We have an elder in our church who is a fully self-employed man. He faithfully teaches adult Sunday School regularly on a weekly basis, does biblical counseling, meets with men for group and individual discipleship, and preaches occasionally. He would like to cut back on his self-employment and put more time serving the church. Should the church pay him for his work of teaching and preaching? Does 1 Timothy 5:17-18 apply to full time teachers only?
There are some truly outstanding godly elders who labor hard preaching and teaching in Christ-centered and biblically-based churches. Therefore, if such an elder is struggling to maintain his ministry to the church and his current employment, should the church help him financially? That is, can a part-time elder receive financial help?
Meaning of 1 Timothy 5:17-18
First, we discover the meaning of 1 Timothy 5:17-18. Here is the passage,
The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 1 Timothy 5:17-18 (NASB)
The first part of verse 17 states that the church is to give double honor to those elders who rule well. This does not mean that he is a good business leader. It does not mean that he was a founding father of the church. It means that he uses the spiritual gift that God has given exceedingly well. He is highly organized and extremely faithful. It is rare that anyone needs to remind him to do anything. He excels in executing his responsibilities.
The second part of verse 17 says the church is to give special honor to those who preach and teach. This means that God recognizes that some elders will perform their preaching and teaching responsibilities exceedingly better than others. Notice the two key statements are “especially” and that “work hard” in preaching and teaching. This is the most important responsibility of an elder.
Can a Part-Time Elder Receive Financial Help?
Next, we are given the biblical reason why we should give double honor to those elders who “rule well” and especially to those who work hard in preaching and teaching. In verse 18, Paul prove his point that elders are worthy of double honor, especially those who elders who work hard in preaching and teaching. Both quotes are about rewards. The first quote is from Deuteronomy 25:4. The second quote is from Luke 10:7. The second one is financial rewards.
That is, elders are worthy of verbal honor and financial support according to 1 Timothy 5:17-18. It has been the custom of most churches to financially support those elders who serve as full-time pastors. But verses 17-18 teach that all of the elders are worthy of double honor. Therefore, if a church wants to financially support one of them to make it possible for him to devote more time to ministry, that would be biblical.
Therefore, the answer to the question, “Can a part-time elder receive financial help?” is yes!
Suggested Links:How to Honor and Discipline Elders
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