Delving deeper

1. You seem to assume that many pastors encourage tithing among their members simply because they want to be sure they will get paid—and have money to fund their programs. Isn't it just as likely that pastors encourage giving because Jesus and the apostle Paul encouraged it? Can you elaborate on what attitude churches should have toward giving?

Actually, both are true. Many pastors have confessed that their salary is a strong influence. We also know that other pastors have different motives. As for your other question, Christians who wish to tithe are free to do so. And if they do not wish to tithe, they are free not to do so. Paul outlines the proper attitude of giving when he writes, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7, Niv).

2.First Timothy 5:17 says that "elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well" (Nor). Doesn't this support the idea of paying pastors? If not, what do you think this passage means?

To begin with, this passage deals with elders, not with the modern pastoral office.

The actual Greek says that the elders who care for God's people well are worthy of double honor. The New American Standard, the King James Version, and the New International Version translate the text with the words double honor.

In verse 18, Paul quotes the Old Testament to buttress his argument. Just as the working ox deserves corn, and just as the laborer deserves payment, the elder who cares for God's people well deserves "double honor," that is, greater respect.

So the critical question becomes, what does "double honor" mean? Does it mean a clergy salary, an honorarium, or simply greater respect?

First, the specific Greek words that the New Testament uses for pay or wages are not used in this text. Rather, the Greek word for honor in this passage means to respect or value someone or something. The same word is used four times in 1 Timothy. In every case, it means respect.

Second, all Christians are called to honor one another (Romans 12:10). It would be absurd to take this to mean that all believers are to receive payment from one another. Again, those elders who serve well are to receive more honor—or greater respect.

Third, the fact that respect is what Paul had in mind is borne out by verse 19. Paul goes on to say that the elders are not to be accused (dishonored) unless there are two or three witnesses to confirm an accusation.

Granted, double honor may have included free-will offerings as a token of blessing from time to time (Galatians 6:6). But this was not the dominating thought. Scripture tells us elders deserve honor (respect), not a salary.

Consequently, 1 Timothy 5 is perfectly consistent with Paul's words to the elders recorded in Acts 20:33-35. There he told the elders in Ephesus that he did not take money from God's people but instead supplied his own needs. Paul then told the elders to follow his example in this. That passage alone argues against the idea of a hired clergy or a paid pastoral staff.

Strikingly, 1 Timothy 5:17-18 and Acts 20:33-35 were addressed to the same group of people—the elders in Ephesus. Thus there is no contradiction. Because the elders were local men, they were not biblically sanctioned to receive full financial support like itinerant apostles who traveled from region to region to plant churches (1 Corinthians 9:1-18).

Paul was an itinerant apostolic worker. Therefore, he had a legitimate right to receive full financial support from the Lord's people (see 1 Corinthians 9). But he intentionally waived that right whenever he worked with a group of Christians (1 Corinthians 9:14-18; 2 Corinthians 11:7-9; 12:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 2:6-9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8-9). We wonder what would happen if more ministers today would follow in the steps of Paul.


"Many institutions and elements of institutions which have sometimes been thought to belong to primitive Christianity belong, in fact, to the Middle Ages."


"The Protestant clergy have rescued the Bible from the darkness of papal libraries and have scattered it abroad over the whole earth. They have exalted it in the highest terms of human praise. They have studied, commented, and explained, nay even tortured every word, phrase, and expression in the original and translations, for every possible interpretation. The result is that Christianity is smothered in theology and criticism: the truths of revelation are wire-drawn and spun and twisted into the most fantastical shapes human fancy or human logic can devise. A system of technical Divinity has been constructed which rivals the complexity of all the machinery of the Romish church."


COUNTLESS BOOKS have been written on the two Protestant sacraments: baptism and the Lord's Supper. However, little to nothing exists in print to trace the origin of how we practice them today. In this chapter, we will see how far afield we have gotten in our practice of water baptism and the Lord's Supper.

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