the weblog of Alan Knox

Elders/Pastors and Financial Benefits: Introduction

Posted by on Feb 27, 2012 in elders, office, scripture | 5 comments

Elders/Pastors and Financial Benefits: Introduction

In the church today, it seems that elders/pastors and money go hand-in-hand. I’ve written several blog posts and series related to financial benefits and church leaders, especially for those who are hired as pastors, elders, or other positions among the church. Personally, I do not believe that Scripture justifies paying someone a salary in order for them to be an elder/pastor. (For a summary of my view, see my post “Summary – Should elders/pastors be paid a salary?“)

In this series, I do not plan to rehash my argument concerning elders/pastors and salaries. (By the way, I will primarily use the term “elders” in this series. However, if your traditions uses “pastor” or “bishop” or “minister” or anything else, you can assume that I’m referring to those people also.)

Instead, I’m going to look through several passages of Scripture that connect elders and financial benefit. Interestingly, there are only a few passages of Scripture that mention elders at all. And, among those, only three discuss elders and finances together. I’m going to discuss those three passages in canonical order in four posts:

  1. Acts 20:33-35
  2. 1 Timothy 5:17
  3. 1 Timothy 5:18
  4. 1 Peter 5:2

Now, in reality, 1 Timothy 5:17 and 1 Timothy 5:18 go together. However, I will examine them separately, but bring the connection together in the post on 1 Timothy 5:18. Also, all of the passages are part of larger contexts, and, in each case, the larger context will help us understand what the author is saying.

I think that it is important that these three passages (Acts 20:33-35, 1 Timothy 5:17-18, and 1 Peter 5:2) were written by 3 different authors and were written to three different audiences. However, I think the teachings regarding elders and financing is quite consistent.

Finally, in a sixth post, I’m going to write a conclusion for this series that puts together everything that we find in those three passages. In the conclusion, I will explain my understanding of the connection between elders and financial benefits. As I said earlier and in other posts, I do not believe that a salary correctly explains this connection. But, I do believe there is a connection that explains what is consistently taught in Scripture (both in these passages and in others that are not directly related to elders).

Obviously, many Christians throughout history – including today – disagree with my conclusions. I understand that. However, I have found that many commentaries and studies agree with my analysis of the various passages, even if they do not synthesize the results in the same way that I do. I think some of these conclusions actually contradict the analysis of the various passages. I’m seeking consistency, even if it means that my conclusions disagree with what has been accepted practice in the church.

So, I welcome discussion, and I welcome disagreement. I ask, though, that in this series we keep our discussion to the passages at hand. It is only by studying (analyze) the individual passages and understanding what they can and/or cannot mean that we can begin to put together (synthesize) the passages into a consistent conclusion.


Elders/Pastors and Financial Benefits Series

  1. Introduction
  2. Acts 20:33-35
  3. 1 Timothy 5:17
  4. 1 Timothy 5:18
  5. 1 Peter 5:2
  6. Conclusion


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

  1. 2-27-2012

    Looking forward to this series Alan, the influence that money and financial matters in general has on the church in the West cannot be overemphasized.

  2. 2-27-2012

    money & sex — that’s what it’s all about in America.

  3. 2-27-2012

    Arthur and Randi,



  4. 7-6-2013

    Sorry for jumping the gun but if the ussher in the church has a secular job, and the same goes for ALL MEMBERS, what prevents the pastor or priest from taking up a regular , secular job as well? Perhaps its because of the “refrain from muzzling the ox that treads the mill” passage in the bible? On another note how can we “muzzle” the mouth of a church “founder” / pastor ?

    One other thing , may I know why we keep referring to the “American church” as if it is the darkest blot in the worldwide Body? Do my American brothers know what goes on in the “African Church”? Well its the same problem back here.

  5. 7-7-2013


    From what I can tell, elders among the early church did work a “secular job,” although that term “secular” would have seem strange to anyone at that time. I write primarily about the “American church” because that the part of the church that I’m most familiar with. I have had a little experience with a small group of believers in Nicaragua and another small group in Ethiopia. I love to hear stories about the church around the world though.