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Study to Grow


By Doug Bell


1 Corinthians 9:

6 “Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?

7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?

8 ¶ Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also?

9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about?

10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.

11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?

12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.

13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?

14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.”


*****


Acts 18:

1 ¶ “After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth.

2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them.

3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.

4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.”


*****


Paul was a tentmaker by trade, and also an itinerate preacher by calling. Today we would call him a ‘bi-vocational’ minister. But, here he is making the claim that a “part-time” preacher isn’t God’s ideal. (I understand that there are thousands of smaller churches that can’t afford a ‘full-time’ pastor. I myself was bi-vocational for 14 years). Yet, the Apostle’s argument is valid. Listen to his argument.


He begins in vs. 6 by asking the question, “Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?” Why were the other Apostles having their incomes supplemented, and Paul and Barnabas were not? So, to prove his point, Paul asks some questions from common sense;


  • Who ever goes to war at his own expense?’ Does it make sense that someone who was to be conscripted to fight in a war, and then was supposed to pay his own way? Of course not!


  • Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit?’ It’s ridiculous to think someone would work all day with grapes, and not taste some of them?’

  • Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?’ This is just one of the ‘benefits’ of taking care of these animals.


Paul now calls upon Moses to prove his second point;

9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about?

10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.


  • God commands that an Ox not be muzzled while it is doing its work. Was this written only for animals? Or did God expect us to be smart enough to see how this principle apples to men, too? Yes, “For Our Sakes!”


  • The Plowman and the Thresher should expect to receive wages for the very work which they are involved.

And finally the Apostle asks, ‘11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?’ Which is greater, the Spiritual or the Material things? The Spiritual! So, shouldn’t the preacher reap the less valuable material, temporary things for all his hard work? Paul then shows how in the Old Testament even the priest in the Temple were paid for their service. 13 ‘Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?’


  • The Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem were given part of the sacrifices made to God. If they served faithfully before God, they were entitled to a portion as a wage.


  • All of this evidence allows Paul to make the declaration, “14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.”



While it may be that some smaller churches have a bi-vocational pastor for awhile. Note, it is not what God desires. To make sure the pastor has enough time for prayer, study and visitation it may be necessary for some drastic actions. If the church is not seeing serious growth it may be vital to have two or three churches to band together to have a large enough group to support and make their pastor “Full Time!”


“14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.”

A ‘command’ is not a suggestion!







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