches fall far short of this ideal. The contemporary church in America is a creation of the American culture and 2000 years of world development—of which I am not so naïve as to think all of it good. Regardless, the contemporary church is, for better or worse, our best or perhaps one of the best opportunities we have for establishing The body of Christ within our culture.

    I recognize that some obviously disagree with me on this and have sought to establish purer churches that more closely express the New Testament model of the church as it is explicitly, or more likely, implicitly described. These efforts are much akin to other puritan movements throughout the history of the church. I have great respect for puritan churches, and I applaud them, while recognizing that they are but a part of God’s plan for His body: to bring all of creation together under the headship of Christ.

    Contemporary churches are, I believe, another part of God’s plan, as they provide a place from which the body of Christ can be birthed and nurtured in our culture. I realize that some would argue that true believers should abandon the contemporary church all together and seek to establish puritan churches that “do it right.” I am convinced, however, that even though they do not always do it right, contemporary churches are, or at least can be, instruments of God to establish His kingdom. This is true likewise for other organizations such as denominations, mission boards, seminaries, and publishing houses. These are all products of our culture that exist to support, encourage, and equip the body of Christ in its kingdom mission.

    To the question at hand: should a pastor of a local church be paid? I would agree that all Christians are commanded to work with their hands, as Alan has aptly pointed out. The question we must answer is whether leading a church can be considered working with one’s hands? If leading a church, or pastoring, as we have come to call it, is only the spiritual act of shepherding and teaching, then the answer is no. Pastoring in the contemporary church, however, involves something more.

    Officially, I am a pastor of First Baptist Church, but what does that mean? In one sense, it means that I am a leader and administrator of a 501c3 corporation. It also means that I help manage a staff, a couple of buildings and a budget. In another sense, it means that I am a called to express my gifts as a pastor and teacher to shepherd the body of Christ that exists at the core of First Baptist Church. I should not be paid to exercise my spiritual gifts for the edification of the body of Christ. It is appropriate, however, if the local expression of Christ’s body with which I associate, has chosen to organize itself as a contemporary church and maintain an organizational structure to facilitate its mission. It is also appropriate if that body chooses to pay a salary for someone to manage that organization, just as it is appropriate for that body to provide funds for the support of seminaries, mission boards, and publishing houses.

    I Love First Baptist Church, even as I understand that it is not entirely what Paul had in mind for The Church in its purest sense. Maybe some are called to leave churches like First Baptist Church and start new churches that are The Church in its purest sense. Others, I am convinced, are called to work within contemporary churches, just as they work in seminaries, mission agencies, publishing houses, or even web design firms, cabinet shops, or hospitals?

  28. 10-8-2008

    Mr. Hoffman,

    You bring up some really good points brother. May I ask a leading question? Do you believe that a woman can pastor also, especially if it works and people are coming to Christ and she is faithful to what would be consider at least orthodox doctrine? If not why?

  29. 10-8-2008

    Lionel I am sure you will clear up my confusion concerning how this has any thing to do with this discussion, so to answer your question in simple terms:


    Because the Bible says so.

  30. 10-8-2008

    Mr. Hoffman,

    It seems that though your response is genuine and gently spoken it is jam packed with pragmatic notions. It seems that you say “this is the way the culture likes it and it works so lets do it”. Instead of saying, this is the way the culture likes it, but the more biblical model seems to be _____ so lets submit to it.

    Maybe I am wrong for that interpretation of what you wrote, but it seems that is how your statement comes off. And I agree for the most part that Jesus will work on our behalf because we are His Church. He also worked during the harloting of the Roman Church for years (the medieval one anyway).

    My question was a leading question into pragmaticism since it works lets do it. I think the same could be applied to women preaching correct?

    I just think we should look at the scriptures and attempt to model what we see more closely there. To say you are a leader of a corporation, one that is never ordained by the creator of the church seems to be a pragmatic answer to me. Not attacking your position or you personally I am just curious how pragmaticism works in one instance and not the other.

  31. 10-8-2008

    I think your comment actually hits the nail on the head at the core issue of this whole conversation.

    You said….

    “I should not be paid to exercise my spiritual gifts for the edification of the body of Christ. It is appropriate, however, if the local expression of Christ’s body with which I associate, has chosen to organize itself as a contemporary church and maintain an organizational structure to facilitate its mission.”

    I would wholeheartedly agree with the first statement. It is the second statement you here that needs to be questioned further.

    You also said,

    “In one sense, it means that I am a leader and administrator of a 501c3 corporation. It also means that I help manage a staff, a couple of buildings and a budget. In another sense, it means that I am a called to express my gifts as a pastor and teacher to shepherd the body of Christ that exists at the core of First Baptist Church.”

    I must say it is nice to hear someone working within the conventional church structure be so straight-forward about how it all works. You summed it up perfectly.

    I think the point that I, and many others like myself, are coming to realize is this; do we really need to maintain an organizational structure to facilitate the church’s mission? If we need things like special buildings to meet in, than I suppose we do need to form 501c3’s in order to aquire property, and we have to hire people to handle the administration of it. But, if we don’t need them, or even more, are actually impeded by being confined to the mentalities that go along with identifying ourselves with a place, or a person, or a church name, than no. To become any form of corporate identity then only cheapens the bride of Christ. Plus there is the huge financial drain, (even in a small conventional church), that is put upon the people of God. Every dollar that goes towards a building, or a paid pastor, or a program, is one that isn’t going to help people in need (which is the only way we see giving being used in the NT) You yourself said that pastoral pay is not justified for teaching and edifying the body, but only for the administrative tasks of the pastor. I can’t help but see these two things as ones that in the end only serve to necessitate each other. A corporate entity, with a budget, requires an administrator, and an administrator needs a corporation to run in order to have a job. The fact is that in the end, all the things that God calls us to do (make disciples, love people, teach the truth…) do not require any of those organizational structures to be done. We have the power of God, the Holy Spirit in every believer, and the Word. We do not even need seminaries (which like you said, are part of the broader system…) although I’m not saying that I think they’re a terrible thing altogether, but only that they effectively perpetuate the cycle of producing more and more paid-professionals into the system who then require more 501c3’s to give them jobs…

    Running a church like a business (which it isn’t) cannot be dismissed or excused as being a cultural expression of the gospel. I cannot take people’s money to pay for a building, or my salary, or anything else, and rationalize it by claiming that it’s just “the way we do it in America”. Weren’t the money-changers in the temple just doing what was the cultural norm at the time? Weren’t the Pharisees too? Jesus didn’t seem to pay any mind to what was considered acceptible by the culture. He was more concerned with God’s opinion….

    In Christ, Daniel

  32. 10-8-2008

    I just remembered… This discussion reminded me about this. This is a the recent budget summary of the church I grew up in, taken from their website. I still have to work out what percentage the “benevolent fund” (money given to needy people…) is out of the total expenditures:

    2008 Received: $2,931,466
    Over/(Under) Budget: (-$373,838)
    % Over/(Under) Budget: (-11%)
    Preparing for Growth: $ 255,987 (Given to Date)
    Benevolent 2008: $101,293

    Oh, and good point Lionel, pragmatism quickly becomes a problem child when we let it out of the box (nothing like mixing your metaphors…)

    peace, Daniel

  33. 10-8-2008


    I appreciate dialogging with you, and I pray you’re having a great day in the Lord.:)

    I’m not saying that if a congregation has the ability to pay for a full time pastor then it *must* pay for a full time pastor, but the ability to pay would be one of the prerequisites.

    I’ll outline a scenario of prerequisites for a church to hire a full time pastor:

    1) the church hears from God that a full time pastor would help the church and the local area

    2) the church can afford to pay for a full time pastor while it can afford to give to missions and pay for any other needed expenses

    3) the church identifies who should be the full time pastor

    4) the candidate full time pastor hears from God about accepting the position

    I suppose you asked about Acts 20:33-35. Here’s the verses from NIV:

    33) I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.
    34) You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.
    35) In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “

    I’ll jot some notes:

    Paul affirmed the tenth commandment which forbids coveting.

    Paul describes his diligence to financially provide for himself and his associates, presumably by making tents, while he implies that his diligence is an example for everybody.

    Paul affirms the teaching from Jesus that it’s more blessed to give than receive.

    Some of Paul’s associates didn’t provide for their own financial needs while Paul picked up the tab for them.



  34. 10-10-2008


    Why did you answer “a” with “no”?

    And do you believe that educators, counselors, and public speakers work with their hands? Please explain.

    Thank you while I make sure I understand the premises of your interpretation. And enjoy your extended nature walk with your son.:)


  35. 10-11-2008


    I’m not an expert, but it in my limited study of the early church it seems that the leadership was generally raised up from within the body. This leadership provided the various functions (teaching, shepherding, administration, etc. (Eph 4:11 + 1 Cor 12:28 )) for the building up of the body. Thus the leadership would have the support of being in their home church and community. There were those that were “sent out,” apostles or missionaries if you like, and it was these “sent out” ones that had (or have) a right to support. I actually agree with your analysis of the passage, however, it made me think a bit about how today’s pastors or church leaders are chosen.

    Generally, our pastor or leader comes to us from another church community. They are “sent out,” away from their home church and community and the support structure it provides. In this way the modern church pastor acts like or plays the role of an early church apostle. Just a thought.


  36. 10-12-2008


    Hi, former neighbor! I hope things are going well for you and your family in Ga! We miss you all and think of you often.

    I agree with others that you’ve expressed the contemporary understanding of church and pastors very well. My concern is not so much that churches decide to pay people. My concern is that many churches use Scripture to defend paying a salary to a person in order for them to be a pastor. I do not think Scripture justifies paying a salary to a person in order for them to be a pastor.

    I would only ask one question: If we recognize that our church (whichever group we meet with) is not matching a scriptural ideal, do we leave it as it is, or do we work toward that ideal? I wrote a short post about that a few weeks ago called “Paul’s Vision for the Church“. I do not think any church will match that ideal, but I believe all churches and all believers should seek to grow toward that ideal.

    Thanks for the comment!


    I answered “no” to question “a” because I do not think Scripture justifies compensating travelling missionaries/apostles in the way that I defined compensation.

    You asked, “And do you believe that educators, counselors, and public speakers work with their hands? Please explain.”

    I’m not sure how “educators, counselors, and public speakers” relate to this discussion? Are you suggesting that being an educator, or a counselor, or a public speaker is equivalent to being a pastor/elder?


    I agree that contemporary pastors are not generally recognized from among the church, but from outside the church. Do you think this contemporary practice means that we should treat elders as apostles in the sense that they now travel?


  37. 10-12-2008


    I know of churches that believe using musical instruments in worship is not justified by Scripture. Some might think this is a mere trivial argument, but in a Primitive Baptist Church, this is a primary issue of biblical integrity. Since the biblical argument of these churches is pretty sound, wouldn’t growing toward the biblical ideal necessitate removing all musical instruments form church worship? Primitive Baptists and a number of other churches believe so.

    I have a very good friend who was raised in an Apostolic Christian Church. In fact, his father was a pastor of this church. These churches believe that formal training for pastors is not justified by Scripture. In fact, pastors in this tradition are prohibited from any type of formal pastoral or theological training, which they consider man’s wisdom. From a strictly biblical interpretation, their argument is pretty convincing. If we use this strictly biblical argument, then growing toward the biblical ideal would mean prohibiting pastors from receiving any type of formal theological education.

    I know that these examples might seem minor or trivial to some, but Christians from these traditions believe their interpretations concerning these issues to be foundational to biblical integrity.

    I mention these examples because they are very similar to the discussion at hand. They seek to apply a first century biblical ideal without accounting for the immense shift in society and culture that has occurred over the past 2000 years.

    I know that I have been accused of being a pragmatist, and in some cases, I am. However, I believe that pragmatism is ok in relation to those things that are not specifically prohibited by scripture, and I believe that paid pastors, musical instruments in worship, and formal training for pastors to be some of those things.

  38. 10-12-2008

    Alan, I meant to add this in my other post. It is good to connect with you again. I am no longer in GA, but in FL, I moved there to help lead the church that Teresa and I attended for many years and which we consider our home church. I hope all is going well with you and your family.

  39. 10-12-2008


    Please send me an email (see the left sidebar for my email address). We would love to catch up with you and Teresa and your children.

    I agree that neither musical instruments and pastoral education are neither required nor prohibited by Scripture, so certainly there is freedom in these areas.

    However, as part of my argument against paying a salary to a pastor, I do believe that “working with your hands” is required of all beleivers (2 Thessalonians 3) and pastors in particular (Acts 20:33-35). These commands to “work with your hands” are given specifically in order to support oneself so as not to be supported by others.


  40. 10-13-2008


    I believe that leading a church, at least in the contemporary sense, would be considered working with your hands. I worked most of my life in the construction industry as a carpenter, so I know what working with your hands is all about. While I do not necessarily use my hands on a daily basis, I am rarely ungainfully idle. I believe warning against ungainful idleness to be the primary admonition of 2 Thess. 3 and Acts 20:33.

    I think, though I might be mistaken, that the root concern of this argument is with the organization of the contemporary church as it exists today, and that these organizations have decided to structure themselves in such a way that they require management by vocational staff.

    I would again resort to a cultural/pragmatic argument, within the bounds of Scripture of course, to justify the existence of contemporary churches.

  41. 10-13-2008


    If the elder functions as an apostle (sent out, travels, moves away from their support structure) then we could treat them as such. Notice I said “could” not “should.” It doesn’t matter what we call them, what is their function and how do we relate that to the biblical descriptions. Therefore, the home church could support them, the host church could support them, a group of churches could support them, they could be self supporting or some combination thereof. I see freedom here, not mandate.

    Maybe our confusion stems from how we see leadership in the church in terms of offices, roles and functions. But that is another discussion entirely…

  42. 10-13-2008


    ‘I’m not sure how “educators, counselors, and public speakers” relate to this discussion? Are you suggesting that being an educator, or a counselor, or a public speaker is equivalent to being a pastor/elder?’

    I’m not at all suggesting that being an educator, or a counselor, or a public speaker is equivalent to being a pastor/elder. But I ask because your theology makes a big deal about the need for pastors/elders to work with their hands. So I need to make sure that I understand your definition of “work with his hands”. Allow me to ask a more general question. How do you define “work with his hands”? Your answer to this question should answer my previous question about educators, counselors, and public speakers. I cannot properly evaluate your interpretation without understanding your implications of “work with his hands”.

    Thank you.


  43. 10-13-2008

    Tony and Jim,

    Thank you for continuing this discussion. I think I can respond to both of you to help explain my position. I believe that we find Paul using the term “work” for two different types of work. 1) He uses the term “work” for what we would call “ministry work” – the work of discipleship, exhortation, admonishment, service, etc. 2) He uses the term “work” in the sense of “work with your hands” through which people support themselves.

    I believe that Paul calls all believers to “work” in both ways – that is, by serving others and by supporting themselves. However, today, we tend to combine the two uses of the term “work” for pastors, such that ministry work becomes working with your hands. My question is, if we can combine these two types of work for pastors, why not for other believers? Instead, I think we need to keep these two types of work separate.


  44. 10-15-2008


    Paul clearly teaches that some apostolic ministers have the right to be financially supported for doing hard work in the full time ministry. Do you accept of reject my interpretation?

    “My question is, if we can combine these two types of work for pastors, why not for other believers?”

    The Bible clearly teaches that some people have the right to financial support for full time ministry while it never comes close to suggesting that all believers have the right to financial support. So without a doubt there is no biblical justification for claiming that all believers have a right to financial support for all hard work in the ministry. Do you agree or disagree?


  45. 10-15-2008


    Yes. I agree with both of your statements. In fact, the point of this post is to show that 1 Cor 9 says that apostolic workers (those travelling away from their place of employment) have the right to be supported by the church. Similarly, in 1 Cor 9, the ones who can be supported are described as “those who proclaim the gospel”, which, in context, would be apostolic workers – those travelling away from their place of employment.


  46. 10-15-2008


    Then, why do you say, ‘I believe that Paul calls all believers to “work” in both ways – that is, by serving others and by supporting themselves’?

    Or do you modify that statement?


  47. 10-15-2008


    I clarify that I ask the above question so that I can understand the premises of your interpretation.


  48. 10-15-2008


    I’m sorry for the confusion. Since I had said earlier that apostolic workers (those travelling) could be supported by the church, then I thought that was assumed in my statement that all believers should do ministry work and work with their hands. Of course, apostolic workers can choose to work with their hands (the way Paul did) if they think its best in order not to hinder the gospel.

    The reason that apostolic workers can receive support from the church is that they are travelling away from their source of employment.


  49. 10-21-2008


    I appreciate your patience with me, and I hope to look further into related topics so that I can better analyze this. For example, how do we define the difference between a traveling apostle versus an apostle who moves every couple of years? I think this relates to the apostles in Acts, which we need to study for background to 1 Corinthians. And I specifically want to look at Acts 4:32-6:7. And another point is that I have major objections if you insist that a Christian can get paid for teaching ministerial training in a seminary while a Christian cannot get paid for teaching ministerial training in a church meeting.

    Let's look at Acts 4:32-37 & 5:42-6:7 (NIV):

    4:32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.

    4:33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.

    4:34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales

    4:35 and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

    4:36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement),

    4:37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet.

    5:42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

    6:1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.

    6:2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.

    6:3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them

    6:4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."

    6:5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

    6:6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

    6:7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

    There are some details that I'm don't know. For example, I'm not sure how much time elapsed between Pentecost in Acts 2 and the persecution in Acts 8. Anyway, we see the apostles in Jerusalem had a lot of money flow through their hands (4:32-37). The apostles focused on teaching and preaching in the temple courts and house to house (5:42). And the apostles felt they needed to focus on their ministry of prayer and the word instead of serving food to elderly women believers (6:17).

    This suggests that the apostles focused all of their hard working time on the ministry of prayer and word instead instead of other work. And we don't see the apostles traveling outside Jerusalem until Acts 8:14. So traveling wasn't an apostolic issue until Acts 8:14. This clearly teaches that the apostles moved to Jerusalem, stayed a while in Jerusalem, and they did no work apart from the ministry of prayer and the word. Traveling had nothing do with this.

    I also see 2 Corinthians 11:8-9 teaches that Paul accepted personal money from Christians in Macedonia while Paul wouldn't accept personal money from Christians in Corinth. This suggests that Paul addressed a problem in Corinth that didn't exist in all the churches.

    And I wish to know. Do you insist that a Christian can get paid for teaching ministerial training in a seminary while a Christian cannot get paid for teaching ministerial training in a church meeting?

  50. 10-21-2008


    Thank you for continuing this discussion. In your study of Acts 4-6 and the money flowing through the hands of the apostles, did you find any indication that they kept any of this money for themselves? I noticed particularly that Acts 4:35 that this money was distributed to the needy.

    Also, I agree with you that “ministry work” is hard work. I also agree that we are not all called to do the same type of “ministry work”. So, while the apostles were doing the “hard work” in prayer and the word, it seems that others were appointed to the “hard work” of serving food to widows. I’m not sure how this affects our discussion of 1 Cor 9 and whether or not that passage can be used to justify paying a salary to a pastor.

    Paul often accepted support from churches (as in 2 Cor 11:8-9 and Phil 4) – but not from the church where he was currently working. I think that’s very interesting, but again, how does this affect pastors?

    Finally, you asked, “Do you insist that a Christian can get paid for teaching ministerial training in a seminary while a Christian cannot get paid for teaching ministerial training in a church meeting?” I do not insist that a Christian can get paid for teaching ministerial training in a seminary. I do suggest that being an educator is a type of “working with your hands”, which is completely different than the type of “teaching” that all Christians are called to do. By the way, I do both, and I only accept pay for one.


  51. 10-21-2008

    Thank you, Alan.

    “In your study of Acts 4-6 and the money flowing through the hands of the apostles, did you find any indication that they kept any of this money for themselves?”

    Yes, I already explained that the apostles in Acts 5-6 worked full time in the ministry. Acts 4:35 says that the money was distributed to anyone who had need. I’m sure, for example, that Peter and his family had need while Peter worked full time in the ministry of prayer and the word. Do you agree or disagree?

    “Paul often accepted support from churches (as in 2 Cor 11:8-9 and Phil 4) – but not from the church where he was currently working. I think that’s very interesting, but again, how does this affect pastors?”

    We need to consider all that the New Testament teaches about financial support for ministers, even if we don’t see a direct connection. In this case, I’m examining your premise that 1 Corinthians 9 teaches that only traveling apostles should get paid because the traveling apostles were away from their non-ministerial work at home. That might not directly relate to pastors, but I think we need to carefully examine this for background studies.

    I don’t see how your premise applies to Paul. Paul could make tents wherever he traveled. Not only that, evidently Paul was great at making money by making tents. For example, Acts 20:33-35 teaches that Paul’s tent making paid not only his own expenses but also the expenses of his assistants. Regardless, Paul sometimes accepted money to pay for his expenses when he could have made tents to pick up his own expenses. Likewise, sometimes Paul saw that the best ministry strategy involved making tents for funds and other times Paul saw that the best ministry strategy was to focus full time on the ministry of prayer and the word. Do you agree or disagree?

    ‘I do not insist that a Christian can get paid for teaching ministerial training in a seminary. I do suggest that being an educator is a type of “working with your hands”, which is completely different than the type of “teaching” that all Christians are called to do. By the way, I do both, and I only accept pay for one.’

    Could you please clarify this? Are you suggesting that it *could* be wrong for a Christian to accept payment for teaching ministerial training in a seminary?


  52. 10-21-2008


    You said that the apostles “worked full time in the ministry”. Since you suggest that Peter and his family would have taken some of the money given to the needy, I’m assuming that you mean that they only did ministry work. You could be right. But, the text does not tell us that. Either argument (that they did or did not work with their hands in Jerusalem in order to support themselves and their families) is an argument from silence. Thus, I would not include Acts 4-6 in a discussion of financial support for either apostles or elders.

    I think that the fact that Paul accepted financial support only from churches where he was not currently “ministering” is very important to a study of Christians being supported. Are you suggesting that this should be the practice for pastors today?

    It seems that when Paul received support from another city, he would accept it. When he did not receieve support from another city, he would work with his hands to support himself. But, he did not (and he told the Corinthians that he would not) accept support from the believers in the city that he was currently working – and he was doing hard ministry work and usually hard work with his hands as well.

    You asked, “Are you suggesting that it *could* be wrong for a Christian to accept payment for teaching ministerial training in a seminary?” I’m suggesting that teaching in a college, university, or seminary is not the same as to “ministerial training” in the scriptural sense, even though an education is usually equivocated to “ministerial training” today. I hope that helps.


  53. 3-29-2011

    I find it seems poor exegesis to me to speak of 1 Cor. 9 1-14 and completely ignore the rest of the chapter where Paul with suicidal passions states that he would rather die than give up the boast that he ministered free of charge. He then goes on to explain his reasons for doing so – freedom to minister, strategic intimate relationship in ministry and reward in ministry. The right to be paid is to be refused. To ignore the rest of the chapter is classic institutionalized textual corruption.

    So with “the right to be paid” in full demand, we now have the wealthiest country in all of world history devoting around 90% or more of their “giving” to buy goodies to benefit mostly the “givers”. This is pooling not giving. Based on where the money goes, it is far more important for Americans to hear several thousand professionally given Bible lectures, a professionally prepared singing ritual and hired talkers for separating off the teens from the adults, every week of your life, then for those who have never heard and have no one within a days walk to tell them the good news to get to hear it once. What a HUGE tragedy of arrogant spirituality.

  54. 3-29-2011


    I agree. There are no examples in Scripture of anyone accepting (much less requiring) money from the people in order for that person to serve them in any capacity.


  55. 1-9-2013

    I Corinthians 9 does not support pastors being paid a salary.

    However, i feel as if the issue is with the institutional mindset and its corresponding, erroneous authority structure. The argument of not whether or not a pastor can receive money from a flock is flawed from its onset. I do see a prohibition against pastors being paid. As I stated, the fundamental flaw in the reasoning of whether or not a pastor should receive support from a flock is that the churches (individual gatherings – local assemblies) are looked at as institutional employers. If we eliminate looking at the church as the employer, we open our minds to other possibilities.

    Another fundamental error is that we have taught pastors to expect money in trade for services rendered.

    The fact the a pastor receives money is not a-scriptural (at least as far as I can tell). The problem is more that an the institution feels as if it has the authority to hire a pastor and to determine his salary. But I see nothing wrong with a shepherd profiting from the care of sheep as long as he truly cares for them.

  56. 1-9-2013


    I agree that idea of pastoral salary goes hand-in-hand with the institutional mindset. I think it’s good for any Christian to “share all good things” with those who have helped him/her grow in maturity, whether that person is an elder/pastor or not. I’m not convinced from Scripture that this sharing overrides Paul’s commands for elders to work with their hands the way he did (Acts 20) or his instructions in 2 Thessalonians 3 concerning work.


  57. 1-9-2013

    I am not sure either, Alan. What I am sure of is that the system we’ve constructed is a horrific representation of the NT gathering.

  58. 1-9-2013


    I agree with that also… which also demonstrates the awesome grace of God, since he continues to use that system in spite of us.