The Apostle Paul on Personal Rights and the Gospel (Exposing the paid/salaried pastor myth)

When referring to "pastor" and "church" in this post, please understand the concern is not with the men themselves, or the congregations that employ them, but with the biblical legitimacy of the position of vocational (Paid/Salaried) pastor and today's hierarchical corporate church model.

(For the purpose of this study, the term "church" will refer to the design of today's hierarchical corporate church model, and the term "ekklesia" will refer to the biblical and historical design and model of the body of Christ as defined by Yahshua and all the writers of the New Testament) 

"Our rights end where the gospel of Christ begins"

While traveling to Jerusalem, the Apostle Paul sent for the elders at Ephesus to meet with him at Miletus for what turned out to be an emotional and tearful last goodbye. In that final meeting, Paul reviewed several specific details of his almost three year long ministry at Ephesus; exhorting the elders to follow his examples in "everything he showed them," and to "be on guard" against "savage wolves" (false teachers) that would find their way in and also rise up from within the congregation of believers. Paul basically warned those men to be very careful and to stay the course he had set for them.
“And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.Acts 20:26-32 
At the conclusion of their meeting Paul makes a statement to the elders that sums up his ministry objective. Paul clearly exhorts the elders to follow the life, ministry and especially the model of a servant of Christ he had demonstrated before them for the past three years. He also reminded them to "work hard" and to "help the weak." But it's the simple quote from Yahshua that underscores Paul's most important directive to those elders - "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In EVERYTHING I SHOWED YOU that by WORKING HARD IN THIS MANOR you must help the weak and remember the words of Yahshua Messiah, that He Himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they were accompanying him to the ship. Acts20:33-38 
Paul could have cited numerous teachings and examples from Yahshua at that moment, but he chose to seal his parting words to the elders with Yahshua's simple, yet powerful, words; "It is more blessed to give than receive.

Using those words of Yahshua, Paul reiterates to the elders the moral and spiritual superiority of giving over receiving - of serving over being served - of focusing on the needs of others rather than your own. Those words of Yahshua truly epitomize Paul's life and model of service to the Messiah and his Father in Heaven; which formed the unshakable foundation of his entire ministry. 
From Miletus Paul sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Yahshua Messiah. And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Yahshua, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:17-24
Paul's words to those elders at Ephesus imply that he wanted them to be aware of the many trials and tribulations that lay ahead for them as ambassadors for Yahshua Messiah. Paul also wanted to leave no doubt in their minds that "leadership" positions, by any worldly standard or definition, do NOT exist within the ekklesia - only positions of service, and that being a servant does NOT carry with it any formal title used to distinguish them as greater or above any other believer, but simply men who embrace service to the ekklesia as a sacrificial gift to Yahweh.  

There is no better example of Paul's ministry as an Apostle of Christ than this account in Acts 20 written by Luke, Paul's beloved friend, brother and fellow minister of the gospel of Christ. Luke's words are a great testimony to Paul's integrity and influence among the Ekklesia as a minister and servant of the gospel. In this three year account of Paul's life, Luke summarizes in great detail how he lived and served as Yahshua Messiah's ambassador among the Ekklesia at Ephesus. Luke's account speaks clearly of Paul's dedication and devotion to serving the saints, helping the poor and less fortunate, and seeking the lost. This account also leaves no doubt regarding Paul's great faith and love for Yahweh and His beloved son Yahshua. 

One needs to look no further in the New Testament of this account of Paul's life to understand a true model of ministry.

It's clear from Paul's examples and teachings on the service of ministry that Yahshua was his greatest influence. Speaking to His disciples on the issue of leadership, Yahshua made it very clear that their ministries were NOT going to be like anything the world had ever seen before. In describing the worldly (Gentile) hierarchy model of leadership, Yahshua said that while "great" men have positions as "rulers" and exercise "authority" over their subjects, it would NOT be this way among His disciples. Yahshua's words imply that there will be NO hierarchy with ruling positions of authority among His disciples - only servants who live as an example to others - and with that, those who wish to be "first" among them are to become not only servants but slaves to all.

Unfortunately, the position of paid vocational "pastor," within the corporate church system today is synonymous with the worldly hierarchy leadership model that Yahshua spoke against. And even more unfortunate is that today's worldly model is also widely accepted by a majority of Christians as a biblical standard even though it is clearly at odds with the examples and teachings of both Yahshua and Paul. Today's corporate church system should be exposed for what it truly is - an unbiblical man-made counterfeit worldly system.

But he [Yahshua] told them, “The kings of the unbelievers rule over [Have authority] them, and those who exercise authority over them are called benefactors [Title of honor]. BUT YOU [Disciples] ARE NOT TO DO SO. On the contrary, whoever desires to be greatest among you should become like the youngest, and the one who leads should become like the one who serves. Because who is greater, the one who sits at the table, or the one who serves? It is the one at the table, isn’t it? But I’m [An example] among you as one who serves. Luke 22:25-27
"DO NOT BE CALLED LEADERS; for ONE is your leader, that is, CHRIST. But THE GREATEST AMONG YOU SHALL BE YOUR SERVANT. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." Matthew 23:10-12
The account written the book of Acts of Paul's ministry at Ephesus corresponds in detail with Paul's own letters to the Thessalonians regarding the example he set of working selflessly with his own hands to support himself, while also proclaiming the gospel and serving others by ministering to their needs. It should be noted in 2 Thessalonians that Paul takes his example a step further by commanding "in the name of Yahshua Messiah;" that if a brother does not work he is not to eat. 

Paul goes even further by admonishing believers not to associate with such a person who does not work. Paul's words, "command and exhort in the Yeshua Messiah," show just how serious he was that ALL believers IMITATE HIS EXAMPLE in this matter - that ALL believers must work with their own hands. And that being the case, there is no doubt that Paul was speaking to ALL believers regarding this matter - including elders, pastors, teachers, etc. Note that Paul ends his first letter to the Thessalonians by telling them to have his letter read to "ALL the brethren." This is also evidenced by his use of the word "anyone" in 2 Thessalonians 3:14.
And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that THESE HANDS MINISTERED TO MY OWN NEEDS and to the men who were with me.  Acts 20:29-34
For you recall, brethren, our LABOR and HARDSHIP, how WORKING NIGHT AND DAY so as not to be a BURDEN to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that YOU would WALK IN A MANOR worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
Now we COMMAND you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Yahshua Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the instruction which you received FROM US. For you yourselves know how you ought to IMITATE OUR EXAMPLE, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread WITHOUT PAYING FOR IT, but with LABOR and HARDSHIP we KEPT WORKING NIGHT and DAY so that we would NOT BE A BURDEN TO ANY OF YOU; not because we do not have the RIGHT to this, but in order to OFFER OURSELVES AS A MODEL FOR YOU, so that YOU would IMITATE OUR EXAMPLE. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if ANYONE is NOT willing to work, then he is NOT to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons WE COMMAND and exhort in the Lord Yahshua Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. If ANYONE does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and DO NOT associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.       2 Thessalonians 3:6-15
It is expected that paid vocational pastors will object to this interpretation of Paul's words on the grounds that they are somehow exempt from working a "worldly" job because it would interfere with their "call" to preach the gospel "full-time."  

There is a passage in Paul's first letter to Timothy that those vocational pastors believe offers evidence that he instructed the local ekklesia to pay their "elders" a "wage" (Salary). However, there is absolutely no indication within the context of this passage that "honor" means anything other than paying respect or homage to elders who "rule well" serving their local congregation. 
The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.  1 Timothy 5:17-18 
In the first place, by literal scriptural definition, the term "elder" in this passage can't refer to what the majority of today's "churches" define as a "full-time pastor" simply because no such position ever existed in the ekklesia as defined in the New Testament. In the second place, if in fact "wages," by analogy, is synonymous with "honor," then the context of the passage clearly implies that ALL "elders" are to be paid a wage - with some elders who "rule well" deserving a "double" wage. In which case, paying a double wage would pose an interesting dilemma to a congregation in trying to establish qualifying criteria for an elder to be paid a double wage (Bonus) for "ruling well." And this would would further complicate the matter, because there are no specific scriptural references in the New Testament regarding any criteria needed to determine who actually "rules well." 

Further examination of this matter within the context of Paul's teachings; he wrote in 1 Timothy 5:3 that "widows" are to be "honored." Paul used the same word here for honor that he used in his letter to Timothy, but you will be hard pressed to find any pastors today making the same argument to pay widows in their churches. In the third place, the context of the passage also indicates that "elders who rule well" don't necessarily even have to "preach" or "teach" to be eligible to receive "double honor;" which is contrary to the job description for a vocational pastor in most churches today. 

Most importantly, there is absolutely no reason to believe that Paul didn't clearly understand the meaning of the words "honor" and "wages," so why, if he did support compensation for ministers, would he decide to encrypt a teaching dealing with something as important and foundational to the planting and establishment of local congregations as the "who, what, how and why" regarding the "compensation" of elders for their service. 

It stands to reason that if Paul supported compensating those in ministry and had wanted to address the highly vital issue of elders being paid "wages" in this passage he would have simply said "double wages" instead of "double honor" when referencing something tangible that elders were to "receive" for their services. But he didn't!  Paul used two completely different Greek words in this passage; for honor, he used timé: (To pay respect, perceived value or worth, especially as perceived honor – i.e. what has value in the eyes of the beholder), and for wages, he used misthos: (A reward  that appropriately compensates a particular decision or action). 

It is of great importance here to also note that while the word timé can be used as a "description" of money or currency (Acts 5:2,3 & 7:16), the word timé itself is never used in the New Testament as a definition of money or currency. Contextually, the dissimilarity of these two words implies that Paul did NOT intend to represent to Timothy that local elders, or today's vocational pastors as interpreted by some, should receive a wage/reward/money for their services. This premise can further be inferred from Paul's three years of ceaseless ministry in Ephesus. 

For the duration of his ministry, Paul continued preaching and teaching amidst relentless persecution, all-the-while accepting absolutely nothing in the form of monetary or material compensation as a reward; but working hard with his own hands as an example to everyone, Paul not only provided for his own personal needs, but also for the needs of his ministry team as well (see Acts 20). So why would Paul tell Timothy that the elders in Ephesus, who he specifically exhorted to follow his personal example, were now deserving of some sort of material compensation in the form of a double wage if they ruled well? It simply wouldn't make any sense. 

Paul's letter clearly implies that elders who rule well, as he instructed them to do, were deserving of double honor; a recognized and appreciated act of exemplary service within the ekklesia, rewarded with the expression of great respect, homage and high esteem - NOT wages/money. This conclusion is validated by Paul's own words in 1 Thessalonians when he again refers to those who "labor" in their ministries among the brethren, requesting that they should be "appreciated" and were worthy of "very high esteem" for their "work." Curiously absent from this passage is a reminder from Paul to make sure and pay those elders their hard-earned wages.    
But we request of you, brethren, that you APPRECIATE THOSE WHO DILIGENTLY LABOR AMONG YOU, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and THAT YOU ESTEEM THEM VERY HIGHLY IN LOVE BECAUSE OF THEIR WORK. Live in peace with one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
This all makes perfect sense when you consider the only reward Paul said he sought for his services as a minister of the Gospel was to offer the gospel "without charge" (adapanos: without expense, free of charge). Paul understood that the cost of being a minister of the gospel was working hard and enduring all things for the sake of the gospel, which very often involved the burden of extreme difficulties, persecution and hardships - and sometimes even death. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul used the rewards of an "ox" and a "laborer"  as analogies for rewards for elder's who "rule well" in their ministries - specifically because both the ox and laborer work hard under a heavy burden. 

It must be understood that Paul's analogy serves to call attention to the concept or idea of a material reward for a service performed under extremely difficult conditions, not an argument for a literal material reward. Contextually, this analogy corresponds entirely with Paul's ministry philosophy regarding any kind of material compensation or reward for service as a minister of the gospel. 

WHAT THEN IS MY REWARD? That, when I preach the gospel, I MAY OFFER THE GOSPEL WITHOUT CHARGE, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:18
"You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by WORKING HARD in this manor... " Acts 20:34-35 
Interestingly, when Paul does use the term "wages" (Misthos) as a "reward" for his ministry services (The exact term for wages Paul used for the "laborer" in 1 Timothy 5:18 and Jude uses in 1:11), he specifically defined that the "wages" he expected to receive were "offering the gospel WITHOUT CHARGE!" Sadly, it would be impossible to define the "reward" Paul sought for his ministry as the material wages today's vocational pastors seek as compensation for their ministries.
What then is my REWARD (Misthos: wages)? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel WITHOUT CHARGE, so as NOT to make full use of MY RIGHT in the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:18
It is obvious that using a passage from Paul's first letter to Timothy as a "proof" text to justify paying anyone within a local congregation of believers a wage/salary goes far beyond contextual reason by contradicting all of Paul's other writings on the issue of ministry compensation. This is further evidenced by the fact that Timothy knew full well that Paul worked jobs for material compensation and that he never accepted a regular wage/salary for his ministry from congregations - only occasional gifts. Timothy also knew Paul well enough that any material or monetary gift given to him was seen by Paul as simply a blessing - not a reward or compensation for his ministry of the gospel. It should be noted that Paul's writings also indicate that he credited ANY personal circumstance or condition he was in as a blessing - whether it be a physical need, tribulation or persecution. Timothy knew that Paul was not motivated to have all his needs met; rather, he was motivated to meet the needs of his brothers and sisters in Christ as well as the needs of the poor - no matter the cost to him personally.

Timothy worked and traveled with Paul in his ministry and was with him at Ephesus, where he was urged by Paul to "remain on" and instruct "certain men" in doctrinal issues. It's quite obvious that Timothy was aware of Paul's instructions to those same elders upon his departure (Acts 20) where Paul told the elders to follow his examples and work with their own hands to meet their own personal needs and also the needs of the poor. In which case, Timothy would be well aware of Paul's teachings and instructions to the elders on the issue of compensation, which would also make it highly illogical to believe that Timothy would in any way interpret Paul's letter as an instruction to pay local elders, a wage/salary. 

In fact, the context of Paul's letters to Timothy and the Thessalonians had nothing to do with financial/material compensation for elders (or anyone else) because it was clearly not an issue. In those letters, Paul doesn't address specific issues regarding elders receiving material or monetary compensation.  
Side Note: With regard to Paul's urging that Timothy "remain on" at Ephesus: It is the position of the corporate church that 1 Timothy 1:3 is evidence that Timothy was appointed by Paul as either "Senior" elder/pastor or bishop of the ekklesia at Ephesus, and that this passage also supports men coming from "outside" the local ekklesia as leaders. However, there is absolutely no scriptural evidence to support this position. In fact, Timothy is never called a bishop, pastor or an elder in the New Testament - and neither is Titus.
The real reason there is any debate today about compensation for pastors comes from those people who defend the corporate church's long standing tradition of financially compensating pastors. These corporate church apologists are obviously trying to use Paul's letters, and any other scripture they can find, to support the idea of paying pastors a monetary salary by reading something into the text that simply is not there. 

Clearly Paul's actions and words recorded in Acts, along with  all of his letters, speak for themselves about any issue he may have had concerning compensation for the service of ministry. And the "compensation" Paul had in mind had nothing to do with a regular monetary salary paid for services rendered, but had everything to do with sacrificial service of ministry to the Messiah and his ekklesia.  

Unfortunately, corporate church with all its man-made traditions is so established in mainstream Christianity that going back to the model of Yahshua's ekklesia is probably not going to happen any time soon. With regard to pastors and their salaries, Upton Sinclair said it best: 
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his livelihood and salary depends upon his NOT understanding it."
Reading Yahshua's indictment against the Scribes and Pharisees in Mathew 23 clearly shows what results when men decide to inject worldly traditions and teachings into Yahweh's word to validate those man-made doctrines and traditions; and that's exactly what's happening on many levels in today's corporate churches - especially in the area of financial compensation for pastors.

Referring to the letter Jude wrote to the believers; he warned sternly about persons who had already "crept in" to the assembly with selfish motives that were creating turmoil and divisions. Take careful note of the word Jude used to define what motivated these men's selfish ambition. The word he used was "misthos;" which is the same word Paul used to define wages or salary
 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for PAY (misthos) they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. Jude 1:11      
The difference for Paul, however, was that the "misthos" he sought for preaching the gospel was to preach the gospel "without charge," whereas Jude points out in verse 16 that these men were "following after their own lusts, speaking arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining a ópheleia (Greek: Profit). 

It seems that Paul understood the temptation of material compensation and the danger it posed to the ekklesia and that he wanted nothing to do with it. Paul knew exactly what Yahshua meant when he said:  
"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24 
Allowing money to be an integral part of one's ministry is simply asking for trouble. 

In the case of today's church, monetary compensation is the main goal of 99.99% of every person who chooses to enter into the ministry as a pastor. Their goal is to get a job and make a living as a PAID (vocational) pastor and hopefully work their way up the financial ladder with enough compensation to take care of not only themselves, but their entire family as well. This concept of compensation is clearly understood within the church system and even taught in seminaries. And many men today have a hope of one day being the pastor of a mega church which includes great monetary rewards. 

As scripture clearly reveals, all of Paul's examples and writings that address the issue of compensation for preaching the gospel consistently come to the same conclusion. They confirm that Paul's model for any who would follow in his footsteps was to support themselves by working with their "own hands" in an effort to not "hinder the gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:12) or become a "burden" (1 Thessalonians 2:9 & 2 Thessalonians 3:8) to the Ekklesia. 

Paul's use of the words "hinder" and "burden" are of great significance with respect to his assertion of their consequential meaning within the context of his letters to the Corinthians and Thessalonians. His words and actions should serve as an example and compelling evidence and warning to anyone who would consider preaching the gospel for financial or material gain. 

Paul even went as far as telling the Corinthian Christians that he would rather die than allow the perception that he would ever "charge" for preaching the gospel. Paul did not want to give the impression that his ministry was anything close to a worldly vocation. 

Like any person alive, Paul had needs to provide for the necessities of life, but he wanted no part of financial or material compensation for his ministry to meet those needs. Scripture clearly indicates that Paul did secular work for monetary wages and that he also accepted monetary gifts to help meet his needs, but Paul never associated or credited those gifts as compensation for ministry, rather Paul counted those gifts as offerings of love from his fellow believers. Paul made a point to pay for what he needed with the money he earned from his secular work so he wouldn't be a "burden" to anyone. And made sure to tell them that he did this as an example for everyone to "imitate."
For you know how you ought to imitate us. For we didn’t behave ourselves rebelliously among you, neither did we eat bread from anyone’s hand without paying for it, but in labor and travail worked night and day, that we might not burden any of younot because we don’t have the right, but to make ourselves an example to you, that you should imitate us. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 
Acts chapter 20 records that during his three year ministry at Ephesus, Paul not only practiced what he preached by working for his keep with his own hands, he also went the extra mile by working with his own hands to help support his entire ministry team!
If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. But I have used NONE of these things. (Received compensation "material things" for preaching the gospel) And I am NOT writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be BETTER FOR ME TO DIE than have any man make my boast an empty one. 1 Corinthians 9:15 
Vocational (Paid) pastor apologists argue that Paul's statements in 1 Corinthians imply that because they preach the gospel, thus "sow spiritual things," some have a personal "right" to "reap material things" and "get their living" from preaching the gospel. 

First of all, we must define who Paul was writing about. If Paul is referring to anyone who "proclaims the gospel," of course, that would mean that he was referring to every believer who ever shares the gospel. And if that's the case, all of them "should get their living by the gospel." Obviously, that's not what Paul meant. If, on the other hand, Paul is referring to a "group" who "proclaim the gospel," which specific group would he be referring to? In this case, there are only a couple of choices: Either Paul specifies the group in the context of this passage, or we the reader get to choose the group. And since the context of Paul’s own words identify the specific group in the beginning of 1 Corinthians 9, his choice is the only logical answer. 

Paul clearly tells us that he is speaking specifically about people who travel to proclaim the gospel, i.e., apostles and itinerant preachers. The "we" Paul refers to in the passage clearly does NOT include "non-itinerant" ministries such as local elders, pastors, or teachers. In fact, there is no mention in the context of 1 Corinthians 9 of local elders, pastors or teachers. More importantly, this passage also indicates that the "we" (Paul, other Apostles and itinerant preachers) "did NOT use the right" to receive material or financial rewards for preaching the gospel - specifically because it would cause a "hindrance to the gospel of Yahshua Messiah.

NOTE:The "we" in this passage also serves to help dispel any notion that the Apostle Paul was the exception among the Apostles who refused to accept pay as a minister of the gospel.  
If WE sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if WE reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do WE not more? Nevertheless, WE DID NOT USE THIS RIGHT, but WE endure all things so that WE will CAUSE NO HINDRANCE to the gospel of Christ. 1 Corinthians 9:11-12
Interestingly, and contrary to what this passage clearly implies, corporate church leaders and the majority of their congregation members contend that vocational (Salaried and non-itinerant) pastors of local congregations are, in fact, a part of the group Paul identified as having a personal right to get their living from the gospel. However, their strongly held belief on this issue does not nullify the facts of Paul's teachings on this matter or his clear warning to itinerant preachers, local vocational pastors or anyone who may feel called to "the ministry" regarding the negative consequences that exercising one's personal right to compensation may have on the gospel and the ekklesia (I.e. hinder the gospel of Yahshua and burden the ekklesia). 

Some will also argue that Paul taught that the Apostles and itinerant preachers (The "we" in 1 Corinthians 9:12 and 2 Thessalonians 3:8-9) not only have a personal right to receive a salary, but are entitled to one. But that would be taking Paul completely out of context on this issue. Reading chapter 9 in context, Paul went much further, by word and deed, as an example to clearly demonstrate that he believed a personal right to compensation for preaching the gospel ends where the gospel of Yahshua Messiah begins, (Paul uses "food" in a similar example in 1 Corinthians 8). 


Paul puts the compensation issue into perspective as a "personal right" in the second half of chapter 9 by focusing the issue on leaders/servants within the ekklesia having to endure all things in complete submission to the gospel, not how the church should accommodate one's personal right to reap material or financial benefits to make a living from the gospel. 

Paul explains in detail that exercising the right to compensation "hinders" the gospel. Also, in 1 Thessalonians 2:9, Paul considered compensation to be a financial "burden" on the ekklesia. So examining the full context of all of Paul's words and actions on the issue, it's obvious that he wanted no part of anything, including the exercising of one's personal rights, which would, in any way, hinder the gospel message and become a financial burden on the ekklesia. 
For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did WE eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with LABOR and HARDSHIP WE kept WORKING NIGHT AND DAY so that WE would NOT BE A BURDEN to any of you; not because WE do not have the right to this, but in order to offer OURSELVES as a MODEL (týpos – a model forged by repetitionreliable precedent for others to  imitate - i.e. the right example, a proper pattern) FOR YOU, so that you would IMITATE OUR EXAMPLE. 2 Thessalonians 3:8-9 
But there are many today who will point to 1 Corinthians 9:14 that says, "Yahweh ordered' (Diatássō) that those who proclaim the gospel were 'to live' (Záō: literally, to stay alive) by the gospel." And that's a legitimate point. What follower of Yahshua would ever choose to disregard a specific order of Yahweh? That being said, is it possible that the man who wrote those words, and was also personally ordained by Yahshua as an Apostle and minister of the gospel, would take an order of Yahweh as optional

Did the Apostle Paul not understand what he had written; that he was "ordered" by Yahweh "to live" by the gospel? Why would Paul disobey Yahweh and refuse material compensation for his ministry and instead "work with his own hands" to provide for his (and his fellow ministers) personal needs? If this truly is the case, then where does Paul derive his authority to pick and choose which of Yahweh's orders or commands he will obey? 
So also did the Lord (Kurios = Yahweh) direct [order] to those proclaiming the good news: of the good news to live. 1 Corinthians 9:15 (YLT)  
The only logical conclusion of this passage is that Paul wasn't talking to the Corinthians about receiving compensation in the form of a regular monetary salary or wage for his ministry, he was talking specifically about receiving "hospitality"- záō, which means "to live." 

Hospitality, in this case, is best defined as living sustenance in the form of food and shelter. And this concept was not Paul's idea, he knew Yahshua had instructed (ordered) the twelve disciples and seventy itinerant preachers (Matthew 10 and Luke 10) to preach the good news and "freely" accept hospitality offerings of food and shelter from any who would offer it freely

The "order" was not to the people giving the hospitality offering, but to the disciples receiving it - which again, was only to be accepted from people giving it "freely." It should also be noted that the order to freely receive a hospitality offering did NOT include anyone except the specific disciples and itinerant preachers who traveled and shared the gospel message. So anyone other than traveling itinerant preachers receiving a hospitality offering would be unscriptural. In any case, this example of hospitality does not represent the regular salary paid to pastors/preachers today by the churches who employ them. 

In
Matthew 10, "This passage does not give any suggestion that anyone ever paid Yahshua a salary to minister, and Yahshua was certainly not telling the apostles and itinerant preachers that they could expect a salary for preaching the gospel. Yahshua, as a rabbi, would never have taken money for preaching. Yahshua was simply telling the apostles and anyone who traveled as itinerant preachers (I.e. sent out ones) they were entitled to receive "support" (trophé: food, nourishment in the form of hospitality - that which was freely offered by those to whom they ministered." In this passage, Yahshua refers to those sent out, telling them to "eat" what is set before them, implying that the hospitality of shelter also included food provisions. There is no evidence Yahshua told them to ask for money, or to accept money as support. It is of great importance to understand that Yahshua told His disciples to not only "freely (dórean: a free gift, without payment) receive," but also to "freely give." And since the disciples had been sent out with nothing but the cloths on their backs, the only thing they had to "give" anyone was the gospel message.

In
Luke 10, "This passage conclusively defines what the "wages" were that Yahshua was referring to as being appropriate. The "wages" were clearly described as food/sustenance and shelter, not money. This would be the same as the wages which were to be supplied in ALL other cases - as confirmed by their context. And as this passage points out, the "order" given in 1 Corinthians 9:14 was given to the Apostles when they were itinerant... a right to receive what was freely offered. It is NOT a right to demand support, and it is NOT directed at the people as an "obligation" to give!" The word for "support" Paul uses in verse 10 is "trophé," specifically means food, nourishment or maintenance, which implies Paul was NOT talking about money as pay or a salary.  

So scripture clearly indicates that Paul was not acting in disobedience to the Yahweh's orders, nor was he confused in his writings on the issue in any way. As examples for elders and all others to follow, Paul, and the rest of the Apostles (The "we" in 1 Corinthians 9:11-12), were simply setting aside their right to material compensation and enduring, for the sake of the gospel and the salvation of lost souls, the hardship of having to work with their own hands to meet their personal needs.

While scripture indicates that the Apostle Paul never received a regular salary or fee-for-service for his ministry, it does show that he occasionally received material "gifts" from some local congregations to help meet his needs. However, it's important to note that Paul said he never "solicited" or "contracted" with any individual or congregation to receive those material gifts, and that he understood those gifts were "freely" given by those he ministered to out of gratitude and love for the gospel message; and that those gifts did not in any way, or by any stretch of the imagination, constitute a "regular" payment/salary for his ministry "services."  And as stated earlier, Paul credited those material and/or monetary gifts as a blessing - not compensation or rewards.


In 1 Corinthians 9:15-18 Paul describes two completely different approaches to preaching the gospel and the two different "rewards" expected from each approach. 

The first approach describes preaching "voluntarily" (The Greek word hekṓn: willing) with Paul describing the reward for a voluntary approach as, "offering the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel." 

This reward seems rather odd, but within the context of this passage and other scripture, it implies a spiritual rather than material reward; which is most probably based on Paul's understanding and adherence to Yahshua's warning about not becoming a "stumbling-block" to anyone. In this case, Paul believes being seen as preaching the gospel for monetary/material rewards could raise questions about one's motives for preaching the gospel and could possibly become a stumbling-block to both believers and the lost.

The second approach describes the exact opposite of voluntary preaching; "not voluntarily" (NIV) (ákōn: unwilling), with Paul describing this approach as an "entrusted (pisteúō: believe or have faith in) stewardship (oikonomía: management or administration of another's affairs)" (NAS); which, by today's corporate church standard, is basically placing one's faith in a "contractual agreement" to manage the affairs of a congregation in return for a predetermined monetary/material reward or compensation (Pay/salary/benefits/etc.). 

Obviously, Paul understood the non-voluntary stewardship relationship between a local congregation and an elder would constitute an "employer-employee" relationship, which by nature establishes a criteria of performance to be met by the employee to "earn" the agreed upon material compensation/reward by both parties. This is the exact type of relationship vocational pastors have today with their churches. And this is the exact kind of relationship Paul wanted to avoid and also warned against because he knew it would cause a "hindrance" (Vs. 9) to the gospel and "burden" on the local ekklesia. In fact, in verse 15 Paul said he would "rather die" than have anyone perceive that he was preaching the gospel non-voluntarily - for material compensation. 

By avoiding this kind of relationship as a preacher of the gospel, Paul could honestly "boast" that he was not a hindrance, financial burden or stumbling-block - because he preached the gospel voluntarily, that is, "without charge." It's obvious that Paul understood and followed Yahshua's teachings and example of storing up treasures in heaven rather than worldly rewards that have no eternal value. 
But I have used NONE OF THESE THINGS, And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to DIE than have any man make my boast an empty one. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this VOLUNTARILY, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a STEWARDSHIP entrusted to me. WHAT THEN IS MY REWARD? That, when I preach the gospel, I may OFFER THE GOSPEL WITHOUT CHARGE, so as NOT to make full use of my RIGHT in the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:15-18
Vocational pastors should study and determine exactly what "rewards" Yahshua and His Apostles were storing up for themselves during their time on this earth, and then honestly ask themselves, as Yahshua's disciples, what rewards they choose to store up for themselves - worldly or eternal?

Notwithstanding Paul's understanding and teachings on this issue, there is absolutely nothing unscriptural in giving material "gifts" to anyone within the ekklesia as a gracious gift of thanks for their ministry efforts to edify the ekklesia and further the gospel. But again, as Paul warns, the relationships between those who shepherd and teach and others within the ekklesia must never evolve into an "employer-employee" relationship and risk becoming a stumbling-block to both believers and the lost. 

In keeping with his principles on the matter, in Acts 20, Paul told the Ephesus Elders, “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. 


For almost three full years at Ephesus Paul taught the elders and the assembly by example. And he wanted to exhort the elders one final time before he departed to understand that those who are called among the ekklesia to be ministers of the gospel should be careful to do so voluntarily, with purity of conviction and passionate compulsion, and without personal consideration of their rights to receive material rewards. Likewise, in his first letter to the Corinthian ekklesia, Paul clearly stated that he served as a minister of the gospel "voluntarily" and "without charge," specifically for spiritual rewards stored up in Heaven, NOT worldly material rewards received as a "stewardship" in exchange for a service that could potentially hinder the gospel and burden the local ekklesia. 

Paul's model of service in Ephesus exemplified the true nature of what it means to be a servant of Yahweh. Unfortunately, today's vocational pastors will only consider serving as a minister of the gospel in an employer-employee relationship. Sadly, today's pastors demand a written contractual agreement, including guaranteed financial and material compensation (For themselves and their families), before they will even consider accepting a ministry position at a church.      
But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this VOLUNTARILY, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a STEWARDSHIP entrusted to me. WHAT THEN IS MY REWARD? That, when I preach the gospel, I may OFFER THE GOSPEL WITHOUT CHARGE, so as NOT to make full use of my RIGHT in the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:15-18
In the next chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks to the personal "rights" issue in general, implying his concern regarding the possible negative effects that exercising personal rights could have on the gospel: 
All things are lawful, but NOT all things are PROFITABLE. All things are lawful, but NOT all things EDIFY. 1 Corinthians 10:23
A closer look at Paul’s statements on this issue will show that his weight of concern was focused more on one's accountability, responsibility and expedience in exercising personal rights for the sake of the gospel, rather than the who, what, where or why regarding a pastors personal provisions and necessities for life. This concern of Paul's is consistent with how he addressed other personal rights issues; ranging from temptations and desires, to lawsuits and eating meat. 

Paul addressed those rights issues specifically with regard to how they affect both individuals and the gospel. Suffice it to say, Paul’s Yahweh inspired words and examples regarding personal rights are recorded in scripture specifically for our edification. And given Paul's anointed apostleship, experience, authority, wisdom, and understanding of spiritual matters regarding the gospel, choosing to follow his examples and teachings warrants very serious consideration - especially for those who feel led to follow in his footsteps as itinerant preachers of the gospel. 

Proponents of vocational pastors also use 2 Corinthians 11: 7-9 to argue that Paul received a regular salary or wage from certain churches. They like to point out Paul’s use of the word “wage” in the passage, arguing that he admitted that he received a wage or salary for his ministry. However, while many Bible translations use the word “wage” for the Greek word “opsōnion” in verse 8, a better English translation of the term is “support,” as used in the ESV and NIV. The definition of opsōnion is: (from opson, "meat" and onemoai, "purchase") – properly, the purchase of meat (food); later, "ration-money paid to soldiers;" hence, wages ("fitting compensation"). While opsōnion defines “receiving” something in return for a service, the original definition of the term as Paul would have used in this passage, in no way correlates with today’s definition of a pastor's contractual wage or salary. Opsōnion was “later” defined as “ration-money paid to soldiers,” meaning that the money was used specifically for “food,” and nothing else. 

The term “wages” or “fitting compensation,” in keeping with the definition, would mean providing enough food as “fitting” for one’s daily sustenance. So nothing in the “original” definition of the term can be construed to mean anything other than receiving either meat/food, or funds to purchase meat/food. This is in keeping with the specific instructions Yashua gave the twelve and seventy regarding receiving the hospitality of food and shelter from anyone willing to freely give it. 

There is absolutely no doubt that the salaries and benefits received by today’s pastors go far beyond the original definition of the word Paul used in this passage. So using this passage to support those kinds of regular salaries and benefits for pastors is not a valid argument. Add to this, that the Apostle Paul was often times without any provisions, that Paul said he preached the gospel out of “compulsion” rather than a “stewardship” out of obligation for compensation, that Paul said his “reward” for preaching the gospel was preaching the gospel “without charge,” that Paul said he would rather die than be accused of preaching the gospel for compensation, that Paul was more concerned about not being a “burden” to anyone than receiving any kind of compensation, that Paul was more concerned that his actions not “hinder” the gospel message, that Paul’s other writings on this matter would be contradictory if he proposed or supported receiving a regular salary in this passage rather than voluntary gifts, that Paul said he did not seek the “gifts” themselves, but when he did receive gifts, he was more grateful for the heart of the giver and the blessings they would receive for their generosity than for the gift itself. 

It can never be said of the Apostle Paul that he considered his ministry of the gospel as a “vocation" that included compensation of a regular salary and benefits of the kind we see today's vocational pastors receiving for their ministry positions.
Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge? I robbed other churches by taking support from them to serve you; and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so.,” 2 Corinthians 11:7-9
You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. 17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. Philippians 4:15-17
If using a specific word/term from this passage is paramount to the arguments of those who wish to justify paying pastors a salary, then maybe a more compelling word for them to examine would be Paul's use of the word “husteréma” (in need) in the 2 Corinthians passage. 

Translated in English as, “in need.” Paul used this word when referring to the type of support he received, and specifically, as the word’s definition implies, what that support actually accomplished in his life and ministry. The definition of husteréma is: (a) of things or persons: that which is lacking, a defect or shortcoming, (b) want, poverty. In using this word, Paul humbly admits to the Corinthians that he used the support of others to help meet his needs borne out of his “poverty." 

Supporters of vocational pastors need to let that sink in a little bit as they contemplate their argument for compensating pastors today. By any worldly standard today, the Apostle Paul lived in poverty! Scripture indicates that he probably owned only the clothes on his back, and maybe some kind of traveling bag to hold and carry some personal belongings and writing implements; other than that, Paul probably didn't have much more in the way of material possessions. 

The interesting and important thing to note about how Paul lived and traveled as a minister of the gospel is that it models almost exactly how Yahshua lived and how he sent out the twelve/seventy disciples on their first ministry journey. And there is no indication in scripture that any of the other Apostles, or disciples of Messiah, traveled, lived and ministered any differently than Paul. 
For, I think, God has exhibited US APOSTLES last of all, as men CONDEMNED TO DEATH; because WE have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. WE are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; WE are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but WE are without honor. To this present hour WE are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and WE toil, WORKING WITH OUR OWN HANDS; when WE are reviled, WE bless; when WE are persecuted, WE endure; when WE are slandered, WE try to conciliate; WE have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, EVEN UNTIL NOW. 1 Corinthians 4:9-13
Notice that the pronouns "we, used thirteen times, along with "us" and "our," in Paul's letter to the Corinthians, emphatically imply that Paul was referring to ALL of the Apostles - not just himself. 

Can vocational pastors of corporate churches today relate in any way shape or form with Paul's description of an Apostle's life and ministry? 

Do vocational pastors of corporate churches today think that Yahweh has exhibited them last of all, as men condemned to death? Do they believe they have become spectacles of the world, and do they consider themselves fools for Messiah, weak and without honor? To this present hour are vocational pastors both hungry and thirsty, poorly clothed, and  roughly treated? Are they homeless and do they toil, working with their own hands? Do vocational pastors believe they are reviled, persecuted and slandered, and do they believe they have become as the scum of the world and dregs of all things in society - even to this day?

While there are many ministers of the gospel in certain places around the world that could answer yes to much of the above description, you will be hard pressed to find a vocational pastor in America today that could honestly answer yes to any specific description above.  

Galatians 6:6 is another proof-text used by vocational pastors to support their receiving a salary or wage for their ministry services. However, with regard to the original Greek translation and meaning of Galatians 6:6, the important question is, does it refer to fellow believers joining together and "sharing in" all that is “inherently good,” or to "sharing one’s goods” with a pastor, as some translations seem to indicate?

Sadly, vocational pastors today will only serve as ministers of the gospel if they are compensated for their services. And if that compensation ceases to be provided, or falls short of meeting "their" needs in any way, vocational pastors quickly move on to the next "church" that will contractually promise to meet their needs. Interestingly, vocational pastors refer to this kind of behavior as being "led" by Yahweh to another "ministry."

So, regarding this behavior, just who, or what, are vocational pastors really serving first - Yahweh, Yahshua Messiah, the gospel, or themselves? 

A closer look at the context of the passage (Verses 3-10), with the original Greek applied to Galatians 6:6, points to the former as the correct interpretation: 
3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load. 6 The one who is taught the word is to share in (Koinōnéō) all that is inherently good (Agathós) with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good (Agathós) to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (NASB) 
Notice in verse 6 that the Greek word Koinōnéō means: “To participate, share in or fellowship with as an associate partaker.” This word does NOT mean to pay material compensation for a service. Also notice that the Greek word Agathós means: “Inherently (intrinsically) good – described as what originates from God and is empowered by Him in their life.” This word does NOT mean one’s "personal goods or belongings," and is the exact same word Paul used in verse 10 that summarizes the context of the passage. 

The Apostle Paul wrote in Greek, and as can be seen, Galatians 6:6 takes on quite a different meaning when it is translated using the original Greek. "Sharing in" all that is "inherently good" with one’s teacher is very different than sharing one’s “goods” with their teacher. This verse and passage have absolutely nothing to do with paying a pastor a wage or salary for their ministry service. And when translated correctly from the original Greek, this particular verse not only fits perfectly within the context of the passage, it also fits perfectly within Paul’s philosophy of the ministry across all of his writings as a willing and voluntary servant of the gospel who never asked for, or received, material compensation in the form of wages or a salary. 

In light of all the horrible and dangerous things the Apostle Paul had to endure for the sake of the gospel, and how his ministry affected every aspect of his personal life up until the day he was martyred in Rome by beheading, anyone who supports salaries, benefits and comfortable lifestyles for pastors should be embarrassed, and yes, even ashamed, to have the audacity to use the Apostle Paul’s examples and words to justify their receiving anything remotely close to what pastors receive as compensation for their ministries today. It is the hope of this writer that this study will convince vocational pastors to reconsider their position on the issue of compensation.
     
Paul’s writings clearly indicate that he didn’t concern himself with the basic necessities and provisions of life; how much money he had in his pocket at any given time, where he would get his next meal or the clothes on his back, or even where he would lay his head to sleep each night. Clearly Paul had taken to heart Yahshua's reply when someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go." Yahshua's reply was, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Obviously, by Yahshua's reply, Paul understood that if the "Son of Man" had no place to lay His head, then he shouldn't expect to have any better personal accommodations by following in Yahshua's footsteps as a minister of the His gospel.

Paul had surrendered everything to become an ambassador for Messiah. He had a deep reverence and abiding love for the gospel that manifested itself as an enormous personal burden of urgency and responsibility to try and reach as many living souls for Messiah as possible. It can be safely argued that Paul’s first and only concern in life was serving Yahweh and His son by preaching the gospel – to the exclusion of ALL other things.  

NOW I REJOICE IN MY SUFFERINGS for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, IN FILLING UP WHAT IS LACKING IN CHRIST'S AFFLICTIONS. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, SO THAT I MIGHT FULLY CARRY OUT THE PREACHING OF THE WORD OF GOD, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. FOR THIS PURPOSE also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. Colossians 1:24-29
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a SLAVE TO ALL*, so that I may WIN more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might WIN Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might WIN those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might WIN those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might SAVE the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by ALL MEANS SAVE SOME. I do ALL THINGS for the SAKE OF THE GOSPEL, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 
*NOTE: Paul uses the exact words of Yahshua, "slave to all," indicating that he obeys and teaches the words of Christ. "...whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall BE SLAVE TO ALL." Mark 10:43-44
But I DO NOT CONSIDER MY LIFE OF ANY ACCOUNT as dear to myself, SO THAT I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Yahshua, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24 
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count ALL things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Yahshua my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of ALL things, and count them but RUBBISH so that I may gain Christ..."Philippians 3:7-11
And by submitting his life in service to Yahweh above everything else, Paul willingly and humbly endured ALL circumstances for the sake of the gospel - both the good and the bad.
Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation giving no cause for offense IN ANYTHING, so that the ministry WILL NOT BE DISCREDITED, but IN EVERYTHING commending ourselves as SERVANTS of God, in MUCH ENDURANCE, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. 2 Corinthians 6:2-10
In light of Paul's view and understanding of the cost and ultimate sacrifice of surrendering ALL for the sake of the ministry of the gospel, relative to his personal needs and circumstances, it would be a stretch to perceive any of his statements or examples on the issue as an endorsement for anyone insisting on exercising their perceived “right” to expect or demand a salary as compensation for preaching the gospel. 

On the contrary, Paul offers deeper insight into the issue by expounding on the ominous underlying aspects of compensation, clearly warning of the negative consequences that exercising the right to compensation would have on the gospel message. Moreover, Paul's spiritual interpretation of how this issue ultimately affects the ekklesia clearly indicate that he was highly sensitive to both the positive and negative effects that a "leader's" actions or inaction could have on the gospel message, the brethren, and ultimately the health and welfare of the ekklesia.

So where did Paul get such deep spiritual insight and discernment regarding personal rights and how they can affect the gospel?


To begin with, as a pharisee and scriptural scholar, it can be confidently assumed that Paul knew Yahweh had addressed this issue through the prophet Ezekiel when the Yahweh called-out the "shepherds of Israel" for their self-serving and harmful leadership practices. The prophetic words from Ezekiel probably served as a red-flag to Paul with regard to his ministry philosophy. And they should serve as an eye-opening warning for today's vocational pastors/shepherds who make a living off of the congregation/flock - "FEEDING THEMSELVES," and NOT Yahweh's flock! Ezekiel's (Yahweh's) words help illuminate what Paul meant by not wanting to take advantage of "his" rights, and thus "hinder" the Gospel or be a "burden" on the Ekklesia. 

"Paul understood that the ekklesia/community that Yahshua established with his death and resurrection did away with officials who preside or rule over believers. Yahshua Messiah is now the only official office holder in his ekklesia (Hebrews 7:18-25); with each and every one of his individual followers serving in the position of "royal priest" (1 Peter 2:9). 

There is no room for a special class of pastor/clergy to govern the body of priests that are Yahshua’s followers. As the High Priest, Yahshua Messiah is the only special class of priest we will ever need. Anyone who claims a special office or position over the Messiah's royal priesthood is mistaken. 

The clergy have stolen and assumed a title that describes Yahweh’s entire family—all believers are priests. The clergy is responsible for creating the same kind of religious system Yahshua found among the Jews in his day. It is a system that wears negatively on people's emotions, spirituality and finances.

The following is a prophecy from Scripture about Yahweh’s extinction of the office of priest (clergy) and Yahweh's role as our true and only shepherd. Our Yahweh and Messiah
Yahshua fulfilled Ezekiel’s prophecy when he said, “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me” (John. 10:14). The Good Shepherd also said, “I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace” (Ezekiel 34:15). The Messiah said that he himself would teach those who accept him as their Lord; no one would again ever need a human leader to teach about him." (From: Soul Rape/Shean Smith)
Then the word of Yahweh came to me saying, "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says Yahweh, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been FEEDING THEMSELVES! Should not the shepherds FEED THE FLOCK? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have DOMINATED THEM. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”’” Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Yahweh: “As I live,” declares Yahweh, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did NOT search for My flock, but rather the shepherds FED THEMSELVES and did NOT feed My flock; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Yahweh: ‘Thus says Yahweh, “Behold, I am AGAINST the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will NOT feed themselves anymore, but I WILL DELIVER MY FLOCK FROM THEIR MOUTH, so that they will NOT be food for them...”’ "...I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,” declares Yahweh. “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with judgment. Ezekiel 34:1-10,15-16  
As a Pharisee, it can also be assumed that Paul was well acquainted with and gained great personal insight from Yahshua's speech to the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23; where Yahshua addressed the many negative worldly elements that had crept into the hearts and minds of those men (Including Paul) who Yahshua sarcastically said had "sat themselves on the seat of Moses" (There was no such thing/position as a "seat of Moses). 

In His indictment, Yahshua called these men "hypocrites" no less than seven times, while listing the many ways and means by which these men had become corrupted - prospering and exalting themselves above all those they were charged by Yahweh to serve

Yahshua called these men who were entrusted with Yahweh's holy word "arrogant, blind guides, self-indulgent, thieves, lawless, unclean, plunderers, serpents, brood of vipers" and even "sons of Satan." Yahshua said these men were more interested in the money of the Temple than Yahweh's purpose and intent for the Temple, and more interested in the offerings laid on the altar than the altar itself. Yahshua even wondered if it was possible for these men to "escape the sentence of Hell," as a result of all they had become and were perpetrating on Yahweh's people. 

Paul also knew that Yahshua told these men, and all who were there listening (Including the 12 disciples/apostles), that they were NOT to call themselves teachers and leaders because Yahweh was their only teacher and Yahshua was their only leader. Paul knew that Yahshua told these men they were to be servants; in the sense that every person has equal standing in the kingdom of Yahweh, and that there is NO hierarchy among the chosen people (ekklesia) of Yahweh. The impact of this speech on Paul can be seen in how he conducted both his life and ministry after his conversion. 

Given Paul's position as a Pharisee, and the speech Yahshua directed to that order of men in Matthew 23, it's very understandable how Paul's extraordinary experience with Yahshua on the road to Damascus led to great spiritual insight and discernment regarding how one should conduct every aspect of their lives as a minister of the gospel.

As stated by Ananias in Acts 9:10-14, Paul had been given the authority - “from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your (
Yahshua’s) name.” Obviously, Paul understood he had the right to act on that authority, so he was on the way to Damascus to bind anyone who called on the name of Yahshua.

It was on the road to Damascus that Paul was confronted by
Yahshua regarding his persecution of Him. Yeshua blinded Paul there – but did not kill him. At that moment, Paul clearly understood that Yahshua was, in fact, the true Messiah. Paul also understood that Yahshua had every right to kill him on the spot for persecuting Him, but decided to spare his life instead.

So Paul is left blinded by
Yahshua for three long days. In those three days, Paul obviously contemplates the contrast between his and Yahshua’s understanding of personal rights and Godly justice. Simply put, Paul was intent on exercising his right to administer what he believed to be Godly justice to the followers of Yahshua in Damascus. But when Paul was confronted by Yahshua on the way to exercise his rights, he learned a valuable lesson regarding one's personal rights versus Yahweh's justice. 

Rather than vaporizing Paul immediately for persecuting Him, Yahshua chose to set aside His authoritative right to do so and extended grace and forgiveness to Paul instead. In fact, rather than receiving what Paul would have probably considered "just" punishment for his actions from Yahshua, he received a personal call to ministry from Him instead. Clearly, this event changed Paul’s entire understanding of Yahweh's justice, and how it relates to one's personal rights, specifically with respect to being called as a minister of the gospel of the true Messiah - Yahshua.
I thank Yahshua our Messiah, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, PUTTING ME INTO SERVICE, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Yahweh was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Yahshua Messiah. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Yahshua Messiah came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Yahshua Messiah might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:12-16 
A microcosm of Paul’s philosophy on personal rights can be found in 1 Corinthians 8. In this passage, Paul addresses a specific problem some Corinthians believers were having regarding eating meat sacrificed to idols. While addressing this specific problem, Paul takes advantage of the teachable moment and contrasts the spiritual and carnal elements of Christian liberties/rights in general. (Paul reiterates this in Romans 14:13-21)
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge makes arrogant while love builds up. THOSE WHO THINK THEY KNOW SOMETHING DO NOT YET KNOW AS THEY OUGHT TO KNOW. But whoever loves Yahweh is known by Yahweh 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
Paul makes a couple of profound statements in verse 1 summarizing his beliefs regarding the spiritual aspect of the personal rights issue. He first says, “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” Here Paul associates knowledge with personal rights in verse 9; and based on his introduction of the chapter, he emphatically places love above knowledge and personal rights. Then when Paul says "Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know," pay particular attention to the contrast of the subject of "knowledge." Paul implies there are some who "think they know something," when in fact they "do not yet know as they ought to know." These people are the ones Paul is identifying as "arrogant" in their "knowledge" - to the possible detriment of others who are less knowledgeable. Specifically, Paul is saying that one's knowledge/rights are to be handled very carefully when it comes to how it may affect other brothers and sisters in Yahshua - and all people in general. 

Paul obviously believes that Christians should always be willing to set aside their personal rights (knowledge) for expedience sake and put on the love of Yahshua whenever necessary for the protection and edification of the ekklesia. With regard to those who defend a person's right to receive compensation for preaching the gospel, Paul demonstrates by his words and example that while they "think they know something," they "do not yet know as they ought to know."
Be careful, however, that the EXERCISE OF YOUR RIGHTS DOES NOT BECOME A STUMBLING BLOCK TO THE WEAK. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is DESTROYED by your knowledge [rights]. When YOU SIN against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, YOU SIN AGAINST CHRIST. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will NEVER eat meat again, SO THAT I will not cause them to fall. 1 Corinthians 8:9-12 
In this particular case, Paul’s example to the Corinthians was that he would never eat meat again if it meant harming a fellow believer! But what was his broader meaning in this statement? Specifically, that believers should always be careful to set aside their rights - in all things - for the sake of the gospel - so as not to be responsible for what Paul referred to as "ruin" for "the brother for whose sake Messiah died." Paul goes much further in verse 12 saying, "...by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against the Messiah."  

Paul admonishes believers to be especially careful not to exercise their personal rights at the eternal expense of fellow believers, with the possibility of sinning against Yahshua Messiah serving as a stern warning for believers who consider impunity in exercising their personal rights.  

As far as Paul is concerned, the seriousness of the personal rights issue can not be overstated in this passage, especially considering the definition of the Greek word Paul used that is translated as "ruin." The word "apollumi" means: kill, destroyed, lost, perished or certain death. Paul's description of the dire consequences that exercising one's rights could have on a believing brother or sister should be sobering to anyone who believes their rights are their personal business. Paul's deep spiritual message to all believers in the context of this passage is that personal rights can only serve Yahweh's greater purpose when they are exercised in consideration of that purpose and are willingly set aside for the sake of the gospel of the kingdom of Yahweh. 

Paul's words imply that Yahweh's interest is far greater for a believer's spiritual vulnerability and genuine need, than His interest in someone exercising their perceived carnal rights. We can assume, in the broader sense of the gospel, that Yahweh also intends this same attitude be exhibited not just toward fellow believers, but toward every lost soul as well? This is the same attitude Yahshua Messiah exhibited in His ministry as an example to anyone who would follow him – to always consider the needs of others before considering your perceived rights.  

Matthew Henry's Commentary pulls no punches to explain the seriousness of the personal rights issue in 1 Corinthians 8. He leaves no doubt that our personal rights end where the gospel of Christ begins.  
"Those whom Christ hath redeemed with his most precious blood should be very precious and dear to us. If Christ had such compassion as to die for them, that they might not perish, we should have so much compassion for them as to DENY OURSELVES, FOR THEIR SAKES, in various instances, and NOT USE OUR RIGHTS TO THEIR HURT, to occasion their stumbling, or hazard their ruin. THAT MAN HAS VERY LITTLE OF THE SPIRIT OF THE REDEEMER WHO HAD RATHER HIS BROTHER SHOULD PERISH THAN HIMSELF BE ABRIDGED, IN ANY RESPECT, OF HIS RIGHTS. Injuries done to Christians are injuries to Christ... Shall we sin against Christ who suffered for us? Shall we set ourselves to defeat his gracious designs, and help to ruin those whom he died to save?" 
Beginning in 1 Corinthians 8, Paul carries this premise across three full chapters, illuminating fully the context of the personal rights issue, concluding in chapter 10 with this summary:
Whether, then, you eat or drink or WHATEVER you do, do all to the glory of God. GIVE NO OFFENSE either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking MY OWN PROFIT but the profit of the many, SO THAT THEY MAY BE SAVED. 1 Corinthians10:31-33
In the face of considerable scriptural evidence to the contrary, corporate church leaders and vocational pastors continue to use the Apostle Paul's words to defend the right of pastors to receive a regular salary for preaching the gospel. In doing so, they have chosen to discount and ignore proper biblical exegesis regarding the clear scriptural teachings of Paul on compensation as it relates to one's personal rights. They also seem to gloss over the specific warnings Paul gives for why he chose not to charge a fee for preaching the gospel; specifically because he knew that being paid a wage or salary would "hinder" the gospel message and financially "burden" the efforts of the ekklesia to spread the gospel, minister to the saints, and care for the weak and needy. In fact, by choosing to ignore Paul's example and words of warning on the issue of personal rights and compensation, corporate church leaders and vocational pastors essentially have to agree that the right to receive a wage or salary by pastors supersedes any and all of Paul's teachings and concerns about the negative effects it has on the gospel and the ekklesia.  
"Neglecting the COMMANDMENT of God, you hold to the TRADITION OF MEN.” He (Yahshua) was also saying to them, You are EXPERTS AT SETTING ASIDE THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD in order to KEEP YOUR TRADITION."
Mark 7:8-9
Conversely, Yahshua understood that exercising His rights as the Son of Yahweh might not always be profitable or edifying. Yahshua fully understood His right to rain down condemnation and destruction on all of His enemies of the day - but He held back. A good example of Yahshua setting aside His rights was when the crowd came to seize him in the Garden of Gethsemane.
And behold, one of those who were with Yahshua reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Yahshua *said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way? Matthew 26:51-54
Yahshua chose to set aside His rights as the Son of Yahweh in favor of the gospel message of forgiveness and redemption. All-the-while knowing that choosing to set aside His rights would put Him on a path leading to torment, torture, and ultimately, death - at the hands of those same enemies. But because of Yahshua's unconditional love for mankind and His total commitment to the gospel of the kingdom of Yahweh, He voluntarily chose to set aside His personal rights and walk that path anyway.

Yahshua also knew He could have exercised His right as the Son of Yahweh to establish His kingdom on earth, and reign as the Head of the ekklesia for all eternity. In fact, in their carnal thinking, His disciples thought that's exactly what Yahshua had in mind all along. But they soon found out that Yahweh's ways and thoughts were much higher than theirs - just as Paul found out the same on the road to Damascus.  

It's clear that Yahshua's words and examples had a profound impact on Paul's ministry, specifically regarding the exercising of one's personal rights. Paul understood that if Yahshua had exercised His rights, specifically in the Garden of Gethsemane incident, the salvation of mankind would never have been possible, and the fate of mankind would have been total ruin (apollumi). In the following passage, Paul exemplifies clear spiritual insight and understanding of the personal rights issue that he learned from the life and teachings of Yahshua. Understanding that Yahshua "emptied Himself" of his divinely inspired prerogatives for the sake of the gospel as an example for His followers to be willing to empty themselves of their earthly rights for the sake of the gospel - regardless of how it affects their personal circumstances and welfare.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Yahshua, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but EMPTIED HIMSELF, taking the form of a BOND-SERVANT, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He HUMBLED HIMSELF by becoming OBEDIENT TO THE POINT OF DEATH, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8
For even Christ did NOT please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me. Romans 15:3
Calling them to Himself, Yahshua said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be YOUR SERVANT; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall BE SLAVE TO ALL. For even the Son of Man did NOT come to be served, BUT TO SERVE, and to GIVE HIS LIFE a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45
As a follower and imitator of Yahshua, the Apostle Paul's ministry began on the road to Damascus, but tragically ended the same way Yahshua's did - martyred. In fact, New Testament and credible historical records show that most, if not all, of the Apostles' ministries ended in the same manor. It can be safely assumed that these men never put their personal rights or considerations ahead of the gospel - and as history shows, not even ahead of their lives. Paul, and the other apostles, literally emptied themselves of everything to become bond-servants of Yahshua Messiah and ministers of the gospel - humbling themselves in total obedience to the gospel - even to the point of death.

Fortunately, for all of humanity, Yahshua and the Apostles never allowed their personal rights to hinder the gospel or burden the ekklesia. Unfortunately, for the ekklesia as we know it today, setting aside the right to receive a salary is never really a consideration of most men who choose full-time ministry. They perceive their ministries as a legitimate vocation, regarding financial and lifestyle equality with their fellow man as their biblical right. And why shouldn't they, they've been brought up in a corporate church system that embraces vocational pastors. The fact is, you would be hard pressed to find a church in American that doesn't pay its pastor a salary. And with that, many churches today have revolving doors filled with pastors coming and going; always ready when the need arises, to find another church willing to meet their ever-growing financial and lifestyle needs.   

And therein lays a major concern with the corporate church model and its vocational pastors - their mutual dependence on each other. Better explained in theory as a "symbiotic" relationship; defining an association between two different entities that need each other, but don't necessarily benefit each other. Churches need pastors and pastors need churches to be able to survive and perpetuate the corporate church model. Unfortunately, because churches are either growing, shrinking or stagnant, and pastors have ever changing (Mostly growing) financial needs, it's almost impossible to establish a consistent healthy relationship between the two for any extended length of time. Thus, within the corporate church system today, churches (congregations) and pastors often find themselves in an unhealthy state of flux and uncertainty; mostly due to the growing financial needs of pastors and the churches ability or inability to continue to meet those needs.

While there is no biblical evidence of anyone serving a local ekklesia in any capacity ever receiving a salary, unfortunately, paying a pastor a salary has been an accepted practice since man transformed the ekklesia into a corporate hierarchical institution called "church" over seventeen hundred years ago. And in most cases today, vocational pastors will only accept a position after they have negotiated a salary and benefits that meets their worldly financial needs. Unfortunately, holding as a priority receiving worldly compensation as a precondition to render ministry service not only goes against the tenants of selfless service taught by Yahshua and the Apostles, it also plays into the hands of the ruler of this world's efforts to use man's inherent fleshy desires to tempt them away from the truth and freedom of Yahweh's word.  
For the law of the Spirit of life in Yahshua Messiah has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, Yahweh did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward Yahweh; for it does not subject itself to the law of Yahweh, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please Yahweh. Romans 8:2-8
As long as a vocational pastor's financial needs continue to be met by their negotiated salary with a church, they usually remain in that position. However, if a church ceases to meet the growing financial needs of their pastors, as noted earlier, their pastors will soon begin to make arrangements to move on to another church (Calling) that will agree to meet their financial needs. In almost every case, the financial needs of vocational pastors eventually outgrow the ability of their church to pay them, and when it gets to the point where the pastor's financial needs supersede the needs of the church, they simply move on to the next church willing to meet those ever-growing financial needs.

Depending on the research you read on the subject, the average stay at a church for a pastor is between 3 and 5 years - several years longer for senior pastors of large churches. Interestingly, research results from one study concluded that the most common reason pastors change churches is for "a promotion" - financial gain. The shocking opening quote of that particular study of 872 Protestant church pastors actually states: "Research shows [that] it's more common for a pastor to take a job at a different church due to a promotion than it is for a pastor to move to a new church because of feeling God's call or leading."  
Yahshua said: No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve [both] Yahweh and wealth (Money)." Matthew 6:24
Unfortunately, the carnal desire for pastors to change churches simply for financial gain and lifestyle stability only serves to validate the assumptions of many people that any given "church" is a business, and that pastors, while they may be sincere in their ministries, are also in it for the money - just like anyone else with a job who expects to be paid for their service. It also gives clear meaning to the term "hireling," a term Yahshua used to refer to those shepherds who are more concerned about their compensation and well-being than the sheep they were hired to watch over and protect. This is exactly the kind of thing Paul warned about in his writings regarding compensation for preaching the gospel - and precisely the reason Paul gave for never wanting to accept a salary himself - because it hinders the gospel. This is also why Paul strongly exhorted other leaders to follow his example - which he personally learned from Yahshua Messiah.
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a HIRELING, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a HIRELING and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. John 10:11-15
As we have seen, more often than not, pastors' moving from one church to another has more to do with pursuing financial and lifestyle stability for themselves and their families, and less to do with being called as a servant of Yahweh. And their moves are usually predicated on a guarantee by a prospective church to have their financial needs met, which unfortunately, often leaves any faith component of their "calling" to a new ministry in question. The bottom-line is, even if a pastor feels a "call" to serve elsewhere, unless "elsewhere" guarantees a salary to meet his needs, he won't be answering that call. 

On the other hand, the ministries of Yahshua and the Apostles had everything to do with being called by Yahweh in faith to spread the gospel, and absolutely nothing to do with pursuing financial gain or lifestyle stability.
And because their ministries did not pursue regular material or financial compensation, their commitment and motivation for preaching the gospel was always above reproach and could not be impugned by fellow believers, or those outside the church. As Paul clearly points out, the practice of preaching the gospel "voluntarily" mitigates the perception of being motivated by financial gain to preach the gospel, and eliminates any chance of that practice becoming a "hindrance to the gospel of Yahshua Messiah" and a "burden" on the ekklesia. And yes, Paul said he would rather die than to allow even a hint of a perception that he sought material gain as a minister of the gospel. To help make his point in this, Paul stated eight verses later in that same passage, "I do ALL things for the sake of the gospel..." - and offering the gospel "without charge" definitely falls under the category of "all things." 

Paul also said that preaching the gospel for monetary consideration reduces the act of ministry from pure "compulsion" to mere "stewardship" for that compensation. So the entrapment of today's corporate church model, and the yoke of a pastoral salary, reduces the service of a vocational pastoral ministry to mere stewardship of a legal contractual agreement, with the full reward for that stewardship being a paycheck.

And Paul was not the only Apostle who held the philosophy that ministry was a service to Yahweh and not a worldly vocation with expected monetary compensation. The Apostle Peter's words directed to elders within the local ekklesia echo Paul's philosophy on this issue:  
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Yahshua Messiah, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of Yahweh among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but VOLUNTARILY, according to the will of Yahweh; and NOT for base/greedy gain (money - profits), but with eagerness... 1 Peter 5:2
Notice the similarities between Peter and Paul's position on the issue of compensation, (1 Corinthians 9:16-18) as Peter points out (Specifically, elder to elder) that being an elder/shepherd is a ministry rendered "voluntarily," out of "eagerness," which is "according to the will of Yahweh," and certainly not a position with expected financial gain. And that an elder's hopeful reward for their voluntary service is an "unfading crown of glory," not money. 

Take into account that Peter was among the Apostles in the beginning that presided over the monetary proceeds from the property being sold by the new believers and laid at their feet. Yet when Peter and John were confronted by the lame beggar at the gate of the Temple, Peter told the him that he possessed NO silver or gold, but instead, Peter offered to give him what he said they did possess, the healing power of Yahshua Messiah

As overseers of such a successful and prosperous ministry you would expect that Peter and John would have at least had a little spending cash in their pockets, but they didn't, and that's the central point! To Peter and John, and the rest of the Apostles, the ministry of the gospel wasn't viewed as a "vocation," it was clearly understood to be a service. 

From all accounts, after receiving the Holy Spirit, the Apostles finally seemed to understand the difference between worldly leadership and truly serving Yahweh. Through the Holy Spirit, they understood fully the teachings of Yahshua, turning their backs on worldly ambitions and possessions, and surrendering everything to serve Yahweh by serving their fellow man.  
But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.          Mark 9:34-35
“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." John 14:25-26
For the Apostles, they no longer saw their ministry through the eyes of the world. It was no longer about what the world had to offer them as compensation for their service to Yahshua Messiah. It wasn't about leadership or who would sit on Yahshua's right or left, and it wasn't about having their personal needs met or preaching the gospel as a vocation. It was all about continuing the work of Yahshua and saving lost souls! 

The book of Acts clearly shows that the Apostles were merely acting as a conduit to get ALL the money and goods out to people who were in need while spreading the gospel message. However, strangely missing from the model shown is the book of Acts is any mention of constructing or leasing a "building" for the "church," or putting together a search committee to hire seminary trained pastors to preach on Sundays and also act as CEO's over this new ecclesiastical corporate enterprise.    
And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Yahshua, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. Acts 4:33-35
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Yahshua Christ the Nazarene—walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. Acts 3:1-7
Obviously, both Peter and Paul understood the distinct difference between a "stewardship," which entails material and/or monetary compensation as a reward for a service, and "voluntary," which never takes into account monetary gain as consideration for a service. In this passage, Peter likens the act of taking money for being an elder as "base gain," which the original Greek term aischrokerdós defines as "greedy." In which case, Peter implies that elders who take money from the pockets of the people they are supposed to shepherd, simply for being their shepherd, are being GREEDY. Scriptural evidence clearly shows that both Paul and Peter always set aside their personal rights for material compensation and opted for the eternal spiritual reward for their voluntary service as ministers of the gospel. 

As far as how the "world" views today's "church," because the majority of churches are set up as a State run 501(c)(3) corporate hierarchy; including salaried pastors, real estate holdings and ongoing marketing campaigns, the world sees the church no differently than any other corporation, with the pastor's position as nothing more than a secular career like any other corporate executive job in America. And when pastors say they are "called" to ministry at a specific church, under the world's view of the corporate church model, it's seen as no different than searching for a job and being hired like any other secular professional executive - banker, doctor, lawyer, etc.

Understanding the world's carnal view of everything, and specifically its view of the "church," and all religious institutions for that matter, it's obvious why Paul was so concerned that those who serve in ministry NOT be seen by the world as preaching the gospel for material and monetary gain. Paul understood that the "secular" world would always watch and scrutinize every move of the "Holy" ekklesia. Specifically, Paul knew that many people would then, as they do today, perceive that preachers are only in the ministry "profession" for money and power - thus hindering the purity of the gospel message. Again, sharing his serious concern on the issue of being compensated for preaching the gospel, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:15 that he would rather die than allow any opportunity for this perception to take hold among the disciples of Yahshua Messiah and especially the lost.  

Seriously, should Paul's concern on the issue of compensation also be a concern of corporate churches and vocational pastors today?

Paul indirectly touched on that question in his letter to the Philippians when he offered to send Timothy to help serve their needs:
But I hope in the Yeshua Messiah to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have NO ONE ELSE of kindred spirit who will GENUINELY BE CONCERNED for YOUR WELFARE. For they ALL SEEK AFTER THEIR OWN INTERESTS, NOT those of Yahshua Messiah. Philippians 2:20-21
Was there truly "no one else" Paul could count on who would "genuinely be concerned" for the welfare of those believers?" Were they all (Leaders) really seeking after "their own interests, [and] not those of Yahshua?" If this truly was the case, then an attitude of personal self-interest is what separated Timothy from ALL the rest. So the big question is: On which side of this personal issue do today's churches and pastors see themselves; on the side of Paul and Timothy, or on the side of personal self-interest with ALL the others? 

Finally, if the argument for receiving a salary for preaching the gospel is that Paul's teachings and examples are only his "opinion," and that not taking a salary was his "personal choice;" then give prayerful consideration to Paul's responses regarding both his opinions and examples as an Apostle and preacher of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 7:25 and 1 Corinthians 11:1. As for how Paul expects anyone to weigh his opinions, he says, "...I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Yahweh is trustworthy." And as for how Paul perceives his own examples, Paul couldn't be any clearer when he says, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Yahshua Messiah." Scripture shows that not only did Paul NOT receive a salary, neither did any of the other Apostles or elders. 

Paul's compelling statements below should be enough to convince any believer to give Paul the highest regard in both wisdom and authority, with respect to his exhortations to imitate his personal examples and teachings on any issue concerning the gospel. And Paul used the word "imitate" (Mistranslated in many bible versions) in his writings; a much stronger and definitive word than "follow." (Read more on this issue)
1 Paul, an apostle, not sent from men or by a man, but by Yahshua the Messiah, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead... 11 For I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin. 12 For I did not receive it from a man, nor was I taught it, but it was revealed to me by Yahshua the Messiah." Galatians 1
For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Yahshua I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be IMITATORS OF ME. For this reason I have sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of MY WAYS which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. 1 Corinthians 4:15-17
Be IMITATORS of ME, just as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and HOLD FIRMLY to the teachings/instructions, just as I DELIVERED THEM TO YOU. 1 Corinthians 11:1
WE have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what WE COMMAND. For you yourselves know how you ought to IMITATE OUR EXAMPLE, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a MODEL (týpos – a model forged by repetition; reliable precedent for others to  imitate - i.e. the right example, a proper pattern) FOR YOU, so that you would IMITATE OUR EXAMPLE. FOR YOU, so that you would IMITATE OUR EXAMPLE. If anyone does not OBEY OUR INSTRUCTION in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 2 Thessalonians 3:4,7-9,14-15
You (Thessalonians) also became IMITATORS of US and the Lord Yahshua, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7
Brethren, join in following MY EXAMPLE, and observe those who walk according to the PATTERN you have in US. Philippians 3:17 
The things YOU HAVE LEARNED and RECEIVED and HEARD and SEEN in ME, PRACTICE THESE THINGS, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9
Brethren,Keep on growing to maturity. Keep listening to MY Appeals. Continue agreeing with each other and living in peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 11:13 
For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, IN EVERY WAY, WE HAVE MADE THIS EVIDENT TO YOU IN ALL THINGS. 2 Corinthians 11:5-6
Paul's teachings and warnings on this issue deserve serious consideration by vocational pastors, or anyone considering becoming a pastor, with regard to receiving financial compensation as a reward for preaching the gospel.
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this VOLUNTARILY, I have a REWARD; but if against my will (For compensation), I have a stewardship entrusted to me. WHAT THEN IS MY REWARD? That, when I preach the gospel, I MAY OFFER THE GOSPEL WITHOUT CHARGE, so as NOT to make full use of MY RIGHT in the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:16-18
For we are not like many, PEDDLING the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 2:17 
Having a clear understanding of Paul's motives and model as a preacher of the gospel, it's crucial that men today consider both the carnal and spiritual elements that motivate them to enter the ministry. 

Unfortunately, financial compensation is one specific carnal aspect of the decision making process that has been set aside or overlooked by today's corporate churches, seminaries, vocational pastors and those contemplating full-time ministry. Financial compensation for pastors today is something that's expected by those on both sides of the paycheck. In fact, compensation is not even considered a "carnal" motivational factor today - despite the fact that a salary with benefits to meet worldly needs can be defined in no other way. 

Compensation for pastors has evolved into a consecrated biblical personal right. And there are many informative web sites and seminaries today that offer instruction and council on all aspects of pastoral compensation; from salary, benefits and contract negotiating, to financial planning and retirement designed to help vocational pastors meet their worldly needs.

In Luke 14,
Yahshua addresses this issue head on with an admonition to His disciples to "count the cost" of their decision to follow Him. Yahshua said that any who would follow Him should hate his mother and father, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters, and yes, even their own life. His figurative use of the word "hate" suggests that, as His disciple, He is to be the first priority in the relationship. And to follow Yahshua means just that - to follow ONLY Yahshua, not anyone or anything else. 

This teaching of Yahshua to His disciples obviously carries far more weight to anyone considering a paid position in a church. Total loyalty to Yahshua and the gospel is crucial, given the inevitability of attacks by Satan through the carnal lure of worldly things - especially money. 

If paid pastors care more about the financial stability of their families than they do about Yahshua and the gospel, when pressed in on all sides to choose between the two, chances are great they will choose financial stability over the gospel. Especially when they believe that it's their biblical right to receive monetary compensation for their services. Yahshua voiced his concern and warning on this matter, clearly stating that the carnal desire for money will separate people from their true Master. 
Yahshua said: NO ONE CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. YOU CANNOT SERVE BOTH YAHWEH AND MONEY." Matthew 6:24
Unfortunately, despite clear warnings from Yahshua and Paul about the danger of mixing money and ministry, vocational pastors have made a decision to take money and other benefits in exchange for preaching the gospel. In doing so, they have defiled the purity of their allegiance to the Gospel with worldly goods. 

There is no getting around the fact that financial compensation is a major factor in a vocational pastor's ministry. And what makes setting aside what they believe is their personal right to compensation such a very difficult decision is that it ultimately means having to work with their own hands and minister to their own needs while shepherding a flock. And the toughest part in all this for them is having to admit that they bought-in to today’s worldly unbiblical corporate church model that justifies putting money between them and Yahweh, especially after repeated warnings from scripture regarding the issue. But that's the exact example Yahshua, Paul, and the rest of the Apostles set and taught. 
"So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not GIVE UP ALL HIS OWN POSSESSIONS. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:33-34  
If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, WE did NOT use this right, but WE ENDURE ALL THINGS so that we will CAUSE NO HINDRANCE to the gospel of Christ. 1 Corinthians 9:12 
But the goal of OUR INSTRUCTION is LOVE from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith 1 Timothy 1:5
If you are a vocational pastor now, or someone who is contemplating a paid ministry position, Paul's example and words are as clear and direct to you today in the scriptures as they were to the elders and disciples of Yahshua's time. 
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And WHO is SUFFICIENT for these things? For we are not like many, PEDDLING the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 2:14-17
In these words from 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul points out several important things about his ministry team; that they are led exclusively by Yahweh, that their motivation and message is pure, that they don't draw a salary, and that their ministry is open and transparent, "in the sight of Yahweh," for all the world to see and for anyone to challenge. 

Paul goes further by making a comparison between his ministry team's motive of sincerity and compulsion for preaching the gospel, and others who sought material gain from their ministries. Paul's bold question in the midst of this passage is, "Who is sufficient (Hikanos) for these things?" The obvious answer of course would be - not many - and certainly not those who were "peddling the word of Yahweh" for material gain. (Note that the Greek term 'hikanos' can also mean: worthy, suitable, adequate, qualified, fit or competent)

Upon prayer and personal reflection, vocational pastors (Or anyone contemplating vocational ministry) should seriously contemplate and honestly answer Paul's bold question: are they 'hikanos' for these things? In that answer, they must decide whether to embrace the Apostle Paul's words and imitate his examples to become a "...sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place" and "a fragrance of Messiah to Yahweh among those who are being saved," or set his words and examples aside and continue in their vocational ministries, "seeking after their own interests?"


In conclusion: The Apostle Paul made it abundantly clear that the ONLY reward he sought for preaching the Gospel of Yahshua Messiah was not of a worldly material/monetary temporal nature, but a true reward of a spiritual nature having eternal value. That's why Paul always chose to set aside his rights and voluntarily serve the kingdom of Yahweh by offering the gospel without charge. In doing so, Paul knew (And taught) that by setting aside his rights, he would never hinder the gospel of Yahshua, or become a financial burden to the ekklesia. 

Paul set an example for all through his unrelenting and selfless efforts to encourage and strengthen Christ's disciples, and preach the gospel at any costs to save the lost. As for all the other Apostles, the New Testament does not specifically spell it out exactly how they acted; but one thing is for certain, there is no scriptural or historical evidence whatsoever of any of them ever receiving material/monetary compensation as ministers of the gospel.   
"If your ministry isn't about monetary rewards, but you still expect to be paid for your services, there's only one logical conclusion - it's about YOUR rights"
See also: 
"Ministers Being Paid to Preach"

"What about the Right of Elders/Pastors?" (Series) 
"Elders/Pastors and Financial Benefits"  (Series)

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