Bible Question:

You stopped short of the scripture (1 Cor. 9:17-18) that reads that there should be no charge for my preaching. Or am I wrong? Please answer this for me. Thank you.

Bible Answer:

The weight of the New Testament teaching is that those who teach God’s Word should be financially supported. Let’s start with Jesus’ general principle about supporting someone who works.

. . . for the worker is worthy of his support. (NASB) Matthew 10:10

The Principle

Here is a great question, “Where did Jesus and the disciples get the money that they used for food and lodging while they walked and ministered across Judea, Samaria, and Galilee? Since Jesus did not work, where did He get the money? The answer is given to us in Luke 8:1-3. Here we are told that a group of women had supported Him and the disciples. Here is the concluding verse,

. . . and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means. (NASB) Luke 8:3

Someone needed to support Jesus in order for Him to be able to do what He did. The same principle extends to everyone who teaches and preaches the scriptures. That is the message of the Holy Spirit. Consider the following passage from the Holy Spirit,

So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. (NASB) 1 Cor. 9:14

The principle is repeated once again in 1 Cor. 9:11.

If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? (NASB) 1 Cor. 9:11

Here we are told that it is reasonable and expected that Christians should support someone who ministers in a spiritual way. These words were written by the apostle Paul who was moved by the Holy Spirit.

One more example of the principle of supporting one who teaches and preaches occurs in the following passage,

The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. (NASB) Gal. 6:6

This passage is very clear. Those who are taught should provide financial support.

Some Examples

The following passage is about elders.

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.” (NASB) 1 Tim. 5:17-18

In this passage we are told to give “double honor” to those who labor hard in the teaching of the scriptures. What is “double honor”? The answer is given in verse 18. The Holy Spirit is talking about money. We can call it compensation, a salary, or pay. Whatever we call it, it is still financial support.

In Romans we find an example of actual support,

Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things. (NASB) Rom. 15:27

There were occasions when Paul purposefully did not seek financial support and did not accept support. Here are a few examples.

For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. (NASB) 1 Thess. 2:9

Later in 2 Thess 3:7-9 he amplified this statement. He did not seek support and none was provided.

1 Cor. 9:17-19

But the passage that you refer to is not about financial support.

For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. (NASB) 1 Cor. 9:17-19

The “reward” for Paul was not financial support in exchange for Paul’s preaching but was spiritual blessing. Paul is simply saying that he does not ask or seek money as a condition for preaching the gospel. No teacher or preacher of the gospel should insist upon financial compensation for the gospel. Those who are regularly taught the scriptures by him should be motivated out of compassion to provide support to a minister of the gospel. It is not a sin to provide a teacher or a preacher a salary equal to the average salary earned by the members of the congregation. However, how much he is paid should be consistent with how much he labors in the Word of God.

Conclusion:

Finally, in Phil. 4:10-17 the apostle Paul encourages the Philippians to provide him financial support. It is biblical to provide financial support to the ministers of the gospel. We will close with the following reminder.

And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (NASB) Heb. 13:16

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