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Does “Double Honor” = “Salary”?

Posted by on Dec 21, 2010 in elders, office, scripture | 18 comments

Does “Double Honor” = “Salary”?

So, does “double honor” in 1 Timothy 5:17-18 refer to a salary? Arthur at “The Voice of One Crying out in Suburbia” takes issue with another blogger’s conclusion in his post “Back to double honor.”

In case you’re new around here, I do not believe that “double honor” in 1 Timothy 5:17-18 refers to a salary. I do not believe that Scripture condones paying a salary to someone in exchange for that person being a pastor/elder or in exchange for that person offering the church some type of service.

But, for those who do believe that “double honor” in that passage indicates a salary, I’d like to ask a couple of questions. The following two passages are very similar – perhaps even parallel – to 1 Timothy 5:17-18.

One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. (Galatians 6:6 ESV)

Does the passage above indicate that we should pay a salary to all teachers? Why or why not?

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you [lead you] in the Lord and admonish you,  and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 ESV)

In the passage above (which is eerily similar to 1 Timothy 5:17-18), Paul uses the phrase “esteem them highly.” Could that give us a clue as to what Paul meant by the phrase “double honor”? Why or why not?

What do you think?


18 Comments

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  1. 12-21-2010

    I want to read more on this. I just had this thought yesterday and did not know how to explore. This topic is bound to be; “fightin’ words”, in too many circles to begin this now. And, I would love to hear some comments on salary’s in light of America’s economic experiment…slash turmoil.
    !!! Utmost respect to the men who live lives worthy to minister the gospel of God !!! Yet, we are all called to be priests. WE MUST BE ABOUT, “our father’s business…”

  2. 12-21-2010

    Well, since that other blogger determined $70k/year was a good double honor for an assistant(?) pastor, I wanna know when can my widow grandmother start collecting her $35k? 1 Tim 5:3

  3. 12-21-2010

    … I don’t think

    But anyway, even if it would mean “salary”, I would prefer, if I would be a “full-time minister”, to be able to say as Paul said: “If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” (1Cor9)

    in a North-American context, with all the financial scandals, and all the shame that is upon christianity with issues about money, we have to be wise and humble. I think that having a paid minister is an obstacle to spread the gospel in our post-christianity cultural context. That minister is à priori not taken seriously by most unbelievers.

    … I think … no ?

  4. 12-21-2010

    Reid,

    I also have respect (even “double honor”) for any who are recognized as mature believers by their fellow brothers and sisters, especially those who lead well and teach and proclaim the gospel… even those who disagree with me on this issue. :)

    Eric,

    Well, as everyone knows, “honor” means something different there.

    Tommy,

    The possibility of causing a stumbling block for others should be a concern, especially for those who are apostles and missionaries traveling away from home. (I’m not convinced that 1 Corinthians 9 refers to elders.) I also think that Acts 20:33-35 should be more of a concern and pattern for elders, since Paul spoke it directly to elders (and notice that Acts 20:28 is almost always interpreted as applying to elders today).

    -Alan

  5. 12-26-2010

    I don’t think that a case can be made equating “double honor” to salary. But can we support someone to be free from a job and concentrate all their efforts on the Kingdom? Is it possible that Paul knew times of plenty and tent making could be put on hold while he concentrated on ministry? What if we remove the term “salary,” and replace it with “support,” – would it then be biblical?

    For example, I am based at Connections Church in Albany GA. They support me as I train people there as well as train other works in different parts of the state. We do not trade services for money. I have no job description at Connections. I don’t do all the preaching and I am not the head elder. They do, however, recognize that The Lord seems to be using me to lead them away from the tradition church and into the fullness of a true NT gathering.

    Further, those that gather at Connections recognize that it is advantageous to the Kingdom if I am free to go about without having to hold down a job.

    There’s my input :)

  6. 12-27-2010

    my thoughts are that a good man receives respect apportioned to their sphere of influence. the double portion of respect remains after that man separates and his words and work continue to be remembered. i call it a legendary life of faith – characterized by obedience to God’s Word and verbalized in God’s glorification.

  7. 12-27-2010

    Doug,

    Is it valid to apply the “right” of apostles to elders/pastors? If so, why?

    Hawk Eye,

    That sounds like the work of an apostle. What about “double honor” for an elder who stays in the same location his entire life?

    -Alan

  8. 12-27-2010

    Doug,
    Is it valid to apply the “right” of apostles to elders/pastors? If so, why?

    My Short Answer….
    I hate to answer a question with a question – but I am going to anyway. “Why not?” I think if a gathering so desires to support a particular gift of any kind there is liberty to do so. I cannot see a reason for forbidding such as long as the gathering language of the NT is in practice. We don’t know exactly how they did it in the first church.

  9. 12-27-2010

    Doug,

    Since the “right” is not specifically applied to elders in Scripture, does that mean you also think it is valid to apply the “right” to any believers? If not, what criteria do you use to decide to whom the “right” applies?

    Does Acts 20:33-35 still apply to elders, or only Acts 20:28?

    -Alan

  10. 12-28-2010

    Nope. I do not think an elder has the same supply “rights” that are afforded to the apostle. I don’t think of it as a “right.” The criteria can be many things. If it works for a particular group for whatever reason, then again I ask, “why not?” We do not live in the first century Middle East. Things have changed. The procedure in which we act out the principles of a NT gathering can certainly change with culture and perhaps be effective.

    With that said: I generally do not support the idea of a full time pastor and a corresponding salary. I cannot, however, find it forbidden in scripture. I think that we in the Western world have made it an expectation – and that is in error. Yet, I don’t find gathering an offering for one particular person who may be dedicating their life to a certain group or mission to be in biblical error.

  11. 12-28-2010

    Doug,

    Thanks for the explanation.

    -Alan

  12. 2-27-2012

    Scripture MUST be used to interpret scripture.

    Paul …(who commanded that all must provide for themselves wherever possible) …explains what he means by double honor in a later parallel passage which somehow is never considered.

    1 Thess 5:12-13
    And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. NKJV

    Double honor is “recognition” and “being highly esteemed”. The wage which the worker is worthy of is HONOR….not money! (which would be contrary to Jesus words in Luke 16:13)

    The interpretations put on this by many that ‘double honor’ includes ‘financial reward’ is wishful thinking which exposes their own covetous hearts.

    The apostolic right of support (which applied to workers who were sent out) is defined in Mat 10:10 (‘the ‘first mention’) as being keep. The context of both Mat 10 and Luke 10 is that the wage was to be the accommodation and food which was freely offered to them in a response to their ministry. It was NEVER a ‘salaried position’

  13. 2-19-2013

    I agree with you that double honour does not mean double salary or wages or pay. Paul would have used a different word than Honour there if he intended so. Also the same Greek word Honour is used in chapter six about servants giving honor to their masters. That certainly does not mean pay there. Servants don’t pay their masters. If Paul used the word honor a few verses previous to mean wages or pay, and then used it again t mean value or honor, it would contradict and cause confusion. Also the word honor means value, or esteem etc. The elders (plural) who labor in word and doctrine are doubly valuable in the body of believers. This seems like the natural stress of this verse. Also Paul speaks of elders PLURAL. There may be 5 top six mature elders in a larger body, do they all get double pay??? and what would double pay be anyway?

  14. 2-20-2013

    Bruce,

    I agree with what you’ve said for the most part. I’m wondering where you get the number 5-6 mature elders for a larger body?

    -Alan

  15. 6-25-2013

    Alan,

    You may have answered this elsewhere, so I apologize for not seeing it, but immediately after Paul wrote that about “double honor,” he also wrote that “the laborer was worthy of his wages.” How does “wages” interpret “double honor?” Also, “you shall not muzzle the ox while it treads the grain?

  16. 6-25-2013

    Steven,

    Different people interpret those statements differently. Some take the phrase “the laborer is worthy of his wages” as a literal description of “the elders (who lead well and work hard at teaching and the word”) are worthy of double honor.” I disagree with this interpretation for two reasons:

    1) It’s clear that “the elders are worthy of double honor” is analogous to “the ox deserves to eat grain while treading.” No one takes that literally. It seems that the second part would be an analogy as well. Thus, the elders deserve double honor just as the ox deserves grain and the laborer deserves wages. Paul is not equating elders with laborers or double honor with wages any more than he is equating elders with oxen and double honor with grain.

    2) Paul uses the same term for “honor” on a few sentences later in 1 Timothy 6:1 when he says slaves should give their masters “all honor.” If “double honor” is a salary, then what is “all honor” that slaves should give their masters?

    -Alan

  17. 6-26-2013

    Alan,

    Thanks for your reply. I had somewhat thought about what your first point stated initially, but was honestly uncertain. Your second point also makes better sense in light of the first point.

    What, if any, place would hospitality and remuneration on a hospitable basis play?

  18. 6-27-2013

    Steven,

    I think that hospitality and sharing one’s goods would apply to elders just as to all believers. I wrote a series last year that might interest you: “Elders/Pastors and Financial Benefits.”

    -Alan