A Question I Was Asked:

Should the Ministry Still Be Paid for Spreading the Gospel?

Looking at 1 Corinthians 9: 14-15. Also Luke 10:7 and Matthew 10: 10. Here, Jesus Christ says, the worker deserves his wages. But as we know many pastors have abused of us financially.

UK Apologetics Reply:

The Scriptures which you quote contain instructions which Jesus gave to the first travelling apostles and evangelists. Of course, we speak here of vastly different societies to our own. God expects us to use wisdom and judgement in deciding whether some of these things would still be appropriate or whether, in this early 21st century, some things might not still be appropriate. Okay, let us look at some of these references:

9. "Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts - 10. no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. (Matthew 10: 9-13).

6. If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. 8. When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. (Luke 10:6-8).

Certain Rights Given to the First Travelling Evangelists

Okay, it is obvious from some of this that God ordained that those 'sent forth' with the Gospel back in the first century AD had a right to expect physical nourishment and - without doubt - the Holy Spirit had an involvement in directing the gospel travellers to certain locations, and to certain people and families, who would listen to the message, then generously supply physical sustenance. The travellers were to expect this and were told not to take money with them for buying food, or indeed, changes of clothes (Matthew 10:9-10). They relied on the Lord in faith to supply these things; the Lord provided this through the people whom they met. Undoubtedly the Holy Spirit directed them to influential and hospitable people in the various towns and villages through which they travelled.

They were not, however, to abuse their welcome. They were to make an attempt to base themselves in a home where warm kindness and hospitality had been extended to them, at least while preaching in that particular town. "...Search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave." (Matthew 10:11). Without doubt the Holy Spirit was at work as particular people showed kindness and generosity towards them. But they were definitely not to abuse this: "Do not move around from house to house." (Luke 10: 7b).

Also, when kindness and hospitality were extended, they were not to be 'picky' about food: "...eat what is offered to you." (Luke 10:8). In short, it is plain that they were to strive for a low profile in this first evangelistic work.

The Principle of 'Two Witnesses'

So the seventy-two evangelists were sent out by Jesus to go into every place where Jesus was about to go. (Luke 10:1). They were to travel 'two by two,' certainly not in a large group, nor as single individuals. The Apostles (who had to be witnesses of both Jesus' death and resurrection), obviously went out later.

Please look up my four points on the biblical requirements of an Apostle HERE.

In the 'two by two' principle of the seventy-two evangelists we may see how God takes His own advice. See Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1:

This will be my third visit to you. "Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." (2 Corinthians 13:1).

Today the principle of the 'two witnesses' is at work wherever the Gospel is preached, however it appears that there will indeed be a more specific Two Witnesses (Revelation 11), representing a future time - literally days before Jesus returns to earth in glory and power, when - after the Church has been under attack for a long time - a dynamic Two Witnesses are raised up by God, operating with the same miracle-working power which had been granted to Elijah and Elisha. When they are killed, the world will rejoice but only briefly because the Second Coming in glory and power is then only three and a half days away. (Revelation 11).

Paul's Later Advice

Several years after Jesus' instruction to the '72,' Paul the Apostle later gave some insight and advice on the right of those who labour in the Gospel to be paid and fed. Let's read it:

13. Don't you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14. In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. 15. But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. (1 Corinthians 9:13-15).

Yes, Paul said it is a right that ministers should be paid for their labours, however, he is quick to point out that - in his particular case - he did not take up this right.

Greed Outlawed!

None of this excuses the dreadful greed of only too many of the 'health, wealth and prosperity' preachers and some of the tele-evangelists. In some cases their continual appeals for money and insistence that they have a right to live in luxury are a sheer and utter disgrace. When Paul wrote that Christian ministers should be paid, he was not talking about them living in sumptuous luxury! Paul was writing in a society in which people often had very little. It is scandalous to turn Paul's comment into a licence for luxurious living for the ministry! What kind of example is that to hold up to a hedonistic society?

5. and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. 6. But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:5-10).

Nevertheless, a Christian minister still has a right to be paid for their labours in our day. Of course, this leads to other matters which go beyond the remit of this article. A Christian minister should be a man of outstanding faith, faithfully representing the Gospel of Jesus Christ as presented in Scripture, not adding to it, nor deviating from it.

Robin A. Brace. April 4th, 2017.