A Preacher and His Support

God’s intention is for those who devote their time to the preaching of the gospel to receive financial support for their work. Paul taught this in his first letter to Corinth: “So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).

To adequately do the work of an evangelist requires a good deal of time and effort. In describing what he endured in order to preach the gospel, Paul said he had been “in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights” (2 Corinthians 11:27). While in Athens, he was “reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present” (Acts 17:17). In Ephesus, he taught “daily in the school of Tyrannus” (Acts 19:9). He reminded the Ephesian elders of the work he did among them, “night and day for a period of three years” (Acts 20:31).

In addition to the time and effort put forth to teach, there is also the study that must be done in order to be able to teach. Paul told Timothy to “be diligent” to learn how to “accurately [handle] the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). When Paul first came to Corinth, he supported himself by working as a tent-maker (Acts 18:3). “But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word” (Acts 18:5). He was able to do this because the brethren in Macedonia sent “a gift” (financial support) to Paul (Philippians 4:15-16). One can preach and support himself with secular work, but much more can be done by being completely devoted to the preaching of the gospel.

There can be a danger in preachers taking it upon themselves to be sure they make their “living from gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14). To do this, they must be the type of preacher people want. This often means they must compromise. Paul warned Timothy of a time “when they will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3). Instead, these brethren will find those who will teach them what they want to hear – that which is “in accordance to their own desires” (2 Timothy 4:3). When this happened, Timothy was not to compromise and pervert the message. Instead, he was told, “Be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). There will be times when people will not want to hear “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). When that happens, a preacher must not cater to their desires, but continue to preach “the whole counsel of God.” Granted, a man has the responsibility to provide for his family (1 Timothy 5:8), but there are ways to do that besides preaching.

It is largely the responsibility of local congregations to support preachers (Acts 13:3; Philippians 4:15-16). However, individuals can also do this (Galatians 6:6). So the task of supporting men for the preaching of the gospel is left to the local church and the individual Christian. The preacher’s responsibility is simply to preach the gospel.

Gospel preachers need to be of the attitude that they are going to do the work of proclaiming the gospel regardless of whether or not they receive enough or any financial support for it. At times, Paul had to labor with his hands in order to support himself (Acts 18:3; 20:34). Are we above Paul?

So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14). Christians and local churches need to be willing to support men who devote their lives to the preaching of the gospel. This is God’s design. That responsibility should be taken seriously. Those who are preachers need to remember that their responsibility is to proclaim the gospel. Preaching is not a job; it is a work. That work needs to be done regardless of whether or not there is adequate financial support.

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