Is full time service commendable and should it be well supported?


1 Corinthians 9; 1. Timothy 5

What is the light of scripture as to those who labour in the Word, whether in preaching or in teaching and pastoral care? How far does Acts 20: 33-35 control the passages first referred to?        


There ought to be no doubt as to the principle. Those who labour in the word, whether among those without or among those within, are entitled to the care of the church of God. The saints are bound to see that they should be supported without anxiety on their own part. The law itself lays it down, and this, the apostle’s twofold citation of Deuteronomy 23:4 shows, as regards not merely the wandering evangelists, but the stationary elders who labour in the word and teaching. It is mischievous to make it a question of poverty. Divine love has its privileges, especially in honouring those who are its chief witnesses and workers.

This no doubt is an appeal to the loving compassion of the saints; but no circumstances should hinder the privilege of loving respect and grateful care for those who give themselves up to serve in the word. Hence says the apostle (Gal. 6:6), “let him that is taught in the word communicate to him that teacheth in all good things.” There is such a thing as the activity of love, not the need of poverty only; and it would be a loss indeed and shame to the saints, if, because the teacher was not actually poor, there was to be no room for love in the taught. Were such ideas to supplant or enfeeble plain scripture, the saints would be demoralized.

On the other hand, it is a blessed testimony where a man possessed of the best gift and full of the most self-denying labours, like the apostle, is not above working with his hands in order to minister to the wants not of himself only but of others. In Paul’s case it was not laying aside the Lord’s work to acquire a respectable and lucrative profession, but the use of a trade he already knew to provide things honest and to help others in want. But, precious as this is, and not less in this day of clericalism than of old, the church has no just claim to plead such a scripture to excuse her own selfishness and neglect.

It is a good word from one so working to his fellow-labourers small or great; but it is quite out of place when pleaded by the saints in order to repress the faith of a spiritual labourer, or to forget their own duty to such as are given up to the Lord’s work. Would they have Him and His work put in a subordinate place? Or the devotedness of the saints quenched? It is most of all serious, where one who has put his hand to the plough is exhorted to take up an occupation for the support of himself and his family, as if the Lord had said not a word to the contrary both for the exercise of his own faith and of love on the part of the saints.

(Bibeltreasury 1874 , Seite 128)


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