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:
- Acts 20:33-35
- 1 Timothy 5:17
- 1 Timothy 5:18
- 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.